The Testament Hardcover – Sep 5 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Lustbader (The Bourne Legacy) jumps on the Da Vinci Code bandwagon with this high-octane but familiar tale of yet another lost gospel that would rock the Catholic world. This time, the secret for which the faithful are not prepared is that Jesus was restored to life by "The Quintessence," the mysterious fifth element, rather than by divine assistance. Competing secret factions, of course, pursue this substance, with its promise of eternal life, plus a fragment of the Testament of Jesus Christ, which confirms its existence. The cloak-and-dagger war draws in Bravo Shaw, a medieval scholar whose father was a secret member of the centuries-old Order of the Gnostic Observatines before the repressive Knights of St. Clement murdered him. With the help of Jenny Logan, another Gnostic Observatine agent, Bravo dodges death and betrayal every few pages. Dan Brown fans who like their thrillers dressed up with research and ingenious puzzles won't find much of that here, but the action-packed story will keep them turning the pages anyway. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
After Braverman "Bravo" Shaw's father dies unexpectedly (and under very suspicious circumstances), Bravo discovers that Dad was a member of an ancient and secret religious order charged with guarding a document, allegedly written by Christ himself--yes, it's another of those artifacts that could tear apart Christianity. Bravo, a cryptanalyst and medieval-history expert, teams up with a young woman who claims to be a member of the order, and together they attempt to find Christ's testament. One more shameless rip-off of The Da Vinci Code? Not quite. For hard-core fans of the -religious-historical thriller, there is just (barely) enough originality here to make the story palatable. Van Lustbader's characters aren't exactly the same as Brown's, and the plot doesn't unfold precisely the way Brown's does, so if you're consumed with Christian conspiracy theories, you're likely to focus on what's new and ignore the many similarities between the two books. And with genre veteran Van Lustbader a card-carrying member of the plotcentric school, there are no worries about complex characters getting in the way of the action. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
As the book opens with a prologue in which two Christian groups are battling over ancient secrets held by one of the two groups in 1442. Just as the action seems about to be resolved, the prologue ends leaving you hanging a bit. Then the book shifts to the present day in New York City where a father, Dexter Shaw, has a desperate need to reconcile with his estranged son, Braverman ("Bravo"). When the two meet, Bravo won't listen and the father goes off to his death. But Dexter leaves a legacy for Bravo in the form of his involvement with one of the two Christian groups and a puzzle hunt that extends over three continents. In the course of the search, Bravo comes to know his father better and sees those around him differently. You can think of Bravo's journey through this book as a modern-day quest for the metaphorical Holy Grail.
I had several problems with this book.
First, I thought that it was gratuitously obnoxious to come up with a plot built around alchemy being true while Christianity isn't. Had I fully appreciated that was the basis of the story, I wouldn't have opened the book. My assumption was that Mr. Lustbader was going to focus instead on some small doctrinal point about which many current Christian groups dispute. Wrong!
Second, there's a central flaw in the story that makes the plot seem senseless. Dexter was aware of all but one of his primary foes, yet in setting up the quest little was done to provide proof that would have better prepared Bravo.
Third, Mr.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The story felt forced, the characters were cardboard cutouts, I actually found myself laughing out loud at some of the conversations, scenes and instances as they unfolded. I am not sure if Mr. Van Lustbader felt the need to jump into the mass of "Da Vinci Code" books or really felt like he had a story he wanted to tell, but this book is awful. The premise seemed so interesting, and if done well, maybe would have been a good book.
I gave it two instead of one, just for the fact that, well, I don't know why, I just gave an extra star for effort I guess, after all it is Eric Van Lustbader, but if you have to read it, wait for paper. My apologies to the author.
The hero of the Testament is Braverman "Bravo" Shaw, who, as the story begins, is about to be told an important secret by his father Dexter. Bravo opts to wait a few hours, during which time Dexter's killed and Bravo's sister Emma is injured. Dexter, however, has left behind a series of puzzles that will reveal his secrets. Early on, this leads him to Jenny Logan who clues Bravo in what's going on.
It turns out that Dexter had a key role in a centuries-old group called the Order of the Gnostic Observatines, a group that split from the Catholic Church and is now considered heretical. The Church has its own organization, the Knights of St. Clement, which is out to destroy the Order. Dexter has passed on his title of Keeper to Bravo, which will give the son access to some important, arcane texts that could negatively affect the Church. Jenny is a Guardian, part of the security wing of the Order.
Both together and separately, Jenny and Bravo solve Dexter's puzzles and dash around the U.S. and Europe closing in on the hidden documents, while members of both groups pursue them (the Order happens to have some bad guys in it too), leading to an inevitable showdown between the heroes and the villains.
On the one hand, this is a competently written thriller, but there's a definite been-there-done-that feel to the whole thing. Lustbader doesn't even seem to be trying to write a good novel here. The plot is an obvious reworking of The Da Vinci Code, but it's a pale shadow of that best-selling novel. There isn't a plot twist that can't be seen a mile off: as soon as Jenny is introduced, you know she's going to be the love interest, and I could tell that Bravo's best friend was going to secretly be the head bad guy (I'm not spoiling anything here; it is revealed relatively early in the book). The characters are cookie-cutter, and Lustbader doesn't even seem to care enough to get basic facts correct: for example, at one point, he can't even do math correctly, having 54 - 42 equaling 8.
The best I can say about the Testament is that it is a testament to my fortitude to stick through a completely formulaic book, one which was a page turner only because I wanted it over with. If this was a minor, no-name author, I'd probably give the book two stars, but Lustbader is an established author who should put forth a better effort. Instead of reading this one-star fare, you're better off re-reading The Da Vinci Code or some classic Ludlum novel.
The group's enemy The Knights of St. Clement want that cache too because it contains something that will heal the dying Pope, enhancing their secret behind the scenes power in the shadows of the Vatican. Another item the group wants in the cache is the Testament of Jesus Christ that contains explosive information that could destroy Christianity if revealed. Bravo realizes a traitor amidst the order is providing information to the Knights. He trusts no one especially friends, family, or his guardian.
Readers who enjoyed the Da Vinci Code and the Brethren will defiantly want to read THE TESTAMENT, a highly sophisticated fresh religious conspiracy thriller whose fast-paced storyline will leave the audience breathless. The protagonist is an interesting person who does not quite grasp how or why his father was involved like he was or why he puts his life on the line to keep the cache out of the hands of the wrong people. Still like a true hero he does what he believes is right and if nothing else has the audience rooting for him.