Dollar for dollar, few means of entertainment give as much bang for the buck as good old books. Video games are close, but not quite. This brings us to this review of the latest book I read, which is entitled “The Last Templar”, written by Raymond Khoury.
The Last Templar was published in 2005, and weighs in, in paperback, at 523 pages. Thank God I didn’t buy it in hardcover, as I would have been mighty angry. I actually purchased this book brand-new, when it was just out, probably in 2006, but after reading a few pages I stopped, as I found the premise ridiculous.
Unfortunately, I’m unable to throw anything out, particularly books, so this particular piece of literary nonsense has been taunting me, from its lofty perch on my ‘to read’ shelf, for years, and I figured I’d give it another shot. Now I know, and regret knowing, what I’d been missing.
Stylistically speaking, The Last Templar is not terrible, and it’s easy to see why the author has been described as a ‘cinematic’ writer. He’s also a screenwriter, which helps. The action is fast and sweeping, the descriptions apt and gripping (to a point) and the novel could even be said to be a ‘page-turner’.
Now, there will be spoilers. The whole point of the book is a ‘why can’t we all just get along’ rehash. Turns out, according to the author, that the Templars were at their core a bunch of Cathar heretics out to destroy the Catholic Church by uniting it with the Jews and the Muslims. They did this by (SPOILER COMING RIGHT UP) creating what they passed off as the ‘Gospel of Jesus’ which supposedly proved that Jesus Christ was a simple man and not the Son of God. The Church bought into it, hook, line and sinker, and allowed the Knights Templars to gain vast power and influence through blackmail of the Vatican.
To say that the plot is thin is an insult to books who have to rely on a thin plot. It’s wafer thin and full of holes. But that could be excused if the book itself wasn’t full of tired and over-used clichés. Burnt-out Church ruins as the lair of bad-guy turned good-guy to bad guy again? Check. Car chase? Check. Actual “take my hand or die” cliff-hanger? Check. Continent-hoping in search of clues? Check. Cute archaeologist heroine falls in love with tough-guy (soft on the inside) cop? Check. You get the idea, the list goes on.
I’m happy that I finally read The Last Templar for the simple reason that I was tired of seeing it on my shelf. It provided some minor entertainment but overall, it was a disappointment. I’m sorry I bought it in the first place, though. If you’re thinking about skipping it and seeing the TV-movie adaptation (starring Mira Sorvino), don’t. From what I read, it’s even worse. Much worse. Skip both.