Knights of the Black and White

Written by Jack Whyte
Review by Lucille Cormier

If Jack Whyte ever decides on a criminal career, then best of luck to those who have to catch him. His plotting is meticulous, imaginative, and executed to perfection. There is not a loophole or loose thread in Knights of the Black and White, his fast-paced story of Sir Hugh de Payens, knight of the First Crusade and founder of the Knights Templar. In 11th century France, there is a secret Order dedicated to the preservation of ancient knowledge. The well- guarded documents are difficult to read. The information is dangerous. Per tradition, only one son of each family in the Order will be initiated into its rites. Hugh de Payens is the chosen son.

Hugh’s study of the Order’s lore ends with a call to join the First Crusade. After the savage battle for Jerusalem, the Order again touches Hugh’s life. He is charged to assemble members of the brotherhood and await further orders from France. The orders are unbelievable. The brothers are to search for a treasure hidden in subterranean ruins under the Temple Mount – that is, directly under the palace of the King of Jerusalem.

Hugh’s strategy is inspired. He offers the services of his fellow knights for the purpose of protecting pilgrims. The knights will become a monastic order of fighting monks. It won’t cost the Church or the king a shekel. All they ask is for a place to live and house their horses. The abandoned stables near the king’s palace will do perfectly: the old stables situated on the Temple Mount…

The rest is an exciting tale of desert fighting, political treachery, lust, and love. The story is rich in historical detail, some of it outright funny, all of it interesting and skillfully introduced. The ending is perfect. Don’t just read this book; add it to your collection.