Monday, January 16, 2012

The Adept - Katherine Kurtz & Deborah Turner Harris

The Adept
Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris
Ace Books
Copyright: 1991
0441003435

The blurb on the back of the book:
More than a doctor,
more than a detective...

He is Sir Adam Sinclair: nobleman, physician, scholar - and Adept. A man of learning and power, he practices ancient arts unknown to the twentieth century.

He has had many names, lived many lives, but his mission remains the same: to protect the Light from those who would tread the Dark Roads.

Now his beloved Scotland is defiled by an unholy cult of black magicians who will commit any atrocity to achieve their evil ends- even raise the dead!

Only one man can stand against them...
The Adept

This is the first book in the series: The Adept, The Adept: the Lodge of the Lynx, The Adept: The Templar Treasure, Dagger Magic and The Death of the Adept. Two other books, The Temple and the Stone and The Temple and the Crown are set in the middle ages in the last years of the Templar Knights are linked to this series as well. There are also two short stories set in the same world and time period in two of the Templar anthologies Katherine Kurtz has edited.

The Adept is one of those books/series which can be hard to describe, but which is (to the right reader) quite captivating. There's a term on the Katherine Kurtz website which might fit - "Crypto-history". I tend towards using the term "historical fantasy", but that doesn't quite fit for these books as they're set in contemporary times. But, if you like historical fantasy, these are still worth a try - they're littered with historical references and themes. That might be the author's MA in Medieval Studies showing through, as the most common period is the medieval era - Templar references, Scottish history and folklore and the like. There's enough of them that you're not likely to catch them all on the first read.

For example, during this past read, I picked up on a new one. There's an offhand reference to one Matthew Paris, a monk and chronicler. I never thought too much about that every other time I read the book, but this time, I'm also working my way through a biography of King Edward Longshanks, and the same figure is fairly prominent there.

Not to mention all of the Latin phrases and snippets. Trying to translate those can be rather entertaining too, though not a requirement to enjoy the book. I find that all of those add a whole extra layer to the reading experience.

An experience which is built on vivid descriptions, interesting characters and a very intriguing world concept. I said last time I reviewed The Adept, that I wish I knew of more books like this series. I've found something somewhat similar since: the books by Jo Graham (Hand of Isis and Black Ships primarily). Even so, I'd like to find more. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to see them.

Honestly, The Adept is the first book in a series that I've read before several times and I know that I'm going to be reading it again many more times.
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