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92 of 99 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2006
Steve Berry has acquired a formidable reputation within the relatively short space of three novels. His latest work, THE TEMPLAR LEGACY, introduces readers to Cotton Malone, a former covert agent of the U.S. Justice Department.

The history of the rise and fall of the Templars, from a force created for the protection of Christian pilgrims to a society whose wealth and power equaled (and perhaps threatened) that of the Roman Catholic Church that they purportedly served, is fascinating even as it is shrouded in mystery. The primary questions about the Templars that have yet to be answered are: 1) How did the organization manage to acquire the power that it did? and 2) What happened to its much-rumored treasure, which was seemingly lost forever when the Templars experienced a rough disbanding at the hands of an alliance of convenience between church and state? Berry sends Malone on a wild chase to connect the dots in a tale that is equal parts cerebral and cataclysmic.

Malone finds himself drawn into the pursuit of the Templar legacy when what was supposed to be a visit with Stephanie Nelle, his former supervisor at Justice, turns into a purse snatching that ends when the perpetrator, after being cornered, commits suicide. It develops that the would-be thief is after a notebook of Nelle's late and estranged husband that has passed into her possession under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Nelle's husband had become famous writing a number of speculative works concerning European mysteries of the 14th century, including the disappearance of the Templar fortune. His notebooks and a seemingly innocuous manuscript appear to hold the key to the ultimate location of the treasure trove.

Malone and Nelle are in competition with others in a race to the treasure --- a race that includes the modern-day leader of the Templars, an organization that has continued to exist quietly, biding its time. Malone gets some assistance from unexpected sources, including an exotic and capable Moslem beauty with an agenda of her own and a Templar monk whose destiny appears to be forewritten in prophecy. As they draw closer to unearthing the treasure, however, Malone finds that the number of people whom he can fully trust becomes fewer and fewer, even as the path to the treasure, and the Templar legacy, grows more dangerous.

Berry has created a likable, capable, and ultimately believable character in Malone, one who is perhaps more competent cerebrally than physically, though he certainly is no slouch in either department. Malone's de facto alter ego --- after cashing in his retirement, he owns and operates a bookstore in Denmark --- is both intriguing and intrinsically ironic, a status quo that hopefully will be retained in future novels. THE TEMPLAR LEGACY thus simultaneously serves as Malone's introduction and keeps Berry's string of winning novels intact.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Once again, this author had me enthralled with his mélange of historical fiction, adventure, and suspense. As I have long had an interest in the Knights Templar, this book had me from the beginning, hook, line, and sinker. I was riveted. The plot is centered on the search for the reputed missing treasury of the Knights Templar, as well as an ancient Templar archive known as the Great Devise, which may conflict with accepted Christian dogma. While, as with others of the author's books, the plot may seem a bit far-fetched, it does not diminish the entertainment value of this work of fiction.

The book's central character, Cotton Malone, is a former operative for the United States government, now retired and living in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he operates a rare book store. When he is visited by his former boss, Stephanie Nelle, Cotton finds himself embroiled in the middle of a mystery that has lain dormant for centuries. It appears that the Knights Templar, long thought to have ceased to exist after they were exterminated in the fourteenth century, are alive and well and headed by a fanatic in pursuit of those clues that will lead them to the Great Devise, as well as the lost treasury of the Knights Templar of old. Ms. Nelle is believed by them to have some of the clues that will lead to that which is being sought.

Intermixed with the action and adventure is a good amount of information on the history of the Knights Templar, as well as the contradictions amongst the various Gospels in terms of the Resurrection. As with the author's other books, there are many twists and turns in the tale, which makes for a fast-paced, exciting story that is sure to grip the reader. Although the book is wholly plot driven, the short shrift given to character development does not diminish the capacity of this book to entertain the reader, so strong is the story line, which is quite complex and downright ingenious. I found myself compulsively turning the pages of this book, until the very last one was turned. Those readers who enjoyed Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code", as well as "Angels and Demons", will enjoy this intricately plotted thriller.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
If you travel a lot and often find yourself needing to pick up a book in the airport, it is nearly inevitable that you will find yourself reading some of the seemingly endless Gweat Sekwet of the Templars/Holy Grail books. After a truly cringeworthy encounter with the Kate Mosse entry into the genre, I picked the Berry book up extremely gingerly. To be honest, I probably would not have picked it up at all if it were not for the collection of positive blurbs from respectable sources on the back of the book.

As an airplane/vacation book, The Templar Legacy was not too bad. Okay, Cotton Malone is a lukewarm pastiche of the classic noir and thriller characters. Character development is clearly not a strong point of the book. Still, the action was consistent and the Gweat Sekwet not too ridiculous. (At least there was none of the tiresome bloodline of Christ stuff involved.) I thought that it was reasonably literate and had a decent feel for plot and entertainment. The writing was definitely clunky in places, but not too terrible considering the genre. It felt like the publisher did not care enough to invest in a decent proofread/editing round more than anything else.

