Garvey, John Evan. “Secreta Corposis”, Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2013.
Back in Time
I have never read anything by John Garvey before and when he wrote to me about his book and told me a little about it, I immediately agreed to review it. I love historical novels and this one is set in a place where I lived for many years and in one of my favorite periods of history. In 1193 A.D. Rolant joins the Templars in order to escape from marrying someone who had been arranged for him. Almost at the same time that we enlisted was he sent to the Holy Land (the area that is Israel today). At that time Jaffa was the point of entry to those coming to the area and for many it was the last stop before going to Jerusalem. Rolant was a young knight and he was given a partner, Audric, who already had experience as a knight and who initiated him into the world man/man love at a grove near the Templar base at the citadel in Jaffa.(By the way, that Citadel is still standing today and has served as both a prison and as a hospital for those who have severe mental problems. In Israel’s War of Independence it was used by an Israeli terrorist organization as its headquarters).
It was the job of the Templars to accompany pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem and other religious sites. When Roland was traveling with a group of pilgrims, they came upon a group of Saracens who found human bones as they were digging a well. When the Saracens abandoned the well, the pilgrims are curious as to whether the bones are those of a saint and as they pray lover them, Roland finds a tablet with text written on it in a language he does not understand and unlike any language he had ever seen and he takes it back to Jaffa but was forced to give it up since Templars are not allowed possessions.
As we soon learn, this is the story of two Templar knights who were forced to leave the knighthood because of their “sexual perversions”. This together with the tablet that Rolant found could be very important to the Templars. At this time Jerusalem was in the hands of Saladin and the Muslims and Jerusalem then as it is now was a place that many from all religions visited because of the religious sites there.
Audric had a special place where he lodged when he went to the holy city because he could not stand the unsanitary and clean places where the pilgrims stayed. He was friendly with Tariq, a Saracen and he stayed with him and his wife and when he did, he and Tariq usually had sex. For whatever reason, Audric thought that his homosexual activity would go unnoticed but the soon found out that this was not the case at all. Lucerna Templar was given the mission of destroying vice in the Templar Order and he took his job seriously. Any of the Templars who visited the grove where Audric first took Rolant received threats written in blood on the sheets of their beds. Then two Templars met their deaths and Audric and Rolant learn that they will be the next to die.
They flee Jaffa and head for Jerusalem to Tariq’s home until they can find a place to be together and when they move into a boarding house they are attacked by Templars so they return to Tariq’s and he is also now on the Templar list of people to be dealt with. Learning that the table that he found can threaten the papacy, Rolant sees himself having an upper hand but Audric, Rolant and Tariq are targeted by the knights.
What happens next you will have to find out for yourself but I do promise you that you will have a wonderful read that is filled with interesting characters. The only complaint if you can call it that is that the book is only available electronically. I would love to have hard copy of it to end to my library.