Friday, December 07, 2007

"Lost Temple", by Tom Harper (Arrow Books)

Tom Harper has penned an intelligent, excellently researched and enjoyable treasure hunt of a novel.

Compared to the vast majority of other novels in this genre (Historical-tinged thriller cum treasure hunts), Tom Harper's "Lost Temple" is a cut well above. The novel follows the exploits of Sam Grant, a former SOE agents who went AWOL after the Second World War, and how he is roped in to help find an ancient treasure that might have important uses for the recovering states of Europe.

His companions are Marina, a feisty Greek former-guerilla against the Germans; Professor Reed, a fussy Oxford don who clearly hasn't had much experience with the outdoors; and Muir, a British agent with questionable morals and methods.

Other reviews have described "Lost Temple" as a break-neck thrill ride, but in fact it is much slower paced than others in the genre it's being marketted for (such as books by Matthew Reilly, James Rollins, Dan Brown and others of that ilk). I actually appreciated the pace, as it helped to make it clear that technology was slower in this time - it provides greater authenticity to Harper's writing and also the pace of the novel.

The explanations and revelations regarding Greek mythology are conveyed very well, never coming across like a lecture or other style of academic treatise (despite them inevitably coming from the mouth of the Oxford professor). In fact, I found the passages about mythology and history to be the most interesting parts of the novel.

To write any more would probably spoil the story for those who haven't read it. Needless to say, Harper clearly writes with a passion and enthusiasm for history and the subject matter in the novel, and this makes his writing all the more fluid and convincing. Could the pace have been quicker? Probably, but it ultimately doesn't matter. "Lost Temple" is an interesting, entertaining and (dare I say it) intellectual novel that actually achieves what it was supposed to. Another plus about the novel is that the "conspiracy" and code have nothing to do with trying to prove Christianity as bogus mumbo-jumbo. Refreshing.

Since reading "Lost Temple", I have ordered Harper's Crusader series ("Mosaic of Shadows", "Knights of the Cross", and "Siege of Heaven") and also taken out his more humorous, if slightly silly Lieutenant Martin Jerrold series ("Blighted Cliffs", "Chains of Albion" and "Treason's River") novels, which he wrote as Edwin Thomas.

I recommend this book.

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