The Temple and the Crown

The Temple and the Crown

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Overview

The Temple and the Crown by Katherine Kurtz, Deborah Turner Harris

The Knights Templar battle an occult order in this “soundly researched [and] briskly paced” alternate history set during the Scottish War of Independence (Booklist).

In this stunning sequel to their acclaimed historical fantasy The Temple and the Stone, coauthors Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris return to the legends of the fabled Order of the Knights Templar, the mystical medieval brotherhood of warrior monks born in the crucible of the Holy Land Crusades. Returning to a brilliantly recreated alternate past, two of the world’s premier fantasists spin a breathtaking tale of courage, destiny, duty, and magic that unfolds against a backdrop of England’s tumultuous struggle with Scotland and the heroic exploits of Scotsmen Robert the Bruce and William “Braveheart” Wallace.
 
Unwavering devotion to God and their magical order has carried noble knights Arnault de Saint Clair and Torquil Lennox into the heat of battle in war-torn Scotland in these dark days of conflict, only to discover that there are forces at work far more sinister than kings and crowns.
 
The English liege, Edward I, is determined to destroy the Knights Templar, who have sided with the enemy Scots, while in France, Philip IV, known as “King Philip the Fair,” is driven by his greed for the legendary Templar wealth and would usurp the power of the Pope himself to attain their riches. But unbeknownst to either king, they are both in the thrall of the Knights of the Black Swan, a malevolent supernatural order with loyalties to Lucifer alone. On the eve of the decisive battle of Bannockburn, Saint Clair, Lennox, and their brave Templar brethren will be compelled to stand against these minions of the Devil, who are willing to see thousands die and kingdoms crumble to feed their unholy hunger for ultimate power.
 
The Temple and the Crown is an epic tale that celebrates a history that never was, a legend that has endured for centuries, and the heroic exploits of Scotsmen Robert the Bruce and William “Braveheart” Wallace.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504037617
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 07/05/2016
Series: Knights Templar , #2
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 542
Sales rank: 132,298
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Katherine Kurtz was born in Coral Gables, Florida, during a hurricane. She received a four-year science scholarship to the University of Miami and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. Medical school followed, but after a year she decided she would rather write about medicine than practice it. A vivid dream inspired Kurtz’s Deryni novels, and she sold the first three books in the series on her first submission attempt. She soon defined and established her own sub-genre of “historical fantasy” set in close parallels to our own medieval period featuring “magic” that much resembles extrasensory perception.
 
While working on the Deryni series, Kurtz further utilized her historical training to develop another sub-genre she calls “crypto-history,” in which the “history behind the history” intertwines with the “official” histories of such diverse periods as the Battle of Britain (Lammas Night), the American War for Independence (Two Crowns for America), contemporary Scotland (The Adept Series, with coauthor Deborah Turner Harris), and the Knights Templar (also with Harris).
 
In 1983, Kurtz married the dashing Scott MacMillan; they have a son, Cameron. Until 2007, they made their home in Ireland, in Holybrooke Hall, a mildly haunted gothic revival house, They have recently returned to the United States and taken up residence in a historic house in Virginia, with their five Irish cats and one silly dog. (The ghosts of Holybrooke appear to have remained behind.)
 
 
Deborah Turner Harris has a Ph.D. in medieval English literature. While on a postdoctoral fellowship at the Scottish University of St. Andrews, she met her husband, the writer Robert J. Harris, and the rest is family history.
 
In 1987, her first fantasy novel, The Burning Stone, was published under the editorial auspices of legendary editor Betty Ballantine. Betty subsequently introduced her to Katherine Kurtz, paving the way for a fruitful writing partnership. Working together, Kurtz and Harris have produced not only the five-volume Adept series, but also the two linked Templar novels set during the Scottish Wars of Independence.
 
In 2000, Harris returned to teaching as an honorary lecturer in medieval English literature at the University of St. Andrews. She and Bob have three grown-up sons. They continue to live in St. Andrews with their dog, Kyra.
 
