The Knights Templar existed for more than two centuries during the Middle Ages and thrived during the Crusades period. They were ambassadors and protectors of the word of Jesus Christ and did the bidding of the Roman Catholic Church. Their existence has been shrouded in mystery, and scholars have worked tirelessly to explain how they fell out of favor with the Pope and what secrets and artifacts they may have taken to the grave.
As a result of their infamous notoriety, the Knights Templar have found themselves a popular subject of many works of historical fiction. Raymond Khoury’s first bestseller was THE LAST TEMPLAR and featured archaeologist-turned-novelist Tess Chaykin and FBI Agent Sean Reilly. Some may remember the TV movie based on the novel starring Mira Sorvino; regrettably, it failed to capture the depth of Khoury’s brilliant debut.
Reilly and Tess return in this long-awaited sequel. Where THE LAST TEMPLAR focused more on the work of Tess and her uncovering of the location of ancient Templar buried treasures, THE TEMPLAR SALVATION belongs more to Reilly as he is in a life-and-death struggle to recover sacred texts hidden by a Templar Knight named Conrad during the Fourth Crusade and siege of Constantinople in 1203.
Like its predecessor, THE TEMPLAR SALVATION jumps between the past and the present. In the past, we see the path of Conrad, who has seen his brother Knights struck down while he seeks to hide sacred texts that are purported to include over 50 Gospels that are not included in the current King James version of the Holy Bible. The existence of these texts will rock the very foundations of Christianity and threaten the rule of the Vatican and interpretation of the present-day Bible. Reilly is going head-to-head with an Iranian assassin named Mansoor Zahed, who will go to any extreme to find and reveal these sacred texts to the world as a way of destroying the foundation of Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church --- and, in turn, much of the Western world.
Tess begins the novel as a prisoner of Zahed and has to be rescued by Reilly in a dynamic and explosive turn of events that occur right within and around the walls of Vatican City. With Tess, Reilly has an ally who helps him understand the validity and consequences of Conrad’s hidden treasure and how necessary it is for them to outrace Zahed to these artifacts. As Tess explains to Reilly, the Templars were at one time very pivotal during the revolutionary start of the Crusades whereby they were doing the Pope’s bidding in militaristic fashion and had the Muslims on the ropes. As the tide eventually turned against the Templars, the alleged secrets buried by Conrad were a direct threat to the Papal seat during both the Crusades and the modern rule over the Vatican. Contemporary Christians do not want to think that the 27 texts of the New Testament may have been put together a few hundred years after Jesus’ crucifixion. The existence of any additional texts could sway the balance of power in the modern-day religious conflicts that exist all around us.
THE TEMPLAR SALVATION is filled with action, chases and mind-blowing historical perspective that will engage fans of this genre and once again place Raymond Khoury back at the forefront of modern historical fiction adventures. I particularly liked the homage to Steve Berry’s recurring character, Cotton Malone. Fans of Khoury, Berry, Brad Thor and James Rollins will chuckle as these authors have fun in many of their novels by referring to each other’s lead characters in their own work. This has created a microcosm world of fiction that interlocks some great works and allows fans of all their books to enjoy the inside references. Khoury indeed belongs in that group of writers, and THE TEMPLAR SALVATION does not fail to entertain and thrill at the same time.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 7, 2011