This book was my introduction to the genre so I don't have much previous material to draw upon; yet even as someone new to the Templar universe I can appreciate a solid story wherever one is to be found -- and there is much here to admire.
McMahon's exposition is deliberately paced to lead us great distances over land and sea, slowly grounding us in the world of the novel. It is an ambitious, and therefore delicate, task to combine so many threads of characters, internecine religious conflicts and historical events but after a patient build-up, the reader is rewarded with an enthralling and utterly absorbing climax.
As the action shifts from England to Portugal, McMahon's narrative explodes into life when the protagonists find themselves in pitch battles on the ramparts of history, combining fiction and real events from Christianity, the Middle Ages and the birth of Lisbon.
If there is a criticism it's that the action sequences are so heart-pounding that the inevitable pauses for breath seem almost jarring in comparison.
But that is a quibble and the satisfying conclusion more than makes up for brief pockets of uneven pacing created as a natural by-product of so many moving pieces coming together.
The author's best character work is left for the two main protagonists, a flawed-but-noble Templar and his richly-crafted companion, Pathros. The wider cast is similarly intriguing and McMahon is equally lavish in describing the devious betrayal and conflicted interests within all parties, leaving few heroes in the wake of smouldering wreckage spanning three continents.
I enjoyed this -- the first of the series -- and am looking forward to the next one.