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By Bart Rice

IR Rating:
Exploring one of history’s most enduring mysteries, Bart Rice’s KNIGHTS TEMPLAR TREASURE FOUND is a solid debut from a talented writer and historian.
A hypothetical version of an otherwise unknown story featuring the Knights Templar and their famed treasure.

Few groups have captured the imagination of authors and filmmakers alike more than the Knights Templar. From the big screen (Indiana Jones) to the bestsellers’ list (The Da Vinci Code), the mysterious organization’s influence remains ubiquitous in pop culture. The order of devout Christian warriors was initially tasked with protecting Europeans traveling to the Holy Land but soon became a powerful political force in their own right. Unfortunately, the massive wealth acquired along the way was eventually lost to the annals of history. With his debut novel, KNIGHTS TEMPLAR TREASURE FOUND, Bart Rice attempts to answer a seven-hundred-year-old question: where is the fabled fortune buried?

The novel opens in the year 1307 and finds the Knights Templar deciding to remove and conceal the contents of their treasury from the King of France. Listening from the back of the room, Alain Gervers grows concerned. A simple “scribe who counts coins,” Gervers suddenly realizes that his ink-stained fingers and prized handwriting will be of little use on the dangerous road ahead. Gervers and his fellow Knights are about to leave the safety of their fortress with a treasure that will likely require bloodshed to defend. With a host of foreign enemies at their heels, the greatest threat facing the Knights Templar just might come from within. The journey that follows is one fraught with danger, and the destination is a secret that remains to this day.

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR TREASURE FOUND offers readers a hypothetical version of an otherwise unknown story. From Alain’s personal transformation to the final resting place of Knights Templar wealth, Rice expertly blurs the lines between history and fiction. In the process, the author manages to deliver a relatively confident debut novel. History buffs will revel in the meticulous research, linear chronology, and the abundance of prominent historical figures. And fiction fans will appreciate the strong character development and the ever-present sense of tension. While most readers are likely familiar with the Knights Templar (thanks to the above-cited pop-culture saturation), KNIGHTS TEMPLAR TREASURE FOUND is as immersive as it gets. Rice pulls back the curtain, dropping readers into the religious order’s daily happenings. Through Gerver’s story, we learn that there was far more to the fourteenth century than swordplay. In fact, the use of an everyman protagonist underscores the idea of the Knights Templar as a way of life.

For all of the novel’s strengths, Rice struggles in an area that plagues many first-time authors. With some occasionally clunky dialogue exchanges and a bevy of exposition-dumps that leave little to the imagination, the author ‘tells’ far more than he ‘shows.’ And Rice’s pronounced attention to detail tends to bog down the story’s momentum with passages that occasionally veer into ‘textbook’ territory. Still, given the genre’s expectations (after all, this is historical fiction), Rice’s otherwise airtight prose more than serves the story.

Exploring one of history’s most enduring mysteries, Bart Rice’s KNIGHTS TEMPLAR TREASURE FOUND is a solid debut from a talented writer and historian.

~James Weiskittel for IndieReader

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