Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review: The 'Templar of Tyre'

The Templar of Tyre: Part III of the 'Deeds of the Cypriots (Crusade Texts in Translation, 6)The Templar of Tyre: Part III of the 'Deeds of the Cypriots by Paul Crawford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is possibly the most valuable book I have ever purchased. I've done endless research into the history of the Crusades between 1270 and 1291, and of the Templars until their dissolution in 1314. Nothing I have read matches this first hand account written by a close confidant and scribe of the Templar Grand Master, William de Beaujeu. The author witnessed some of the most significant events of the last decades of the Outremer crusader states, including the disastrous fall of Acre in 1291. His account makes clear the deteriorating conditions and the internal conflict that led to the final collapse of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem.

This book is pricey, but its contents are priceless.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Trial of the Templars, by Malcolm Barber

The Trial of the Templars 2edThe Trial of the Templars 2ed by Malcolm Barber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is an excellent historical analysis of the arrest and trial of the Templar Knights from 1307 to 1314. Malcolm Barber's meticulous research, vast knowledge, and clear analysis make this book well worth reading. Barber offers a lucid, detailed explanation of the reasons, the methods, and the machinations that brought about the persecution and defeat of the most powerful, influential, and respected medieval military order the world has known.

This book is essential to anyone who has more than a passing interest in the true history of the Templars, those Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Long Overdue Update

It's been three years now since The Pict was published, and it's been a long while since I last updated this blog. The Pict has been doing very well, for the most part on its own, since I've done very little marketing for it lately.

I've focused entirely on my next novel, Jerusalem Falls. It's coming along nicely. The writing is flowing better than it has since Karen was first diagnosed in January, 2007. The depth of the impact of Karen's illness and passing is almost indescribable. It has taken me this long to really feel like I'm back on track, and for most of the last three years I wondered if I'd ever again care about writing at all. But I care very deeply about writing, and I'm definitely back on track.

Jerusalem Falls is a good story. It's blown up to more than 620 pages and counting, which is good; there's a lot to cut out, and a lot of very good material that will make the final cut. I'm only more pleased as I continue to make progress.

I won't promise a release date. I've learned over the last two years that the pressure of artificial deadlines interferes with creativity. One of the bosses I admired most in my prior career once told me that if I wanted something really bad, I'd get it bad, but if I wanted it good, I needed to just take the time to do it right. I've reminded myself of that wisdom often this last year, and it's helped me to focus on making the next novel better. So, while I know there are many out there waiting for Jerusalem Falls, and who have for the most part stopped asking when it would be published, I appreciate your interest and your patience, and I feel safe in assuring you that when it's out, you will get it better rather than sooner, and you will not be disappointed. It's really coming along very well.

The best to all, and thanks for your support and good wishes.

Jack

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Medieval Inquisition

Studying the Medieval Inquisition can be a sobering, disturbing experience. The extent to which men will go to consolidate and preserve their power over others appears to be nearly limitless. Estimates vary as to the numbers of the Inquisition's victims, but one thing is clear: the Papal Inquisition has touched every life on earth since its inception in 1234.

It's interesting to note that one of the two primary tortures institutionalized by the Inquisition - the methods of which were described in painstaking detail by the authors of the inquisitors' manuals - was waterboarding. The Ordeal by Water was carried out precisely as it still is today. It was defined as acceptable, sanctioned torture by the Inquisition. It's also interesting to note the inquisitors' eventual acceptance that the Ordeal by Water and the Ordeal by Fire produced no valuable information or legitimate confessions, but rather were effective for one solitary purpose: terrorizing their victims.

Another interesting note is that the Inquisition executed its last victim in 1826 - almost thirty-seven years after the new American government declared the separation of church and state. The Inquisition was contemporary to the lives of the Founding Fathers; it raged as they sought to prevent its influence from extending to the United States. The Inquisiton officially ended in 1834, just prior to our nation's descent into civil war. We would do well to recognize that the ideas and the passions that can inspire such things as inquisition and genocide are not distant, archaic history, but contemporary dangers worthy of our active vigilance. Their rise requires the demonization and isolation of distinct groups; their avoidance requires that we reject such things in the progress of our daily lives, and that we maintain with due resolve the separation of the powers that can - and will - conspire to bring them into being.

My second novel, which takes place in 13th century France and the Holy Land, will be available in the summer of this year.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Kindle Versions

The Pict on Amazon

I've finally gotten the Kindle versions of The Pict straight. The poorly formatted version is no longer available at Amazon. I'm hoping that some time soon iUniverse will make good on their agreement to remove the first edition paperback from print, and make it unavailable, as I doubt they ever resolved the problem of the erroneous cover graphics. Barnes & Noble also has an eBook version of The Pict available.

Progress on Number Two

I've continued to make good progress on Number Two. I've done some heavy editing, practically rewriting several chapters in their entirity. I've found that while I tried to make good use of the time Karen and I spent at the chemo clinic and various other medical facilities, my head wasn't in it the way I thought it was. It's mildly frustrating, but I'm happy that I'm making significant improvements to what I've got, and filling in the blanks as well. My "editors" have told me that what I had is much better now, and what I'm adding is top notch. I trust their judgment, and I appreciate my readers' patience as I look to a Spring 2010 release date.

More to come.