The Templar Legacy (Cotton Malone Series #1)

The Templar Legacy (Cotton Malone Series #1)

by Steve Berry

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The Templar Legacy (Cotton Malone Series #1) by Steve Berry

The ancient order of the Knights Templar possessed untold wealth and absolute power over kings and popes . . . until the Inquisition, when they were wiped from the face of the earth, their hidden riches lost.

But now two forces vying for the treasure have learned that it is not at all what they thought it was–and its true nature could change the modern world.

Cotton Malone, one-time top operative for the U.S. Justice Department, is enjoying his quiet new life as an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen when an unexpected call to action reawakens his hair-trigger instincts–and plunges him back into the cloak-and-dagger world he thought he’d left behind.

It begins with a violent robbery attempt on Cotton’s former supervisor, Stephanie Nelle, who’ s far from home on a mission that has nothing to do with national security. Armed with vital clues to a series of centuries-old puzzles scattered across Europe, she means to crack a mystery that has tantalized scholars and fortune-hunters through the ages by finding the legendary cache of wealth and forbidden knowledge thought to have been lost forever when the order of the Knights Templar was exterminated in the fourteenth century. But she’s not alone. Competing for the historic prize– and desperate for the crucial information Stephanie possesses–is Raymond de Roquefort, a shadowy zealot with an army of assassins at his command.

Welcome or not, Cotton seeks to even the odds in the perilous race. But the more he learns about the ancient conspiracy surrounding the Knights Templar, the more he realizes that even more than lives are at stake. At the end of a lethal game of conquest, rife with intrigue, treachery, and craven lust for power, lies a shattering discovery that could rock the civilized world–and, in the wrong hands, bring it to its knees.

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Steve Berry’s The King's Deception and a Cotton Malone dossier.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345493774
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/21/2006
Series: Cotton Malone Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 5,782
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Lincoln Myth, The King’s Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor’s Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with more than 18,000,000 copies in 51 countries.
History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s this passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, that led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have traveled across the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners, and their popular writers’ workshops. To date, nearly 2,500 students have attended those workshops. In 2012 their work was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve the first spokesman for National Preservation Week. He was also appointed by the Smithsonian Board of Regents to serve on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board to help promote and support the libraries in their mission to provide information in all forms to scientists, curators, scholars, students, and the public at large. He has received the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award and the 2013 Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers. His novel The Columbus Affair earned him the Anne Frank Human Writes Award, and his historic preservation work merited the 2013 Silver Bullet from International Thriller Writers.
Steve Berry was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of more than 2,600 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president.
For more information, visit

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt


Copenhagen, Denmark
Thursday, June 22, The Present
2:50 pm

Cotton Malone spotted the knife at the same time he saw Stephanie Nelle. He was sitting at a table outside the Café Nikolaj, comfortable in a white lattice chair. The sunny afternoon was pleasant and Højbro Plads, the popular Danish square that spanned out before him, bristled with people. The café was doing its usual brisk business—the mood feverish—and for the past half hour he’d been waiting for Stephanie.

She was a petite woman, in her sixties, though she never confirmed her age and the Justice Department personnel records that Malone once saw contained only a winking n/a in the space reserved for date of birth. Her dark hair was streaked with waves of silver, and her brown eyes offered both the compassionate look of a liberal and the fiery glint of a prosecutor. Two presidents had tried to make her attorney general, but she’d turned both offers down. One attorney general had lobbied hard to fire her—especially after she was enlisted by the FBI to investigate him—but the White House nixed the idea since, among other things, Stephanie Nelle was scrupulously honest.

In contrast, the man with the knife was short and stout, with narrow features and brush-cut hair. Something haunted loomed on his East European face—a forlornness that worried Malone more than the glistening blade—and he was dressed casually in denim pants and a blood-red jacket.

Malone rose from his seat but kept his eyes trained on Stephanie.

He thought of shouting a warning, but she was too far away and there was too much noise between them. His view of her was mo- mentarily blocked by one of the modernistic sculptures that dotted Højbro Plads—this one of an obscenely obese woman, lying naked on her belly, her obtrusive buttocks rounded like windswept mountains. When Stephanie appeared from the other side of the cast bronze, the man with the knife had moved closer and Malone watched as he severed a strap that draped her left shoulder, jerked a leather bag free, then shoved Stephanie to the flagstones.

