Wednesday, November 2, 2022

The White Lion by Scott Oden

Release date: October 17, 2022
Subgenre: Historical adventure

About The White Lion


Acre, at the close of the 13th century. The last remaining Crusader stronghold, where the ideals of a Kingdom of Heaven - forged by saints and zealots nearly two hundred years ago - now hang by the slenderest of threads. It is a city menaced by Saracen warlords; a city coveted by the Mameluke Sultan of Egypt. It is a city of infidels and sinners, lepers and thieves, seemingly forsaken by God.

Into this bloody crucible comes Tancred of Antioch, a battle-scarred giant of a man known to friend and foe alike as the White Lion. In the streets of Acre, he plies his trade as a sword-for-hire, a merchant of death, always keeping his true allegiances cloaked in mystery. But, when his friend, the gentle and learned apothecary Jawan Khandaq, is murdered and killers alight upon him, as well, the White Lion goes on the hunt.

Now, from the alleys of the Venetian Quarter to the crypts of the Leper King, Tancred of Antioch will reap a bloody harvest among his enemies. And those who seek to chain him, to exploit him, to kill him will learn the truth at the point of his sword: Tancred of Antioch, the White Lion, is not a man to be trifled with.

The White Lion, Scott Oden does what he does best -- he channels the spirit of Robert E. Howard into a tale of treachery and double-cross; a tale set against the last days of the Crusades!


It was the soft scuff of booted feet that caused the man to whirl, one sinewy hand dropping to the hilt of his long knife. The sound of pursuit did not bode well in the tight warren of alleys at the heart of ancient Acre, sandwiched between the Venetian Quarter and what had once been the district of their ancestral enemies, the Genoans. The solitary man did not pause to see who shadowed him. Not here. This no-man’s land was not the place for confrontations. He spun and lengthened his stride.
By the moon’s fulsome light, he descended rough-hewn steps until he emerged into a crude square where four crooked alleys met. The Piazza di Lazaretto, it was called — the Lepers Square — for here is where the afflicted stopped on their way to the leprosarium of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem. This evening, however, the place was deserted. Awnings of slatted wood protruding from mud brick facades, some mere frames hung with tattered canvas. Nothing moved in the silver-shot gloom. No lepers seeking shelter. No street corner fences hawking stolen wares, no strumpets on the prowl or pimps looking for fresh meat, no dagger-men lounging in the shadows, seeking to hire themselves out for a dishonest night’s work. Only a soft dry breeze, reeking of dust and antiquity. In its rustle the fellow heard the stamp of feet and the panted curses of his pursuers.
They would find him no easy mark, this man. Neither soft like the merchants of the Levant, nor scrawny like those beardless Crusaders newly come from across the sea, here was a figure chiseled from whalebone and gristle, his frame hung with corded muscle and rope-like sinew. A poulain, he was, born of European blood on the soil of Outremer. Thus, his was the fair hair, golden beard, and pale eyes of a Frank, coupled with the sun-darkened skin, turban, and flowing garb of a Saracen. He put his back to a pitted mud brick wall and hitched at his belt, resettling his knife on his hip.
He did not have long to wait.
Two men burst into the empty square, their faces sinister masks in the pale moonlight. By their turban-wrapped helmets and quilted aketons, both were Turcopoles — Syrian Christians who served as mercenaries, bolstering Acre’s defenses. The taller of the two had a forked beard the color of soot and brass rings on the fingers of his left hand; his companion’s face bore puckered ridges of scar from an old sword-cut.
The Turcopoles skidded to a stop as the solitary man stepped from a well of shadow beneath an awning. “Why have you dogs been sniffing after me?” He spoke the tongue of the Franks with a Syrian accent. “Damn your black hearts! If thieves you are, you’ll get naught from me but a flat purse and hard blows!”
“Tancred of Antioch?” replied the fork-bearded Turcopole. “Are you Tancred of Antioch?”



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About Scott Oden:

Scott Oden is a bestselling author of historical fantasy and sword-and-sorcery. Since his debut in 2005, his books have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist; he has been an Amazon Editor’s Pick and has been nominated for a Gemmell Award. His work has been endorsed by such preeminent authors as Steven Pressfield, David Anthony Durham, and John Gwynne. Scott lives in the foothills of the Appalachians with his lovely wife, Shannon, and a variety of dogs — all of them neurotic and prone to dancing like no one’s watching. Before turning his hand to writing, Scott worked the usual slate of odd jobs, from delivering pizza to stocking shelves at a local grocery. In his spare time, he likes table-top roleplaying games, reading, and making the occasional bracelet from old stone beads. He dreams of running away from reality and living in a Hobbit hole . . .


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