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Befriending the noble’s son, Maurice Chatillon, Tremonde is trained as a knight. He fights alongside Maurice, proving himself both brave in combat and wise in tactics. His reputation attracts the attention of member of the Papal Authority and finds himself immersed in intrigue and conspiracy.
This historical fiction sets the stage for the second phase of the novel. James Pierce, a seller of fine, one of a kind, books. Pierce finds himself similarly caught up in a conspiracy involving a tome written by Tremonde to the Pope in Rome.
The novel takes one on a twisting ride through the history of the church and the accumulated power and wealth of the Papal treasure. Pierce must find the letter, decipher the code, and survive those willing to kill to uncover the secrets.
Lorti does an excellent job of weaving the historical background necessary to understanding the influence and power of the 14th century church. He blends both facts and fictional representations of life in these times. Tremonde and the supporting characters come to life.
One can see the battles, feel the tension, almost hear the sounds of the dead and dying. All of this done with a goal of furthering the story and the reader’s interest in following the tale.
Pierce, portrayed as somewhat of a knight of a more modern time, comes across as both competent and skilled without seeming omniscient. He makes mistakes, his tactics are not perfect, yet he continues to pursue the goal despite the risks.
Anyone who enjoyed the Dan Brown series will find this book satisfying. The writing is crisp and succinct. The characters believable and well described. The action is suspenseful and creative. Overall this is a well-done novel.
If I were to offer any criticism, it would be that some of the situations experienced by the young Jean Tremonde seem to come too quickly. As if one moment he is a poor peasant’s son and the next a trained, experience nobleman.
Perhaps, there may have been a more effective way to portray the hardships of 14th century life without weighing the story down with mundane details. Nevertheless, despite this minor flaw, the book is well-written and an enjoyable read.
The first part is an incredible adventure chronicling the lives of the Termonde family. We start at the beginning of an event that has a ripple effect on the family. We're there through the first half (or possibly more) of Jean Termonde's life. This part of the story is actually pretty entertaining. It's fictional history showing us what life was like at the time for a few extraordinary people. Most of it is believable and interesting.
When it comes to the Catholic church history, there are times when it becomes a bit 'history book' but it's not too overwhelming. Lorti makes sure that we have a good grasp of what's going on and the historical significance of it. For me, I honestly skimmed over it. It's not my thing. Over all, though, it's not a lot of history. It's enough to explain everything, but it doesn't really bog you down. For those that ARE interested in history, you'll find a lot here to fascinate you. I must admit, even in my skimming, I learned.
I did have an issue with the first part of the book. It felt unfinished to me. It follows the story of the Termonde family until we find out the necessary information that's held in the parchment, but then things are wrapped up rather quickly and we just leave them behind in the past. I was really enjoying their story and wanted more. For me, the first part of the book was more about the time period and character studies than it was about just getting to the story behind the parchment. I felt jilted going from the end of this part of the book and skipping ahead to today. I wanted more, and I still do!
The second part of the book is very much a heist story. We have a decent cast of characters, even though they aren't as fascinating as the first part of the book. We don't have nearly as much history thrown at us, though there is some put in as necessary. We have some 'bad guys' and some 'really bad guys' and 'i'm not sure if they're bad or good guys.' I didn't love any of the characters in the second part of the book, but they did play their part well.
I was intrigued with the heist portion of the story. How do you steal something from the Vatican? Even when you're a professional thief and have others at your disposal, that's a pretty serious theft! Then to add in that you have thugs and all sorts of police after you, it's nearly impossible! The sheer genius behind the planning of this heist and the attempt at pulling it off is what made the second part of the book good for me.
Even though I understand the reasoning behind writing the book in this fashion, I had some trouble with it. The storytelling is vastly different, the characters are vastly different, the type of story is vastly different. Notice all the 'vastly' going on there? Both stories are enjoyable in their own way but the only thing they have tying them together is the parchment. Again, I understand the reasoning behind writing it this way. Honestly, I don't even have a better idea for how to make it work other than how the author did it. For me, it was tough reading them back-to-back. I'd suggest reading the first part of the book as one story and then going back later and reading the second part of the book. Then, you won't have the jarring feeling. You can enjoy the second part of the book and have that 'Oh! I remember that!' feeling.
It kind of had a DaVinci Code feel to it. Part 1 of the book begins in 14th century France and book two moves into present day France. Part 1 tells the story of a man named Jean Tremonde, a knight in 14th century France who later becomes a hand of the Cardinal and does incremental tasks for him. In Part 2, rare book dealer James Pierce takes an offer he can't refuse and goes on a treasure hunt per se, that leads him to Avignon, France and he begins to uncover secrets from the past. The whole book revolves around a man named Jean Tremonde, secrets about the Pope and papal wealth and the history of the city of Avignon, France. It is an adventurous thrill ride from beginning to end.
If you enjoy historical fiction, fact based fiction, and books and movies similar to The Davinci Code, you would enjoy this book. I definitely would like to read more by Lorti and more books similar to this one.
* I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for a review
— CJ Loiacono