This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

23 October, 2013

REVIEW: KNIGHTS TEMPLAR -A SECRET HISTORY

Cover art by Darren Tan

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
A SECRET HISTORY
BY
GRAEME DAVIS

ISBN: 978-1-78200-409-7
Pages: 80
Publisher: Osprey
Published: 22 October 2013

On the cover:
(From the publishers website)

Born in the dark days of the great crusades, the warrior monks of the Knights Templar vowed to defend pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. Yet strangely, there are few historical records of the Templars ever fulfilling this task. Instead, their history is one of bloodshed and conquest, wealth and power, dark secrets and conspiracies. Today, the story of the Knights Templar is intimately linked with the story of the Holy Grail. But what exactly is this ancient artifact, and how has it been used to manipulate history for the last one thousand years? This book, based on the notes of the recently deceased historian, Dr. Emile Fouchet, attempts to unlock the secrets of the Knights Templar. It begins with an examination of their historical origins, their growth in the early middle-ages, and their supposed destruction under the charges of heresy. From there, it uses the clues left by the Templars themselves to reconstruct their secret journeys as they moved the Holy Grail from Europe to the New World and back. It also charts the secret, three-way war that is still being fought between the Templars, the Freemasons, and the Catholic Church. Finally, the book reveals the greatest of all Templar conspiracies, the attempt to found a new world order under the auspices of the European Union.


   The Knights Templar have been a staple of many a secret history through the years. Which is really no wonder considering their relatively short existence, and the manner in which they were disbanded. Their origins during the Crusades, their wealth, and the charges brought against them by the Catholic Church certainly lends itself to speculations around what was really going on.
   Arguably the most famous Templar conspiracy theory surrounds the Holy Grail. It's what, among others, Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code hinges upon. There is a Holy Grail theme here too, but it's not the same one as the one Brown and others have speculated about. And I did find the Grail theory in this book to be a very refreshing one. It goes in a direction that was new to me, even though I have read a lot of these types of theories throughout the last twenty to thirty years. 
    What Davis does with the Grail here ties nicely into another important aspect of the Templars. It adds quite a bit of credence to the theory presented, at least in that part of it. It's where the book is at its strongest.

   Although the book does present a fresh take on the theories surrounding the Templars power in Medieval times, and their supposed survival into modern times, it does suffer from a problem of length. There's simply too much history crammed in to way little room here. This is much more a brief synopsis than a full case made for the theory, and that is a shame because what we get here is mostly very good.
   I would very much have liked to see this spread out over a couple of hundred more pages, and given more depth. But that is really unfair criticism of what this really is, which is a short book that gives us a brief glimpse into a very interesting secret history.

   I'm very interested in history, particularly the Medieval period, so I have read quite a few books about the period the Knights Templar existed in. Davis does the period justice in his writing here. There's lots of well researched information about the period, and that goes for the rest of history up to the present day too. But that is not really the point of such a book like this, the point is more that the story seems believable.
   And mostly this seems very much like real history, something hidden from "the masses". The Medieval parts having to do with events during the Templar's official existence is  pretty solid, and there's no holes in it. When it moves through history towards our time, it does however become a bit to grand in my opinion. There's a bit too much focus on putting the Templars at the centre of a few too many events. And that takes away from both the depth at which things are explored, and the credibility of them.
 

    When we move into the 20th century the book becomes vaguer. Supposedly because of the death of the person who unearthed the information in the first place. I found this framing device to be a bit cheap. It's not really needed for the plausibility of what is presented, and it has been done so to death in the conspiracy theory novel that it is something that wouldn't seem truthful even if it were to happen in real life.

   To sum up my thoughts, I liked this book quite a lot. It's a nice and brief presentation of a Templar secret history that stands out a bit from the others I have read. It does feel a bit slight because of its few pages, but for someone wanting a quick introduction to these themes it is perfect.
   There's enough here to interest the seasoned conspiracy theory reader, and it is presented in such a way that a newcomer to these sorts of books will get a good grip on it. For those interested in Knights Templar or Holy Grail theories, this is definitively a must-buy. And I would highly recommend it to anyone who found Dan Brown's books enjoyable.

NOTE: I got an e-ARC of this from the publisher/NetGalley.

LINKS: Graeme Davis  Osprey

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