on 21 June 2011
A perfect Dan Brown style holiday book. But don't be put off by the genré if it's not for you. it's got something for everyone (even good writing): I enjoyed the medieval and pre-medieval religious angles but it also has technology, forensics, puzzles, action, adventure, the odd home made bomb, love (and even skips the inevitably crass sex scenes that always seem to bruise good books.)
Very very ingenious from start to finish. Believable and ingenious make the story work. I had to ration myself so that the book didn't run out too quickly. This is not my favorite genre by any account, yet it hooked me from the start. It's not just a gripping (you won't find me writing 'unputdownable') tale but is well written too: I'm a sucker for bruised orange skylines and clouds described as white beasts, weighed down by their own leaden hearts. It's an easy read too, there is always something happening, and despite the many characters, you are never left wondering who any one is. Get it, you won't be disappointed (but you might ignore your family for a while).
on 9 July 2013
This book bypassed me completely when it was released in 2011 but I recently heard a couple of interviews with the author promoting the third part of the trilogy which came out in April this year, and although he didn't go into a great amount of detail about the plot, there were enough `hooks' mentioned to get my interest.
Firstly, I love the title. The word `Sanctus' actually means `holy' or `holy one' and The Sanctus is a part of the Catholic Mass. It is such an evocative word to me on so many levels, conjuring up images of crumbling churches and monasteries with flickering candlelight behind stained glass windows. I can just smell the incense and see and hear the robed, hooded Monks singing the Gregorian chant. The cover of my version of the novel captures this perfectly.
Secondly, Simon Toyne's own story piqued my interest. He is a British writer and Sanctus is his debut novel. In 2007 he decided to quit his job and spend 6 months writing in France to try and fulfil his lifelong ambition to become a writer. He said in the interview I heard that he had no idea whether he was any good, but he knew that if he tried to write alongside his existing career it would never work. It was `all or nothing'. Thank goodness he decided to give it a go...
Lastly, the blurb says:
WHAT IS THE SECRET OF SANCTUS?
Liv Adamsen is a New York crime reporter, Kathryn Mann a charity worker. They are very different people, but their fate is bound together by one man's desperate act.
With the world's media watching, a robed man has thrown himself from the top of the oldest inhabited place on earth, an ancient citadel in Turkey. For some it's a sign of great events to come. For Liv and Kathryn it is the start of a race into danger, darkness and the most remarkable secret in the history of humanity.
It is a secret that the fanatical monks in the citadel will kill, torture and break every law, human and divine, to keep hidden...
Wow! What's not to like? I wanted to know that secret like, NOW and bought the book on my first browse. Not only that but when it arrived I started it pretty much immediately and read most of its 400 pages in a (very rare) marathon four-hour reading stint whilst staying in a hotel overnight.
I won't lie, Toyne's story and style are reminiscent of Dan Brown to whom he has been likened in the popular press. I am not a die-hard Dan Brown fan by any means but I have read all of the Langdon series and enjoyed them to varying degrees; I am a bit of a sucker for the whole `ancient conspiracy meets modern world' premise and do enjoy a damn good mystery so in that sense both Brown and Toyne tick a lot of my boxes. If you are not a Brown fan though, don't let that put you off Sanctus. I have also recently read Dan Brown's latest Langdon novel, Inferno and I can honestly say that Sanctus beats it into a corner. Hands down. No arguments. If the two books were five year-old children, Inferno would be on the naughty step for five minutes. Eye-rolls for Inferno, (approximately) twenty-six; eye-rolls for Sanctus, zero.
There are actually two stories being told here - one through the various Monks in the Citadel (the Sancti) and the other through Liv, Kathryn, Kathryn's father and her son Gabriel who are working (for their own, personal reasons) to reveal the three thousand year old secret that the Sancti are protecting. I liked both Liv and Kathryn - they are both brave, strong, independent women. Another tick, Mr Toyne.
