Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: Brethren by Robyn Young

Synopsis (from Chapters.Indigo.Ca):


One young knight, bound by faith, driven by valour, begins a quest to protect a secret that could change the course of history irrevocably.

A richly detailed, epic historical adventure set in Paris, London, Egypt, and Palestine on the eve of the last Crusade, "Brethren" tells the story of a young knight's search for a mysterious (and potentially deadly) book belonging to a secret organization within the Knights Templar.   When young Will Campbell joins the most powerful organization in Europe, The Order of the Knights Templar, he finds himself drawn into a world of intrigue and danger.  He is charged with recovering a heretical book stolen from the order's vaults, but what Will doesn't know is that the book, in the form of a Grail Romance, hides the covert plans of a secret group within the Temple known as the Anima Templi: the Soul of the Temple. Whoever controls the book controls the fate of the Templars, and it seems that everyone around Will is ready to kill to possess it.
"Brethren" also traces the rise of Baybars Bundukdari, an ambitious commander in the Egyptian army, who, after assassinating the sultan, takes control of Egypt and Syria. The two stories come together during Baybars' campaign for a new Holy War that will cripple an empire and bring the Crusaders to their knees. 

My Review 

4 Stars

Brethren, the first novel in British author Robyn Young's Brethren trilogy, follows young sergeant Will Campbell from the Templar fortresses of London and Paris to the Templar strongholds of Acre and Antioch in the Holy Land as he seeks not only to recover an important book stolen from the Paris Temple, but also to discover himself.   Brethren also chronicles the rise and rule of the powerful Egyptian Sultan Baybars, whose fate will ultimately have him cross paths with Will Campbell.   

In Brethren, Young paints a vivid portrait of the inner sanctums of the Knights Templar and brings the medieval world to life.   I also thought Young did a very good job of developing each of her characters, whether they were principal or secondary ones.   Although this novel was Young's first, I think it read more like the work of a veteran writer than that of a debut author.  

The story itself was broad in scope and held my interest throughout and, while I initially found some story lines a bit disconnected from the main plot, by the end I thought Young did a good job of bringing all the various story lines together and, in so doing, laid a solid foundation for the second novel in the Brethren trilogy, Crusade.   

I definitely recommend this book to readers interested in historical fiction about the Knights Templar and the Crusades, as well as those interested in historical thrillers.    I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.