The Templar Legacy
Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
"The ancient order of the Knights Templar possessed untold wealth and absolute power over kings and popes . . . until the Inquisition, when they were wiped from the face of the earth, their hidden riches lost. But now two forces vying for the treasure have learned that it is not at all what they thought it was–and its true nature could change the modern world.
Cotton Malone, one-time top operative for the U.S. Justice Department, is enjoying his quiet new life as an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen when an unexpected call to action reawakens his hair-trigger instincts–and plunges him back into the cloak-and-dagger world he thought he’d left behind.
It begins with a violent robbery attempt on Cotton’s former supervisor, Stephanie Nelle, who’s far from home on a mission that has nothing to do with national security. Armed with vital clues to a series of centuries-old puzzles scattered across Europe, she means to crack a mystery that has tantalized scholars and fortune-hunters through the ages by finding the legendary cache of wealth and forbidden knowledge thought to have been lost forever when the order of the Knights Templar was exterminated in the fourteenth century. But she’s not alone. Competing for the historic prize–and desperate for the crucial information Stephanie possesses–is Raymond de Roquefort, a shadowy zealot with an army of assassins at his command.
Welcome or not, Cotton seeks to even the odds in the perilous race. But the more he learns about the ancient conspiracy surrounding the Knights Templar, the more he realizes that even more than lives are at stake. At the end of a lethal game of conquest, rife with intrigue, treachery, and craven lust for power, lies a shattering discovery that could rock the civilized world–and, in the wrong hands, bring it to its knees."
The Templar Legacy is the first installment in Steve Berry's mystery series, Cotton Malone.
I went into this with certain expectations, only knowing that this appears on lists of books similar to Dan Brown's work or for fans of Uncharted. Needless to say, I thought that this book was going to be right up my alley, and for the most part, it was.
Steve Berry blends fact and fiction in order to regale a tale about the Knight's Templars and their search for what they called the Great Devise. When it comes to books like this that combines fact with fiction, one of the first questions I ask myself is if that blend was seamless? And I do think that Berry did a great job at creating a story that doesn't pull you out because of an unbelievable plot.
Also due to the amount of historical facts used in this, I, of course, had to fact check to make sure they are accurate. I was hoping to find someone who did a historical analysis of the book, but couldn't find one. I did look up some facts that I thought that were interesting, and as far as I could tell, everything checked out (though a lot of history is left up to speculation).
One of the reasons I love books like this is because it allows for me to learn new things. For example, I did not know the reason behind Friday the 13th and that Jesus apparently had half-brothers. So if you like history with a dash of action, try this out.
As for the plot itself, I was a bit underwhelmed which was disappointing. For one, I thought that it was a bit slow paced. I wish that there would have been more action to make it more high-stakes and more quick paced. I also wished that there was more mystery included, but that is more of a personal preference as I like puzzle solving. Because of what I thought was lacking, I did feel a bit disconnected from the story.
As a plot that heavily focused on religion, I was a bit hesitant when reading this because religious extremism is not something I enjoy reading about. So, needless to say, my enjoyment was dampened a bit because of the strong religious elements. What I did like, however, was that this showed just how bloody the Catholic Church's history was.
The main focus of the plot is the search for something called the Great Devise, and I will say that I spent the majority of the book having no clue what that was. Either I wasn't playing close enough attention or it simply just wasn't explained well enough. I am still not entirely sure what it is, but I think it might be a debate between whether or not Jesus was crucified and rose again? It's not a very good think if you don't really know what the focus of the plot is...
As for the characters, I did have a bit of an issue with their development.
I felt you were meant to go into the story already knowing Cotton and Stephanie, even though this is the 1st book in the series. There was just a lack of character introductions that I really needed in order to make a connection with them. Throughout the entire book, I found that I didn't really care too much about them because we aren't given enough background information on them.
Stephanie, for example, seemed like she was part of the story more by accidental association than as an integral part of the plot. Cassiopeia had a more interesting character arc compared to Stephanie, which isn't very good considering that she is a side character.
What I did like was how Cotton was an antique book dealer. I thought that it was a rather unique profession and as someone who likes researching ancient manuals and codexes, I am looking forward for the series to focus on that.
Moving on to the person who drove the plot, de Roquefort. I struggled a bit with his character because he made it feel like this was more about him using the Templar's to try and find the Great Devise rather than the Templar's as a whole. I also think that as the antagonist, he didn't do a very good job at increasing the tension.
I did end up enjoying this even though it took me way longer than usual to get through it. Did this knock it out of the park, no. There were issues with the plot pacing and the character development. If you like history or Dan Brown, or if you want to learn more about the Templars without having to read scholarly texts, then try this out for yourself.