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3.8 324
by Simon Toyne

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“If a thriller has to be one thing it’s thrilling, and Simon Toyne’s Sanctus is thrilling with bells on….A roller coaster ride through a dark world of conspiracy and betrayal.”
—Paul Christopher, author of The Templar Conspiracy

If you are a fan of top-notch conspiracy fiction that keeps you up late nights


“If a thriller has to be one thing it’s thrilling, and Simon Toyne’s Sanctus is thrilling with bells on….A roller coaster ride through a dark world of conspiracy and betrayal.”
—Paul Christopher, author of The Templar Conspiracy

If you are a fan of top-notch conspiracy fiction that keeps you up late nights turning pages—if the bestselling novels of Steve Berry, James Rollins, Dan Brown, Raymond Khoury, and Chris Kuzneski make your heart race faster—then remember the name Simon Toyne! Already a smash instant bestseller in the United Kingdom (“Intriguing and engaging…[with a] relentless pace” The Sun) Toyne’s Sanctus is, quite simply, one of the most extraordinary conspiracy thriller debuts in many years. In this electrifying, nonstop adventure, a young newspaper reporter, driven by the memory of her lost brother, uncovers a dark secret nurtured for 3,000 years by blood and lies by adherents of an ancient, unknown religion in a Vatican-like citadel hidden away for millennia from unwelcomed prying eyes.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In British author Toyne's stellar first in a projected trilogy, a thriller in the Dan Brown tradition, an ancient sect of monks who live in the Citadel, a church carved out of a mountain near the fictional Turkish city of Ruin, have been protecting a secret, "the Sacrament," since before the Christian era. A monk who knows the secret, Brother Samuel, escapes from the Citadel and throws himself off the mountain in full view of spectators and news crews. Later, American newspaper reporter Liv Adamsen learns that her phone number, carved into a small leather strap, has been found inside Samuel's stomach. The monk turns out to be her brother, whom she hasn't seen in years, so Liv travels to Ruin to try to solve the puzzle of his mysterious death. She and several other groups battle the deadly monks, who will stop at nothing to thwart their efforts to discover the Sacrament's secret. The truly mind-boggling revelation will leave astounded readers eager for the next installment. (Sept.)
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“[Sanctus] might turn out to be the next great cliffhanger conspiracy thriller.”
San Jose Mercury News
“A huge, bold thriller, Sanctus is a bloody, twistedly perverse story about a battle against a secretive group of heretical, conspiring monks . . . . the most engaging writing I’ve read in months.”
The Daily Mirror (UK)
“Hard to think of it as a debut, better to think of it as the beginning of a massive new adventure, and a so-long to Dan Brown. . . .”
Daily Telegraph (London)
“[A] cool, confident debut. A talented new writer who instinctively grasps the broad rules of superior action thrillers and adapts them with pace, grace, humour and a keen eye for cinematic effect.”
"This is a big, bold thriller, so big that it needs to create its own mythology . . . Elegantly written and imaginatively plotted, with a smart heroine and an appropriately evil villain, this is a must-read for fans of high-concept thrillers involving grand conspiracies."
Brad Meltzer
“When you read Sanctus, you’ll see just how frightening, ruthless and relentlessly entertaining an order of monks can be. Haunting in the best way.”
Booklist (starred review)
“This is a big, bold thriller, so big that it needs to create its own mythology . . . Elegantly written and imaginatively plotted, with a smart heroine and an appropriately evil villain, this is a must-read for fans of high-concept thrillers involving grand conspiracies.”
Library Journal
A cassocked monk stands on a mountaintop in modern-day Turkey above the fictional city of Ruin. Arms outstretched, he forms a tau, the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet. Having climbed from within a cloistered Vatican-like city-state called the Citadel, he is a remarkable sight, attracting media attention as he deliberately plummets outside the Citadel's walls. To some, this event portends a prophetic sequence, but the ensuing investigation brings unwanted scrutiny upon the secretive order. What message was this monk delivering…and to whom? When his journalist sister arrives to claim the body, she unwittingly becomes enmeshed in intrigue befitting an action thriller. The monks are hiding something in the Citadel, and they will go to any length to protect it. VERDICT Throwing his hat in with the religious conspiracy thriller crowd, former British television producer Toyne has written a well-developed, exciting debut, the first volume of a projected trilogy, that doesn't tip off the ending midnovel like so many of its kind. Its "just one more page, one more chapter" urgency keeps you reading into the night, and the final revelation of the Citadel's secret is haunting. [100,000-copy first printing; rights sold in 27 countries; see Prepub Alert, 3/14/11.]—Laura A.B. Cifelli, Ft. Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., FL
Kirkus Reviews

