Questions for Discussion:

Knight of Jerusalem

  • At the start of the book, Balian’s older brother accuses him of not being “greedy” enough. Nowadays, we might speak of ambition ― or say “greed is good.” What do you think? Does Balian lack ambition, and, if so, is that a good or bad thing?

  • When Balian is offered the position to serve Baldwin, he believes it is a death sentence. Discuss why you think Balian took the position anyway? What were his motives?

  • The Wheel of Fortune was a popular medieval symbol. Select two examples from this book and discuss their importance to history. To what extent does luck and to what extend does personal behavior and personality determine the fate of these (and other) characters?

  • When Baldwin learns his father is dead and he is to become king, he is afraid. What do you think he is afraid of? Is he justified?

  • What about Balian attracts Maria Comnena? He is not wealthy or particularly well-born, but she can’t get him out of her head. Why?

  • Barry leaves Ibelin defenseless when he musters his troops and joins the royal army. His wife accuses him of wanting her dead. What do you think? Was Barry justified in taking all his fighting men to the defense of the kingdom and leaving his family at risk? Why or why not?

  • In many cultures, leprosy was viewed as a curse of God, but in Byzantium and the Holy Land it was viewed as sign of grace. Based on this novel, would you say Baldwin is cursed or blessed by his disease? Explain your answer.

  • Why did the author include the Shorehams? What role do they play in the novel?