All right, I was disappointed by this.

It is a good book, and well written. If you don’t really know much about the Crusades, and specifically the part the Knights of the Temple played in it, it is an informative book.

On the other hand, if you do already know the history of the Crusades, there’s nothing new here. I’m no specialist scholar; my knowledge primarily comes from two general overviews of the Crusades as a whole (Ashbridge’s and Runciman’s), and there was nothing new in this more specialized work.

Non-Crusade history is pretty much limited to the prosecution and dissolution of the Templars by King Phillip IV of France. This is well-covered, and while I’ve seen it covered about as well elsewhere (I’m not sure where though…), he does a particularly good job here. By Jones’ lights, it’s pretty much all Phillip IV’s show. Pope Clement V comes in for a bit more sympathy than normal, noting a French army just outside Avignon as the trials finally reached their conclusion in front of the Pope.

However, the Templars were more than fighting men in Outremer, and victims in France. They had an entire network of holdings in Europe that generated money for their needs (and loaned large sums to several kings; including largely underwriting the entirety of a Crusade), and helped recruit new people into the organization. This all gets mentioned in any work that deals with the Crusades. And here, it is mentioned, without any additional detail being gone into. This is decidedly a popular history, and this is certainly the less ‘exciting’ part of this history, but actually digging into how they worked outside of the Kingdom of Jerusalem would have been greatly appreciated.

There’s also an afterword talking about the history of the order in fiction. I’m sure this is really the prime motivator for writing this book, but the early parts of it are interesting on their own. They had become a trope at a fairly early date, and their afterlife in fiction is interesting.