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Archive for May, 2006

The Templar Legacy


The Templar Legacy by Steve Barry – I don’t know why I keep picking up these books that center around debunking Christian mythology, but I do. It must be rooted in my youthful rebellion against the mind-numbing church history classes I was forced to endure at my Catholic high school, which were taught by a nun, Sr. Delphine, who looked, moved and spoke as though she were a step away from one of the catecombs she taught about with such relish. But I digress.

This book is one of the recent spate of DaVinci Code-alikes that have hit the bookshelves. Now, I have to say that I wasn’t too enamoured of Dan Brown’s controversial tale, mostly because I thought Robert Langdon was incredibly boring, and that the French police officer was a total stereotype. I liked Templar Legacy much, much more…better characters, better pacing, better everything.

Our protagonists, Cotton Malone and Stephanie Nelle, find themselves smack in the middle of another gosh-darn conspiracy that will reveal a shocking historical truth intended to rock the foundations of the known world. Stephanie’s dead husband, Lars, spent most of their marriage searching for the lost treasure of the Knights Templar. Seven years after his death, Stephanie receives his journal, sent anonymously through the mail, and decides she must have closure. So, she pulls up stakes from her high level government job, and flies to Copenhagen, where she stirs up a whole bunch of trouble. Teaming up with former intelligence officer turned bookshop owner Cotton Malone (maybe I’m wrong, but I really do think this is the name of the sports announcer played by Gary Cole in the movie Dodgeball), the two follow clues supposedly leading to the Great Devise — the legendary Templar treasure hidden in the 14th century as the Knights were being exterminated by French royalty. The two are challenged by Raymond deRoquefort, Marshal, then Master, of the current, hidden Knights. Twists and turns abound as Cotton and Stephanie race against time to discover the Great Devise and foil the evil deRoquefort’s plans of world domination.

Yep. It’s a page-turner all right. Actually, one of the things I liked best about this book is the short sections within the chapters. There wasn’t that whole one-chapter-about-Raymond, one-chapter-about-Stephanie thing going on. I could pick the book up, read for about 5 minutes, put it down to check dinner, change the laundry over, or help a patron and then pick it right back up without missing a beat. And the story itself was full of surprises. I sure didn’t see the twists coming at the end.

The setting is almost identical to that in The Labyrinth by Kate Mosse — Carcasonne and other areas of France — and there are echoes of the same ancient legends in both books. Templar is a much better read, however. Definitely pick it up and give it a shot.

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I’m posting this on all my blogs just because I think it’s such a cool odea. I hope some of you will participate!

The 48 Hour Book Challenge, thrown down by Mother Reader, will take place over the weekend of June 16-18. Mother challenges everyone who participates to read as many books as possible in that 48 hour span and then blog about their experiences. Books have to be at least a 4th grade level. Sign up here and start gathering your books. What a great excuse to sit around all weekend and read all the J Fiction and YA books I’ve been eyeing for months.

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There are several variants of this book meme out there and they’re all fun!

  1. A book that made you cryPeace Like a River by Leif Enger – the main character suffers from asthma, and boy, could I relate!
  2. A book that scared you – Ghost Story by Peter Straub – a waterlogged ghost gets me every time; Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien – the scene on the rock where Frodo gets stabbed by one of the Riders always scared the hell out of me.
  3. A book that made you laughBad Dog which is really just a collection of photos of dressed up dogs; The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love by Jill Connor Browne was one of the funniest books I ever read. The scene where she finds a possum under her bed is priceless.
  4. A book that disgusted you – Helter Skelter; and The English Roses by Madonna, just because if she was a regular person, every publisher on the face of the earth would have laughed her out of their offices for this insipid story. Pretentious much?
  5. A book you loved in elementary schoolFlat Stanley, Hailstones & Halibut Bones, Nancy Drew, Trixi Belden, Judy Bolton, The Dana Girls
  6. A book you loved in middle schoolThe Hobbit, trashy gothic mysteries
  7. A book you loved in high schoolRoots
  8. A book you loved in collegePraisesong for the Widow
  9. A book that challenged your identity or faithThe Deeper Song by Patricia Pfitsch
  10. A series that you love – Harry Potter, Richard Jury, the Meg Mysteries, the Maggody mysteries
  11. Your favorite horror book – The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen
  12. Your favorite science fiction book – None
  13. Your favorite fantasy book – Harry Potter, the Mists of Avalon, Christopher Chant books
  14. Your favorite mystery book – Laurie King’s Mary Russell series, Be Buried in the Rain by Barbara Michaels
  15. Your favorite biographyCandy and Me by Hillary Liftin
  16. Your favorite coming-of-age book – Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas and Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
  17. Your favorite book not on this listTrojan Gold by Elizabeth Peters

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I’ve been re-reading this book because Cosmo had to read it for school and he was totally taken by it. I read Peace Like a River for the first time a couple years ago when it was the selection for All Rochester Reads the Same Book and it didn’t really strike a chord with me at the time. When Cos loved it, I decided I should give it another try, because this is a man who is not a reader. I wanted to see what appealed to him so much, and believe it or not, I understand.

Peace
is a family story full of mystery, memorable characters, and heart. I find myself totally drawn to Swede this time around, even though I found her rather annoying during my first read of the story. I’m wondering now why I wasn’t moved by the story the first time I read it. It is full of magical realism, which I first encountered done beautifully in The Milagro Bean Field Wars and thought then that it couldn’t be done any better. I was wrong. Enger blends the power of God with faith, healing and love in a way that rivals the story Nichols spins in Milagro. There are no shrines to Smokey the Bear in Peace, but there is Sunny Sundown, which bears a remarkable similarity in meter to my grandfather’s favorite poem, The Shooting of Dan McGrew. I’m about halfway through the book right now. I’ll be writing more when I finish it.

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