A woman screamed and commotion erupted at the sight of a purse snatcher brandishing a knife.

Red Jacket rushed ahead, Stephanie’s bag in hand, and shouldered people out of his way. A few pushed back. The thief angled left, around another of the bronzed sculptures, and finally broke into a run. His route seemed aimed at Købmagergade, a pedestrian-only lane that twisted north, out of Højbro Plads, deeper into the city’s shopping district.

Malone bounded from the table, determined to cut off the assailant before he could turn the corner, but a cluster of bicycles blocked his way. He circled the cycles and sprinted forward, partially orbiting a fountain before tackling his prey.

They slammed into hard stone, Red Jacket taking most of the impact, and Malone immediately noticed that his opponent was muscular. Red Jacket, undaunted by the attack, rolled once, then brought a knee into Malone’s stomach.

The breath left him in a rush and his guts churned.

Red Jacket sprang to his feet and raced up Købmagergade.

Malone stood, but instantly crouched over and sucked a couple of shallow breaths.

Damn. He was out of practice.

He caught hold of himself and resumed pursuit, his quarry now possessing a fifty-foot head start. Malone had not seen the knife during their struggle, but as he plowed up the street between shops he saw that the man still grasped the leather bag. His chest burned, but he was closing the gap.

Red Jacket wrenched a flower cart away from a scraggly old man, one of many carts that lined both Højbro Plads and Købmagergade. Malone hated the vendors, who enjoyed blocking his bookshop, especially on Saturdays. Red Jacket flung the cart down the cobbles in Malone’s direction. He could not let the cart run free—too many people on the street, including children—so he darted right, grasped hold, and twisted it to a stop.

He glanced back and saw Stephanie round the corner onto Købmagergade, along with a policeman. They were half a football field away, and he had no time to wait.

Malone dashed ahead, wondering where the man was heading. Perhaps he’d left a vehicle, or a driver was waiting where Købmagergade emptied into another of Copenhagen’s busy squares, Hauser Plads. He hoped not. That place was a nightmare of congestion, beyond the web of people-only lanes that formed the shoppers’ mecca known as Strøget. His thighs ached from the unexpected workout, the muscles barely recalling his days with the Navy and the Justice Department. After a year of voluntary retirement, his exercise regimen would not impress his former employer.

Ahead loomed the Round Tower, nestled firmly against the Trinity Church like a thermos bound to a lunch pail. The burly cylindrical structure rose nine stories. Denmark’s Christian IV had erected it in 1642, and the symbol of his reign—a gilded 4 embraced by a c— glistened on its somber brick edifice. Five streets intersected where the Round Tower stood, and Red Jacket could choose any one of them for his escape.

Police cars appeared.

One screeched to a stop on the south side of the Round Tower. Another came from farther down Købmagergade, blocking any escape to the north. Red Jacket was now contained in the plaza that encircled the Round Tower. His quarry hesitated, seeming to appraise the situation, then scampered right and disappeared inside the Round Tower.

What was the fool doing? There was no way out besides the ground-floor portal. But maybe Red Jacket didn’t know that.

Malone ran to the entrance. He knew the man in the ticket booth. The Norwegian spent many hours in Malone’s bookshop, English literature his passion.

“Arne, where did that man go?” he asked in Danish, catching his wind.

“Ran right by without paying.”

“Anybody up there?”

“An older couple went up a little while ago.”

No elevator or stairs led to the top. Instead, a spiral causeway wound a path straight to the summit, originally installed so that bulky seventeenth-century astronomical instruments could be wheeled up. The story local tour guides liked to tell was of how Russia’s Peter the Great once rode up on horseback while his empress followed in a carriage.

Malone could hear footfalls echoing from the flooring above. He shook his head at what he knew awaited him. “Tell the police we’re up there.”

He started to run.

Halfway up the spiraling incline he passed a door leading into the Large Hall. The glassed entrance was locked, the lights off. Ornamented double windows lined the tower’s outer walls, but each was iron-barred. He listened again and could still hear running from above.

