S.J.A. Turney's Reviews > Brethren

Brethren by Robyn Young
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's review
May 01, 2012

really liked it

I wasn't really sure what to expect from Brethren as I hadn't read a synopsis beforehand. Sometimes I find that adds to the book as it means I go into it with an open mind. Also, given my very rigid list of books to read, Brethren sneaked in by simply being "I quite fancy a read of that" as I walked past the bookshelf. That, for me, is quite rare. All I knew was that it involved the Knights Templar and the crusades.

I was fascinated, then, to discover that the book is not simply an 'us-and-them' Templars and Muslim thing. It also falls blessedly short of the almost inevitable (these days) Dan-Browning of the Templars. There is a tendency now to see them as a mystical, secretive, barely-Christian bunch with demon worship etc. Since I personally believe that they were likely mostly good-hearted and pious men who also happened to be shrewd business managers, the whole 'creepy' thing just annoys me.

Robyn has built up, instead, a secret sect within the Templars, using the mysteries surrounding the order and its eventual fall, to create secrets within secrets while still avoiding the pit-trap of Templar weirdness and demon worship. The Templars in Brethren are like an onion, layers within layers, and (as you would expect) it is only toward the end of the book when you start to get a glimpse of what is at the heart of this sect. I was most pleased to find that what could have been said demon worship, weirdness and even supernatural guff was, instead, exactly what I've always thought could have been the case: a deep level of understanding and acceptance that goes far beyond the simple Christian message.

I will try to give nothing away. Some reviews I've seen on the book say that the writing style is rigid and slow, the book too protracted and the characters a little wooden. I found the writing to be easy enough and flow well, myself. I suspect the style eases into the second book. It is, after all, a debut, and any writer's style only settles with a second book, but I had no issue with the style.

I did find some of the characters' traits a little obvious or expected. I wouldn't say they were wooden or one-dimensional or anything like that, but one of the other reviewers said they are a tad under-developed and I can see where they have come up with this decision. I assume, though, that this is a facet of this being the first book in a trilogy and that the characters will continue to grow and deepen.

I did find the book a long one to go at, I have to say, not that it was a problem. I enjoyed every page of the story.

I will certainly be reading the rest of the series.
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Eunice your review = my exact thoughts if I were motivated.enough to articulate them in a review.

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