Wednesday, December 13, 2017

History’s “Knightfall” Looks Promising

I’ve been away from the blog for several weeks trying hard to finish the beta draft of the sequel to Enoch’s Device. In the meantime, however, I caught the premiere episode of Knightfall on History Channel, and wanted to share a few thoughts.

I was completely unaware of this new series until I saw an ad for it two weeks ago. The show airs on Wednesdays after the latest season of Vikings (of which I am now several episodes behind), and concerns the fall of the Knights Templar. Based on the first episode, the series looks quite promising.

It all begins with the series’ protagonist, Landry, a monastic knight in Paris who becomes a leader of the Knights Templar. A friend to Phillip the Fair, king of France, Landry at first appears every bit the hero you would expect in a drama about noble knights. For instance, when Phillip’s villainous counselor, Guillaume de Nogaret, convinces the king to expel the Jews from Paris, and then plots to rob and murder them on the road, Landry learns of the plot and rides with his fellow Templars to save them. After all, that’s what heroic knights do.

Fortunately, however, Landry’s character is a bit more complex than a stereotypical hero. For as the first episode reveals, he’s also broken his vow of chastity and is engaged in a secret affair with a woman who turns out to be Queen Joan of France. This seems destined to affect his friendship with King Phillip, who students of history will remember played a major role in the fall of the Knights Templar.

On top of this intriguing storyline, the show also involves the Holy Grail. The opening scene shows Landry and his fellow knights losing the Grail in the fall of Acre, when the knights were driven from the Holy Land. But fifteen years later, they discover a clue that the Grail may now be in France, leading to a Grail quest that seems fitting for a story about the Knights Templar. We may even see a turn towards historical fantasy before too long, for it appears the Grail is a device that predates Christianity, reminding me a bit of Starz’s Da Vinci’s Demons, which turned out to be one of the best historical fantasy series on television.

One thing we know from Vikings, is that History Channel tends to do things right. And since we are in the Long Winter before the final season of Game of Thrones, it’s nice to have a show like Knightfall to help bridge the gap.

* Images courtesy of History