I'm way behind on author review on the new manuscript; last week was a mess that kept us away from home three days longer than anticipated; and I'm neglecting much that needs to be done this week.
That said, the last thing I need to be doing is reading a book that is not research on the current project, since Friday is my drop-dead cutoff for revisions. Nevertheless, my new copy of Brother Stephen Dafoe's Nobly Born: An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar arrived while we were gone, and I haven't been able to stay away from it. So, this is no formal review, but a last-minute bid to recommend it for your Christmas list. (I mean, provided that you have already ordered The Templar Code For Dummies first.)
Stephen (publisher of Templar History magazine) has managed to do something fresh in the Templar book universe, and beginners and those thoroughly versed in Templar lore alike will find much to like about this book. Dreamers and "speculators" take note: this is no "Templars found treasure, sailed to Scotland, saved Robert the Bruce, started Freemasonry and hid their loot at Oak Island" waste of time. What it IS is a concise (deceptively thin-looking), historical examination of what is truly known about the Knights Templar, going back to medieval sources. Their formation, rise, organization, battles, failures and fall — all here, presented with Stephen's skill as a reporter, combined with his flair for making complex concepts easy to understand, and frankly, fun to read. A cursory flip through Nobly Born rewards you with an abundance of illustrations, many of them newly created by Stephen, showing battles, preceptories, troop movements, uniforms, hierarchy and more. All packaged in a truly beautiful edition by Lewis Masonic.
The book also features original artwork from Templar author and artist Gordon Napier and Indiana Masonic artist Brother Stephen McKim.
This is truly unlike any other Templar book on the market, and well worth its £19.99 ($33) cover price.
Stephen Dafoe is well-known in the electronic Masonic universe as the founder of the (now closed) forum, TheLodgeRoom.com, as well as being the publisher of Masonic Magazine. He has written for numerous publications, and his 2005 paper, Reading, Writing, and Apathy: The Rise and Fall of Masonic Education, first presented at Lodge Vitruvian No. 767, was published in the 2006 edition of the Scottish Rite Research Society's Heredom. Masonic Templars take note — Stephen's next book, due in 2008, The Compasses and the Cross, will be a history of the Templar Order and the development of Chivalric Masonry.