Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Last Templar - Raymond Khoury

    2005; 523 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Action Adventure.  Overall Rating : 7½*/10.

    It was supposed to be a big night for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art – the grand opening of the “Treasures of the Vatican” exhibit.  Too bad four armor-clad knights on horseback decided to crash the party, chop off a head, and make off with a bunch of gem-encrusted artifacts.

    But there was something odd about Knight #4.  He only took one item, and it didn’t seem to be anything particularly valuable.  Some sort of curiosity the Vatican inventory listed simply as a “multi-geared rotor encoder”.

What’s To Like...
    The Last Templar starts with a bang.  Well, actually a swoosh and then a bunch of bangs.   The action continues throughout the book.  The two protagonists – a female archaeologist and a male FBI agent, are predictable but engaging.  There is a nice blending of two storylines – one medieval, the other modern day.  The bulk of the book takes place in Turkey, and that gets a personal thumbs-up.

    There are some YFKM’s (“You’re Freaking Kidding Me!”).  Would the Museum really have only a single security guard when priceless Vatican treasures are on display?  Would a leather pouch holding a ancient parchment survive decades underwater to the point where you could still read its message?

    There is some preachiness, but not a lot.  I didn’t like the style of ending (details are in the comments to avoid spoilers).  But overall, this is a well-structured, fast-paced tale.

Kewlest New Word...
    Parlous : perilous.

    His rough-hewn appearance, and the matching manner he had cultivated over the years, first disarmed others into thinking he was just a simple man of God.  That he was but, because of his standing in the Church, many proceeded to another assumption: that he was a manipulator and a schemer.  He was not, but he’d never bothered to disabuse them.  It sometimes paid to keep people guessing, even though in a way, that was in itself a form of manipulation.  (pg. 38 )
   “So how religious are you?  If you don’t mind my asking.”
    “No, that’s fine.”
    She grinned.  “Just tell me you don’t hike out to some cowfield in the middle of nowhere because someone there thinks he saw the Virgin appear up in the clouds or something?”
    “No, not recently anyway.  I’m guessing you’re not a particularly religious person.”  (pg. 243)

Veritas vos liberabit.  (The truth will set you free)  (pg. 49)
    I remember The Last Templar being heavily promoted by Borders Books (RIP, Borders) when it came out in 2005.  It was obvious that the target audience were those legions of readers who ate up Dan Brown’s 2003 opus, The Da Vinci Code.  I’m okay with that, but what is inexcusable is reusing the exact same “secret” here.  C’mon, Raymond Khoury, come up with some different angle.

    Personally, I think the Gnostic question about the origins of Christianity is an important subject.  But TDVC covered it more than adequately and TLT doesn’t add anything new.  To boot, the wishy-washy treatment of it here will satisfy neither thin-skinned, skittish-faithed Christians, nor metaphysically-inclined Gnostics.

    So maybe make Jesus an extraterrestrial.  Or the disciples a cadre of drug-partaking, gays.  Yeah, those could work.  It’s fiction, after all.  Just give us something new.  7½ Stars.  Add another star if you are a Da Vinci Code devotee.

1 comment:

Hamilcar Barca said...

The book ends where nothing has changed even though the Ultimate Artifact was something that could shake the world (or civilization, or society) to its core.

The Da Vinci Code does this too. I find it to be a cop-out. You read 500 pages, only to find nothing changed. Chicken-sh*t.