A cliffhanger—literally—that aspires to towering heights but doesn't quite get there.

Why would a proper monk go climbing out of a mountain lair and then shoot gospel-gang signs at an eager public watching his every move before the face of God? ("The sign he's making is the Tau," says one knowing fellow.) Suffice it to say that said monk has a secret involving, of course, a secret library (think Umberto Eco), a heretical gloss on the Bible (think Dan Brown), a tough detective named Arkadian (think Martin Cruz Smith) and a militant order of religious guardians (think Indiana Jones). A few loose phrases of Greek and Aramaic waft through the pages of this debut by Toyne, a Briton resident in France, who packs a lot of well-researched information into this aspirational thriller. If you're looking to survive a siege, Toyne provides helpful instructions. The timing is off, though; it takes much too long to get to the meat of the story—understandably, perhaps, since it takes our monk a good while to ease himself across the sheer rock face, his progress marked by clerics of sinister demeanor ("Even if by some miracle he does manage to make it to the lower slopes, our brethren on the outside will apprehend him"). Toyne has a realistic bent, however, and the derring-do and scriptural intrigue never get too unwieldy or too unworldly. His characters, too, are well-rounded and credible; what's not to like about a monk who reads Nietzsche? A bonus: Toyne's battery of good guys include strong women characters, with no condescension; too many books of this kind treat women as afterthoughts, if not mere love interests. And there's some nice elaboration of the plot, keeping the reader guessing whether the heretics are good guys or bad, and just when the seventh seal is going to crack.

A promising debut. One hopes for a more tightly structured narrative next time around, but the right ingredients are all here.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:

What People are Saying About This

Brad Meltzer
“When you read Sanctus, you’ll see just how frightening, ruthless and relentlessly entertaining an order of monks can be. Haunting in the best way.”

Meet the Author

Simon Toyne is the bestselling author of the Sanctus trilogy: Sanctus, The Key, and The Tower. A writer, director, and producer in British television for twenty years, he worked on several award-winning shows, one of which won a BAFTA. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages and published in more than fifty countries. He lives with his wife and family in England and the south of France, where he is at work on his second Solomon Creed novel.

