Debut author 2-shirt begins a sprawling, epic trilogy of classically styled vampire novels, spanning centuries and exploring the extremes of good and evil.
This story begins rooted in truth: Jacques de Molay, the final Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was a genuine historical figure, sentenced to death in 1314 after he recanted his confession—offered under torture—to acts of depravity and sacrilege. In both the novel and in real life, the Templars’ treasure and King Phillip IV’s debts played a significant role in de Molay’s trial, but the similarities stop there. Rather than ending Jacques’ story with a burning at the stake, the book lends credence to the accusations of his demonic proclivities. Its version of Jacques submits his soul to Mithras, a dark god of great power. Jacques’ immortality takes him across Europe, taking vengeance against the royals and struggling against other mighty supernatural creatures, including his own vampire kin. Weeks and months quickly blur into centuries as Jacques has many other strange, frightening encounters, sometimes with famous figures of the medieval and Renaissance periods. But ultimately, his greatest challenges come from within, as he must weigh his dark gifts and Templar morality against a chance to recover his soul and fight for a real future. The weight of all these ideas and the time span of the story would drag many books down, but this novel is a delightful exception. The prose here is solid and confident, moving smoothly and easily between scenes of blood and violence and startling insights into characters, the complexities of vampire lore, and legends such as that of the Ark of the Covenant. Vampire fans are sure to delight in these rich details, but lovers of historical fiction will also be captivated by the depictions of everything from the French aristocracy to the wilds of Russia’s Ural Mountains to Leonardo Da Vinci’s workshop. The struggle over Jacques’ soul may feel overly familiar to some readers, but the novel’s tight pacing and breadth of focus more than make up for it.
A dynamic, entertaining journey that takes vampire fiction back to its roots.