Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Fiction: The Road to Jerusalem: Book One of the Crusades Trilogy by Jan Guillou

Though not at all well known in North America -- yet -- Jan Guillou is one of Sweden’s most popular literary personalities. A journalist and broadcaster, he is also the author of the Coq Rouge novels, one of the most popular series of Swedish spy novels ever created. Guillou’s Crusades Trilogy has been translated into 20 languages and has sold 2.5 million copies in Sweden alone.

The first book in the trilogy, The Road to Jerusalem (Harper), has just been released in English. Steven T. Murray did the skillful translation. Since it was Murray -- using a pseudonym -- who translated the first two of Stieg Larsson’s books to be published in English (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire), it seems a safe guess to call Murray the top Swedish translator working today. And in The Road to Jerusalem, once again, the translation is seamless. One never senses a falter or a misstep.

The Road to Jerusalem tells the story of a young Swedish nobleman who ends up conscripted into the Knights Templar. But this is a thick and engaging novel: I’ve taken a very short route to tell the story. Guillou’s path is much less direct, and far more exciting. And while details of a U.S. film production will likely be announced soon, Swedish film and television productions are at various stages, and have been for several years.

Fans of historical fiction -- particularly those with an interest in Crusades-era material -- simply must read The Road to Jerusalem. The huge international following this series has attracted will only continue to grow now that it’s available in English.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely. I've read the book and loved it. Wondering when the next two will be released. There is a film adaptation titled Arn but it is in Swedish and has not been released on DVD for the USA that I have been able to find. However, the soundtrack to the film is available as an import and is absolutely beautiful and truly captures the feeling of the story.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 2:34:00 PM PDT  
Blogger "Reg" said...

Thanks for the extremely nice comments on my work, Monica. I'm glad someone is reading this series. You might want to include my wife Tiina Nunnally in that select company, though. She's the literary one -- I've just had more books being released this year.

"The Knight Templar" is coming out soon, and I'm doing the 3rd volume now, working title "The Kingdom at Journey's End."

I've received copies of the 2 Arn movies in Swedish but need to get a unit to play them. I'll report back on how good they are. The first one was voted best movie of the year by Swedish moviegoers when it came out.

And no, I'm not a Brit, but my UK editors sometimes go a bit overboard making me sound like one, hence the occasional pseudonyms.

Steve / Reg / McKinley

More info at:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 9:41:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the second book in this series some years ago. The book was called The Knight Templar and was published by orion.

The translation was copyrighted by Anna Paterson in 2002.

I picked up the harper release the other day thinking it was a new book but it is almost word for word the book i have, i have picked up yesterday The Road to Jerusalem and look forward to reading it.
Jan's books are very good it is a shame they are so hard to find. until now.


Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 6:57:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Reg said...

Dear Anon, The Templar Knight or The Knight Templar from Harper could hardly be word for word of the Orion edition since I just translated it this year and have never seen Anna Paterson's version. She does tend to rewrite a lot, so it should be quite different.

Monday, September 7, 2009 at 11:36:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Carolyn said...

Love Love Love the story I am agreat fan of the era and almost finished book 1 and am highly recommending it to everyone I talk to. Can't wait for the movie and also the next 2 books,truly an exciting read, I can'not put the book down. However one thing I would address with the translator is mentioned on page 306 when Arn goes to Foresham to help train the choir for christmas mass it says quote 'As soon as he had stabled Shimal and drunk a little welcome ale and broken bread with THE PRIESTS WIFE - I was of the impression that it was catholic christianism - any comment?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 8:04:00 PM PST  
Blogger Reg said...

Hi Carolyn,

Yes, it does indeed say "the priest's wife" in the original Swedish ("prästfrun"). I didn't notice it, nor did the two editors who went over the book (New York and London). Perhaps celibacy hadn't been introduced in Sweden yet, where Catholicism was still in an early stage of adoption. Does anyone know? You could write to Jan Guillou c/o and ask him. --Steve/Reg

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 12:07:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Rowdy Geirsson said...

How peculiar, I didn't pick up on it either...a prästfru certainly appears out of the ordinary for that era, at least according to the Sörmland Museum:

But then Sweden did have a very difficult time fully integrating Christianity. Some online searching (First Council of the Lateran) suggests that celibacy wasn't really enforced among priests till the 1100s, which would make such a thing feasible in Arn's time, especially if changes in religious customs took longer to take root in Sweden than elsewhere in western Europe.

Friday, January 15, 2010 at 12:23:00 AM PST  

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