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The Testament [Hardcover]

Eric Van Lustbader
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Sept. 5 2006
The new international thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bourne Legacy

Braverman Shaw--"Bravo" to his friends--always knew his father had secrets. But not until Dexter Shaw dies in a mysterious explosion does Bravo discover the enormity of his father's hidden life as a high-ranking member of the Order of Gnostic Observatines, a sect founded by followers of St. Francis of Assisi and believed to have been wiped out centuries ago. For more than eight hundred years, the Order has preserved an ancient cache of documents, including a long-lost Testament attributed to Christ that could shake Christianity to its foundations. Dexter Shaw was the latest Keeper of the Testament--and Bravo is his chosen successor.

Before Dexter died, he hid the cache where only Bravo could find it. Now Bravo, an accomplished medieval scholar and cryptanalyst, must follow the esoteric clues his father left behind. His companion in this quest is Jenny Logan, a driven young woman with secrets of her own. Jenny is a Guardian, assigned by the Order to protect Bravo, or so she claims. Bravo soon learns that he can trust no one where the Testament is concerned, perhaps not even Jenny . . .

Another secret society, the Knights of St. Clement, originally founded and sponsored by the Papacy, has been after the Order's precious cache since the time of the Crusades. The Knights, agents and assassins, will stop at nothing to obtain the treasure. Bravo has become both a target and a pawn in an ongoing war far larger and more deadly than any he could have imagined.


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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.

From Booklist

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

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong Page-Turning Beginning That Trails Off April 11 2007
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Let me begin by commenting that I normally enjoy Mr. Lustbader's books more than I did this one and that I have never read any books by Dan Brown. So my perspective is on this story and this book in the context of having been a Lustbader fan for some time.

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.
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Amazon.com: 2.9 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I hate writing bad reviews Sept. 8 2006
By N. Gargano - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am a fan of Mr. Van Lustbader and I hate writing a bad review for this book, but I just was so surprised at how much I didn't like it, I thought it only fair to other book buyers to share my opinion.

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.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Been there, done that Aug. 26 2007
By mrliteral - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The bad news about Eric Van Lustbader's novel The Testament is that there's nothing that's really good about it. The good news - if you could call it that - is it could be worse. As it is, it's a by-the-numbers thriller that has been done better many times.

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.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly sophisticated fresh religious conspiracy thriller Sept. 9 2006
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Dexter Shaw dies in an explosion that injures his son Bravo and his daughter Emma. When Bravo awakens and recovers somewhat, Jenny visits him to inform him she is his Guardian assigned by his father to watch over him as he seeks a secret cache of documents. Bravo is shocked to learn that his dad lived a double life as a member of the ruling cabal, the Order of Gnostic Observatines, an organization that has influenced world events for centuries.

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.

Harriet Klausner
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad DaVinci Code Ripoff Feb. 1 2007
By Kasu Sista - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
First of all, I like Eric Van Lustbader's Ninja novels. They have a historic sense as well as fully fleshed out characters. It seems with The Testament the author felt compelled to make some money off the DaVinci Code phenomenon. I never once believed that this Braverman is a Scholar and a martial arts expert. Same goes for Jenny. She seemed too much of a girl next door to be a guardian. Then there is Camille, typical type cast hollywood villainess. Boy! the catholic church sure has been lying about many things, haven't they? What next? Jesus was really not crucified? It was a stunt double on the cross? He happily lived in south of france with Mary and his brood of children? It is tiresome. I am about 3/4 of the way through and I find it hard to believe how bad the writing is and how contrived the plot. I normally finish the books that I start, but this book is making it very tough to do so. Thank god I borrowed it from the library. It would be a waste of money to pay for it. I give it 1 star because 0 is not an option.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh so bad... Aug. 13 2008
By Linda from Swiiden - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Painfully bad, that's the only way to describe it. Secret tunnels in absurd places, embarassingly bad language, an even more embarassing initation... I actually cringed at times, feeling bad for Mr. van Lustbader. This is the sort of story and writing (or rather --and writing--) you'd expect from a tewlve-year-old who's watched too many episodes of Relic Hunter. Too bad; the idea was good.
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