 
Katherine Kurtz was born in Coral Gables, Florida, during a hurricane. She received a four-year science scholarship to the University of Miami and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. Medical school followed, but after a year she decided she would rather write about medicine than practice it. A vivid dream inspired Kurtz’s Deryni novels, and she sold the first three books in the series on her first submission attempt. She soon defined and established her own sub-genre of “historical fantasy” set in close parallels to our own medieval period featuring “magic” that much resembles extrasensory perception.

While working on the Deryni series, Kurtz further utilized her historical training to develop another sub-genre she calls “crypto-history,” in which the “history behind the history” intertwines with the “official” histories of such diverse periods as the Battle of Britain (Lammas Night), the American War for Independence (Two Crowns for America), contemporary Scotland (The Adept Series, with coauthor Deborah Turner Harris), and the Knights Templar (also with Harris).

In 1983, Kurtz married the dashing Scott MacMillan; they have a son, Cameron. Until 2007, they made their home in Ireland, in Holybrooke Hall, a mildly haunted gothic revival house, They have recently returned to the United States and taken up residence in a historic house in Virginia, with their five Irish cats and one silly dog. (The ghosts of Holybrooke appear to have remained behind.)

Read an Excerpt

The Temple and the Crown


By Katherine Kurtz, Deborah Turner Harris

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 2001 Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-3761-7


CHAPTER 1

Late April, 1306


"God save King Robert! Hail, the Bruce, King of Scots!"

The roof beams of the smoky great hall in Castle Cupar reverberated with the cheers, and shadows leapt on the lime-washed walls, as men rose from their benches and lifted their tankards in honor of their liege lord, who occupied the seat of honor at the high table.

Robert Bruce, lately lord of Annandale and only a month ago acclaimed as King of Scots, returned the salutes of his followers with a flourish of his wine cup. As the cheering subsided to good-natured banter, he rose and turned to his host, seated at his right hand: the venerable and ever-faithful Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow. Gradually, a semblance of order settled on the hall.

"My lord Bishop," Bruce declared, bowing slightly to Wishart and pitching his volume so that all could hear him. "I present my compliments again on your newly discovered skills as a man of war. In wresting this keep from English hands, you once again have proved yourself one of Scotland's staunchest champions."

The men signified their endorsement of this declaration by thumping cups and beefy hands against tabletops, and Wishart's gray head bowed in gratitude. For two tumultuous decades and more, since well before the time of John Balliol, he had spearheaded the legal and political battle to secure Scotland's independence. Now owning more than seventy years, he had only lately taken to arms in the field, with a degree of daring and initiative that would have done credit to a man half his age.

He gave a droll grin to the Bruce. "While you're handing out commendations, Sire, let us not neglect Edward of England, who so thoughtfully provided us with the means to breach the castle's defenses."

A roar of laughter rose from the hall, for the bishop's statement was precisely the truth. Having received a grant of English timber to repair the bell tower of his cathedral, Wishart had ordered the wood converted into siege engines, which he then had turned to less pastoral employment than the ringing of bells. Following a successful assault on the fortress at Kirkintilloch, the bishop had marched next on Castle Cupar, in the ancient kingdom of Fife, whose English garrison had offered only token resistance before surrendering, utterly daunted by the prospect of heavy bombardment.

"Well said, Bishop," said Christopher Seton, Bruce's close friend and brother-in-law. "But it doesnae hurt to have a pair of engineering experts on hand, either." He cast an admiring glance at the two white-clad men seated beyond Bruce and Wishart. "It seems to me that the good Sir Arnault and Sir Torquil also merit no small vote of thanks for their parts in our recent success."

A murmur of approbation rippled through the hall as all eyes shifted toward the two men named, both of them bearded and white-clad in a room full of mostly clean-shaven men dressed in the harness of war. The elder of the pair merely smiled and inclined his head in acknowledgment, but the younger, a Scot called Torquil Lennox, grinned self-consciously as he raked a big-boned hand through short-cropped red hair going gray. Though the two customarily went about in well-worn leathers and mail like those around them, tonight they had donned the distinctive white livery of their true vocations as Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem, in honor of the day's success. The crusader crosses splayed across the left shoulders of their white mantles much resembled splashes of blood.

