"The Talisman" is a novel by Sir Walter Scott, published in 1825.
As a background, the talisman of the title has a historical basis in the amulet, brought back from the Crusades by Sir Simon Lockhart and kept in the possession of his heirs, the Lockharts of the Lee.
In Scott's novel, "The Talisman" takes place at the end of the Third Crusade. The talisman is given to the hero, Sir Kenneth, the Knight of the Leopard, during his adventures in the Holy Land at the time of Richard the Lionhearted, who is seeking to reclaim the Holy Land in the Crusades. Events happen mostly in the camp of the Crusaders. There are schemes from within the Christian alliance (consisting of England, France and Austria) plotting against King Richard in order to thwart his completion of the Crusade. Sir Walter Scott skillfully ties up historical facts and fictional characters in the events.
Remarkably, Scott draws vivid historical figures. Aside from King Richard "the Lionhearted" of England, are Philip of France, Leopold of Austria, the Master of the Knights Templar, Conrad of Montserrat (the historical Conrad of Montferrat), King Richard’s queen, Berengaria, and Saladin.
The story follows Sir Kenneth, a Scottish knight (the fictional character of the real David Earl of Huntington, who in fact returned from the third Crusade in 1190), who goes to the Holy Land, sent on a mission to discuss a potential peace treaty with the Saracens.
Along the way, Kenneth meets, fights, and become friends with a lone Saracen emir, an "Arab physician" in the desert who is actually Saladin in disguise. Perhaps a feature of romanticism, Sir Scott portrays Saladin as a moral, wise and virtuous person, in contrast with the despicable European nobles history tell us.
The Arab doctor is on his way to attend to King Richard the Lionhearted who is ill. He takes Sir Kenneth along to the Crusaders' camp. There were problems in the camp, firstly, the king being ill, and secondly, the partisan politics going on further destabilizes the king's Crusade. After a nearly fatal mistake by Kenneth and as a result of betrayal due to political machinations from Leopold of Austria and the Master of the Templars, Sir Kenneth is tricked, accused of treason, and exiled. Saladin tries to save Kenneth from the schemers. Eventually, he is redeemed, and a peace treaty follow
The story ends with Sir Kenneth reunited with Lady Edith, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Berengaria. He also reveals that he is the son of the King of Scotland, traveling incognito.
Despite historical deviations, the exciting narrative and unexpected climax has made the book enormously popular, perhaps only rivaling Sir Scott's most famous historical romance, "Ivanhoe."