What I’ve Read – Sanctus


Most of my reading is done on the iPad these days but every now and then I do read a real world book.  I happened to mention to one of Father Christmas’s helpers that I quite fancied reading a real book over the holiday period.  Never being one to ignore hints, Father Christmas duly supplied a copy of Sanctus in my Christmas stocking.

My pleasure in the book was somewhat diluted when I discovered half way through that it was Part 1 of a trilogy and the next book is not due out until April.  If I am going to read a book that is part of a series I like to know up front. If I had looked at the inside front cover sooner I could probably have deduced that, but when I get a book I dive into the text, not the covers. Generally a series means I won’t read any until I can read all of them so the latter half of the book was somewhat tainted by the knowledge that it wasn’t likely to be a story with an end. That doesn’t mean I only read stories with an end, most good ones don’t have an end, but I like things to come to a point, a place from whence you can draw your own conclusions – and this didn’t.

Sanctus is Simon Toyne’s first novel and it’s certainly a page turner with a story that moves apace.  A good read for a journey or on holiday when you don’t want to be taxed too much.  As mystery page turners go, it was certainly better written than the pot boilers Dan Brown turns out, which irritate me.  I could slap him for the damage he does to language.  One of the better aspects was that there wasn’t the profanity that seems to take the place of punctuation in many modern novels.

The story follows the attempt to discover the identity of The Sacrament, hidden in a Monastery in Turkey.  The cast of characters is a little predictable – the power hungry second in command, the psychopathic  crazed monk, the damsel in distress, the slightly bewildered, bumbling policeman who is always one step behind, and of course the tall, dark and handsome hero who smelled faintly of citrus – didn’t quite get the relevance of that.  To my mind some of the secondary characters are more interesting, the monastery chamberlain and the mysterious geek, Brother Thomas – perhaps they will come into their own in the follow up novels. Taking sideswipes at the religious establishment also seems to be a given in many such tales at the moment.

The story has some interesting twists and turns, and the revelation of The Sacrament wasn’t what I expected, it did surprise me, but then the whole trilogy thing kicked in and the story seemed to just fizzle out which pushed my irritation button again.  It felt as if Mr Toyne couldn’t quite work out how to bring this section to a halt so he just  wrote a couple of chapters to fill some pages.    The inclusion of a couple of preview chapters from the next book raised the irritation factor even more.  It would have been better if he had just stopped at the end of chapter 144 with the inclusion of the intro to Section VII in my view.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, of it’s style and type, it was a better read than many I have wasted hours of my life on.  Will I read the second and third parts?  Probably, but not until they are both out.  Is it great literature? No, but it would make a good holiday read.

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