Brethren: An Epic Adventure of the Knights Templar

Brethren: An Epic Adventure of the Knights Templar

by Robyn Young

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An international bestseller certain to appeal to fans of The Last Templar?the thrilling first book in a sweeping medieval trilogy

On the eve of the last Crusade, two men's destinies will come together as two great civilizations go to war. Amidst conspiracy and intrigue in Europe, Will Campbell, a young knight, risks his life to recover the stolen Book of the Grail. Hidden within its pages are the heretical plans of a secret society within the Knights Templar. Meanwhile, the former slave Baybars Bundukdari and his army have taken over Egypt and Syria, and are planning a new Holy War to bring the Crusaders to their knees.

With breathtaking battle scenes, memorable characters, and a riveting mystery at its center, Brethren (being published simultaneously with book two, Crusade, in hardcover) is a heart-stopping historical drama that brings the Middle Ages vividly to life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101662199
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/31/2007
Series: Brethren Trilogy
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 556,943
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robyn Young has worked as a creative writing teacher, financial advisor, folk singer, and music festival organizer, and has traveled extensively in Europe and Egypt. She has a masters in creative writing from the University of Sussex.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

David Boyle

"Writing medieval stories is one of the toughest jobs in historical fiction, because there are so many details we just don't know - how people talked to each other, how they loved each other. But Robyn Young has written an intricate, compelling, captivating and, above all, believable story. Brethen is a brilliant piece of sustained imagination."
Author of The Troubadour's Song: The Capture, Imprisonment & Ransom of Richard the Lionheart

Alison Weir

"Pacy and well-written, with vivid, convincing characters, Brethren captures your interest until the last page. I eagerly anticipate the sequel, knowing I will not be disappointed."
bestselling author of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry VIII

Steve Berry

"A wonderful romp through a tumultuous time loaded with medieval atmosphere, action, and intrigue. The Crusades come alive for what they were ---- personal battles of conquest and ambition. Robyn Young is a writer who bears watching."
bestselling author of The Templar Legacy

Reading Group Guide

When Will Campbell joins the most powerful organization in Europe, the Order of the Knights Templar, he is thrown into a world of intrigue. Apprenticed to the foul-tempered scholar Everard, he must try to make sense of many things: his own past; the dangerous mystery that surrounds Everard; and his feelings for Elwen, a strong-willed young woman whose path seems linked with his own.

Charged with recovering a heretical book stolen from the Order’s vaults, Will ends up fighting for his life. In a time of war and secrecy, he will travel from the back streets of Paris to the burning plains of Syria to protect a legacy he is only beginning to understand.



Robyn Young has worked as a creative writing teacher, financial advisor, folk singer, and music festival organizer, and has traveled extensively in Europe and Egypt. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Sussex and lives in Brighton, England. Brethren is her first novel.


This is obviously a heavily researched novel. Where did you begin researching? Did you travel to the places in your novel?

Once I had the idea for Brethren, I read as many books as I could find on the Crusades to introduce myself to this world. I didn’t even dare attempt any writing at this stage. I hadn’t studied history since school and the only lesson I remember on the medieval period was on instruments of torture, which was regretfully unforgettable. At first, I had no clear methodology. The first two books I came to I simply read, assuming, I think, that it would all just remain in my head: two hundred years of history, with all the thousands of names, dates and events that went with it. Shortly after this, I started to make notes. I compiled a huge folder as I went, filled with information from history books, articles chopped out of magazines, maps I had to draw (because the first map of London wasn’t created until the sixteenth century). Being a penniless writer, I bought many books from charity shops. The new ones, which I promptly scribbled all over, came from every known relative each Christmas and birthday, meaning that I had a really eclectic mix, from fusty old texts written by academics in the 1950s to shiny books detailing the latest evidence on the Crusades. They were all helpful in different ways. I now have over one hundred source books on my shelves. It was many months before I began writing and the research didn’t stop there, neither did it stop with the second novel. I need to know everything, from the histories and actions of the real people whose stories I am retelling and the great events they were part of, to what coin they would have used to buy a loaf of bread, to the languages they spoke and the clothes they wore. To be a novelist you have to be devoted; to be a historical novelist you have to be positively zealous. In the end, readers only see around a quarter of what I actually researched. It’s the bizarre little details I love. Baybars really did have a soothsayer called Khadir and King Henry III really did have a pet elephant. In terms of visiting places described in the novel, I traveled in Egypt, which was a truly incredible experience. Quite a bit of the second novel is set there and the tight, winding alleys in the heart of Cairo are, I would imagine, pretty much the same today as they would have been. I’ve also been to the Temple church in London that features in Brethren. That was quite an experience, to stand there in the silence and imagine my characters once having done the same.

What motivated you to write about the Knights Templar?

