"The Last Templar"
(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie MAY 1, 2006)
Shades of The Da Vinci Code? Not! I bet Dan Brown never realized the creative streak his novel would inspire in other authors...or wannabe writers. This book is b-o-r-i-n-g and...Oh so predictable!! I really thought that Raymond Khoury, a talented award-winning screen writer, would come up with something better with this, his first novel.
I am fascinated by the subject of the Knights Templar, that band of brothers who were both soldiers and monks. They came together after the First Crusade, in 1096, to ensure the safety of European pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land, and more specifically to Jerusalem. The Order grew in membership and power throughout Europe, until it royally ticked-off a French King, who happened to be broke at the time. King Philip the Fair, eyeing the Knights' considerable wealth, had hundreds of French Templars simultaneously arrested on Friday, the thirteenth of October, 1307. They were charged with over 100 crimes, and tortured by Inquisitors until they "confessed." Rumor has it, however, that the Templars' riches were hidden and, in fact, neither money/gold nor the detailed records of all of their business holdings and financial transactions were ever found. And no one has been able to account for the thousands of Templars across Europe who disappeared, or to the entire Templar fleet of ships which vanished on October 13, 1307. Really interesting, juicy stuff. Unfortunately, Mr. Khoury does not develop his plot or characters enough to make The Last Templar worth the read.
The novel begins with a bang. After an initial brief historical opening about the demise of the Templars in the early 14th century, we flash forward to the 21st century. (The novel is filled with flashbacks and forwards...and some interesting historical information, I must admit). Four horsemen, dressed as Templar knights, ride out of Central Park in New York City as the Metropolitan Museum of Art is about to inaugurate it's long awaited exhibit of Vatican treasures. The horsemen ride up the museum steps (a major feat...I have trouble climbing them myself), and make off with many of the artifacts, including a small decoding device.
No bestseller can really succeed without a leading lady, and so enter Tess Chaykin, a gorgeous, brilliant, plucky archeologist who happens to be attending the gala opening with her Mom and daughter. Ms. Chaykin is divorced which leaves her available for a leading man. She is fortuitously present when one of the "Templars" steals the decoder and overhears him mumble "Veritas Vos Liberabit," in English "the truth will set you free." She remembers to report this verbatim to the FBI counter-terrorism expert assigned to the case, handsome Sean Reilly.
The two embark on a journey across continents and over many dead bodies to solve a mystery which could change the world. Monsignor De Angelis, the Vatican's Ambassador to the United States is hot on their trail with his own agenda, as is retired archeologist and heavy-duty villain, William Vance who, holding one piece of the puzzle, wants it all.
The Last Templar is, of course, plot driven but as far as storyline is concerned, I've been there, done that. Character development is nil. Who are these people? And who is minding Tess's kid? I don't know about you...but I'm up for something new and original in my next action adventure!
- Amazon readers rating: from 349 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from The Last Templar at author's website
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Last Templar (2006)
- The Sanctuary (2007)
- The Sign (2009)
- The Templar Salvation (2010)
- The Devil's Elixir (December 2011)
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- Official website for Raymond Khoury
- BookReporter.com review of The Last Templar
- Reviewing the Evidence on The Last Templar
- BookReporter review of The Devil's Elixir
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About the Author:
Raymond Khoury was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1960. The family move to Rye, New York when fighting broke out in Lebanon in 1975. After graduating from Rye Country Day Schook, he returned to Lebanon to study architecture at the American University in Beirut. A few weeks after he graduated, civil war erupted and he was evacuated from Beirut. He ended up in London where he joined a small architecture practice. In an attempt to explore other career options, he earned his MBA at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, and joined an investment bank, which he stayed at for three years. Not satisfied with world of investment banking, he sought a more creative career, and hooked up with an banker who dabbled in the film business. Though unintended, he ended up with a career as an acclaimed screenwriter both in London and in Los Angeles.
Khoury lives in London, with his wife and two young daughters.