"Prince of Persia" video game creator Jordan Mechner is interviewed today at Comic Book Resources, and he talks about one of his many new projects under development - a three-part comic book series based upon the Knights Templar, called "Solomon's Thieves."
"Solomon's Thieves" is set in the period of the Knights Templar in France in the 14th Century. I've been fascinated by the Templars for many years, and this was a story I came across while doing research for "Prince of Persia." You can't read about the Crusades without the Templars being mentioned. For many years, I thought this story was fascinating, but I didn't really see how to do it as a movie or a book. Then it really clicked was when I thought to do it in the spirit of Alexander Dumas, one of my favorite writers – something that would be, like "Prince of Persia," a fun swashbuckling adventure that would also be set against a real historical event. It's very rooted in history and I think also very relevant to the modern day. . .
"Solomon's Thieves" is really told from the point of view of two knights who come back from the Templar Crusades to find that the world has changed. Like returning veterans of any unpopular war, they have trouble fitting into society. In this case, they arrive in Paris just in time for the entire order of Knights Templar – hundreds of knights in the rank and file up to the grand master himself – to be arrested in a single morning and hauled before the Inquisition on charges of blasphemy and heresy. This is an actual historical event – the overnight destruction of what had been one of the most powerful military religious organizations in Europe. And so the fun of the book is to see these great, sweeping historical events – the conflict between the church and the king and all of it – from the point of view of the small fry, the small fish who slipped between the cracks. They don't necessarily understand what's going on, but we deeply sympathize with their plight because these are guys who joined up to be heroes.
The Knights Templar were like the Japanese Samurai or the Jedi Knights of their time. They represented an ideal. They weren't just the best fighters – though the Templars considered it even odds when they were outnumbered ten to one – but they were the best, noblest knights. They were above material gain at a time when normal knights just fought for plunder. As boys, they dreamed of growing up to be Knights Templar. The red cross on white was a very potent symbol in the Medieval Age, so that's why their fall was so shocking, and the plight of these knights as ordinary enlisted men was something I felt modern audiences could connect with and empathize with.
"Solomon's Thieves" is due in stores May 11th.