Sunday, August 16, 2009

Order in Chaos - Jack Whyte

Order in Chaos
Jack Whyte
Viking Canada
Copyright Date: 2009
The description:
Order in Chaos begins just prior to Friday the thirteenth of October 1307, the original Day of Infamy that marked the abrupt end of the Order of the Templars. On that day, without warning, King Philip IV sent his armies to arrest every Templar in France in a single morning. Then, with the aid of Pope Clement V, he seized all the Temple assets and set the Holy Inquisition against the Order.

Forewarned at the last minute by the Grand Master himself, who has discovered the king’s plot too late to thwart it, Sir William St. Clair flees France with the Temple’s legendary treasure, taking with him several hundred knights, along with the Scots-born widow of a French Baron, the Lady Jessica Randolph. As time passes and the evidence of the French King’s treachery becomes incontestable, St. Clair finds himself increasingly disillusioned and decides, on behalf of his Order, to abandon the past. He releases his men from their “sacred” vows of papal obedience and leads them into battle as Temple Knights one last time, in support of King Robert Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn. And in the aftermath of victory, he takes his surviving men away in search of another legend: the fabled land, mentioned in Templar lore, that lies beyond the Western Ocean and is known as Merica.

Order in Chaos is the sequel to Standard of Honor, completing the Templar Trilogy. Where the first two books cover the founding of the Knights Templar and the middle period of the Templar's existence, this book covers the years immediately after the Order's official dissolution.

As with the first two books, Jack Whyte has chosen to include a strong thread of material which appears to be straight out of the controversial knowledge section of the bookstore. At any rate, I recognized some of the themes/subplots from skimming titles on those shelves. Beyond that, I can't say either way as to the historical accuracy of the idea of Merica, for example, or the treasure at Roslynn Chapel. Either way, I enjoyed that aspect of the series, and would have really liked it if the story had continued beyond the end point the author chose.

This is the first book in the series to have an extensive female viewpoint, which makes the book quite different than the other two. I'm not entirely certain because it's been so long since I read the Camolud Chronicles, but it may well be the first book in either series (aside from Uther, if my memory isn't playing tricks) to include the woman's view.

Regardless, I'd still class Order in Chaos as a guy's book, and a very exciting read. It was also my favorite of the three, although some of that may be due to influences outside the book itself. The first novels I remember reading about the Knights Templar were The Temple and the Stone and The Temple and the Crown by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris. The first of the two especially was set in Scotland, and the second covered the fall of the Knights Templar as well. They, along with the novel The Templar Treasure, also by the same two authors were also the books that got me curious about the Templars in the first place.

Jack Whyte writes incredibly vivid and exciting books. On the other hand, I found that I still couldn't quite picture any of the characters in my head. Also, while the second book, Standard of Honor did include a list of some books about the Templars, unfortunately, no such list was included in Order in Chaos. This is, I think, the book that really could have used it, too.

Anyway, Order in Chaos was well worth the read, and if you like historical fiction, I recommend it strongly.

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