When Dr. Ralls asked me to submit a few of my past photos for inclusion in her latest book, I had no idea she was working on an encyclopedia of the Knights Templar. However, I was delighted to see and read the final product of her research. It is at once both an excellent reference about the Knights and an easily readable narrative of who they were, their historical activities, places, and symbols.
While I first found myself reading the book from cover to cover, I now use it to look up specific subjects relating to the Templars. I find the guide very thorough for that purpose, and, as an experienced traveler, I find especially valuable Appendix E, the Selected List of Templar Sites. While Dr. Ralls' Bibliography is quite complete, as an avid researcher I particularly appreciate her inclusion of a section on Recommended Reading of books and articles organized by subject.
Karen Ralls is no stranger to the study of the Order of the Temple. When I decided to travel 4 years ago to England, Scotland, and France to study the sacred architecture for which the Knights are responsible, I was told to contact Dr. Ralls. I found she had not only been past deputy director of the Rosslyn Chapel Museum exhibition, but that she had been lecturing on medieval history at Oxford University. And, that's where I met up with her.
Also being a stickler for accuracy and details, Karen and I talked the same language. I got many good tips from her on where to concentrate my efforts in my own search, and I subsequently enjoyed reading her book The Templars and the Grail. Keep in mind that all this was before the arrival of the Da Vinci Code novel and movie. Dr. Ralls put me way ahead of the game, so to speak, and was instrumental in encouraging me to follow through on my lecture circuit about the meanings behind the art, architecture, and symbols of the Templars.
The Knights Templar Encyclopedia is a fitting culmination of many years of scholarly work by a fine academic historian. As I have, I think you will find it an enjoyable read as well as a stepping stone to your own further quest for knowledge about the mystical Knights of the Temple.
While this book is a milestone in the efforts of Dr. Ralls, we certainly know it will be followed by many other significant contributions from her in this field of study.