The Templar Magician by Paul Doherty
1152 and the Templar Order face a new threat. The Templar Order fiercely guards the Holy Land, though the idealism that brought the Order to victory over five decades earlier is fading, as King Stephen fights a vicious civil war against Henry Fitzempress in England. When Raymond, Count of Tripoli, is brutally murdered a ferocious massacre ensues. Robert de Payens and Philip Mayele are sent to negotiate with the Man in the Mountain, whose sect, The Assassins, is believed responsible for the murder. The two envoys return with disturbing news: the assassination is the work of a rogue coven within the Order itself who are now headed to England. Its leader will use anything, even black magic, to defeat those who stand in his way – including the King himself…
Paul Doherty is one of the UK’s most prolific authors of historical fiction, well known for his historical mysteries set in the Middle Age, Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt. In The Templar Magician Doherty turns his focus to the 12th century and the Templar Order during the First Crusade.
I have used the words “reminiscent of David Gemmell” before in book reviews. It is not that the author’s style and the book’s subject matter put me in mind of Gemmell; it is that the reading experience is the same. Involving, well-researched and adeptly written, these books are the ideal companion on a long journey as they help make the miles magically disappear and instil the reader with a warm, comfortable feeling. But, above all, they are honest books, written with the aim of entertaining and, whenever possible, educating. This is why I found The Templar Magician reminded me of David Gemmell.
This is a book that involves you immediately. After only a few pages I was comfortable with the characters, interested in the setting of Outremer (French for overseas, the name given to the Crusader states established after the First Crusade), and looking forward to learning more about the Templar Knights and the Crusades. I particularly liked that Paul Doherty does not give us the Hollywood, romanticised vision of the Templar Knights; he shows us that many of those who made up the Order’s ranks were unsavoury men who had committed crimes and, with nowhere else to go, had taken the oath to join an Order desperate to increase its numbers.
There is a wonderful feeling of authenticity to The Templar Magician; the result of extensive research and prior knowledge. The characters contrast well and the plot is such as to provide much travel, both in Outremer and England, leading to the opportunity of many encounters and excitement. It certainly makes for compelling reading.
Among the highlights is the siege of Ascalon. Once again the author opts for realism and does not seek to show war as glorious; he shows it in all its horror, with futility and despair the overriding emotions. There may be some who harbour notions that being involved in a major battle may be an exciting event; this will provide a much-needed wake-up call. Here is an extract from the siege:
“The enemy gave their bleak response. A mighty role of kettle drums echoed across the gory remains of battle. A black banner was hoisted. Figures moved along the parapet and a cluster of naked bodies were flung over to jerk and dance as the nooses tightened around their necks. The Franks replied. Prisoners were hustled forward, struggling, and stripped and impaled alive on stakes."
The Templar Magician - Chapter 5
I thoroughly enjoyed The Templar Magician but there was one thing that didn’t work for me, and that was the ending. Everything was all done in a very Hercule Poirot way (considering this is marketed as an historical crime novel I really shouldn’t complain), but as we neared the end EVERY single loose thread was tied up, with all the protagonists in one room as the lead character, Edmund de Payens displayed his deductive prowess. This part seemed to go into unnecessary detail and I found it all a little bit unbelievable. That aside though, this is a book I will look back on fondly and I am pleased to say that I now have a better understanding of the Knights Templar and the 12th century than I had before I began reading it. I can take a lot from the book, and that is after all what reading is all about – learning something new.
I would recommend The Templar Magician to Paul Doherty’s existing fan base and those who love a good of historical fiction, with some fantasy and mystery thrown in for good measure.
About the author
Paul Doherty was born in Middlesbrough. He studied history at Liverpool and Oxford universities and obtained a doctorate at Oxford for his thesis on Edward II and Queen Isabella. He is now headmaster of a school in northeast London and lives with his wife and family near Epping Forest.
This The Templar Magician book review was written by Floresiensis
Have you read The Templar Magician?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Templar Magician reader reviews
7.5/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Death in St James's Park
Five years after Charles II's triumphant return to London there is growing mistrust of his extravagant court and of corruption among his officials - and when a cart lad...
Mystery in the Minster
In 1358 the fledging college of Michaelhouse in Cambridge is in need of extra funds. A legacy from the Archbishop of York of a parish close to that city promises a welcome ...
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have me...
Death of a Scholar
In the summer of 1358 the physician Matthew Bartholomew returns to Cambridge to learn that his beloved sister is in mourning after the unexpected death of her husband, Oswa...
Andersonville by Edward M Erdelac
Edward M Erdelac
Georgia, 1864. Camp Sumter, aka Andersonville, has earned a reputation as an open sewer of sadistic cruelty and terror where death may come at any minute. But as the Union ...
A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening
Mario de Carvalho
In the 3rd century AD, Lucerius Valerius Quincius, perfect of Tarcisis, an imaginary Roman City, begins his memoirs. His city is threatened from without and within. North A...
The King of Scotland is dead. The nobles fight over the succession, unaware that King Edward of England has plans of his own. For years, Edward has nurtured a fierce vision...
The Chelsea Strangler
In the sapping summer heat of 1665 there is little celebration in London of the naval victory at the Battle of Lowestoft. The King, his retinue and anyone with sufficient m...
The Lost Abbot
In the summer of 1358 Matthew Bartholomew finds himself one of a party of Bishop's Commissioners, sent north to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the Abbot of...
A Conspiracy of Violence
The dour days of Cromwell are over. Charles II is well established at White Hall Palace, his mistress at hand in rooms over the Holbein bridge, the heads of some of the reg...
The Piccadilly Plot
Thomas Chaloner is relieved to be summoned back to London. His master, the Earl of Clarendon, has sent him to Tangier to investigate a case of corruption. Chaloner will be ...
Murder by the Book
It is drawing near to the end of term, and the University at Cambridge is in turmoil over the opening of a new Common Library. There is an attack on one of the masters at a...
Summer, 1546. King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councillors are engaged in a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will cont...
The Language of Stones
The Realm is poised for war. Its weak king – Hal, grandson of a usurper – is dominated by his beautiful wife and her lover. Against them stands Duke Richard of ...
The Eagle Series
It is 42 AD, and Quintus Licinius Cato has just arrived in Germany as a new recruit to the Second Legion, the toughest in the Roman army. If adjusting to the rigours of mil...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess renders them indistinguishable from gods?The answer lies across the...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...
Beren and Luthien
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil...
Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall - named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn h...