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The Road to Jerusalem

(The Crusades Trilogy #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  6,332 ratings  ·  291 reviews
For power. For passion. For glory.

The epic story of the Knights Templar.

Born in 1150 to a noble Swedish family and coming of age at a monastery under the tutelage of a Cistercian monk and a former Knight Templar, young Arn Magnusson is sent to fulfill his destiny beyond the cloister walls. But the world awaiting him is a place at odds with his monastic ways. And when the m
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Hardcover, 398 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by Harper (first published 1998)
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James Kirk The book doesn't portray the Catholic Church positively or negatively. It is more of a social commentary than a commentary on the Church. On the one…moreThe book doesn't portray the Catholic Church positively or negatively. It is more of a social commentary than a commentary on the Church. On the one hand, it discusses the pain of the child being given away to the church as a monk. On the other hand, it shows what a vast variety of skills Arn (the lead character) receives only because he was raised in a church environment.

Regardless, the church is not the focus of this book but rather, the emotions and attitudes shaped because of our environment.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.99  · 
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 ·  6,332 ratings  ·  291 reviews


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Markus
I might remember these books too fondly as it's been years since the last time I read them, but these are some of the best examples of Scandinavian literature, and also some of the best historical fiction books that I have read.

I can't speak for the English translation, but I'd highly recommend Jan Guillou and Arn to anyone even remotely interested.
Edith
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Nordic or Saxon-based fantasy or historical novels, when written by those outside of the respective countries, tend to turn into a gamut of stereotypical scenarios involving ale and whore houses, lootin' and pillagin', and some booze fueled mano a mano manly combat, with some barbaric execution and torture practices thrown in for good measure. All this is supposed to exude that rugged sense of manhood and bonding and brotherhood that kept life going in the longhouses on the icy land. Instead the ...more
Michael Campbell
Maybe it's because I went in expecting a book about the crusades and found myself reading a book entirely about Medieval Sweden, but I found this book a bit slow. The characters are all solidly developed, and the writing is well done and well researched.

Arn is a fairly interesting protagonist, a bit too gullible and naive, even for someone who grew up in the church. This whole novel is really just his coming of age story, focusing on his trials and shortcomings.

There is some political intrigue
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Christopher Taylor
The first of a trilogy about a Templar crusader named Arn Magnusson, this story is about his parents and the circumstances that surround the birth and teaching the young man. Apparently a classic and one of the biggest sellers and most praised books out of Sweden, it is quite long and contains significant information about early medieval Sweden.

This is a period of moving away from the old ways, although fairly established as Christian, and Sweden's politics have much of the old system and its fi
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Howard
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Crusades Trilogy tells the saga of Arn Magnusson in the late 12th century. The story of Arn itself is fascinating although entirely fictional. Written history of the Northern people in that time period is extremely sparse leaving much wiggle room for Jan Guillou to create a fantasy-like tale set in an extremely vivid period of history.
Although I only rated the first book "The Road to Jerusalem" with two stars I gave books 2 & 3 a better rating. The greatest strength of the trilogy is
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Dawn
Aug 05, 2013 rated it liked it
It's an uncomplicated read. Often boring. Sometimes interesting.

The extreme naivete of Arn is not my most favorite trait in a main character. While later in the story he has a more 'in the world but not of the world' quality that stems from his religious upbringing, it wasn't enough to make up for the earlier naive innocence that annoyed me so much.

The characters had no real depth for me. They haven't been fleshed out to real people, just distant foreign historical figures thrown into a story. I
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Noah Degenhardt
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fantastic. It has the proper historical accuracy that a historical fiction should have. Jan Guillou is a fabulous, well-versed author who can paint the world with his words, tickle the senses with his diction, and transport you into a world of love, betrayal, pain, sin and spirituality. If you're a reader who even has a passing interest in history, i would recommend this book to you. But we warned: the story is very complex and moves fast. Simply be careful and try to look at the b ...more
Dan Ryder
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely book. Unlike some other reviewers, I found the distinctive writing style to be quite delightful. Guillou can move effortlessly from the point of view of the naïve Arn, to that of a timid mother in law, to a wise priest, to a calculating nobleman, all in the space of a few pages. It must be admitted that the character of Arn seems almost drawn from a fairy tale, but the encounter of such a character with the (historically accurate) political complexity and occasional brutality of medieva ...more
Stephen Plank
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far and away the best trilogy that I have ever read. Having seen ARN, a movie that spun all three books into one movie - a gem, I had to read the books. The movie was the most expensive adventure that Sweden had ever put into a movie according to Wikipedia and it was worth it with one exception - the third book was cut short in so may ways. This first book sets up the characters in what will become the nation of Sweden.
Suzanne
This book really took me by surprise and is the best book I've read in months. It was so good that I'm actually writing a review, which I have never done before. The description of the book doesn't do the story justice. And the writing is phenomenal!! I would recommend this book to just about anyone.
Laura
Apr 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Misfit, Susanna
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie (Goodreads Reader!)
Kindly sent by my dear friend Bettie. Just arrived today!!

