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The Last Templar Hardcover – January 19, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (January 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525949410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525949411
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (413 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The war between the Catholic Church and the Gnostic insurgency drags on in this ponderous Da Vinci Code knockoff. The latest skirmish erupts when horsemen dressed as knights raid New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, lopping off heads and firing Uzis as they go. Their trail leads FBI agent Sean Ryan and fetching archeologist Tess Chaykin to the medieval crusading order of the Knights Templars. Anachronistic Gnostic champions of feminism and tolerance against Roman hierarchy and obscurantism, the Templars, they learn, discovered proof that Catholic dogma is a "hoax" and were planning to use it to unite all religions under a rationalist creed that would usher in world peace. Screenwriter and first-time novelist Khoury spices up the doctrinal revisionism with Da Vinci–style thriller flourishes, including secret codes, gratuitous but workmanlike action scenes and a priest–hit man sent out by the Vatican to kill anyone who knows anything. The narrative pauses periodically for believers-vs.-agnostics debates and tutorials on everything from the Gospel of Thomas to alchemy. Though long-winded and sophomoric, these seminars are a relief from Tess and Sean's tedious romance, which proceeds from awkward flirtations as they listen to Sean's mix CD to hackneyed intimacies about childhood traumas. The novel's religious history is as dubious as its conspiracy plot, but anti-clericalists—and Catholics taking a break from the church's real headaches—could unwind with it. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The Knights Templar, a small monastic military order formed in the early 1100s to protect travelers to the Holy Land, eventually grew and became wealthy beyond imagination. In 1307, the French king, feeling jealous and greedy, killed off the Templars, and by 1311, the last master, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake. The whereabouts of the Templars' treasure--and their secrets--have been the subject of legend ever since. Now, a new thriller tries to follow in the steps of The Da Vinci Code.

There's no doubt that Khoury's Last Templar has one of the most gripping opening scenes among recent thrillers. Four horsemen, dressed as Templars, ride their steeds up the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, crashing into a show of Vatican artifacts and stealing a coding device that can unlock the Templars' secrets about the early days of Christianity. Archaeologist Tess Chaykin is a witness to the theft, and her professional juices kick in, prompting her to join forces with FBI investigator Sean Reilly. The action moves back and forth in time between the Templars' last battle and the present-day search for the missing device and the message it will decode. Khoury is a screenwriter, and his story is nothing if not cinematic, as it skips across three continents and climaxes with a storm at sea of biblical proportions. A nice twist at the end spins the Christian history everyone's been chasing. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


More About the Author

I was born in Beirut, a Scorpio and the youngest of three. The civil war broke out there when I was 14 and my parents, in a noble effort to keep us alive into adulthood, wisely moved us to Rye, NY. I stayed there until I graduated from Rye Country Day School, then, intent on thwarting my parents' nurturing instincts, I decided to go back to Lebanon to study architecture at the American University of Beirut. Which, in hindsight, wasn't as nutty a decision as you might think. Those years, marred by repeated flare-ups of fighting and a couple of invasions, were emotionally taxing, harrowing, sometimes dangerous, often maddeningly frustrating, but always intense in the most visceral sense of the word and, weirdly enough, I wouldn't have missed them for the world. Maybe that's the Scorpio in me...

So there I was, gingerly studying architecture in the hopes of one day helping rebuild the city (rumours that a local cabal of intensely purist architects was having ugly buildings selectively blown up remain unproven). The civil war erupted again a few weeks after I graduated, and I was evacuated out from the beach down the road from our apartment on a sunny but sad day in February, 1984, by the Marine Corp's 22nd Amphibious Unit on board a Chinook helicopter, to whom I'll be eternally grateful (the Marines, not the chopper).

I ended up in London, where I joined a small architecture practice. The architecture scene in Europe was pretty bleak at that time, so I decided to explore other career options. I got an MBA at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, and joined an investment bank, selling gold-linked convertibles and other far less exotic financial instruments, surrounded by Gekko wannabes and hating waking up every day. In fairness, I have to credit those 'wilderness' years with one wonderful thing: meeting my gorgeous wife, who tolerated my exhausting yearnings for something more fulfilling and eventually gave me two incredible daughters.

I left the glamorous (at the time, anyway) world of investment banking after three years to return to my creative roots. I bounced around for a while, trying different things, and during a business trip to the Bahamas (don't ask), I met a banker who dabbled in the film business. I've always been a film geek and harbored a burning desire to make movies, so at dinner one night, I bounced an idea off him, and the idea struck a chord. I had a new partner, and we agreed to develop my idea into a screenplay -- by hiring a professional screenwriter he'd worked with.

Several conference calls later, the outlines coming back from Los Angeles weren't what I had in mind. I offered to write an outline myself. When I faxed my notes to my partner (yes, this was in the early 90s, long before email), he called me up and said, "Our man in L.A. isn't going to write this movie for us. You are. You're a writer."

So I did. And it got shortlisted for the Fulbright Fellowship in Screenwriting award, which I had to apply for under a friend's name (I wasn't eligible, but that's another long story). My next script, a semi-autobiographical screenplay about my college years during the war, was also nominated for the award a year later. Then the next year, in 1995, I optioned the film rights to Melvyn Bragg's novel, THE MAID OF BUTTERMERE and wrote the adaptation myself while completing an original screenplay called... THE LAST TEMPLAR. Buttermere found its way to Robert DeNiro, who announced in Variety that he would be producing it and playing the lead. The Last Templar... well, if you're reading this, you know that after ten years or so, it managed the quantum leap off my laptop's hard drive and into novel form, but that's a longer story, one I'll go through in a separate post...

