The Last Templar
Author - Raymond Khoury (http://www.raymondkhoury.com/home/)
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.
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