Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review - The Templar Salvation

  • Author: Raymond Khoury
  • Hardcover: 405 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton (Oct 19 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525951849
  • Description (from Good Reads)

At last, the book more than a million fans are waiting for: the sequel to The Last Templar.

With its iconic title and unmistakable cover, Raymond Khoury's million-copy- selling
The Last Templar remains one of the most memorable thriller publications of the last decade. Finally, after four long years, Khoury returns to the world of the Templars with The Templar Salvation, a sequel that's every bit as eye-popping and as gripping as its predecessor. Constantinople, 1203: As the rapacious armies of the Fourth Crusade lay siege to the city, a secretive band of Templars infiltrate the imperial library. Their target: a cache of documents that must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Doge of Venice. They escape with three heavy chests, filled with explosive secrets that these men will not live long enough to learn. Vatican City, present day: FBI agent Sean Reilly infiltrates the Pope's massive Vatican Secret Archives of the Inquisition. No one but the Pope's trusted secondi get in-but Reilly has earned the Vatican's trust, a trust he has no choice but to violate. His love, Tess Chaykin, has been kidnapped; the key to her freedom lays in this underground tomb, in the form of a document known as the Fondo Templari, a secret history of the infamous Templars... With his trademark blend of incendiary history and edge-of-your-seat suspense, Raymond Khoury's The Templar Salvation marks a triumphant return to the rich territory that launched his bestselling career.

My Take

I really enjoyed reading The Templar Salvation but I think it is important to read The Last Templar first as this book is definitely a continuation of the first book.  I found the main characters of Tess Chaykin and Sean Reilly to be credible and I enjoyed their partnership.  The villain was a definite threat to the western world.  I found the story to be believable and the pace of the story to be thrilling.  I became fascinated with the locations in Turkey and made me want to visit there which was not something that I had thought of before.  I am looking forward to the third instalment in the series.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review - The False Friend

·       Author: Myla Goldberg
·       Hardcover: 272 pages
·       Publisher: Doubleday (Oct 5 2010)
·       Language: English
·       ISBN-10: 0385527217
·        ISBN-13: 978-0385527217

Product Description (from Amazon)

From the bestselling author of Bee Season comes an astonishingly complex psychological drama with a simple setup: two  eleven-year-old girls, best friends and fierce rivals, go into the woods. Only one comes out . . .

Leaders of a mercurial clique of girls, Celia and Djuna reigned mercilessly over their three followers. One after­noon, they decided to walk home along a forbidden road. Djuna disappeared, and for twenty years Celia blocked out how it happened.

The lie Celia told to conceal her misdeed became the accepted truth: everyone assumed Djuna had been abducted, though neither she nor her abductor was ever found. Celia’s unconscious avoidance of this has meant that while she and her longtime boyfriend, Huck, are professionally successful, they’ve been unable to move forward, their relationship falling into a rut that threatens to bury them both.

Celia returns to her hometown to confess the truth, but her family and childhood friends don’t believe her. Huck wants to be supportive, but his love can’t blind him to all that contra­dicts Celia’s version of the past.

Celia’s desperate search to understand what happened to Djuna has powerful consequences. A deeply resonant and emotionally charged story, The False Friend explores the adults that children become—leading us to question the truths that we accept or reject, as well as the lies to which we succumb.

My Take


I found this book to be a quick but good read.  I found it rather hard to sympathize with Celia’s dilemma as she doesn’t seem to realize that she was actually a very nasty fact when in partnership with Djuna she was quite the bully!  And in the present day, she is stringing along her long suffering boyfriend Huck. It was a very interesting story though.  I tried to remember back to events in my childhood and my memories are sketchy at best so I can see how hard it is to remember events of your youth correctly. Celia searched for the truth though she has successfully repressed these memories for 20 years.  She confronts her parents and childhood “friends” searching for the truth.  These emotional confrontations provide the backbone of the book as does her increased self-awareness about what type of child she really was. I was pleased with the ending and recommend this book by the acclaimed author of Bee Season, Myla Goldberg.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Last Templar

Book Description (from the author's web site)

Acre, Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1291: As the burning city falls to the Sultan's men, a lone galley escapes out to sea, carrying a young Templar knight called Martin of Carmaux, his mentor Aimard of Villiers, and a mysterious chest entrusted to them by the Order's dying Grand Master.

The ship never reaches its destination.

Present day, Manhattan: Four masked horsemen, dressed as Templar Knights, emerge from the darkness of Central Park and storm into the Metropolitan Museum, scattering the great and the good of Manhattan society who are there for the gala opening night of an exhibition of Vatican treasures. Caught in the brutal mayhem, desk-bound archaeologist Tess Chaykin watches in silent terror as the leader of the horsemen homes in on one piece in particular, a strange geared device. He utters a few cryptic words in Latin as he takes hold of the device with reverence before leading the horsemen out and disappearing into the urban nightscape of Manhattan.

The FBI's investigation team is led by Sean Reilly, an anti-terrorist specialist as well as a practising Catholic, aided by his longtime partner Nick Aparo and a Vatican envoy, the Monsignor De Angelis. As the horsemen's dead bodies start turning up, and as the importance of the stolen device becomes more and more apparent, Tess becomes more than a witness to the crime. She and Reilly get drawn into the dark, hidden history of the crusading Knights, and of the last surviving Templars' fateful journey from Acre to the pyres of Paris. Tess and Reilly are soon facing the deadly forces battling to recover the lost secret of the Templars, and find themselves propelled into a dangerous adventure which takes them through the cemeteries and sewers of Manhattan, across continents to desolate Turkish mountains and remote Greek islands, through a Mediterranean storm of biblical proportions and into the very heart of the Vatican.

With Tess fuelled by an unswerving commitment to scientific truth, the archaeologist and the FBI agent's nascent relationship comes under intense pressure, as with each disturbing revelation relating to the Templars' long lost legacy, Reilly is plunged deeper into a spiritual and professional conflict which ultimately leaves them with the troubling burden of their shocking discovery.

On one level, The Last Templar is a fast paced contemporary adventure/thriller set in New York and in various settings around the Mediterranean, intercut by five epic chapters set during the closing years of the Crusades in which the last Templar of the title, entrusted with the Order's secret, escapes from the burning city of Acre and struggles to make it back to France. On another level, The Last Templar works as a thought-provoking exploration of religion in today's world, and of historic fact versus faith, particularly regarding the origins of the Catholic Church. Through the investigation into the Templars' history and their mysterious discovery, and though the interplay between Tess - the agnostic, scientific skeptic - and Reilly, who turned to the Church after his father shot himself when Reilly was just a boy, the book presents a spirited look at the early days of the Church and invites the reader to question matters which most of us take at face value. 

I chose to read this book because I won a copy of the second book in the series, The Templar Salvation.  I was not sure that I would really care for book before I started it as I am not usually a fan of novels about the Crusades.  The majority of the novel however takes place in the present time.  I really enjoyed that the initial scenes were located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  I found both of the main characters, Tess Chaykin and Sean Reilly to be completely believable. I really enjoyed the story and I enjoyed the action packed adventure they embarked upon.  It is also a mind provoking book as it explores the basic tenets of Christianity.