During the fight for Scotland’s independence, the mystical Order of the Knights Templar battles ancient evil and a treacherous king in this gripping alternate history.
A powerful order of warrior monks forged in the fires of the Crusades during the twelfth century, the legendary Knights Templar did not vanish entirely following their failed campaigns in the Holy Land. Having attained great power and arcane skill, they withdrew from the public eye but remained hidden in the shadows, prepared to do battle against the enemies of Christianity and the adherents of the old malevolent gods. Now, these noble defenders of the faith recognize Scotland as the next battleground, foretold in dreams and visions, as legendary Scottish heroes William “Braveheart” Wallace and Robert the Bruce take up arms against the forces of the English King Edward I in the terrible Anglo-Scottish War.
Charged with establishing their holy fellowship’s temple in the disputed land, loyal knights Arnault de Saint Clair, the French cleric, and Torquil Lennox of Scottish birth arrive in the midst of the bloody conflict to help prevent the conquest of Scotland and assure the ascension of its rightful liege. But the magical stone upon which every Scottish king must be crowned has been drained of its mystical power, and only an extreme sacrifice can revive the magic. A perilous endeavor must be undertaken to stem the supernatural evil that is growing amidst the chaos in the land as a powerful Pictish shaman attempts to raise the ancient pagan gods from the darkness to feed on blood and terror.
Coauthors of the acclaimed Adept historical fantasy series, Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris imagine an alternate history that will appeal to fans of the occult, Scottish history, and the fabled Knights Templar.
Kurtz and Harris's Adept series established the authors as reliable voices in fantasy. Here, as in two story anthologies edited by Kurtz (On Crusade, etc.), the subject is the enigmatic Knights Templar, the powerful religious-military order renowned for its role in the Crusades and medieval world politics. This novel's heroes, Arnault de Saint Clair and Torquil Lennox, belong to le Cercle, an initiated inner order possessed of good magic with Hebrew, Christian and Celtic sources. Their goal is to establish a Fifth Temple in Scotland--but this means Scotland must be free, while King Edward and even fellow Templars seek to institute English rule. Against the magic of le Cercle is set evil, ancient blood-magic, leading to exciting conflicts and a final banishment of the goddess Gruagah and her servants. Yet reviving the Stone of Destiny--seat upon which all true Scottish kings are crowned--demands a sacrifice, though a willing one in imitation of Christ. This seamless combination of historical novel and fantasy offers rich background and, especially in the second half, substantial suspense and adventure. The magic scenes will please fantasy readers, while the atmospheric and well-detailed setting holds promise that the novel might cross over to fans of historical fiction.