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Part I of a planned trilogy

by Robyn Young

      Set in a time when chivalry was the norm and war was a means of furthering religious dominance, Brethren tells the story of the Crusades as seen through the eyes of both the East and the West. We are introduced to Will Campbell and Garin de Lyons, two young but promising knights-in-training of the famed Templar order. Will's family falls short of English high society, yet what he lacks in nobility he makes up for in talent. His adolescence was deprived the presences of his father, who was a Templar knight, given the task of protecting the Christian settlements in the Holy Land.

Garin's father was killed during the Crusades, thus leaving much to live up to in addition to his high profile family name. The loss was compounded when Garin's mentor uncle was killed, along with Will's master, in an ambush after which he and Will veer off onto separate paths that eventually converge by way of deception, blackmail and tragedy.

Then there is Baybars, the ambitious, devout and vengeful leader of the Mamluks, a group of accomplished Muslim warriors whose primary mission is centered on driving the Westerners from Arab soil. He murders his prisoner, Will's father, igniting a similar vengeful passion within Will that sets the two on a mutual head-on course.

Much of the action and adventure is centered around an ancient text that holds many of the secrets of the Templar knights, as well as the identity of an exclusive group within the order whose sole purpose conflicts with the crusading mindset of Western society. Will and his new mentor, Everard, are charged with retrieving the stolen book that could cripple the order if it fell into the wrong hands. Along the way, Will encounters a blossoming romance and an old friendship becomes tainted by betrayal, but he also learns the value of peace and honor.

Robyn Young does a splendid job of placing her readers amongst the knights and Saracens of the medieval world in this first installment of her series. Her cold, steely depictions of bloodshed and violence seem to wrap around her silky style much like the armor donned by the era's warriors, and underneath is an engaging story filled with mystery, romance, courage, abandonment and deception. Indeed, the full spectrum of human emotions is well-represented in this action packed, yet surprisingly soft epic set at a time that has been the source of thousands of tales throughout history. Add this to the list of medieval adventures that are well worth the time and the wait for part two.

The Book

July 2006
Historical fiction [medieval]
More at US || UK
NOTE: explicit content - language, sex, violence

The Reviewer

John Washburn
Reviewed 2006
© 2006