The first book of a trilogy but I wasn't really engaged into the plot. I am not sure I would read the rest of this trilogy. 2,5 stars.
Ash Gawain
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In medieval Sweden, Jan Guillou does not renounce his Norwegian and French origins. Norwegian allies help Knut to reclaim the Swedish Throne from the Danes, while a French monk and ex-crusader train young Arn into the art of warfare.
Son of a Swedish nobleman, and raised by monks, Arn grew into a strong, handsome, blond and Aryan man and all the village girls want him. Sadly for Arn, sex is considered a crime in Medieval Sweden (Luckily, it has changed since then), and he is sent to serve as a cr
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Fiona
First Read: 22.11.12

Re-read: 5.6.14

I re-read this in preparation to finish the trilogy seeing as I have entirely forgotten most of the story! I'm glad I had otherwise I'd have been very confused by the second book. I wish I could remember more details when I read books. Anyway. I enjoyed it still just as much but have changed it from a 5 star to a 4 star. Whilst it is still very good and high up there with many books, I'm nowadays trying to reserve 5 stars for those that I find exceptional. Some
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M.L.
Jul 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-reviews
*Brilliant depiction of medieval times, centered in the land that would become Sweden*
Caught between the turmoil resulting from the crusades and the medieval rivalries of kings and church, a young man discovers his inheritance and sets out to realize his destiny.
In fulfillment of a promise made to God, a woman of noble means, commits her young son to the care of the Cistercian monks. The boy is Arn, and at first he is crushed to be torn away from his family. But his natural brightness, intellige
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Amber Cooke
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot put my finger on exactly why I loved this book so much.  It's something about Arn. He is such an ideal hero: skilled and courageous, innocent and honest, ethical to excess, but with a tragic weakness for human love.  What is not to admire?  I was drawn to read the series by the cinematic adaptation, but in the old proverbial way, I enjoyed the book so much more.  This first installment is all about Arn's upbringing and the social/political climate that formed his education.  I like the ...more
Amanda Klich
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
First off, if you want a non fiction history book about the Knights templar, the crusades, don't read a fictitious novel expecting to get a history lesson. But if you want a great trilogy about fictitious knights templars and the crusades, then this book is for you. The writing style is simple, and this is a quick read. I have barely been able to tear my eyes away from it, and I'm extremely picky with my books. I'm that person who won't finish a book if I know I'm not into it, no matter how far ...more
Diane
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well-written, sweeping historical epic about a young Swedish nobleman who goes to the Holy Land as a Crusader during the High Middle Ages. This book, the first in the trilogy, deals with the main character's upbringing and the events that led him to become a knight. Although this book did not have as much in-depth character description/development as I'd like, the author did a wonderful job of describing the period and making it seem very realistic. I also found the Scandanavian perspective very ...more
Peter Kavanagh
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting novel set in the middle ages. Set in Sweden, I have to say the style reminded me of the sagas that came from that part of the world during the time period in which the story takes place. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Luiza Padiu
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book

It is a good introduction to a important historical moment.
After reading it I am interested to find out more.
Lisbeth Sundman
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible book about the early times before sweden was a united kingdom.
Nancy
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Detailed without being tedious. Great read about the making of a Templar Knight in a positive and somewhat tragic light.
Adam Bell
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book series is famous in Sweden, having its own bloody mini series ( which I'll start watching the minute the books have been read); and I'd never heard of them until I moved here. Upon tracking down the trilogy in English I was immediately impressed.