"Och, anybody can build a catapult," Torquil said with a self-deprecating shrug. "Besides, Brother Arnault and I have been doing it for a long time."

"That's as may be," Bruce allowed, "but we haven't. Once you've built a siege engine, the trick is getting it to hit what you aim for. For that, we are much indebted to your crusading expertise — both of you."

Arnault de Saint Clair, the second Templar, chuckled good-naturedly. He also made light of their contribution, his manner much at variance with the pride and hauteur displayed by some of his more worldly Templar brethren.

"If the truth be known, my own experience lies more with trebuchets," he said easily. Though fluent in Scots and English and half a dozen other languages less useful on this island, he had never lost the accent of his native Brittany. "Fortunately, the principles of range-finding are pretty much the same. Consider any debt handsomely offset by Bishop Wishart's hospitality — and by the luxury of having a roof over our heads for tonight!"

"I thought you Templars made a virtue of sleeping rough under the sky," said Thomas Bruce, one of the king's younger brothers.

"Aye, but it doesn't rain much in Palestine," Torquil pointed out, "and never the way it rains here." He grinned. "Why do you think I joined the Temple?"

Hearty laughter greeted this rejoinder, followed by another round of toasts in honor of the king's Templar allies, and then more toasts to the future they all were seeking for an independent Scotland.

At least a start had been made in the four weeks since Bruce's inauguration as King of Scots, duly affirmed by a Pontifical high Mass on Palm Sunday. Immediately thereafter, he had dispatched messengers throughout Scotland, proclaiming his kingship and calling upon all loyal Scots to pledge fealty to their new liege. He and a fast-mounted escort had followed in their wake, defying the rough weather of uncertain spring to make a royal progress through the northerly reaches of his kingdom.

With so much ground to cover, and the speed of an English response uncertain, the company had been obliged to press forward at a grueling pace, rarely halting anywhere for more than one night. But the hardships of the journey had been well repaid by the loyalty of the townsmen and villagers who flocked to greet their new king. Now, after a brief sojourn in Aberdeen, Bruce was on his way south again, to rendezvous with friends and allies and make preparations for the inevitable reaction from the south, once Edward of England fully comprehended what they had done.

Tonight, however, the bloodless taking of Cupar Castle had left everyone in a festive mood, and the firelit hall buzzed with eager banter as heaped platters of beef, bread, and cheese, and pitchers of ale passed from hand to hand. Farther down the table, another of Bruce's allies, Sir John of Cambo, sampled the claret just poured for him by a kitchen boy and lifted his cup in the direction of Bishop Wishart.

"My lord Bishop," he called, "there canna be doubt that you have got the better part of the bargain, by letting the English garrison march away unmolested in exchange for leaving us the castle stores. I can assure ye that the castle cellars are particularly fine! I say we set ourselves the task of doing justice to this noble vintage, and drink to Scotland's freedom!"

This toast was heartily seconded by all, amid much whooping and further pounding of fists on tables. But neither Bruce nor those closest to him had lost sight of the very real difficulties that still lay ahead.

"Well enough, to speak of Scotland's freedom," the new king said to Arnault, Torquil, and the others close around him, as the uproar subsided to convivial converse and serious feasting resumed. "But we need time to consolidate our position. I had hoped Edward would be dead before I made my move. God willing, he will prove too weak to make us much opposition — and the son is not half the man his father is. But we cannot count on that."

"Indeed, not," said Bishop Wishart. "I'll not be surprised if we hear that the news has killed him — but if it has not, we must be prepared."

"Aye, the English won't stay away forever," said Edward Bruce, the king's eldest brother. "We've done well in securing the support of the folk of Aberdeenshire — we mostly control the approaches to the Firth of Clyde, in the west. But as long as the south remains divided, we're vulnerable there. It will be difficult to defend the border."

"Best not forget about Galloway, either," Seton observed sourly, "and that's well within our borders. Despite everything we've done, that district is still a hotbed of support for the Balliols and the Comyns."