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Sanctus 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 324 reviews.
BookSakeBlogspot More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Sanctus, up until the last 50 pages or so. The beginning is a bit slow, but the chapters are only a few pages long, so you can finish a few and come back to it later. Once the pace picks up, though, you won't be able to put it down. There's so much mystery surrounding everything in this book. The central mystery is the secretive ancient relic that the Sancti are guarding in their mountain monastery, but with every point of view shift, there is something new to discover. It reminded me of the Da Vinci Code, until the farfetched, supernatural ending. I should have expected it though, the foreshadowing and clues along the way all hinted to it, but I was hoping the author wouldn't cross genres in the last pages of the book. It was rather disappointing. That said, I'm not going to give this book a poor rating. I thoroughly enjoyed 95% of this book and would read anything this author writes, even if the ending is lacking. Reviewed by Brittany for Book Sake.
EagleSquadronSon More than 1 year ago
Let me start by saying Sanctus and The Key are each a thrilling read. I will definitely buy the third book in this trilogy. I cannot give this book a fifth star because the author weakens the plot by interjecting his political beliefs into these novels. Evident repeatedly throughout these books are his prejudices which may summed up as, 1), Oil = Bad and 2), Christianity (Catholicism) = Evil. I find such preaching tiresome and mundane.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read! The enhanced ebook version was so worth the extra two bucks. There are several videos to watch and with audio/music to set the mood at the start of each section. I can't wait for the second book. Hope its as good as the first and as another enhanced ebook!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sanctus was fantastic, I was baffled as to where it was heading, and that was good. great suspense and plenty of action, I enjoyed this book very much. I definitely recommend this especially if you liked the Da Vinci Code. I want to buy Simon Toyne's next book also, it looks like a continuation of some of the same characters in this one. thank, Larry W.
smg5775 More than 1 year ago
I hate when I do not have enough time to just sit and read a book until I'm done. Sanctus is a book that needs extended periods of time to read. I would get to the end of a chapter and couldn't wait to see what happened next and I'd have to get off the bus or back to work. Fortunately, the short chapters made it easy to remember where I had to leave off. While Sanctus is in the same genre as The DaVinci Code, it is a totally different read. Liv, and the reader, could not tell who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. You are taught to trust and believe religious leaders but these guys were something else. I liked how technology was used to make it easier for the bad guys and good guys to track people. While the question was an old one, the use of technology and how far each side would go to get what they wanted gave Sanctus a fresh feel. I was hooked from the beginning as Samuel stands atop the Citadel like the Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro trying to figure out why he was standing that way and why he wanted out of the Citadel. At times I was a little confused when some characters were introduced but once the explanation was received I could fit the character into the plot. I look forward to the next book of the trilogy.
donnas1 More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite suspense of the year. It has everything from suspense, to action, mystery and conspiracies that stretch back to the beginning of the human race. The author creates a mysterious sect that is hiding an ancient artifact that no one except the highest ranking in the group know what it really is. They have a very detailed history that you discover over the course of the story and that keep you figuring things out until the end of the story. The setting as well is fictional but is so detailed that as you read you are wondering does it indeed exist. And if so where exactly in Turkey will you find it. You can easily picture it and imagine what it would look like should you be able to visit. From the streets to the buildings to the security. At the same time you are getting these great character and setting details. You are on a roller coaster ride with the story. Once you get going it is almost non-stop until the end. I thought this was an excellent debut for this author and I was completely surprised by the ending. It was not at all what I was expecting and it threw in one final twist to the story. While this is the start of a trilogy it is a complete stand alone that concludes the main story at the end. I am however really looking forward to the next in the series to see what happens next as a result of what happened here. If you are looking for a great suspense. Pick this one up immediately. It is reminiscent of other religious thrillers. But as it is completely fictional and not based on any one "real" religious sect it can easily be classified in a standard thriller category.
Stephanie_Ward More than 1 year ago
