Every now and again I come across a book that has me wondering, ‘What on Earth is the publisher playing at?’ This is one such book. I realise that in 2009 the Dan Brown phenomenon was rampant, his books selling millions of copies and Hollywood keen to turn them into movies. Every major publisher was desperate to get in on the act, but there must have been better books available to Penguin than this one. At the very least Penguin could have edited it properly. Instead, I’m left with the impression of a book hastily written and hastily published with the reader treated with contempt.
There is an absurd plot featuring two utterly unconvincing central characters charging from country to country leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake with the authorities taking no interest. Stereotype villains (tall, blond-haired, modern-day Nazis) provide the cannon fodder.
Food (and coffee) in Britain and Ireland are, of course, ridiculed as inedible, while in France perfect food is served by surly waiters. When they arrive in Britain and hire a car the one driving grips the wheel in terror as they negotiate a narrow road, desperately hoping that no vehicle comes the other way. Are they on a Cornish lane crossing Bodmin Moor? No, they are on the A44. This book really is laughably bad.
I mentioned the lack of editing. Here’s an example: the main character is an eyepatch-wearing soldier who lost an eye in a bizarre accident. At one stage he is pursuing someone on foot through a wood. Allow me to quote. ‘Holliday sprinted after his quarry, one eye on the ground in front of him looking for obstacles, the other on the runner.’ Author and editor (if there was one) both took their eye off the ball there.
A key element is an old sword, but the author can’t decide on the length of the blade. It is variously described as a yard, thirty-one inches and thirty inches – symptoms of a hastily-published piece of work.
I was amazed to find that Penguin have published a sequel. The first chapter is included at the end of this book. Is it any better? I doubt it. In consecutive paragraphs Holliday is described as a widower for ‘more than ten years’ and ‘almost ten years’.
Throughout The Sword of the Templars the author frequently, and often irrelevantly, mentions well-known books. I can only assume that he hoped that by association his book would acquire some quality. It didn’t.
You’ll find more reviews on Amazon The Sword of the Templars (Templars series)