Mutters of agreement bracketed Bruce from either side, sprung from varying degrees of knowledge of the true extent of danger from that quarter. Both families had been powerful contenders for the crown he lately had taken up. John Balliol, head of the Balliol clan, had managed to wear the crown of Scotland for only two years before being stripped of his titular sovereignty by Edward of England. Though he had since retired to comfortable exile in France, vowing never to return, some of his adherents still cherished the illusion that he — or his son — might one day be induced to a change of heart.

The Comyn link was even more dangerous, and came, in part, from the marriage of one of Balliol's sisters to the father of the Comyn slain by Bruce a few months before at Dumfries Abbey — a Comyn whose alliance with infernal forces had nearly cost Bruce his life that day. As it was little known that the Comyns, father and son, had dabbled in the black arts, or that they had based their bid for Scotland's crown on an alliance with certain demonic entities out of Scotland's pagan past, the majority of Comyn supporters simply viewed the killing, within the supposed sanctuary of a church, as sacrilegious murder.

No matter that it had actually been self-defense, and Bruce had been absolved of the killing within days. Comyn loyalty would always back the assertion that Bruce, and not John Comyn, had been the aggressor, violating sanctuary; and absolution by a bishop known to be a Bruce supporter was hardly to be accepted. Small wonder that Galloway, long loyal to Comyn interests, continued to be recalcitrant.

"Aye, that's true enough," Bruce replied, toying with his cup, perhaps recalling some of the circumstances of that killing — for without Arnault and Torquil, his Templar protectors, he himself might have been killed instead of Comyn. "The Gallovidians can be a shortsighted bunch, with old loyalties and old grudges. An alliance with King Edward is always a possibility, especially if they stand to profit from it. I've little doubt but that they'd throw in their lot with the devil himself, if he offered them my head on a platter!"

His glance at Arnault and Torquil confirmed that he was well aware of the deeper implications for the few who knew the true story.

"It's a pity we had to dismantle the castles at Dumfries and Ayr," said Sir Simon Fraser, who was not among those few. "A strong garrison in either place would have put some protection at our backs."

"Aye, but we haven't the men to spare," Torquil pointed out. "And we daren't leave anything behind that might be useful to our enemies."

"Even if it would be useful to us?" Fraser replied.

"No, because we might not be able to hold it, while we're spread so thin," Arnault said. "Believe me, Brother Torquil and I have seen such tactics used to good effect against us in the Holy Land. After the fall of Acre, in 1291, Sultan al-Ashraf's troops swept up and down the Syrian coastline, leveling orchards and villas and wrecking irrigation systems. When they were done, nothing remained to support an enemy invasion force — for that's how we were regarded. The tactic has enabled them to hold Syria uncontested for the better part of fifteen years."

"So there you have it," Bruce said briskly. "Any fortress we can't defend must be pulled down; any supplies we can't carry with us must be spoiled. The point is to make the English feel so unwelcome that they'll give up the fight and go home."

"Amen to that!" Bishop Wishart signaled his steward to bring more wine. "And now, let us do justice to this very excellent fare provided by the English!"

Again, servants passed along the tables with ewers of wine and platters of food. Torquil, when he had let his cup be filled again, stretched across to spear a gobbet of succulent spring lamb with the point of his dirk.

"How long d'you think it's been since we've seen food like this?" he asked. "Or until we see such again?"

"Too long," Arnault replied. He tore off a chunk from a loaf of fresh bread and dunked it in gravy before stuffing it into his mouth.

"If we ate this way too often," Torquil responded, around a mouthful of lamb, "we'd probably get fat and sloppy. Probably best that we're vowed to poverty. But if we were allowed to have any personal wealth, I'd give it all to know what's in King Edward's mind right now."

"Aye," Arnault agreed, "one of the hardest parts of this job is waiting, not knowing when the enemy will strike next, or where."

"D'you think it would make any difference to him, if he knew what's really at stake?" Torquil asked.

"Edward? I very much doubt it." Arnault drank from his cup as his gray eyes roamed the hall. "Remember that there are good reasons Edward Plantagenet is known as the Hammer of the Scots — and he recognizes no authority but his own. Maybe not even God's.

