The Fall of the Templars

Written by Robyn Young
Review by Phyllis T. Smith

In this novel, set in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, Will Campbell, a Knight Templar, returns to Europe after the fall of the Christian empire in the Holy Land. He finds that the Knights have allied themselves with Edward I, the enemy of his native Scotland, and his own daughter, a servant at the French court, has fallen in love with perfidious King Philippe IV. A man of integrity, Will attempts to find an honorable course though surrounded by a web of intrigue and lies. Much of the plot flows from his decision to desert the Templars and fight for Scotland.

Robyn Young paints on a broad canvas. In addition to meeting the two kings, we go into battle with William Wallace and, in France, see up close the destruction of the Knights Templar. Will Campbell’s survival and that of those he loves are often at risk, and the action scenes are suspenseful and vivid. There are memorable characters, including Philippe IV, whom readers will love to hate. Young’s portrait of William Wallace is as heroic and ultimately tragic as Mel Gibson’s but rings truer historically. The torture, execution and battle scenes are not for the squeamish, but the gore never seems gratuitous.

The figure of Will Campbell holds the disparate elements of the story together and is the moral center of the book. Without any sentimentality, Young shows us a truly courageous and noble human being, trying to adhere to his deepest beliefs despite the ethical chaos and cruelty that surround him. This book, which is the third in a trilogy but can easily stand alone, deserves a broad readership.