If you like a meandering, gently-moving novel however then this one is probably not for you. Toyne's TV background can easily be detected in the pace; there is a LOT going on and I actually caught myself holding my breath at times. Otherwise, there really is something for everyone including gruesome murder, suicide, forensics, technology, history and religion. Even if some of these themes don't light your fire, none of them should be taken in isolation. Together they work, or at least they did for me.
I can't talk about this book without touching on the ending. The Sun review I read described it as `a load of rubbish' but did concede that `getting there is a good ride'. As soon as I read it, I knew it would be the part of the narrative guaranteed to spark negativity. That said, I would be interested to know how Mr (a slight assumption perhaps, but an accurate one I think) Sun Reviewer would have preferred it to end? In any conspiracy novel of this kind the reader has to be prepared to suspend logic to some extent. How did I feel about it? Intrigued to know how it would be picked back up in the second part of the story and sad. But only sad because it was the end.
I don't keep many novels these days; I have a pretty good rotation system going on, but those books that make a real impression on me get a permanent spot on my shelf and Sanctus is there to stay.
There are only four books that I've read in the last few years that I've given 5/5 to and this is one of them. I absolutely loved the ride and didn't want it to stop. Thank you Mr Toyne. Part two, The Key, arrived this week...
on 24 November 2014
Well, I guess I was late coming to the party for this one as it's been around for three years and already spawned two follow-ups (to complete the Sancti trilogy). I'd had this book on my shelf for some months before I decided to give it a go. I'm not easily drawn to religious conspiracy novels involving fanatical monks and such like but have to own up to actually liking this far-fetched but entertaining outing by Simon Toyne.
The novel opens with several scenes set within an ancient citadel in Turkey where a monk has apparently gone missing. Sometime later, the world's media captures images of a robed man throwing himself from the top of the citadel while tourists watch on in horror. From that point on the story really starts to build and rattles along at a fair old pace. The chapters are short and snappy and several key characters are brought in to play to add depth and interest to the plot. It's style and delivery did remind me somewhat of The Da Vinci Code but that is not a criticism.
Overall I enjoyed Sanctus. For me, it was one of those books that you shouldn't take too seriously - so forgive any of its flaws, historical/religious inaccuracies etc and just enjoy the escapism. I found the strength of the story and it's intriguing ending was enough to make me want to seek out the next instalment - The Key.
on 5 February 2013
a well written, easy to read book. The story flows,so well, and was so descriptive i could imagine the buildings and the people. Having also read the follow-up book, i am eagerly awaiting the final book in the trilogy.
Definately an author to be added to my list of favourites,
Well written thriller, part of a trilogy (worth reading all 3). Good tension throughout but overall the trilogy is let down by 2 things. Firstly, the action keeps jumping from one set of characters to another, with some chapters only 3 or 4 pages long. Secondly, and most importantly: the underlying mystery of the book is the usual pagan nonsense which is insulting to the Church. Amazingly, the book manages to avoid upsetting Jews - even though the supposedly pure Mala tribe in Turkey was beaten up by the Yahweh tribe (no kidding). Without any explanation, this Yahweh tribe then transforms into the Roman Catholic Church which (no surprises) suppresses all the lovely and pure pagan sacraments with total control and extreme violence. All of this could have been done much, much better. But still, it's a good thriller, great for the beach or the airplane. Mr Toyne writes well and I will certainly read his next series.
on 16 December 2014
This book starts very well and the writer Simon Toyne obviously has talent. However it turned into something like the Da Vinci Code meets James Bond descending into a ludicrous farcical fantasy. 'poppiebessie' s review is about right - you want to burst out laughing at how ridiculous it all becomes! I would like to read something sensible by this author as, plot aside, he can tell a story although I did feel as he is a Brit he was 'prostituting' himself to the U.S. market (all American heroine, a Turkish police force that seemed more like NYPD and a Holywood style shoot out that would keep the 'special effects' aficionados very happy). I got this as a special Kindle deal but would' t invest the effort, time or money in the follow-up books as I expect they follow the same puerile formula unfortunately.....