THE SWORD AND THE GRAIL by Andrew Sinclair


Of the Grail and the Templars and a True Discovery of America
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 In a highly eclectic approach to medieval history, the prolific Sinclair (Spiegel, 1987, etc.) explores links between his ancestors--the St. Clairs--and the Knights Templar; a European presence in North America a century before Columbus; and a stone chapel in Scotland holding the key to an arcane, richly symbolic worldview. Using the carvings on a single tombstone inside Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh as his point of entry, Sinclair ranges widely, if erratically, in his investigation: to the history of the Templars, their position in the Holy Land, and their swift fall from power and glory; to the intricacies of the Grail legend and contemporary perceptions of the natural world; and to the exploits of his distant forebears, especially the Earls of Orkney. Henry, the first St. Clair to hold that title, not only became a master of the sea with the aid of the Venetian shipbuilding/navigating brothers Zen, but he also embarked on a famous late-14th-century voyage, with strong evidence of his having landed at both Cape Breton and Rhode Island and establishing peaceful settlements there. Henry's death upon returning home ended the quest for a Templar refuge, but his grandson William, the last St. Clair Earl of Orkney, kept Templar beliefs alive by erecting Rosslyn Chapel. Built meticulously over a period of decades, it was revered as a Grail chapel, a mecca for Templars and Masons alike since the symbols found within were common to both groups--and it remains honored today. Sinclair wallows in family genealogy and overly dense detail, but his vast knowledge and clever detective work do create a colorful, tantalizing study of the Templars and the St. Clairs--one sure to interest any serious student of the Middle Ages. (Thirty- two pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1992
ISBN: 0-517-58618-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1992


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