From the author of the immensely popular Camulod Chronicles comes Knights of the Black and White, the first novel in an action-packed historical trilogy about the rise and fall of the Knights Templar
Book 1 of the Templar trilogy begins in 1088 with the St. Clairs, a powerful French family of knights whose sons, on reaching manhood, join the Order, a society cloaked in mystery. The Order's network spreads throughout France, uniting many noble families in a sacred bond stronger than loyalty to king and country. Not long after his initiation into the Order, Sir Hugh is swept into the madness of the First Crusade. Horrified by the slaughter of civilians and the savagery of his fellow soldiers, Hugh is left an almost-broken man, seeking to dedicate his life to atonement and God. But just when he has begun to despair, he is reunited with fellow members of the Order, including his cousin, young Stephen St. Clair, a newly initiated knight. These knights, far from home, decide to put their military training to God's purpose--they will become the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ--an order of monks committed to protecting pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem.
But the Order has other plans for these fighting monks. Hugh and his brother knights are charged with an outlandish and perilous task: to search for the hidden treasure of the Order, wherein they will discover the true roots of this secret society that has guided their families for generations. The treasure has been protected for thousands of years by virtue of its location deep within the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It seems like an impossible mission, but the knights are sworn to serve the Order and they must obey. Sir Hugh devises a dangerous strategy to unearth the treasure, a revelation that might destroy not only the Crusaders' kingdom of Jerusalem but also the might of the Church itself.
Veteran of eight Arthurian novels (The Lance Thrower, etc.), Whyte turns to the Crusades with this tedious first volume of a Knights Templar trilogy. In 1088, young knight Hugh de Payens is initiated into the secret Order of the Rebirth of Sion, who believe the Christian Church to be "an invalid creation... built upon a myth." Founded by Jewish families fleeing the Romans, the Order believes that the truth about Jesus and the founding of Christianity lie buried beneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. When Pope Urban calls for a Holy Crusade to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims, the Order"given to interminable monologues"sees an opportunity to perhaps retrieve those ancient documents and sends Sir Hugh and others to join the Crusaders, yakking the whole way. After the bloody fall of Jerusalem, Sir Hugh establishes a new order of warrior monks as a cover for the excavation of the Temple Mount, and the race is on to find the hidden treasure, if it exists, before their activities are discovered. This tepid Templar foray will be crowded out at the gates. (Aug.)
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August 07, 2006
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