He continued ahead, his breathing growing thick and hampered. He slowed his pace when he passed a medieval planet plotter affixed high on the wall. He knew the exit onto the roof platform was just a few feet away, around the ramp’s final bend.

He heard no more footsteps.

He crept forward and stepped through the archway. An octago- nal observatory—not from Christian IV’s time, but a more recent incarnation—rose in the center, with a wide terrace encircling.

To his left a decorative iron fence surrounded the observatory, its only entrance chained shut. On his right, intricate wrought-iron latticework lined the tower’s outer edge. Beyond the low railing loomed the city’s red-tiled rooftops and green spires.

He rounded the platform and found an elderly man lying prone. Behind the body, Red Jacket stood with a knife to an older woman’s throat, his arm encasing her chest. She seemed to want to scream, but fear quelled her voice.

“Keep still,” Malone said to her in Danish.

He studied Red Jacket. The haunted look was still there in the dark, almost mournful eyes. Beads of sweat glistened in the bright sun. Everything signaled that Malone should not step any closer. Footfalls from below signaled that the police would arrive in a few moments.

“How about you cool down?” he asked, trying English.

He could see the man understood him, but the knife stayed in place. Red Jacket’s gaze kept darting away, off to the sky then back. He seemed unsure of himself and that concerned Malone even more. Desperate people always did desperate things.

“Put the knife down. The police are coming. There’s no way out.”

Red Jacket looked to the sky again, then refocused on Malone. Indecision stared back at him. What was this? A purse snatcher who flees to the top of a hundred-foot tower with nowhere to go?

Footfalls from below grew louder.

“The police are here.”

Red Jacket backed closer to the iron railing but kept his grip tight on the elderly woman. Malone sensed the steeliness of an ultimatum forcing some choice, so he made clear again, “There’s no way out.”

Red Jacket tightened his grip on the woman’s chest, then he staggered back, now firmly against the waist-high outer railing, nothing beyond him and his hostage but air.

The eyes lost their panic and a sudden calm swept over the man. He shoved the old woman forward and Malone caught her before she lost her balance. Red Jacket made the sign of the cross and, with Stephanie’s bag in hand, pivoted out over the railing, screamed one word—“beauseant”—then slashed the knife across his throat as his body plunged to the street.

The woman howled as the police emerged from the portal.

Malone let her go and rushed to the rail.

Red Jacket lay sprawled on the cobbles one hundred feet below.

He turned and looked back to the sky, past the flagpole atop the observatory, the Danish Dannebrog—a white cross upon a red banner—limp in the still air.

What had the man been looking at? And why did he jump?

He gazed back down and saw Stephanie elbowing her way through the growing crowd. Her leather bag lay a few feet from the dead man and he watched as she yanked it from the cobbles, then dissolved back into the spectators. He followed her with his gaze as she plowed through the people and scuttled away, down one of the streets that led from the Round Tower, deeper into the busy Strøget, never looking back.

He shook his head at her hasty retreat and muttered, “What the hell?”

