Best Biographical Fiction 2016

Questions For Discussion:

Envoy of Jerusalem

  • This novel was awarded “Gold” for Christian Historical Fiction by Readers Favorites and named “Best Biography 2017” by the Book Excellence Awards.  What specific aspects of the novel do you feel impressed the judges most? As Christian Historical Fiction? As Biography?

  • This book examines what it is to be Christian from a variety of points of view. Which two scenes do you feel did the best job of highlighting true vs. nominal Christianity? Explain your reasoning.

  • One aspect of Christianity is the willingness of an individual to make personal sacrifices for the welfare of others or the greater good.  Take three examples from the novel, compare and contrast them.

  • Throughout the book, characters ― both male and female ― are confronted by threatening situations. Of all the characters, who do you think shows the greatest courage? When, how, and why do you rate this the highest?

  • Contrasting views of women, their status and role in society, is a major theme of this book. Compare and contrast Balian and Salah ad-Din’s (Imad ad-Din’s) views. Now compare Humphrey and Conrad’s views? Aimery and Guy’s view?

  • Isabella of Jerusalem is forced to make a terrible choice ― between her husband and her crown. Do you think she made the right decision? Why and what was the deciding factor.

  • Mothers and daughters often clash as daughters grow up.  This is true with Isabella and Maria too. How would you characterize their relationship? Are the two women too similar or too dissimilar?  

  • The title “Envoy of Jerusalem” refers to Balian d’Ibelin, but he was never appointed ambassador by a ruling King of Jerusalem. In what way is Balian Jerusalem’s envoy? Who does he represent, when and how?

  • When Richard the Lionheart arrives, he clashes with Ibelin. Is this all about differing views of who should be King of Jerusalem or are other factors at play?

  • By the end of the novel, Ibelin has the Plantagenet’s trust. What has changed? Why/how does Richard learn to respect Balian?

  • Richard the Lionheart’s massacre of the hostages at Acre is often portrayed as an act of barbarism. Based on this novel, do you think he had any choice? IF so, what should he have done?

  • A major theme of this novel is leadership. What does it take to be a good leader? What qualities should a king or queen have? Examine the various leaders in this book and compare and contrast their qualities. Richard of England vs. Philip of France. Richard vs Salah ad-Din. Conrad vs Guy.

  • Balian is extremely critical of Humphrey. Do you think he was justified? Is his treatment of Humphrey Christian?

  • There are a large number of sub-plots in this novel: Sir Bartholomew and his daughters, Ernoul and Alys, Godwin, Sven and Mariam, Haakon Magnussen. What purpose doe these sub-plots serve? Why did the author include them?

  • Of the entire cast, who is your favorite character and why?
Best Spiritual/Religious Fiction 2017:
Best Biography 2017
FORWARD INDIES HONORABLE MENTION for Wartime/Military Fiction 2016
Best Christian Historical Fiction 2017