In an effort to kickstart my hobby work I have just read The Knights Hospitaller A Military History of the Knights of Saint John by John Carr.
I have not previously had much interest in the Knightly Orders, especially with their religious connections, but as I am planning to start playing Lion Rampant in the near future and have invested in several boxes of the lovely Fireforge Games Templar Knights, The Knights Hospitaller seem like a good fit.
Not knowing much about the period I felt some research was in order, so I tracked down Pen and Sword Books The Knights Hospitaller by John Carr. The book is written in a very easy to read, conversational style and I found it to be most interesting, from beginning to end. This is not a simple listing of historical events, but a more enjoyable journey through the history of the order. Taking the story from the inception of the Knights of Saint John (the order is known by several names, The Knights Hospitaller, The Order of the Knights of Saint John, The Knights of Malta ...) in Outremer, as a protective escort force for Christian pilgrims and hospital, through their more militaristic battle against the Ottoman Empire and right up to charitable organisation in it's modern form.
The book mainly concentrates on the medieval period, when the Hospitallers were at their height, and clearly where most readers interests will focus. The book does have a few black and white photos in the middle, but generally, this is not a good visual reference to work from (see below for a better choice on this one).
My only real criticism of the book is that it could have done with a little more careful editing. Clearly, with a history of a sizable organisation, some important moments may well be going on in different places at the same time. John Carr has tried to cover this, but it has lent to some repetition as the book flows along. With a bit more editing I feel that this could have been resolved in a slightly better way.
I would highly recommend the book for anyone interested in medieval knightly orders or the history of the Crusades.
For those looking for some more visual reference, I would recommend Pen and Sword Books sister company Osprey Books Knights Hospitaller books (Volume 1, and Volume 2) by David Nicholle. I have volume 2 and it gives me most of the information I need to get my retinue painted for Lion Rampant.
I have assembled my retinue for Lion Rampant, quite a task as the Fireforge Games miniatures require assembly and can go together in endless combinations. They very nice miniatures, but you do need to take some time to get them looking nice.
No doubt you will be seeing more of the minis in coming months as my project progresses...