"As for what we do," he added in a lower tone, "sometimes I'm not even sure I understand it. How would you even begin to explain something like the Fifth Temple to a man like Edward?"

Torquil shook his head, returning his attention to the meat on his dirk, and both men lapsed into companionable silence amid the buzz and bustle of the feast. The truth was that on this isle of Britain, far darker forces were at work than paid any mind to the wranglings of English or Scottish kings — and the prize was no mere earthly kingdom, but a realm that dealt with the life and death of souls.

Safeguarding that realm was the hidden purpose of Arnault and Torquil and others like them, even though the Temple's avowed public purpose was to win back the Holy Land and safeguard the pilgrim places where God once had walked. Within the Templar Order there existed a hidden inner order called le Cercle, heir to ancient wisdom turned always toward the betterment of humanity's spiritual condition. Its members had worked toward that purpose from the time of the Order's inception, secretly guiding certain of the Order's work toward a higher purpose than merely retaining a Christian foothold in the Holy Land.

But if the Holy Land once had represented the perfect symbol for the physical and spiritual battlefield whereon the greater struggle of Light against Darkness was being played out, that seemed no longer to be the case. The first intimations of this shift in focus had begun to emerge in the past several decades, as it became clear that physically restoring the Temple of Jerusalem — rebuilding the so-called Fourth Temple, in succession to the Third Temple destroyed by Titus in A.D. 70 — was not likely to be possible in the foreseeable future.

So a new home for the Order must be found — and a new battlefield for the forces of Light against Darkness. The superiors of the external Temple had their plans for the greater Order, by means of a new Templar state hopefully to be carved out in France, but the Inner Temple must make its own arrangements — and not only in the physical plane. By means of prayer and meditation and the employment of diverse divinatory gifts sometimes accessible to various of their number, the leaders of le Cercle had been vouchsafed certain signs and portents pointing to Scotland as the Order's new home — and the future location of a spiritual Fifth Temple, which would anchor the forces of Light in Scottish soil.

Arnault had been instrumental in discerning these signs; and despite the increasing opposition of dark forces that would have prevented it, he and Torquil had been key players in achieving the first step toward that goal: reviving the ancient power of the Stone of Destiny, focus of the Celtic sovereignty of Scotland, which power had since been vested in Robert Bruce as rightful King of Scots.

Now in progress was the task of making Bruce's kingship effective in practice as well as in law and in declaration, recognized outside Scotland as well as within. Failure would mean the end of Scottish identity and a foothold for the forces of Darkness. But if Bruce succeeded in winning the battle for Scotland's freedom, it was le Cercle's intention that the Stone of Destiny, the Palladium of Scotland, would become both a physical and spiritual cornerstone for a new Fifth Temple enshrining the mystical wisdom of King Solomon himself — a temple not built with human hands.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Temple and the Crown by Katherine Kurtz, Deborah Turner Harris. Copyright © 2001 Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Temple and the Crown 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing 8 days ago
Not bad, not particularly good - I'm glad I read it and perfectly willing to swap it. There were a couple continuity errors, mostly with them being surprised by news they'd already discussed - Neil Bruce's death, for instance. But nothing major or story-disruptive. Also an interesting crossover with the Kurtz story in Tales of the Templars - the story was Sir Adam, her modern-day Adept, dealing with a Templar past life. The same person was a minor character in Temple & Crown, and it showed a lot more about him, including more about what Adam had seen in the story. Interesting.
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Sharah More than 1 year ago
I have not read this book of these two brilliant and most entertaining writers. I have read all of their ADEPT series however, and I find their style to be what I feel fiction should be. They choose historical settings and marry them with exciting imaginationary characters who come to life instantly the minute you begin to read. I know this book will not disappoint me and I intend to read it soon.

I don't understand why some readers expect a work of fiction to be true to historical facts nor do I understand why an author should be obliged to explain what is fact and what is fiction. Who really cares? If someone wants to study history, then do so. From the days of old before books were written or we had television or motion pictures, when stories were told around the campfires, fiction has endured as entertainment.

I am certain that some historical facts are lost in the recording of what actually happened during those times.