Review: Erotic Tales of the Knights Templar by Jay Starre

From (part of) the blurb:

Jay Starre offers up a raunchy, non-stop feast of lusty medieval adventures in his new book EROTIC TALES OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR. A prolific wizard of the gay erotic short story, Starre has written twenty tales of nasty Knights in the middle ages as they battle and debauch their way through the Latin Kingdom of the thirteenth century Holy Land. Every page sizzles with unabashed hot gay eroticism. The erotic tales are intertwined with a back story of bondage, respect, discipline and servitude.

Review by Erastes

And that sort of sums it up I’m afraid. It’s hard for me to review this as a book within the genre because as a gay book it passes – there is more than enough gay sex here to please a regiment of gay men – but as a work of historical fiction it means almost nothing at all.

I’m informed by research and by more knowledgable friends that it’s perfectly possible that homosexual behaviour occurred in the Order – always the way when large groups of men are kept in together in “celibate conditions” – but there were strict rules against it within the Order (and of course in law of the the land). In fact I’m told that even showing yourself naked in the dormitory was against Order law. As my Templar expert says “…allegedly so they would be militarily prepared, but the source I read figured it was also to prevent the occasion of sin). You don’t make rules if there’s no behavior to legislate against.”

Having sex with a woman caused a Brother to have his worldly good (habit, weapons and horse) confiscated – but sodomy was punishable by expulsion.

The book itself is twenty short stories, loosely linked by character and plot – all porn filled. The stories are progressive in their porn too, and they don’t start soft – you’d expect the first story to perhaps have a blow-job, move up to anal in the second and so on – but here we start with fisting in the first, and they get gradually harder from there on in. BDSM features prominently in a lot of the stories, gang “dubious consent”, and a great deal of ye anciente objecte insertione. Hot they are. Historical? Perhaps. A new category, perhaps – rather than wallpaper historical, this is wallpaper historical porn. Frankly I can’t see the point of them wearing surplices or armour in the first place as they aren’t in them long enough to worry which century they are stripping off in.

The language has a tendancy to be giggleworthy rather than erotic though at times, because there are phrases such as “take it like a Templar” which caused me to nearly choke with laughter. As my Templar expert says: What does that mean? At prayer eight times a day? On a horse?

So really, it’s a big shame because of the lack of novels in this genre, and also because STARbooks have made a specific call for gay historical fiction – and they point this particular book out for prospective readers to use as an example of the sort of thing they are looking for.

It’s perfectly possible for gay historical novels to be erotic whilst still holding on to the period and having a strong plot and there have been many books that have ably illustrated this. But I’m afraid that this, other than being a quite effective wank book, didn’t give me any insight into the Order, the Crusades, or the era at all. But – for those who want to dream of a lusty Templar rogering you with a Saracen dildo, this is the book for you. For me, all I could think of as an alternative title was. Shagalot.

Shagalot by T J Pennington

A law was made a distant moon ago here
Medieval tales must always be quite hot
And not a single person says, “Go slow, dear
In Shagalot.

Vanilla is forbidden–it’s too boring
The readers much prefer kinks (and a lot)
Forget the plot–the characters are scoring
In Shagalot.

Each serf wears but the skimpiest of tunics
each Arab has a dildo, crystal clear
In short, there’s simply not; A more orgasmic spot
For harlots, knights and eunuchs than here
In Shagalot.

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9 Responses

  1. *sighs*

    To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I had high hopes for this book. And I agree–why have them in uniform if all they’re going to do is take it off? Where’s the action? My expectations was that there would be…well, something of more substance–battle scenes, tense moments, etc. Is there even a thread of worry in any of their heads that their actions could lead to expulsion (or even death)?

    And the “take it like a Templar”… O.o

    Further reason for me to get off my butt and write my Crusades novel. (Just need more hours…)

  2. Historical? Perhaps. A new category, perhaps – rather than wallpaper historical, this is wallpaper historical porn. Frankly I can’t see the point of them wearing surplices or armour in the first place as they aren’t in them long enough to worry which century they are stripping off in.

    Sounds like… YAOI.

  3. What an entertaining review! So the book sucks, the review was hysterical! Keep up the good work.

  4. I saw this at a Different Light in fact I could tell immediately what type of book it was by the blurb.

    Gave me some great ideas.

    Oh, and since The Knights Templar are pretty much a blank historically and most things written about it are on the level of accuracy of say The Da Vinci Code what does your friend recommend for research material?

  5. Hi Teddy –

    First off, I think Erastes was being generous in describing me as an expert – it’s not a term I’d use to describe myself at all. I have done some pretty extensive research on the early 12th century Kingdom of Jerusalem with some side research on the Knights Templar for a series of historical mysteries I’m working on, and would be happy to suggest some books you might be able to find at a good library.

    The Rule of the Templars, which includes the original Primitive Rule of 1129 and the later Hierarchical Statutes of the 1160’s is a great place to start – there’s nothing like primary source documentations, and the Rule goes into a lot of serious depth about daily practices and expectations (of course, whether those expectations were met is another story!). The Rule is available in book form, and in the case of the Primitive Rule at least, online through the Orb, the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies, a fabulous source for anyone interested in the Middle Ages.

    Helen Nicholson has a couple of books out on the subject. One is an Osprey book, which is a good overview, and the other one is probably the book I’ve used most, The Knights Templar: A New History”>, which seems to be out of print, but should be in most academic libraries of any size, I’d think. Stephen Howarth’s The Knights Templar is another book that seems reasonably well documented. Thing is, I’m only interested in the period prior to the Second Crusade, so I haven’t evaluated the accuracy of information about the later periods in most of these sources.

    There are a couple of others, but it’s 5:30 in the morning here and that’s the best I can come up with at this point. I’d definitely stay away from anything with the word ‘legend’ or ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ in the title, unless you’re looking for speculation. You can get a lot of good plot ideas from some of those conspiracy theory books.

    Oh, and there’s also a Templar Code for Dummies book that I’ve never actually seen, but looks like a sort of one-shop stop for both factual and conspiracy stuff. Just what I need, more books.

    As to web resources, I wouldn’t recommend Wikipedia as anything more than a starting point. I mentioned the Orb for original sources. There are a couple of re-enactment groups doing Templars or 12th and 13th century in general. The Compagnia di Chiaravalle, the Company of Outremer, and a French one with some really fabulous pictures on their website which of course I can’t lay hands on right now, but will post later if I find it. These people are the real experts, and you could do worse than contact them for some additional suggestions. A Google search will turn up tons of hits, a lot of them claiming to be ‘official’ Templar pages. Most of those are published by various sorts of Freemasons, so just be aware that they may or may not be all that accurate. It’s ‘buyer beware’ on the web, which is why I’m still a dinosaur and prefer books for serious research.

    More than you ever wanted to know, I’m sure, but I hope some of this is helpful.

  6. Wow that Helen Nicholson is an expensive lady.

    I guess I will buy that sucker.

  7. To Templars’ the punishment was only expulsion? In Teutonic Order it was execution or imprisonment for life. Templars’ were a bit lucky 🙂

  8. Well they certainly get lucky in this book, and no-one gets expelled. from anyone!!

  9. Me? I loved the song! ;~D
    (Hi Erastes!)

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