In short-- not a bad read if you are looking for something light and readily available. I found the supposed anti-Christian elements to be nothing more than typical speculative plot tropes-- a little surprised that people get so worked up about them. Still, if easily offended by writers who try to reinterpret religious history, you may want to approach with caution. While there is some excessive violence (largely in the first section), the writing is pretty clean so the book can be read by all ages.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2010
Just a few small things I noticed before I tossed it aside:

Page 1, Prologue: Imbert was an impish man with a face like that of a horse who, De Molay had noted, seemed as impassible as a statue.

Oh please. I'll grant you that impassible is an old, old word for impassive. But how likely is a horse-faced impish guy? Given that the gentleman in question is a torturer, I'd have to say that impish is a poor word choice. Even if he's one of those devilish-type imps, they're more mischievous than mean. And "...a face like that of a horse"? Let's tighten that up a bit. But I turned the page....

Page 5: ...the Round Tower, nestled firmly against Trinity Church like a Thermos bound to a lunch pail.

Oh my. It's a jarring choice of words to describe a sacred building. Or maybe a bucketing choice of words....

Then there were a few other typos and odd bits that I sighed over, but I struggled though to page 45, where I found:

Page 45: So since you've said your peace, could you leave?

Arggh.

Well, I've said my piece. So I'm leaving.

I'd recommend you don't waste your money on this. Happily, it was given to me by a friend. Onward to the Goodwill box.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Know what? I am Trying to read this novel. It's hard. I don't think I can do it. I don't think I'll ever buy another one. I think I'll join the library. For openers, the plaudits he heaps on his editor(s) and others raised my expectations to near-orgasm, only to find the worst editing job I have ever seen, I mean, they let him do Everything wrong--everything a writer should never do. This book nauseated me, I had to put it down. For example, we have what's supposed to be an exciting, suspenseful, adrenaline pumping chase scene, but instead he goes Totally off the deep end with a manically detached travel monologue and a history lesson DURING the chase scene. I mean, it's just awful. Same thing when he's chasing the guy through a museum, we get a history of the museum, but no chase. This is exactly what a writer should not do. Where's the adrenaline? Know where? I do. The writer doesn't have any. This guy may be a best-selling hit, but, to me, all that means is there's nothing any better out there to read. I hope he makes his sell-through, because he's long overdue for a writing lesson.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2006
I don't normally post reviews...but after reading the one before this I felt it was needed. This book is the 4th one I have read from Mr Berry, and each time it has been better than the last. Let me start by saying this book is not as good as The Da Vinci Code. Anyone who is expecting that or close to it is crazy. That in my opinion is a once-in-a-lifetime book, so to expect anything near it is foolish. But it grabs and keeps your attention, and is far from boring as some have suggested. There are enough plot twists to keep you guessing, and the final few chapters are great.

What troubles me more about the other reviews (particularly the last one), is the fact that some people can't see this is fiction. It is written for entertainment, not to grind an axe against Christianity.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2009
The "Da Vinci Code" was a fun read (flawed theology but fun). This book is like reading the Cliff Notes for the "Da Vinci Code." Maybe the "giving it away for free on the kindle" idea works to get more people to try out your books but this one needs to be "pay me to read it" before its going to be worth your trouble. If you're thinking about buying a paperback, I'd imagine it would make a decent doorstop or window prop.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2007
I have read Steve Berry's other 3 books (The Amber Room, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Third Secret), and I truly liked them all. I am a huge history buff, and was excited for this book to come out. Well, it fell a bit short. I am a Catholic (yes) but I have no problems with fiction books that create an alternate story to the ones that are supported by the Church. The fact of the matter is that this book was somewhat of a slow read. I put this book down right in the middle and walked away from it for DAYS before I picked it up again. (btw, I usually finish a book within 24 hrs of starting) The characters are a little underdeveloped, and it was in desperate need of some more back stories. But all in all, the plot line was good, and it did pick up a bit at the end. If you haven't read anything by Steve Berry before, I would reccomend one of his other three.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2007
I won't rehash the many criticisms of this book... but fair warning to anyone who picks it up: the story is good, but a little cliched and dull in points. Characters are one dimensional and dialogue is contrived and wooden (tip for author - when characters "shout", try adding an exclamation point or anything other than a simple period.) Writing style is decent and the story contains fairly good dramatic elements, but there's nothing new here... a good vacation read, but nothing more. One cool thing - I like that the author highlighted his variations from actual history at the end of the book, and didn't try and pretend that the historical context was accurate - Dan Brown could take a queue from this.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2013
So what kind of thriller would you get if you crossed Rudolph Bultmann with a drunk Dean Koontz? Something like The Templar Legacy, I suspect.

It's hard to believe someone could make me appreciate Dan Brown, but even his plots hold together better than this one. There are just too many silly things in the story to care much about it. The characters overreact to almost everything and, yet, manage to rather easily solve a convoluted puzzle that would have even Nick Cage's National Treasure character scratching his head. Almost none of the motivations make any sense at all. And the story line is pretty much ridiculous.

I suspect Berry read Bultmann in a college religion class and decided to work his theology into a story. It doesn't really work.

If you're really interested in a book about some lost note about Jesus, I'd suggest tracking down Robert Ludlum's Gemini Contenders or Irving Wallace's The Word. Both are worlds better than this nonsense.
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