Since then, and after working as a screenwriter and a producer on shows like the BBC series Spooks, (MI-5 in the US), I'm now solely focused on the novels, the fifth of which is THE DEVIL'S ELIXIR.

And that's about it... Thanks for taking the time to explore my ramblings, and if you do pick up one of my books, I hope you have a blast reading it. And let me know-connect with me on facebook on my Official Fan Page (and NOT on one of the others that I don't manage!). Enjoy!

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

178 of 199 people found the following review helpful By Scott Goodwin on January 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I got this book based on the premise and was initially engaged. Early on, the action moved briskly enough that I was willing to overlook its faults: The prose was flowery and cliched, the characters a little one-dimensional. Think of the genre featuring the 'brilliant, beautiful headstrong ' and you've got it down pat.

Not surprisingly, there's also the 'gifted-but-haunted-by-past-demons' FBI agent' and the associated cast of stock characters.

Of course, nobody acts remotely like a real person and a series of unrealistic actions mixed with coincidences keep them all moving toward the inevitable conclusion.

That said, I initially enjoyed it in spite of it faults and found it well paced. Eventually, though, it bogs down in a love story and its need to connect the dots with lengthy historical backstory.

I wish I'd liked it better...
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62 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Brian Baker VINE VOICE on January 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I won't bother re-hashing the story line, as you can read the summary in the publishing reviews. This is Khoury's first novel, and it's a pretty good entry effort. You can see that he's an experienced storyteller (screenwriting) from the pacing, settings and well-described visuals.

His opening scene is gripping, and the interplay from modern times to the Crusader era is very well done. I really enjoyed the archeological aspects of this book, and thought their exposition was set forth in an interesting and engaging manner.

The comparisons to "The Da Vinci Code" are going to be inevitable, I think. I'll preface by saying I didn't like Brown's book and found his attacks on Christianity muddled, boring and implausible, as well as offensive.

That having been said, there's a point in this book (at about page 300 in the hard cover version) where you'll roll your eyes and think, "Oh, no, here we go again". I know I did. Well, don't. Give the book a chance. The last half page of the book clears things up well, at least in my estimation.

So, you ask, why only three stars? Well, it was very subjective, and may not be an issue for some readers, but I found the book didn't really engage me on an emotional level. I found the protagonists (Tess and Reilly) to be simple (as opposed to complex and fully fleshed-out) characters, as were the two antagonists (whom I won't name in the interest of not revealing the plot line). The modern-day storyline (the majority of the book) was a fairly straightforward adventure story, and on that level works well. Surprisingly, the real treat of the book was the interwoven Crusader-era story, which I found to be better visualized than the rest of the book, with more fully realized characterization.

I don't think you'll be disappointed if you buy this book. I certainly am glad I read it, and look forward to more from Khoury as his skills develop.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By AvidReader04 on February 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A recent review called this book "another Da Vincy Code knock-off". I utterly disagree. It is simply another take on a currently popular topic (think about it - the premise of The Da Vinci Code, for example, is almost identical to what has been described in a number of earlier novels, but nobody complained about that - and there is actually a great German book called 'Das Jesus Video' by Andreas Eschbach, which I hope will be available in English soon, as it is truly a great novel, with yet another spin on everything...).

I enjoyed "The Last Templar" from beginning to end. I've always been partial to novels spanning several centuries, and the ideas put forth in this novel are rather intriguing, especially considering what has been happening in our world recently. The Templars have long fanned the imaginations of many, and there is still a lot of mystery and secrecy which makes their history so interesting. Khoury cleverly weaves known facts, speculations, opinions together with his personal analysis and a lot of imagination.
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54 of 67 people found the following review helpful By ToonForever on January 28, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Right off, it's just the action and some cleverness in constructing a twisting plot that earned this book 2 stars. But that goodness is really the exception.

This book is a lamentable mess.

First, Khoury ought to stick to screenplays. Much of the writing is reminiscent of a novelization of an action movie, and some of that done well. But much of it doesn't work for a novel.

When you write a movie, a few coincidences thrown at you over a couple hours are okay, because you have to catapult your way to the end in that short time. But if a helicopter, ship, huge storm, piece of rebar, or whatever, is at hand in a novel, there better be a dang good reason for it being there. Stuff just shows up in this novel. I won't spoil where or how, but if you bother to read this mess, you'll see it.

Khoury also goes on horrid flights of exposition and tries to wedge it in conversation. Nobody even remotely talks like this, unless it's in a college lecture room.

The saddest part is he seems to take a great joy in dismantling the faith of one of the protagonists. Really, the book is a stilted excuse to carry on a rancid anti-Christian screed. If you get well into the book, and you need to get it done, you can simply skip chapters 66 through 71 and remember these words: Khoury thinks Christianity is all based on a lie, and the FBI agent gets on a helicopter with the monsignor.

I just saved you 30 minutes.

Khoury also gets Dan Brown disease when he pretends that it's credible enough for fiction to call some of his ideas "accepted facts." It's okay to make up facts for a fiction story, but when you're trying to base a story on historical speculation and fact, you've got to make it a little bit sensible.
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