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On Crusade: More Tales of the Templar Knights
edited by Katherine Kurtz
Warner Aspect, 246 pages

On Crusade: More Tales of the Templar Knights
Katherine Kurtz
Born in Florida, Katherine Kurtz attended the University of Miami and, later, UCLA. She went on to work as a designer for the Los Angeles Police Academy. Her best-known work, the Deryni series, ranks near the top of modern fantasy fiction. Ms. Kurtz lives in a gothic revival house in County Wicklow, Ireland, with her husband, author Scott MacMillan.
Katherine Kurtz Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond

Secret organizations, conspiracies, vast sums of hidden wealth, government corruption, whispering of the occult. No, it's not the introduction to a new X-Files book, it's a book of stories about the Templar Knights. On Crusade: More Tales of the Templar Knights, edited by Katherine Kurtz, is a collection of ten stories, all in some way connected to the Templar Knights.

The Order of the Templar Knights came to an end on October 13, 1307, when the officers of King Philip of France arrested every Templar they could find and confiscated their holdings, on charges that included heresy and blasphemy. Although that was the official end of the Templars, a large portion of their wealth and their fleet of ships disappeared. There are suspicions that the Order lived on, its existence shrouded in secrecy. A few of these stories are based on this belief.

The stories proceed chronologically, the first taking place in 1180 in Tripoli and the last taking place sometime in the near future in the United States. Each story is proceeded by a short introduction by Katherine Kurtz which often tells a bit of Templar history and puts the stories in perspective.

The first story, "Blank Check" by Diane Duane, is set in Tripoli in 1180 and deals with the financial services the Order provided. A mysterious women presents a blank bank draft to the local Templar "branch office" and requests sufficient funds to build a fortress in the middle of the desert. The Templar banker agonizes over the decision of whether to cash the blank check, and wonders about the purpose of the fortress.

"The Company of Three," by Deborah Turner Harris and Robert J. Harris, deals with one of the mysterious artifacts that the Templars were thought to have guarded through the ages. David M. Honigsberg and Alexandra Elizabeth Honigsberg contributed "Borne on a River of Tears," a story about the arrest of the Jews and the confiscation of their property in France in 1306, almost a year before the Templars suffered the same fate. In this story, a Jew must convince a soldier to take the artifact that he guards and prevent King Philip from obtaining it.

"The Treasure of the Temple," by Richard Woods, speculates on the missing Templar treasure and ships, pursing the theory that they ended up in Scotland. "Occam's Razor," by Robert Reginald, deals with the same theme, as the Franciscan theologian William of Ockham is summoned by the Pope to investigate the deaths of a Pope and a King and to recover the Templar treasure. Andre Norton explores the idea that at least one of the Templar ships may have made it to the New World in "Stonish Men."

Bradley H. Sinor's "Dreams and Nightmares" is a story about modern Templars in World War II reaching back in time to obtain the aid of the Templar fleet to evacuate the English army from Dunkirk. Katherine Kurtz contributes as an author as well, with "Restitution." Sir Adam Sinclair, from the Adept series, was a Templar Knight in a previous incarnation. This short piece takes place after the fifth book in the Adept series, and in it Sinclair attempts to heal Henri Gerard, a man who had stolen certain Templar treasures in an effort to acquire power and wealth, but instead was driven mad by the horrors that he released.

Others also believe that the Templar Knights are still among us, carrying on the work of their order. Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald take a light-hearted look at this in "Selling The Devil." A modern Templar must deal with a couple of Knights of St. John who have gone bad and tried to summon up Satan so that they can kill him once and for all. It's a very entertaining story: our hero, reminiscent of a hard-boiled private investigator, is teamed up with a tough-as-nails virgin nun. Throw in a powerful sword with a mind of its own and a would-be Bride of Satan and the story is complete.

The final story deals with the theme of the Templars as guardians of some of Christianity's most holy objects. In David and Julie Spangler's "Keepers," an alien ship has arrived and made first contact with Earth. One of the first people they wish to speak to is Christina Bartlett, a potter and musician with a doctorate in astrophysics. But she is also something else, a Keeper. The first female Keeper in a line of Templars, she guards one of the greatest treasures of Christianity. She discovers that the aliens, like the Templars, are fleeing persecution, and they bring her another object to guard for them. A touching story and one with a happy ending.

The Templar Knights have fascinated historians and authors for a long time, and certainly the true history is as captivating as some of the fictional stories collected here. Many of these stories deal with the mystical side of the Templars and the religious treasures they were rumored to guard. On Crusade: More Tales of the Templar Knights is a great collection of stories by some of fantasy's best authors. Fans of the Adept series will want to check out Kurtz's "Restitution" and Deborah Turner Harris's "The Company of Three." And I will put in my request for a full length novel by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald featuring their modern day version of the Templar Knights.

Copyright © 1998 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.

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