DUNGEON, FIRE AND SWORD by John J. Robinson

DUNGEON, FIRE AND SWORD

The Knights Templar in the Crusades
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The author of Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry (1989)--which provocatively argued that the Freemasons are a descendant order of the medieval Knights Templar--now concentrates, in a highly detailed but far less captivating addendum, on the Knights' role in the Crusades. Robinson's fascination with the military monastic order organized by a band of knights in the aftermath of the First Crusade and originally dedicated to the protection of pilgrims in the Holy Land continues. Here, he sets out to recount the Knights' role as trained warriors and, eventually, as international bankers during the nearly 200 years from Pope Urban II's call for the First Crusade in 1095 through the last Crusaders' abandonment of the Holy Land in 1291. Unfortunately, in this version the fascination of the Templar tradition (including the order's secret initiation rites, its rules of chastity and individual poverty, its provision against bathing, and its recruitment from the ranks of murderers, exiles, and excommunicated Catholics) is submerged beneath deadly masses of historic detail concerning the ever-changing political alliances, royal successions, and battle plans that comprised the Christian invasions of the Holy Land. Isolated incidents featuring such swashbucklers as Richard the Lion-Hearted, Frederick Barbarossa, and the Syrian Assassins sparkle occasionally against the otherwise monotonous accounts of skirmishes against the Muslims, disputes among Christian noblemen, and struggles for the crown of Jerusalem- -but the Knights themselves are often lost in the background of these events, and only regain their undeniable mystique when Pope Clement V disbands the order at the behest of France's avaricious King Philip IV, and the Knights are reduced to a fugitive, underground existence whose traditions may continue in some form to this day. Lacking the power and focus of Robinson's earlier work, this serves as little more than reference material for die-hard Crusade fans. (Maps.)

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1992
ISBN: 0-87131-657-9
Page count: 512pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1991