Strange, slow, long, but still enjoyable. Though, I’m really not too sure why. On the face of it, not an awful lot happens. It feels like what it of course actually is; number two in a trilogy (I haven’t read number three yet); a transition novel, between one and two.
My first problem was that it doesn’t exactly follow on from the first in the series. In that one, the Templars are formed and find what they’re looking for under the old Jewish Temple of the Mount. This one, takes place a number of years later and whilst many of the general themes from the first, are present and correct, there aren’t an awful lot of links in terms of personnel or direct links, in terms of developing what they found and how the Templars might have used whatever it was they found, to become what they did and possibly are today. Really, apart from the location, the Holy Land and the fact that the main characters are members of the organisation behind the Templars, it is a different story, different characters.
The story follows one young knight, from (what is now France), through trials and tribulations to do with his family’s background, his membership of the fellowship that was behind the formation of the Templars, through his dealings with Richard (the Lionheart), King of England, his induction into the Templars, under what are in effect, false pretences, preparations and the initial stages of the latest Crusade to ‘free’ the Holy Land.
However, whilst I read and read and waited patiently for something to happen, I actually got quite involved with the themes and the story. The detail and the evocation of the period, is impressive. But I often got the impression that the author does want you to know he’s done an awful lot of research and that he wants to make absolutely sure you get the thrust of what he’s saying. So, even though it’s a good, long book, he hasn’t got the space to weave all he’s wanting to impart into the events that could make up the story. He plumps for having his two main characters sit discussing these ideas and ask each other leading questions in a rather false and stilted manner. What the characters are really saying is “please explain to me in great detail, exactly what the author’s research told him”. After a couple of these sessions, it becomes a bit wearing to be lectured at in this manner. There are quite a few other sections that could have been edited down, to allow for what he is trying to impart to be woven into actual events making up a story.We don’t really get anywhere towards the end and I think, a few days later, that we left things on the eve of, hopefully, some big events in the Crusade and some sort of revelation about what the Templars intend to do with whatever they found. Buying Cyprus isn’t enough.
Having said all that…while I can’t really recommend this one over a few of the others I’ve read in this style, I still found it enjoyable and if it hadn’t been for the distractions of owning an iPad2, I’d have read it a lot more quickly. I will be buying the number three, when I’ve ploughed through the books I’ve got waiting on the ‘to read’ shelf.