Holy Phantasmagoria! A photojournalist (Baigent), novelist/professor (Leigh), and BBC-TV writer (Lincoln) combined their considerable talents to produce this ingenious, well-researched, but basically flaky series of historical speculations that relates to real history much as ""Dungeons and Dragons"" relates to real mythology. To plunge right to the heart of the matter (something the authors, assembling their mysterious mosaic chip by chip, regrettably fail to do): Jesus was married to ""the Magdalen"" and had children by her, one of whom was Barabbas. The crucifixion was a hoax, ""a skillfully stage-managed ritual,"" and Jesus survived till at least 45 A.D., though the details of his later career remain obscure. In any case, his wife, children, and brother-in-law (Lazarus) were smuggled out of Palestine by ship and put ashore at Marseilles. Ultimately Jesus' descendants founded the Merovingian dynasty, helped to lead the Cathars and the Knights Templar, and are alive and well and hard at work today in a shadowy French organization called the PrieurÃ‰ de Sion--an offshoot of the Templars whose Grand Masters, believe it or not, include Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, Claude Debussy, and Jean Cocteau. But this is only the barest precis of a long and incredibly detailed case, a spoonful from Baigent-Leigh-Lincoln's bubbling cauldron. The Holy Grail (Sangraal) is really Jesus' Blood Royal (Sang RÃ‰al) brought to France in the person of his wife. The tribe of Benjamin intermarried with various Teutonic tribes and begot the Sicambrian Franks. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a grossly distorted version of a PrieurÃ‰ document. And the Vatican has known about much of this for years. Suffice it to say that the authors jump perilous heights to crazy conclusions, aided by dubious scholarly equipment (the work of Morton Smith, Hugh Schonfield, et al.). Intriguing but quite chimerical.