The Last Templar
My first novel, the one that started it all...
“Fans of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code who are searching for another outstanding historical thriller need look no further than Raymond Khoury’s spectacular debut novel about the Order of the Templar Knights, their hidden history and agenda, and a civilization-altering secret that has survived seven centuries.” Paul G Allen, Barnes & Noble Editor
Acre, Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1291: As the burning city falls to the Sultan’s men, a lone galley escapes out to sea, carrying a young Templar knight called Martin of Carmaux, his mentor Aimard of Villiers, and a mysterious chest entrusted to them by the Order’s dying Grand Master.
The ship never reaches its destination.
Present day, Manhattan: Four masked horsemen, dressed as Templar Knights, emerge from the darkness of Central Park and storm into the Metropolitan Museum, scattering the great and the good of Manhattan society who are there for the gala opening night of an exhibition of Vatican treasures. Caught in the brutal mayhem, desk-bound archaeologist Tess Chaykin watches in silent terror as the leader of the horsemen homes in on one piece in particular, a strange geared device. He utters a few cryptic words in Latin as he takes hold of the device with reverence before leading the horsemen out and disappearing into the urban nightscape of Manhattan.
The FBI’s investigation team is led by Sean Reilly, an anti-terrorist specialist as well as a practising Catholic, aided by his longtime partner Nick Aparo. They’re joined by a Vatican envoy, the Monsignor De Angelis. As the horsemen’s dead bodies start turning up, and as the importance of the stolen device becomes more and more apparent, Tess becomes more than a witness to the crime. She and Reilly get drawn into the dark, hidden history of the crusading Knights, and of the last surviving Templars’ fateful journey from Acre to the pyres of Paris. Tess and Reilly are soon facing the deadly forces battling to recover the lost secret of the Templars, and find themselves propelled into a dangerous adventure which takes them through the cemeteries and sewers of Manhattan, across continents to desolate Turkish mountains and remote Greek islands, through a Mediterranean storm of biblical proportions and into the very heart of the Vatican.
With Tess fuelled by an unswerving commitment to scientific truth, the archaeologist and the FBI agent’s nascent relationship comes under intense pressure, as with each disturbing revelation relating to the Templars’ long lost legacy, Reilly is plunged deeper into a spiritual and professional conflict which ultimately leaves them with the troubling burden of their shocking discovery.
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On one level, The Last Templar is a fast paced contemporary adventure/thriller set in New York and in various settings around the Mediterranean, intercut by five epic chapters that are set during the closing years of the Crusades in which the last Templar of the title, entrusted with the Order’s secret, escapes from the burning city of Acre and struggles to make it back to France. On another level, The Last Templar works as a thought-provoking exploration of religion in today’s world, of historic fact versus faith, particularly regarding the origins of the Catholic Church and what we know about the early days of that faith. Through the investigation into the Templars’ history and their mysterious discovery, and through the interplay between Tess – the agnostic, scientific skeptic – and Reilly, who turned to the Church after his father shot himself when Reilly was just a boy, the book presents a spirited look at the early days of the Church and invites the reader to question matters which most of us take at face value.
Read more about the history behind the book – Templars, Cathars and the Jefferson Bible.
Reviews of The Last Templar
"Fans of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code who are searching for another outstanding historical thriller need look no further than Raymond Khoury’s spectacular debut novel about the Order of the Templar Knights, their hidden history and agenda, and a civilization-altering secret that has survived seven centuries. When four horsemen clad in shining armor and wearing the insignia of the Templar Knights pillage the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the opening of a “Treasures of the Vatican” event and disappear with priceless artifacts, adventure-seeking archeologist Tess Chaykin and FBI agent Sean Reilly become embroiled in a mystery that, if confirmed, could turn the Christian community upside down and irrevocably change the religious landscape. One of the artifacts stolen was an unremarkable cryptographic device, but the device leads to the decoding of an ancient manuscript written by one of the last Templar Knights, which in turn leads to a secret submerged somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea — a secret that, if uncovered, could transform humanity forever. An insanely fast paced thriller that includes breathtaking twists and jaw-dropping bombshells on practically every page, Khoury’s conspiracy-laden debut — a blend of historical fiction, suspense, romance, and wild religious speculation — will open up a can of existential worms that will be all but impossible to close. Like the compelling dialogue between atheist Chaykin and the devotedly Catholic Reilly concerning faith versus science, the highly volatile subject matter discussed within The Last Templar will spark endless hours of heated debate — and the conclusion (oh, the brilliant conclusion!) will leave readers absolutely dumbstruck. Veritas vos liberabit: The truth will set you free."