Customer Reviews

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The Templar Legacy (Cotton Malone Series #1) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 423 reviews.
CoCo-in-Wonderland More than 1 year ago
Very good book for a summer beach read. If you liked Davinci Code, youll like this. This is my 1st Steve Berry book- it probably wont be my last. For those whom complained about historical accuracy try to remember this is FICTION so its not about accuracy- its about storyline, plot development & ENJOYMENT. The only thing that I didnt like about the book was that longer conversations between the characters should have had a few "he said, she saids" thrown in so the reader doesnt get lost because the tone of many of the characters are the same since they are all after the same thing. I had to go back a page a few times so I could get who was saying what.
Rip_Walker More than 1 year ago
Book Review: The Templar Legacy - Steve Barry My disclaimer: As with any opinion, it is only my opinion and these reviews will vary depending on who reads the book and what the reader is looking for. I look for ways to improve businesses, sales, and life. I also like to feed my need for just plain fiction. In fiction, I'll look at readability, suspension of believe, and over all enjoyment of the material, and value. On a 1 to 5 scale, 5 being the best: Readability: 5 It's 497 pages in paperback, and it took me about a week the book. I usually read it a few chapters at a time, and it's what I expected. It flowed well and for the most part, was exciting to read. On few occasions it slowed, but that was expected as well. That's because some things just have to be explained and clarified. However, a great read and it won't disappoint you. Suspension of belief: 5 The plot and story are very believable. There is no magic or arrival of the cavalry at the last moment to save the everyone. Many things are realistic, for example, some clues for our characters are carved in stone, but some of the information has been destroyed by natural wear of the environment. Or, some people who might have helped our heroes, have died of natural causes over time. It's not a like an Indiana Jones movie where ancient artifacts are all perfectly intact. This just makes the story more believable. Enjoyment of the Material and Value: 5 At about ten dollars it was well worth the value. This is an awesome religious thriller, and it is packed with great information. The information is somewhat controversial to the church, but it's not overly done and does not bash the church. A great read, a great story, and very interesting. Too bad they didn't teach history this way. Thank you Steve Barry for providing a great story! I'm Rip Walker, thanks for watching! Author of: Rip's Book of Common Sense
DCHightower More than 1 year ago
This novel starts out a little slow, at least as far as the way I felt mentally getting involved with the plot, but it picks up steam. At the end it's like a runnaway train. It left me with a smile and a feeling that I was well entertained. The ending is a huge suprise. But you'll have to read it to discover it. If you like books with ancient secrets and big discoveries and archaeological mysteries, then I also recommend Devil's Verse below
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its not meant to be taken seriously. Just another story thats meant to be enjoyed. Hes not trying to discredit christianity.
Pat_Sokolova More than 1 year ago
Templar takes the reader on quite an adventure ride! There are lots of ups and downs and spins and twirls, ultimately leading up up up to the final climactic ending that is absolutely unexpected and unbelievable!
CymLowell More than 1 year ago
This wonderful thriller is a combination of many elements, all of which are combined in a combustible crucible to make an engrossing read. Its background is the legacy of the Templars, a religious order formed in Acre, Palestine during the Crusades largely by Frenchmen. What became of their treasure when they were eradicated by the French king in 1307? What about their discovery of the apparent story of the resurrection of Jesus, as well as elements of the Gnostic Gospels? These are mysteries of the ages as well as the religious heritage of the West. Steve Berry elucidates these questions in a far different manner than used by Dan Brown in the da Vinci Code. The answers are pursued in the context of the origins of the Templars, in Provence, France, including elements of the Papal escape to Avignon in the aftermath of the collapse of the Christian efforts to free the Holy Lands from the supposed infidels. The Templar Legacy is not a history book. It is a thriller. A genre of suspense and intrigue, which are in ample supply in this captivating story. A possessed pursuer of ancient artifacts, his disbelieving wife an intelligence operative, a son lost in an avalanche seeking the same ends as his apparently suicidal father, and a variety of other fascinating characters all combine to set the stage for a different search for a historic grail. The perilous antiquities that so dominate the Indiana Jones sagas are plainly in evidence in the denouement. In the end, there are the strains of romance that could blossom in a sequel in a far different vein than James Bond and his girls. A former intelligence operative and a wealthy, stealthy follower of Islam? Thank you Steve. Your readers look forward to the sequel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Steve Berry's books, and I always have the same issue. There is a great there somewhere. I usually read a book this length in about 2-3 days. But his books, while interesting, read almost too much like a textbook, with action thrown in as an afterthought. History buffs will really enjoy this book, but it's not a breezy read. He's a capable writer, but a bit scholastic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first Steve Berry novel, so I was not quite sure what to expect. I thought the book was a little slow especially the first 100 pages. I almost gave up and moved on to another book, but decided to keep reading. The overall story line was good; however, Berry spent too much time describing every detail about every abby, church, and building. It was almost a history lesson. I realize that you need the historical background to create the story, but sometimes enough is enough. The book had a lot of potential, but just didn't quite deliver. I give it 2 1/2 stars.
