by Freddy Silva
This is a historical record of the rise of the Knights Templar, but the author tells us in his opening notes that he writes it in the form of a novel to make it more engaging than many historical accounts tend to be, and in this he largely succeeds, though it sometimes slips into academic treatise. Even then it holds interest. It gives a detailed history of a time before we had the European countries as we know them today, when they were small duchies that would eventually form the nations of Europe.
It is well researched and provides maps of the European continent as it was in the year 1080 A.D., when the Holy Roman Empire covered much of the land. One of them is a close-up of the county of Portucale, which will become the country of Portugal as a result of the history about to be told. This history begins with a decree from Pope Urban II in late 11th century that gathers various factions of rabble together and calls them Holy Knights, then sends them off to do a land grab in the Arabic countries because Christians believe certain locations to be theirs by God's will.
There is more detail to the political situation with Turks killing pilgrims and access to sacred sites beset by Bedouin raiders as well as payments demanded since 1065. In just the first couple of chapters, the causes and reasoning behind the Crusades becomes clear and is told in a way that holds interest.
The book is professionally notated and would make a great reference source for anyone looking for information on the rise and background of the Templars or the history behind the Crusades. I personally found it fascinating and an enjoyable way to increase my knowledge of this area of history.