Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Last Templar - Raymond Khoury

Over Christmas vacation, Kevin and I spent some time in Michigan with his family.  We love spending time with them and the days we spent up there over the holidays were no exception.  Kevin's mom works at a second hand store and we stopped in to visit her one day.  Despite my natural aversions to second hand stores, they had a great book selection - and it was well organized, too!  I snagged a whole stack for less than $10.  Earlier that same day, I'd come across the clearance section of a bookstore at the mall and picked up three best sellers for $6.  Best. Day. Ever.

The Last Templar had been sitting near some Dan Brown books at the second hand store.  As much as I hate to admit it, I definitely bought this based on the cover alone.  How could I resist?  It looked like a Dan Brown knock-off (which it is) and it only cost a dollar.  Now that I'm done with it, it will soon be taking a journey to our local Half Price Books.  (Warning: Spoilers Ahead)

Adventure novels that put Christianity in doubt had quite their day in the early 2000s.  Brown released Da Vinci in 2003.  We all remember the controversy and publicity surrounding that book.  Khoury released Templar in 2005, although he apparently had written a screenplay version back in the mid-90s.  The appeal of these books is clearly the shock and awe thriller aspect; it's certainly not the excellent writing.  I will be the first to admit that I enjoy Dan Brown's work.  I don't think he is the best writer in the world, but I still enjoy his writing.  Khoury, on the other hand, did not do much for me.

The first few chapters of Templar drew me in, no doubt.  The book opens with a robbery at the New York Metropolitan Museum - in the middle of a gala opening.  Four riders dressed in Templar apparel storm the event, killing several and making off with priceless Vatican treasures.  Exciting, right?  From there, however, the story flounders into cliché scenarios and characters.  From the single mom archaeologist to the FBI agent with the tough exterior but sweet heart to the manipulative member of the clergy - it all plays directly out of the handbook to writing a best selling thriller.

Perhaps I shouldn't judge.  Khoury obviously has found himself quite successful with this work.  In fact, he released a sequel in 2010.  Still, I could not find much depth in it.  Even his big reveal (that Christ himself wrote a gospel revealing his humanity and the Templars had it hidden away), seemed contrived and inauthentic.  Khoury also rubbed me the wrong way in his presentation of this.  Now, Dan Brown can hardly be called a champion of the Christian faith; yet, compared to Khoury, his books are much more sympathetic to believers (I know! That does sound crazy!).  While Brown makes no qualms about raising controversial issues, at the heart, he does maintain a sensitivity and even a reverence to spirituality in general.  While he may be proposing views that do not align with traditional Christianity, he does not scoff at those who hold its truths dear.  Khoury, on the other hand, comes off with a distinctive air of self-righteousness.  In Templar, Christianity is displayed as one big hoax for which millions of sad sheep have fallen.  The Catholic Church is portrayed as having known the "reality" all along and hidden it purposefully.  Even though, in the end, the heroes choose not to reveal the "truth" to the world, they do so with resignation and a desire to not upset the status quo.  That is a portrayal of Christianity that I simply cannot get behind.

Overall, Templar is a standard thriller novel trying to create controversy.  It's a genre which we as the public love.  As with so many of its compatriots, however, it fails to produce strong characters, meaningful discussion, or even an original plot.  I'll skip the sequel on this one and just wait for Dan Brown's latest to arrive in May.  Thanks, anyway.

Have you read other good books in this genre?  Why does it seem to be so hard to write a good thriller novel?

Pages: 480
Date Completed: January 2013

No comments:

Post a Comment