Driver More than 1 year ago
Read this book than read others including DiVinci code they all tie together. Could not stop reading.
TrueStories More than 1 year ago
I enjoy discoveries about the past, even fictional ones. There is far more to history than we were ever taught in school. And speculation makes the teaching even more interesting. Movies like "National Treasure" and the "DaVinci Code" tie into this historical potboiler about the survival of religious empires and world spanning secret societies. Some of the plot twists are too convenient, but a mystery doesn't have to tie perfectly into all the historical facts. So if you are looking to find an exciting twist in history that might just have some threads of truth sewn into its fabric, read on. I was entertained for hours listening to this book while I drove through three states on the way to a new job. It erased the boredome and made the time exciting. I hated to stop each night to find a motel. There is a bit of moralizing in the lead characters, both of which are blind to the other's philosophy. So if you want to find something to pass the time till the end of the world party starts, you must read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like history and mystery, your should be happy with this book. Character development is solid but somewhat predictable. Barry sticks to the facts with his historical treatment of the church but adds his own take on what happened at the beginning and the end of the Templars reign. I have read several other Templar books and this one carves its own niche.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have come as far as reading this comment then this book is for you. You will not be able to put this book down once you start. Very enjoyable and a thriller than comes to match and even beat 'the Da vinci Code'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Berry creates a fast-moving story populated with engaging characters. While at times he seems to fall back on a recognizable formula or two, the fast pace compensates for this minor drawback. Best of all, he has taken the time to incorporate REAL historical research and not just repetition of sensational myths. It's a thoughtful, entertaining book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Templars have always interested me and this book has it all I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great brach reading, a series worth investing oneself in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is entertaining and educational. Not that you'd want to put it down it's easy to pick up where you left off. Great charecters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Templar Legacy is a masterfully told adventure. The writing is very smooth and intrigue builds throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed the basis for the story, though I am certain it will be a bit disquieting for many Christians. I look forward to reading the rest of this series in hopes that its unique plotlines will continue. Stephanie Clanahan
IReadWhatYouWrite More than 1 year ago
The Templar Legacy is a novel about Cotton Malone, an intriguing person. He is a lawyer/super spy/former US Government agent now retired in Copenhagen, selling books. As the story opens he about to meet his former boss for a visit over lunch as she ‘just happens’ to be in the city. Plans change immediately as a cut purse grabs her bag and runs. Cotton gives chase. Yet rather than be caught the thief leaps to his death. Obviously, this is more than a typical purse snatching. The story, centering on two books; a dead man’s journal and an antique book many don’t believe even exists, moves from Denmark to France where Malone and his group follow the clues laid down by long dead clergymen and the more recently departed husband of Malone’s former boss. They are in race with the leader of a clandestine organization who has already shown that he will take out anyone who gets in the way of his plan for vengeance. The Templar legend just makes good story. Lost in the depths of history it is like literary tofu, picking up whichever flavors of intrigue and thrill a good storyteller chooses to season it with. It was used expertly in book and I have to admit there was a lot to this story that I had never run across before. It was impeccably laid out to the point that I am dying to take a day and just research the background on Rennes. I adore character driven stories, yet so often one has to choose between great characters that leap off a page and become real in the mind of the reader or a larger than life tale that transports the readers to other places. No such choice here. There were so many mysteries within the mystery and no one was who they seemed to be. Just when you think you have every one figured out they to make an abrupt turn about and you find yourself reeling to keep up. Though, this is about the good guys and the bad guys, no one was totally innocent and even the bad could be justified in a certain light. Superbly done! I have to admit that I love history at gunpoint, probably a left over from my days of crushing on Indiana Jones, and this book had plenty of action to keep it moving at breakneck space even with the ton of exposition that is required to keep up with the story. Foot chases, car chases, death defying heights and creepy underground chambers, mixed with state of the art surveillance and some cunning good old fashioned know how keep up the heart pounding ride through this story. The back story is seamlessly woven into the modern day action, so that the reader is well able to move through time easily, from the inception of the brotherhood, through the inquisition and even the deaths of Mark and Lars Nelle and back to present day. I suppose it is no surprise that I enjoyed this book. There are several more Steve Berry books sitting on the shelf, staring at me, waiting for me to find an excuse to read them. 5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A awesome Audio book I enjoyed the tale the information I learned. I love when a author researches his book before writing it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great characters and locations. Page turner at the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like Dan Broun!!!
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