Brethren was inspired by the name: Knights Templar. I first heard of these medieval warrior monks seven years ago, listening to a couple of friends of mine talking about them. The name sounded so evocative and the whole idea of them was instantly intriguing. How could you be a monk and a warrior? I wanted to know. A few months later, I discovered a fantastic book by Cambridge historian Malcolm Barber, called The Trial of the Templars. The Order, one of the most powerful and affluent of their time, was famously accused of heresy and arrested by the King of France on Friday, October 13, 1307. The trial the king masterminded was, scholars believe, an attempt to secure their wealth for himself. It saw the eventual dissolution of this two-hundred-year-old Order. It also saw the torture and execution of hundreds of men across Europe, the descriptions of which made for a harrowing read. By the end of the book I knew I had to tell the Templars’ story, focusing on the men behind the myths.

Do you read a lot of historical fiction? What books inspired Brethren?

I’ve been a fan of historical fiction since my early twenties, both literary and commercial, but it isn’t the only genre I read. The first contemporary historical fiction I came across was Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian trilogy [The Warlord Chronicles], which I loved. I particularly enjoyed the way he wove a mystery through a historical story and setting. This is something I’ve tried to do with Brethren, because that’s the kind of book I enjoy reading, but it was a history textbook that inspired Brethren rather than a novel.

Who is your favorite author? What books made you want to become a writer?

I find it impossibly hard to say who my favorite author is, or who my influences are. I think I’ve probably been influenced by every good book I’ve ever read and there are many authors whose books I enjoy. My teachers at university always said that to be a good writer you have to be a good reader. It’s very true. I also read a lot of autobiographies and nonfiction, but some of my favorite fiction authors in recent years include Donna Tartt, Matthew Pearl, Bernard Cornwell, Ian McEwan, Philip Pullman, Angela Carter, Iain Pears, Roddy Doyle, Jeanette Winterson, David Gemmell, Iain Banks, Gabriel García Marquez. The list really does go on.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished the second novel of the Brethren Trilogy, which is called Crusade, and will be published in the summer of 2007. The story begins two years after Brethren ends and is set entirely in the Holy Land. While it is a continuation of Brethren, and follows many of the characters introduced in the first novel, it does have its own specific plot line. Factions on both sides of the conflict between Christians and Muslims are plotting to bring about the end of everything Will and the Brethren have worked for. New alliances will be forged and old friendships broken when Will finds himself caught at the center of a devastating web of deception and destruction, as he and all those around him rush headlong toward one of the most dramatic moments in history.


  • In the beginning of the novel, we see Will spying on a knight taking his vows of knighthood. Why is Will, as a child, so fascinated by the knights? What do they represent to him? Why is becoming a Templar Knight so important to him?
  • How do the characters in the novel each honor their individual heritage? How does Baybars? How does Will? How is honoring the past and the sacrifices of their ancestors such an important part of the men they become? Why?
  • When Garin is punished, Will stands by him, subjecting himself to the same punishment as his friend. Why does Will do this? Do you think Garin would have done the same thing? When in the novel does Garin change? What motivates him? Do you think Will ever changes?
  • In what ways are Will and Baybars both haunted by their pasts? How does each cope? How is each motivated by the difficulties they have overcome?
  • Why do you think Garin agrees to help Prince Edward? What do you think he hopes to gain? In what ways does his association with Edward backfire? Do you think that Garin, in the end, gets what he deserves?
  • After the attack on Opinicus, Will is overwhelmed with guilt. Why does he feel so guilty? Why does he feel responsible for his master’s death? How does that guilt solidify in his relationship with Elwen?
  • As Baybars is preparing to attack Safed, a Christian soldier says, “They say he will not stop until every Christian in these lands is dead, but I was born here. My men and I have more right to be in this land than he does” (p. 174). Do you agree with this statement? Does anyone really have a right to the Holy Land? Do you think Baybars’s mission to conquer the land for his people is correct? Do the Christians have any right to it? Are they both equally right? Discuss.
  • Why do you think Will lies to his father about taking his vows? Why is his apprenticeship to Everard an embarrassment to him? Why is being a scribe less impressive than being a soldier?
  • Everard is very hesitant to let Will become a knight. Why do you think this is? Do you believe the reasons Everard gives to Will? Do you think there is more to it? When Will does finally take his vows, do you think he is ready to become a knight? In what ways does he prove himself worthy? In what ways does he prove he’s not ready? What does becoming a knight mean to Will? To Everard?
  • Discuss the relationships the men in the novel have with women. Why is Will conflicted about Elwen? Why does Garin go to Adela? What are the roles of women in the historical context of this novel? Do you think Elwen and Adela are strong women? Why or why not?
  • What role does Hasan play in the novel? Why is he loyal to the knights? As a Muslim serving the Christian mission, do you think he is hypocritical or a traitor? Why or why not?
  • Baybars and James Campbell are two men with complicated relationships with their sons. Discuss each relationship. What does each man want for his son? In what ways do their sons fail them? In what ways do their sons make them proud?
  • Why does Everard destroy the Book of the Grail once he finally gets it back? What does the book represent to him? Everard goes to great lengths to protect the secrets of the Temple. Do you agree with his methods? Do you think keeping the Temple’s secrets contributes to the greater good?
  • Why does Baybars agree to a truce? Why is peace with Baybars so important to Everard? Why do you think Will is so against it? In what ways do each of these men put aside personal vendettas for the good of the people they serve?
  • Why is Will so fixated on seeing Safed? Do you think seeing where his father dies will help him bury the ghosts of his past? In the end, does Will forgive his father for leaving him? Does he forgive himself for his own past?
  • Everard gives Will the chance to abandon the mantle and leave his knighthood. Why doesn’t Will take that chance when it’s offered to him? Do you think that he will remain a knight? Do you think he would rather be a knight or be with Elwen? How do you think Will’s story will continue?