Paul G Allen, Barnes & Noble Editor
"The novel is full of water cooler moments. For example, after reading just a few pages you will never walk past New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art again without looking toward Central Park in expectation of seeing four foreboding mounted knights riding out, lances at the ready… Khoury’s extensive screenwriting experience holds him in good stead here. His narrative vision is cinematic in scope, so the story unfolds like a seamless film reel across the imagination. Any reader encountering The Last Templar will want 1) a film version, and 2) more novels from Khoury, not necessarily in that order. Recommended."
Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter.com
"With ‘Templar’ in the title, this debut novel will inevitably draw comparisons to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Set in post-9/11 New York City, the action begins with a daring raid on the Metropolitan Museum of Art by four horsemen during the gala opening of an exhibition of Vatican treasures. When one of the witnesses to the crime, archaeologist Tess Chaykin, recognizes that the bandits masqueraded as Knights Templar, Chaykin and FBI agent Sean Reilly become involved in an intrigue whose roots date back to the 1291 fall of Jerusalem. Among the artifacts stolen from the museum is a rare rotor encoder. What will it decode? Can Chaykin and Reilly authenticate certain Templar assertions? How far will the Vatican go to protect the faithful? Khoury proffers a unique Templar secret and a subsequent Vatican cover-up that, if revealed, would change Christendom forever. For those fatigued by the recent spate of Mary Magdalene/Holy Grail books, this novel will come as a welcome relief. Recommended for most popular fiction collections."
"There’s no doubt that Khoury’s Last Templar has one of the most gripping opening scenes among recent thrillers… Khoury is a screenwriter, and his story is nothing if not cinematic, as it skips across three continents and climaxes with a storm at sea of biblical proportions. A nice twist at the end spins the Christian history everyone’s been chasing."
"How I wish I hadn’t read The Da Vinci Code… Every story in this genre is now always going to suffer by comparison, and in many ways this is a better book. Raymond Khoury is an experienced scriptwriter and it really shows in the brilliant plotting of this book. It’s fast-paced, and you can really imagine the story making a great movie… The ultimate secret contained in the Templar manuscripts (yes, it is revealed…!) is both fascinating and thought provoking, and the journey, both physical and emotional, undertaken by the main protagonists in discovering it is truly page-turning stuff. My only real problem is with the ending of the book. It’s literally a cliffhanger (no, I won’t spoil it…), and personally I’d rather have seen things getting a bit less “wet”. I do seriously urge you to read the book though – and you’ll know what I mean!"
"The greatest secret of all… Raymond Khoury makes a memorable debut with this frenetically paced, page-turning adventure. Fans of The Da Vinci Code will love this thrilling blend of conspiracy, action and mystery."
The Mystery and Thriller Club (UK)
"Fans of The Da Vinci Code will certainly enjoy this book. Its thesis isn’t quite as controversial as Brown’s book, but Khoury presents an alternative concept that is fascinating. It is another good entry into the true secret of the Knights Templar, and the historical flashbacks are vivid and poignant."
"The Last Templar is a fast-paced, highly cinematic romp through several continents in search of the infamous Knights Templar secret treasure… Enjoyable stuff… The Last Templar grips and is a perfect summer read for those for whom Dan Brown was the start but not the finish."
The Sunday Express (UK)
"What’s the next Da Vinci Code? To satisfy your historical-thriller cravings until Dan Brown’s next novel, read The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury — as suspenseful, and with a female lead."
Glamour Magazine (USA)