Simon Toyne's debut novel, Sanctus, is a new must-read for the fall. The book follows a few main characters who are all intertwined in an ancient prophecy and a secret that will rock the world if discovered. Sanctus is filled with history, religion, mystery, and suspense. It asks the question of just how far someone would go to protect a long-hidden secret that would unravel the faith of millions if discovered. Taking place in the city of Ruin in Turkey, Sanctus is a page-turning thriller that fans of Dan Brown are sure to appreciate. The novel compels the reader forward with the unanswered questions it poses, only to astound them with the revelation of what lay hidden deep within the Citadel at the very end of the novel. The religious mystery/conspiracy plot has been done before, but not with this kind of intensity and baffling twist. This is a definite must-read for fall! Disclosure: I received my copy of this book free from Goodreads. However, this has no effect on my opinion of the book or my review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was really excited about this book, what with a secret, religious society and an ancient, mysterious relic, it seemed right up my alley. But that was before I read it. I am astonished that other reviewers compared this book with "The DaVinci Code" - what an insult to Dan Brown! None of Brown's cleverness, intricate plotting, nor research went into this novel. The premise was interesting and might have made a great book had someone with the talent of a Dan Brown written it, however, it failed on so many levels for me. I really wanted to like it, but instead felt like I had wasted several hours of my life that are gone forever. Skip this book and re-read "The DaVinci Code."
GtzLstNRding More than 1 year ago
It's got everything you could want. If you are a Dan Brown fan this book is right up your alley. There are secret monk societies, ancient symbols to be decifered, a battle that has been around since the beginning of time, religion is present although they don't specify which one which is fine, police and former military men, murders. You will not be able to finish the page fast enough to find out what is going to happen next.
GreenEyedReader More than 1 year ago
Fast paced, entertaining, fast read. If you like Dan Brown you'll like this piece; very DaVinci Code-esque. Be aware this is the first of a series of three.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this on my nook app on a whim. While it is a decent story I would wait for it to be on sale. It's kind of like "Dan Brown light" an interesting idea but could have been told a bit better. Still would make good beach reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an alright read. It kept my interest and I'm not super religious. But if you are a hard core Christian you may get upset by it. Remember, it's fiction! Take it with a grain of salt.
gqb01 More than 1 year ago
I stuck with it, but this is one of the weirdest books I have read. I almost skipped to the end to find out what the sacrament was. I notice there's a sequel, but I won't read it. One positive is that the author did not use the f-word.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tantalizing spin on an old theme, keeps your interest with several characters form differing backgrounds to solve the mystery
BZak More than 1 year ago
I enjoy reading stories about ancient groups that impact the present day. Sanctus has all the perfect elements for me and readers of Dan Brown, Steve Brown, Paul Christopher, James Rollins, Raymond Khoury and Chris Kuznewski. I was only slightly disappointed in the "quick" ending until I discovered this is only the first book of a trilogy. Can't wait until the next one!
b-lee59 More than 1 year ago
wow. the beginning hooked me completely with a monk diving off a mountain. an interesting plot that grows on you slowly (it was a bit hard at first to keep the characters straight) and kept me guessing. the ending was very dark for me; to think these men could harbor such hatred toward women for SO LONG depressed me no end. Still, i will await the next book in the trilogy. (let's hope it's only fiction!!)
bjboyle More than 1 year ago
Better than Davinci Code.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well-woven religious intrigue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I must have finished this book in one day, it was so compelling. I was worried that the ending wouldnt live up to its hype, but I was not disappointed. Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't read it quick enough. None stop action, a great twist in the plot, and a little romance. If you liked the "Da Vinci Code", you should read this book. Heck, everyone should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though I read this book because it was a free Friday Nook book and didn't actually seek it out, I did enjoy it. I may in time read the second in this trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although reminscent of Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons", SANCTUS takes you farther into these theories, with a bit better roadmap than Brown's works do. It is conspiracy theory meets apocoltipticism as we are brought into the secret world of then monks of The Citadel, a highly ritualized community hiding a secret that they feel keeps them alive and in power. Until the outside world encroaches......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to say that this book held my attention until the end and I was so disappointed that it went the way of unbelievable Steven King/Dean Koontz. I love conspiracy themed books but they really ruined the whole book with a totally scify ending! OH WELL it was free so cant complain! Will try another of his books.
4katz More than 1 year ago
My new favorite author!  I got Sanctus from Friday Freebies, and I'll be buying the next 2 in the series. It's one of the few books that I will want to read again! 
MRR62 More than 1 year ago
This book is well-written, but falls into a proselytization theme at the end. I enjoyed most of the read because I was able to understand the characters, even though (as I think back) I'm not sure the author gave them significant depth. The story kept me engaged, even when one of the "good guys" was described almost identically to the description of one of the "bad guys." That being said, the whole thing degenerated into a New Age Feminist theology tract at the end, and I ended up disappointed.