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Brethren: An Epic Adventure of the Knights Templar 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1260 two dedicated men, believers in the righteousness of their religious cause, join opposite sides in the Holy Land war. In the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Egyptian Sultan Baybars Bundukdari commands forces dedicated to the Prophet Mohamed with fervor to rid their homeland of the invading western infidels. In London, Knights Templar Sir William Campbell joins the western army crusading to take back the Holy Land from the Muslim horde.------------- At the same time these two committed individuals begin the trek towards religious combat and more in the Holy Land, a theft in Paris of the Book of the Grail could prove even more confrontational and definitely impact the two adversaries. This tome describes the heretical plan to radically change the world in the image of the top secret Knights Templar sect the Brethren. Thus on 3 September 1260, three events in three different locations that tenuously tie together will impact religion and people, if successful, as much as Mohamed, Moses, and Jesus have.----------------- Above is the opening sequence to one of the best Templar tales on the market in recent years. Robin Young easily switches perspective predominantly between the two enemies so that readers fully understand the motivations of both sides. The story line is fast-paced filled with historical tidbits and the preparation for battle and the skirmishes, but also has a romantic sidebar between the idealistic Templar and the Sultan¿s niece and a mystery as William seeks to find the Book of the Grail. BRETHREN is more than just an epic adventure of the Knights Templar it is a terrific thirteenth century thriller.-------------- Harriet Klausner
cbrown1000 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an ok book. I think Will taking up his father's cause was a bit quick. I would have expected a bit more internal conflict. But it seemed as soon as he heard what his father was working on, he accepted it as his own, even though his previous views were very different. The story was good enough that I have already bought the next book in the trilogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I quite stumbled upon this author, Robyn Young, and I am very grateful I did. I actually bought the third in her 'Templar' series first, but just a few pages into that one made me realize I wanted to get the set for my personal library. I set aside my original purchase 'The Fall of the Templars', sought out and purchased the first two - 'Brethren' and 'Crusade' so that I could start at the beginning. I would read anything Robyn Young writes! She makes you feel like you are actually experiencing the history you are reading about.
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I'll keep this short and sweet. May be one of the best books I have ever read. I was riveted from the first page through the last. I cant say that the other two books of the trilogy are nearly as good but Brethren is an incredible story with fantastic character development.
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This is my first experience with Robyn Young's writing. I have already purchased the "Crusade" which is the second in the "Brethren" series and I am looking foward to reading it. I will be purchasing "The Last Templar" which is the third and, I believe, the final book in the series. "Brethren" is a well organized and historically accurate writing. It is a split perspective offering which is sequenced perfectly. Readers who are not familiar with Ms. Youngs works have my strongest recommendation to become familiar as I believe you will truly enjoy the relationship. I'm sure readers who are already famiiar with Ms. Young's works need no encouragement.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Set in the Middle Ages during the era of the Crusades, Brethren is a readable tale of battles, betrayals, scheming, and love. Robyn Young keeps the reader engaged, and has based her story on solid historical research. I rated it four stars rather than five, since at times there's a sense of a stage setting filled with characters and props, rather than genuine evocation of this fascinating time period. Hopefully this will improve in the planned sequel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, What a joy to read! This yarn left me wanting more. Of the many books in this field, this one stands out as a great read. I loved it so much, I returned my library copy and went to buy it outright. Well worth the time, fun, and more than anything it engrossed me in the time frame. For a first time author, this bodes well for future books! Paul Swanson
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a very slow read. I found it extremely difficult to get through parts of it. Robyn Young went into too great of detail in many parts of this book, to the point where the story became dry. At times I felt confused with the character relationships in Brethren. There were much too many active roles in this book that could have easily been eliminated or just written about briefly. Several times I thought about quiting the book and moving on to another, but that's just not me, once I start one I have to finish, yet I forced myself to do so. I felt generous by giving this book 3 stars and only because I felt the need to give Ms. Young credit on how descriptive she was with character conflicts and battles, etc. This book is the first in a trilogy by Young and I can say that I will not be reading any of her later works. Hope this helps some of you decide whether or not to pick this book up.