After the death of his father, Henry II in 1189, and the early death of two of his brothers, Richard is crowned King of England and immediately sets off for the Holy Land. Sharon Kay Penman opens up a vast array of new insights into Richard the man and all the events and personalities surrounding the the Third Crusade, which was marked by conflict among the Christians (most notably the French king Philippe, who deserts the crusade in order to secure his own kingdom) and the extraordinary campaigns against the Saracens. Richard’s younger brother, John, who is left behind, conspires with the French king to steal Richard's throne. Only their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine remains to protect Richard’s interests. Richard is portrayed, as one might expect, as a larger-than-life character, but it was the supporting cast and events that made this book all the more interesting for me.