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The Black Rose

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  772 ratings  ·  75 reviews
By stated by the author, this story "grows out of a legend, a most beguiling and romantic legened which is found in a very few old English histories".
"Solid in its facts, colorful and romantic...a rich and remarkable historical tapestry." Quote from Christian Science Monitor".
Hardcover, 401 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by Buccaneer Books (first published 1945)
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Best Historical Fiction
456th out of 4,293 books — 17,738 voters
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Best Action-Adventure Novels
110th out of 922 books — 1,092 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,356)
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Kathy Garlock
I am so lame.

I loved this book as a teenager. When I was young, there were two choices for young girls in historical fiction: books written in the 1950's and bodice rippers. When I was in high school I picked the former. After I graduated, well let's just say I graduated.

I read every book by Thomas Costain that I could get my hands on. Some of them were....meh. This one I loved. I read it over and over again. And I cried every time I came to the part where Maryam is crying out: "Walter. London.
Take a deep dive into the heart of centuries old Great Britain, where your name and lineage are a matter of the deepest importance and there is no middle faction between the wealthy and the poor. The main character of this story travels from the old world of Great Britain, where he is mocked and labeled a bastard son of a wealthy and titled Lord, to the magical and mystical far east, where he is able to earn his worth as a man and experience the strange and unfamiliar ways of lands not even mapp ...more
Please don't tell me that you've seen the movie and because it sucked, you're not going to read the book. The book is WAY better than the movie. Superlatives all around, please. Set in 1272, it tells the story of Walter of Gurnie and his trip to the Orient. Romance, action, comedy--but best of all, the writing is top notch. A timeless classic.
Thomas Costain takes the reader on a 13th century journey from England to China. The book's main character, Walter inherits a large sum of money in London and sets off to China inspired by Francis Bacon. Costain expertly depicts the area between Europe and China, especially the Bedouin tribes. In addition to the journey, Walter loves two women, one a noble and beautiful English woman and the other, a beautiful and beguiling woman Walter meets on his journey.

Unfortunately, it seems that Thomas Co
I've read this book multiple times. It's a refreshing novel, published in 1945, and written by the author of "In His Steps" (What would Jesus do? originates here, for the uninitiated - another great novel). Costain portrays this remarkable period of the Dark Ages by framing his plot with three great men - Edward the First of England, the father of parliamentary rule; Bayan of the Hundred Eyes, the brilliant general of Kublai Khan who conquered the whole of China in a series of daring and aggress ...more
This is one of those books I bought because it looked good; it's one of the first editions, although what printing I have no idea. The cover is simply black with gold lettering, the pages uneven and yellowed. It's a beautiful book, and it has that Old Book Smell that I so much love.

I picked it up because I had run out of things to read; it's what I do on my lunch at work, and I decided that hey, I'd see what it was like, at least until I found something else to read. And lo and behold, I liked i
I came across my edition of ‘The Black Rose’ long after the book was written and long after the movie, but I still consider it a keeper. I thoroughly detested the dry method of learning about past events in World History class, but this book made history come alive for me as I envisioned exploration in faraway lands. The story has a nice blend of adventure, history, and love as the fate of Walter of Gurney, his friend Tristram, and the exotic Maryam gradually unfolds whilst learning about the pr ...more
This was wonderful tale brimming with adventure and romance. I was immediately drawn to the main character Walter and my opinion of him only grew fonder. The storyline keeps us journeying all over the globe as Walter and his friend set out to the East to find treasures and knowledge to better their positions back home in England. On this arduous journey, he grows from a young school boy into a man, he finds treasures he never imagined, and he gains wisdom and clarity. This story is a masterpiece ...more
Oh brilliant! I have a great fondness for pure romantic adventure such as Dumas and Sabatini wrote. I am shocked I did not hear of this book until now as this is pure adventure. In the late 13th century the bastard son of an English nobleman and his yeoman pal venture to the east to reach "Cathay" (China) to find their fortune get caught up in a Mongol invasion and (one character at least) find true love. But what happens to that love when she is lost and he comes face to face with his childhood ...more
The principles taught in this work cross into so many different topics of discussion that it's not possible to even start in a review. Suffice it to say that I'm really surprised I've never heard of this gem. It's a fantastic adventure of a nobleman (almost) and his commoner friend in the 1200s and their journey across the Silk Road to China - amazing. Wonderful. Read it!
Despite all favorable reviews, I didn't really enjoy so much this romantic novel written by Thomas Costain.

The characters didn't are so interesting and the plot didn't keep my full attention while reading this book.

Sorry guys but I think TBC wrote better books than this one.
Graham Botha
I read this book when I was a teenager and had such fond memories of it that I looked it up and re-read it. Let's just say that my tastes have matured. I enjoyed the reread, but the story lacked the romanticism and excitement my teenage memory remembered.
Elijah Kinch Spector
Like, I expect, many people, it was the film of The Black Rose that led me to the book. The movie is, for the most part, quite good, but it definitely feels like a movie of a much longer book. Oh, and the female lead is irritating to the point of ruining every scene she's in. So I was left very curious as to how the original would play out, and then I found a first edition for 6 bucks. Hooray!