The reader is immediately thrown into the brutal and tumultuous epoch of kings and clans in the far north reaches of Europe as whispers travel from the Holy Land of Saladin's army assailing Jerusalem

Centred in the Sth West of Sweden, we follow
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Matt
Aug 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't give up on this book. The first half is very slow and basically sets the background for the main character. The second half really picks up. The author's writing style grew on me, it really does make the book seem authentic to that time period. I would give the book 3.5 stars if it were possible because of the slow start. But the 2nd half was a solid 4 stars because of the content and originality.

On the negative side, I would say that the author could have done a better job developing the
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Redfox5
Well the fates were not very kind to poor Arn who finds his love only to have it snatched away from him. I liked this book but it was only average. It had times were the pages flew by and at other times seemed really slow. Following the names was difficult at first but soon got used to it. Thought the story was going to be more about Sigrid at the start but then about a third of the way through we find this is not the case and Arn emerges as the main character. He is a good person to get behind ...more
Eric
This is an interesting historical fiction read. The story overall is very good but lags in parts.
Anduril81
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note: I read Steven Murray's 2010 English translation. As you can doubtless tell from my review, it is excellent.

I think the thing that I enjoy most about this trilogy so far is that Jan Guillou doesn't seem to hate his characters for being medieval Christians. That's a popular line, as fans of Bernard Cornwell and others obviously know. Still, they're not living in a golden age anymore than we are, and have their own battles with syncretism, pushy secular leaders, war and unrest, and their own
...more
Fiona
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the time as a child that I first encountered Robin Hood, and then later moving on to Walter Scott’s tales such as Ivanhoe and The Tailsman, knights, the Crusades and the Knights Templar have always intrigued me. The Road to Jerusalem is a smashing tale that encompasses all of these, and it is told so wonderfully. I just did not want to put it down! It kept me completely enthralled throughout, even though at times one could argue that there wasn’t a lot happening, but you could just sense th ...more
Rooney
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit, this book was a bit of a struggle. I decided to buy it after watching the film (the front cover of the edition I own is taken from the film) and enjoying it, but the book sadly didn't live up to my expectations.

I think that's largely because this is the first in a trilogy, and it is quite clearly written as the first in a trilogy. Much of the book seemed slow and pretty dull, as I have little to know interest in the weddings, political manoeuvrings, and trading routes in 11th ce
...more
Jacey
This is the first part of a trilogy, translated from the Swedish. It’s a fictionalized story of real-life historical character Arn Magnusson and based around historical events. This is his early life, much of it set in a monastery where Arn grows up to be both pious and naïve, so when he’s sent back to his family he knows so little of the world that he manages to sleep with two sisters (consecutively, not together – it’s not that sort of book) which gets him into hot water with the church, espec ...more
Frank
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spoilers.
Thoroughly enjoyable first book of a trilogy, that covers the young life of Arn.
As a boy he lives in a monastery, learning the art of fighting from a brother who was once a Knight of the Templar.
Through a series of mishaps, and sins, Arn is punished and sent to become a Knights Templar, as book one ends.
This book gives an interesting feel of Scandanavia in the late 12th century.
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Goodreads Librari...: wrong translator? 2 36 Dec 12, 2013 06:59AM  
Ancient & Medieva...: SEPTEMBER 2013 (Group Read 2): The Road to Jerusalem by Jan Guillou 155 105 Sep 27, 2013 05:04AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Wrong information on book 3 58 Feb 27, 2012 10:02AM  

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Jan Oscar Sverre Lucien Henri Guillou (born 17 January 1944) is a Swedish author and journalist. Among his books are a series of spy fiction novels about a spy named Carl Hamilton, and a trilogy of historical fiction novels about a Knight Templar, Arn Magnusson. He is the owner of one of the largest publishing companies in Sweden, Piratförlaget, together with Liza Marklund and his common-law wife, ...more

Other books in the series

The Crusades Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Knight Templar (The Crusades Trilogy, #2)
  • The Kingdom at the End of the Road (The Crusades Trilogy, #3)
“A person had to learn to come to terms with the fate determined for him by God. It would do no good to grumble that one would rather be someone else or live somewhere else. Instead one had to try to make the best of the situation; that was the only way to fulfill God’s plans.” 1 likes
“Arn was about to say something about having too much work awaiting him, and that only at the end of the workday should a man enjoy the fruits of what he had accomplished by the sweat of his brow.” 0 likes
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