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During the bloody Albigensian Crusade of 1209 against the Cathars in the south of modern-day France, Jean of Béziers becomes an orphan. While hiding in the shadows of the hearth of a ruined home, he watches as the knights murder his parents. The scars from that experience stay with him for years to come, disturbing his sleep with dreadful nightmares, from Languedoc to Egypt and eventually to the Holy Land.

An innocent but observant boy of twelve, Jean is just beginning to question the strange tenets of his persecuted Christian sect, Catharism. He becomes increasingly unable to relate his experiences to the restrictive fundamentalism of his faith or to the materialism of mainstream Catholicism. Throughout these tribulations, Jean carries on his person a document damaging to the Knights Templar, whose contents, unknown to him, could lead to their ultimate downfall and possibly to his death.

When he is sold into slavery in Egypt, the Islamic culture surrounding him, his sexual awakenings and the close friendships he forms all give Jean the necessary insights to release him from his religious turmoil. His powerful love for one person and a momentous personal discovery ultimately set him free from his obsessions and give him the strength he needs to face his future.

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