Friday, February 8, 2019
Book Review: 'Lever Templar' by Matt Gianni
“What is history but a fable agreed upon?” —Napoleon Bonaparte
Washington author Matt Gianni graduated first from the University of Washington in 1990 and then from New Mexico State University in 2000. His technical pursuits took him to General Dynamics in San Diego, then to consulting jobs all over North America, and finally back to Seattle for a long stint with Boeing. After a long career in aeronautical engineering and flight instruction, writing countless airplane flight manuals for Boeing and instructional articles for flying magazines, Matt began writing fiction. LEVER TEMPLAR is his publishing debut and it is the first in a series of dual timeline historical fiction / contemporary thrillers, pitting heroes and villains across centuries.
The key to this novel and to the series is the Castellum One team, a covert investigations unit financed by the Vatican and run by elements of the US Intelligence Community. A sensitive aspect of Matt’s writing is found at the beginning of the book – a list of the characters from the 14th Century (actual historical figures are designated) and a list of characters from the present day – a reference guide that truly aids the reader in this book that spans seven centuries. These casts of characters are followed by fine maps of the local of Part one and of Part 2.
To condense this epic adventure thriller, Matt supplies a fine plot outline – ‘As the crusader era ends, Templar Sergeant Brim Hastings must free his imprisoned brethren by surrendering the heretical scroll that has enabled their two-hundred-year leverage over the Roman Catholic Church. After escaping his order's persecution, and having the role of savior thrust upon him, he and Cypriot apprentice tanner Shayla Kostas discover the boundaries between good and evil are not where they'd thought. Seven centuries later, Rick Lambert's investigation into Christian priest abductions in Iraq grows in scope after he's given a cryptic Roman gaming stone. As he learns of the motive for recent Templar preceptory demolitions throughout France, he and his team must prevent religious extremists from shattering Christianity by winning the race to rediscover the Vectis Templi—the Lever of the Temple.‘
But the jewel of Matt Gianni’s talent in transporting us across this bifid historical drama is best observed in his writing: Chapter One August 14, 1307 Shipley, England - Of the oaths sworn to the order, Brim Hastings knew it was his obedience being tested. His poverty had always been transparent given the enormous communal resources of the order, and his chastity had yet to be seen as a sacrifice, given his mostly cloistered seventeen years of life. But obedience? This he found difficult. Nevertheless, he nervously followed his mentor, Malcolm of Basingstoke, through the narthex of Shipley Church. Angus, the knight’s squat and brutish squire, led the way. The three crept along the darkened north aisle. Brim flinched upon hearing a gasp ahead. Malcolm calmly guided Angus toward the pews to the right with his right hand on the squire’s left shoulder. The knight then addressed the figure in front of them. “Continue.” And then in Chapter Two -Present day Iraq –‘During the last two months, the pair of agents from Iraq’s Ministry of Interior Investigations Unit was assigned the case of the Christian priest abductions. This morning, they‘d responded to a call from Father Zephyros Topolis of the Christian Church of Kanisah, in the dusty northwestern Mosul suburb of the same name. Topolis claimed men had scoped out the small warehouse he’d turned into a chapel, an insignificant structure compared with the Sahaba Mosque two blocks north and Mosul’s Grand Mosque just across the Tigris to the east.’
Two periods that will interlock closely as the story develops. Matt’s mastery of the differences and similarities in the two time frames weaves together one tremendously satisfying epic as we discover the interlocking aspects of LEVER TEMPLAR. A very impressive debut novel by man who deserves our attention.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.