Bloody and Brutal...
Came upon this little gem when I was flicking through my Netflix listings. Well, there was stuff-all on regular TV, so I thought I'd give it a go.
Watched the first episode involving the siege of Acre and was immediately hooked. Ended up binge-watching like a man possessed.
Now, okay, the story does play fast and loose with historical record and although I've read a fair bit about the period I did find myself nipping onto Wikipedia (other websites are available) in order to remind myself how some of the real characters in the series either behaved or met their end: Queen Anne of France and Pope Boniface to name but two.
Frankly, though, I didn't care that there were huge contradictions because the show's writers have done a grand job of manipulating the facts in such a way that as far as the plot's
concerned the fictional intrigue as shown on screen make sense within the framework of the story.
They've also created a terrific sense of period, in particular with regards to the fight sequences, which are bloody and brutal.
As for the cast, there were more than a few faces that I didn't recognise and there were a couple of actor changes between Series 1 and 2 - Jaques de Molay, leader of the Templars, and Princess Isabella, for instance - but that didn't detract from the enjoyment.
The big reveal in Season 2 was Mark Hamill (yes, that Mark Hamill) who is clearly having the time of his life playing Talus, the Templars' sword-master and trainer to the Order's new recruits. He's virtually unrecognisable under all the facial hair and you'd be hard-pressed to know it was him if you hadn't spotted his name in the credits. Admittedly, a few of the characters do take advantage of any opportunity to chew the scenery but it all adds grist to the mill.
The story falls into two categories. Season 1 concerns the search for and the protection of the Holy Grail – a strand which is not fully resolved, while Series 2 follows the persecution of the Templars by the French King and the Pope. As far as I know there's been no decision made by the History Channel to embark on a third series so it'll be a case of watch this space.
Now, I have no doubt whatsoever that history scholars will poo-poo the historical inaccuracies, but for sheer entertainment value, if you liked Ironclad and Centurion, you'll love this.
If you do take a peek and are intrigued enough to want to know more about the Templars and their role in history, you could a lot worse than check out historian Dan Jones' two books: The Templars (2018) and his follow up, The Crusades (2019), both of which are cracking reads.