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Literature: Arn: The Knight Templar
"I gave my word."
Arn

Arn: The Knight Templar is a series of books by Swedish author Jan Guillou, also known as The Crusades Trilogy, and a film (or two, in Scandinavia; it was condensed to one international release) telling the story of a young man who finds himself as one of The Knights Templar as penance after falling in love with and bedding Cecilia, and conceiving a child out of wedlock. From his beginnings as a child monk being trained in the sword to befriending Saladin, we get a snapshot of his entire life. While much of the film takes place during The Crusades, it also takes much time out to elaborate on Arn's past and Cecilia's current penance as well as the sociopolitical climate in the kingdom that one day will be Sweden.

The book series consists of the following:
  • The Road to Jerusalem
  • The Templar Knight
  • Birth of the Kingdom

There was also a sequel, The Heritage After Arn, about a fictionalized version of real historical person Birger Jarl, which has not yet been translated.

The books were a huge success with Swedish audiences, spawning walking tours of historical sites as well as television documentaries and a renewed interest in medieval history.

This film has received a mixed reception, earning a 6.4 on IMDB at the time of writing.

The books contain examples of:

  • Arranged Marriage: Due to the setting, there's a whole slew of these; Arn and Cecilia's betrothal is a variation, although they're actually in love and are punished for becoming impatient and sleeping together before their wedding. There is also the later issue of Arn, once having returned home from Palestine, almost being married off to Sverker maiden Ingrid Ylva, when he'd rather marry Cecilia like he was supposed to all along. In the end, it's arranged for their son Magnus to marry Ingrid Ylva instead, and he has no objection.
    • Another: Knut and Blanka, who are quite content with their arrangement.
  • Combat by Champion: Arn defeats Sverker champion Emund Ulvbane this way.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Arn himself.
  • Cool Horse: All the Arabian horses compared to the Nordic coldbloods, but especially Kamsiin.
  • Cool Old Guy: Brother Guilbert. His personal Crowning Moment Of Awesome occurs at Arn's bachelor party. Stag nights in this period involved a contest of arms, with seven events. In spite of never having practiced two of the events (throwing spears and throwing axes) and going up against men a third of his age, he still manages to place second.
  • Cool Sword: Arn's sword was given to him by Brother Guilbert who was never defeated while wielding it. He is told never to raise it in anger or use it for personal benefit.
  • Death by Childbirth: Narrowly averted; Mother Rikissa starves the pregnant Cecilia Rosa and has her working in the fields throughout her pregnancy until her labor starts.
  • Finish Him!: Young Arn is told to end the duel with Emund Ulvbane in this manner. He refuses to kill an already defeated enemy.
  • Friendly Enemy: Arn and Saladin; they've saved each others' lives, like and respect each other, and have many opinions about the future of Palestine in common. However, they're also determined to defeat the other on the battlefield because it is God's Will.
  • High Priest: The Church is a major power both among the Templars and in Sweden, so there are multiple examples of this trope, including several Archbishops and Popes.
  • Horse Archer: Arn is one, leading to his reputation among the Saracens. Also, obviously, the Turcopoles.
  • I Am X, Son of Y.: Ubiquitous due to the setting, but becomes significant in one case, namely that of Bengt Elinsson. Bengt was born Bengt Svantesson, but his father was an abusive drunk, who even killed Bengt's mother Elin in a drunken rage. After Elin's death is avenged by her clansmen (including Arn), Bengt sheds his father's clan colors and name and chooses to identify himself as his mother's son.
  • The Knights Templar, obviously.
  • Master Swordsman: Most of the Knights Templar, but Arn and Brother Guilbert (and later Arn's students) are the ones most remarked upon by other characters.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted and played with; Cecilia Algotsdotter and Cecilia Ulfsdotter are lay sisters as the same time, and are told apart by nicknaming them after their hair colors; red-haired Cecilia Rosa and blonde Cecilia Blanka. They keep these nicknames for the rest of their lives.
    • Also a few instances of combinations of aversion of it and and Dead Guy Junior; Arn and Cecilia Rosa's son is named Magnus, although Old Sir Magnus is not yet dead when he's born, and there's the case of a number of kings named Knut and Erik.
  • The Patriarch: Birger Brosa
  • Rated M for Manly: As it so often is with Guillou's works.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Arn and Eskil, as adults. Arn is a devoted warrior and a man of God, Eskil is a cunning merchant with a fondness for swearing, food and beer. Despite this, they get along very well.
    • There is a Not So Different moment involved: Arn explains that, as castellan of Gaza, he had to be as much Merchant Prince, judge, politician and diplomat as a soldier.
    • Also, to a certain extent, Cecilia Rosa and Katarina; Cecilia is romantic, devoted and faithful, while Katarina is opportunistic, conniving and hedonistic.
  • Sword Fight
  • Shout-Out: At one point, Arn is made to joust against an inexperienced young knight of Richard Lionheart's called Wilfred of Ivanhoe
  • True Companions: Cecilia Rosa and Cecilia Blanka

The film also contains examples of:


Inanna's Descent to the NetherworldNon-English LiteratureBlå Tornet
Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork ConsortiumHistorical Fiction LiteratureAs Meat Loves Salt
An Arctic TaleFilms of 2005 - 2009 The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

alternative title(s): Arn The Knight Templar
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