All told, The Black Rose is a great book. It's a big and sweeping epic that manages to stay very persona
Apr 13, 2010 Susie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Susie by:
Thomas B. Costain is one of my favourite authors. He researches for his sources and does excellent work on the history for which he is writing in his novels. This is no exception. This book is one in which a young man and his friend find themselves traveling across Asia in the Middle Ages in the most desperate of times. They meet up with a most beautiful young woman who is called The Black Rose and is about to be a slave and whom they help save. On their journeys they encounter many adventures f ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Ivy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivy by: Michael Stracener
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book is no longer in print, but my mom kept talking about how much she and my grandmother loved it, so I found a used copy and gave it to her for Christmas, then she let me borrow it back. This book took me an entire month to get through. It was written in the 1940s but the setting is in the 1300s. It is a very epic story of a young man from England who travels to China to discover many of the wonders and inventions (paper, cannons, etc.)that the English had never even dreamed of. There is ...more
Michael A
One of my favorite authors as a teenager. Great stories with heroes you did not always like and villans you could understand and be willing to follow.
Julia Carpenter
I am also one of those who read and loved Thomas Costain's novels when I was young. Re-reading it, I still enjoyed it, especially the historical aspect. But for literary merit, it falls short of something like Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, although perhaps it's unfair to compare "popular" fiction of the 40s and 50s with contemporary "literary" fiction. It lacks subtlety, but it's nevertheless a good romp through a time and place, actually several places, with a likeable main character.
Mister Jones
Jan 18, 2009 Mister Jones rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mister Jones by: Got it for 10 cents at a yard sale
I was really enjoying this one from the very beginning, and it was filled with great literary promise: in the dark Middle Ages, two young men from England on a journey to China by way of the Mid-East. By the middle of the novel I started losing interest--the writing at that point was flat, and the plot itself had reached a snail's pace; I just didn't have the patience to ride it out. On a positive note, I think I'm developing a kindred spirit with my students: a short attention span.

I gave this book three stars because it was a little slower-paced for an adventure book than I, with my modern tastes, could appreciate. The dialogue could have been tighter. The main characters were well described but the minor characters were so interesting and didn't get enough development. It really is an interesting book with a great plot, just could have been tighter. It would make a great movie if someone took the time to convert it to a screen play.
My copy of this book came from the Brandeis book sale for $1.25 -- best money I ever spent at a book sale. Let's see -- this takes place during the reign of Edward Longshanks and concerns Walter, son of a Saxon mother and Norman father. He travels to the far east and meets Maryam, daughter of a crusader and a local girl. It's a hard book to summarize.

It was made into a movie with Tyrone Power. I enjoyed the movie, but like the book more.
Took me longer than I normally give a book to get into this one, but I persevered and it was worth it. Not only is there a great love story with very lovable characters, but the historical fiction aspect was also very interesting. Makes me want to learn more about the Far East (in ancient and modern times), the Crusades, Edward I, and Roger Bacon to name a few. This book takes you on a memorable adventure.
I found this book in my grandparents library last month. I hadn't the slightest clue what it was about, but my boredom provoked me to pick a random book from the self. I started reading it and fell in love with it by page 20. It reminded me a lot of "Around the World in 80 days" so if your into adventure books about distant lands, love, and tea-lovin Brits who storm castles, It should be a book for you!
Compared to books such as these, all others seem to fall short. Such a masterpiece, written as no others are in this day and age.

This book is an antique (out of print) and I am so glad I was able to read it when I did -- many decades ago. I bought two copies at used books stores, and will never let go of them.

The 1950 movie, with Tyrone Power and Orson Welles, did not do it justice; fair attempt.
Spencer Hargadon
Jul 26, 2008 Spencer Hargadon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Spencer by: Katie Feher
I enjoyed this book not just for its content but for its scale as the author took you from boarding school England to Mongolia and back to a manor home in England. We have fewer adventure tales such as these and this one I enjoyed. I also have a small obsession with Mongols and they were in this book. “A people trained to live well, cannot be expected to fight well.”
-Black Rose
I liked it. I learned some interesting historical details about the Mongols and China. The characters could have used some fleshing out, and Costain's stated goals of exploring the confluence of three great men, Friar Bacon, King Edward and ? (can't even remember the 3rd guy) were certainly not met. These men were barely mentioned in the novel. Still, it was entertaining.
Pleasant enough historical epic of the 1200s, although, having enjoyed the Tyrone Power / Orson Welles movie version, I found the novel flat and tedious in places, by comparison. I expected more character depth and excitement in the book, but found rather less.

Still, if the last twenty pages don't move you, you have not an iota of romance in your soul.
I was thrilled by this book when I first read it at 12 or 13. More than 40 years later I tried to read it again. But I found it thin, boring stuff full of racial, gender and ethnic stereotypes. And Costain refers repeatedly to the Mongol cavalry using crossbows. I'm no historian, but I know they used recurve bows ... an entirely different design.
Sharon Desruisseaux
This book was actually passed down from my grandmother to my mother and then to myself! Only Thomas Costain could pull that off! This was the first book that I read by this author and still have my early edition copy which is cherished and priceless. The story never ceases to bring tears to my eyes, so beautifully was it told! Highly recommended!
I read a much earlier edition of this book. It's historical fiction about an Englishman who becomes a Marco-Polo-like traveler to the Orient. The "Black Rose" is the love object in
a ticklish relationship/friendship with Ghengis Khan! Best thing about it is Costain's grasp of historical background.
Has been made into a 40s or 50s era movie...
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Costain was born in Brantford, Ontario to John Herbert Costain and Mary Schultz. He attended high school there at the Brantford Collegiate Institute. Before graduating from high school he had written four novels, one of which was a 70,000 word romance about Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange. These early novels were rejected by publishers.

His first writing success came in 1902 when the Brantford
More about Thomas B. Costain...
The Silver Chalice The Last Plantagenets (The Plantagenets, #4) The Conquering Family (The Plantagenets, #1) The Three Edwards (The Plantagenets, #3) Below the Salt

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