Shelf Control #57 – 25/11/2022
Here’s hoping you are having the happiest of Fridays, and that you’re excited about another Shelf Control post from yours truly.
Shelf Control is a regular feature on my blog. It’s a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies… a celebration of the unread books on our shelves! The idea is to pick a book you own but haven’t read and write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!
If you want to read more about the Shelf Control feature, check out Lisa’s introductory post.
This week’s feature is a little unusual; I have been inspired to pick it up based on a video game I played as a teenager.
The Templars – Dan Jones
Publication Date: 19 Sept 2017
A faltering war in the middle east. A band of elite warriors determined to fight to the death to protect Christianity’s holiest sites. A global financial network unaccountable to any government. A sinister plot founded on a web of lies.
Jerusalem 1119. A small group of knights seeking a purpose in the violent aftermath of the First Crusade decides to set up a new order. These are the first Knights Templar, a band of elite warriors prepared to give their lives to protect Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Over the next two hundred years, the Templars would become the most powerful religious order of the medieval world. Their legend has inspired fervent speculation ever since.
In this groundbreaking narrative history, Dan Jones tells the true story of the Templars for the first time in a generation, drawing on extensive original sources to build a gripping account of these Christian holy warriors whose heroism and alleged depravity have been shrouded in myth. The Templars were protected by the pope and sworn to strict vows of celibacy. They fought the forces of Islam in hand-to-hand combat on the sun-baked hills where Jesus lived and died, finding their nemesis in Saladin, who vowed to drive all Christians from the lands of Islam. Experts at channeling money across borders, they established the medieval world’s largest and most innovative banking network and waged private wars against anyone who threatened their interests.
Then, as they faced setbacks at the hands of the ruthless Mamluk sultan Baybars and were forced to retreat to their stronghold in Cyprus, a vindictive and cash-strapped King of France set his sights on their fortune. His administrators quietly mounted a damning case against the Templars, built on deliberate lies and false testimony. Then on Friday October 13, 1307, hundreds of brothers were arrested, imprisoned and tortured, and the order was disbanded amid lurid accusations of sexual misconduct and heresy. They were tried by the Pope in secret proceedings and their last master was brutally tortured and burned at the stake. But were they heretics or victims of a ruthlessly repressive state? Dan Jones goes back to the sources tobring their dramatic tale, so relevant to our own times, in a book that is at once authoritative and compulsively readable.
I will fully admit that today’s Shelf Control feature came on my radar as a result of playing the original Assassin’s Creed game. What could possibly have made it onto my list that’s related to this, I hear you ask. Well, I wanted to learn more about a prominent faction throughout the storyline – the Templars. I’m not going to go spoiling anything about the game, so don’t worry on that front. All I will say is that having played it for myself, I wanted to learn more about the history and setting of the story.
The great thing about this book is that I am already familiar with the author through TV. Not only does he make use of books and writing as part of his profession, but he’s also prominent on television as a broadcaster for historical documentaries. I am sure I’ve watched a number of documentaries in which he features, and I really enjoyed his narration style. I’m hoping this carries through into today’s book.
Another reason I’m looking forward to picking up this book is that it will expand my wider knowledge of history. As you know, I am keen to learn new things. I’m also trying to make more of an effort to read more non-fiction, so this ticks that box as well. This isn’t a period of history that I have ever looked at before. Religion isn’t particularly prominent in my reading either, so The Templars stands out for that reason too. I for one I’m looking forward to exploring both elements together through this book!
Have you been inspired to learn about something based on a game or hobby before? Let me know in the comments!