The Templar Tales
My current project, Tales of Chivalry, is composed for three series: Tales from the Languedoc, Tales from the Kingdom of Cyprus (AKA: The Lion of Karpas) and The Templar Tales. The latter are three independent novels in which Knights Templar play an important role. The novels are interrelated and share some characters, notably Sir Geoffrey de Preuthune, but each novel stands on its own. Two of the books, The Templar of St. John the Baptist, and The English Templar, focus on key events in the history of the Knights Templar, namely the fall of Christian Palestine to the armies of Islam at the end of the 13th century and the destruction of the Knights Templar by King Philip IV of France in the early 14th century respectively. The first novel in the series, St. Louis’ Knight, in contrast, is more a scene setter, introducing Sir Geoffrey; it is set in the Seventh Crusade.
The Templar trilogy was inspired by a trip to Cyprus. Sitting in the window seat of the Hospitaller fortress at Kolossi, wandering through the ruins of a medieval sugar mill, and strolling through the cloisters of Bellapais, images of knights crowded my brain, clamoring for a voice. As I learned more about the Knights Templar and visited southern France, the source of Templar wealth, I could not sleep at night for the stories that demanded telling. There, in the mighty castle of Najac, where Templars were held prisoner, and in the Templar commanderies of Collioure and Cahors, the voices became so insistent that I felt compelled to write the stories down – even though they were still only shadowy and half-formed. I published three novels at my own expense.
It was a foolish thing to do. Novels need to ripen and mature. Even the most insistent voices can be misunderstood, misinterpreted, falsely translated. The Cypriot Knight and Sir Jean of Acre were embryonic stories, not novels. Seventeen years later, I cringed when I reread The Cypriot Knight and winced when I took Sir Jean of Acre in my hands again. I realized what a rough draft these early publications were. Fortunately, both books were also out of print. I saw this as an opportunity to rework good raw material into better books.
The Templar Tales now consist of the following books:
King Louis IX and his crusading army are trapped in Egypt. To prevent his sword, with a sacred relic in the hilt, from falling into the hands of the Saracen, the dying Grand Master of the Knights Templar entrusts it to his newly-knighted former squire, Sir Geoffrey de Preuthune. Shaken by the loss of all his Templar brothers, Sir Geoffrey has denied the divinity of Christ, and the Grand Master makes him pledge that he will not rejoin the Knights Templar until he understands God’s will. Geoffrey’s search for understanding leads him to Cyprus and a fateful encounter with the daughter of a Cathar heretic.
Sir Jean de Preuthune believes his father committed a grave sin by failing to return Grand Master de Sonnac’s sword, containing a finger bone of John the Baptist in the hilt, to the Knights Templar. He is determined to right his father’s wrong by taking vows as a Knight Templar. He sets out to free the Holy Land, but even so powerful a relic in the hand of a devout crusader cannot alone defeat the powerful armies of Islam under the able leadership of the Sultan Kala’un. As one Christian stronghold after another falls to the Saracens, Sir Jean must re-evaluate his mission and faith.
· The English Templar
Passing through France from England to Cyprus with dispatches, the Templar knight Sir Percy de Lacy is caught up in the surprise arrest of the Knights Templar on Friday, October 13, 1307. He is tortured until he confesses to sins he did not commit. When he manages to crawl off the prisoner transport taking him to Paris, Sir Percy wants only to die, . But Sir Percy’s rescuer, Felice de Preuthune, and her grandfather Sir Geoffrey have no intention of letting Sir Percy die. While Sir Geoffrey and Sir Percy fight back against the French King and the Pope, Felice fights her own battle for their souls.