The Stuff of Mystery and Legend: a note from author Jack Whyte
Best-selling novelist Jack Whyte, whose nine-novel cycle on the Arthurian legend has captivated readers internationally since first being published in 1992, now brings his analytical and interpretative storytelling skills to bear on the Order of the Temple, tracing the rise and fall of the greatest and most mysterious of the Military Orders. Knights of the Black and White, the first novel in the Knights Templar trilogy, examines the story of those nine original knights and offers a feasible and logical explanation of where they came from, why they did what they did, and how they were able to unearth their treasure. Author Jack Whyte took time out from writing to set the stage for this dramatic new Templar trilogy:
This is the year of the Knights Templar, with popular interest in the medieval Order and its lore stirred up as never before by the success of The Da Vinci Code and other thrillers it has inspired. The Templars, it is known, had a wonderful Treasure, its existence verified by historical record. But the treasure disappeared some time after being shipped from Acre in the Holy Land, just before the collapse and destruction of the Templars and their fortress there, to the island of Cyprus, and it has never been seen since.
What that treasure actually was, and what happened to it once it left Cyprus, is unknown, but historical records indicate that the Order of the Temple was founded by nine penniless knight monks, who formed a brotherhood in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, in the second decade of the twelfth century, for the ostensible purpose of protecting the Christian pilgrims using the roads to visit the Holy Places. They were the first religious Order ever to be entitled to kill in the name of God. The same records indicate that in return for their unpaid services, the knights were given permission to occupy the abandoned stables on the Temple Mount below the Al Akhsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, where for the next nine years, working in secrecy, they tunneled downward through the rock to find the remnants of the original Temple of King Solomon, and the treasure hidden there. Whatever that treasure was, they retrieved it and took it back to Europe, where the mere knowledge of their possessing it enabled them, within the next forty years, to become the strongest, wealthiest and most powerful organization in the Christian world. This is the stuff of mystery and legend, but the question that begs to be asked is: how did the nine original monks know where to look?
From Publishers Weekly
Veteran of eight Arthurian novels (The Lance Thrower
, etc.), Whyte turns to the Crusades with this tedious first volume of a Knights Templar trilogy. In 1088, young knight Hugh de Payens is initiated into the secret Order of the Rebirth of Sion, who believe the Christian Church to be "an invalid creation... built upon a myth." Founded by Jewish families fleeing the Romans, the Order believes that the truth about Jesus and the founding of Christianity lie buried beneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. When Pope Urban calls for a Holy Crusade to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims, the Order"given to interminable monologues"sees an opportunity to perhaps retrieve those ancient documents and sends Sir Hugh and others to join the Crusaders, yakking the whole way. After the bloody fall of Jerusalem, Sir Hugh establishes a new order of warrior monks as a cover for the excavation of the Temple Mount, and the race is on to find the hidden treasure, if it exists, before their activities are discovered. This tepid Templar foray will be crowded out at the gates. (Aug.)
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