September 2010, Michael Joseph
544 pages, Paperback
Hidden treasure, clues, treasure map, secret passages, occasional strong language, some inneundo, helicopters, wet feet, a few moderately violent fights, death, friendship
Summary from Penguin
This isn't a constant edge-of-the-seat thriller, but it's extremely enjoyable because of the friendly banter between Payne and Jones. As military men, they know how to use their initiative (sausages play a key role in one part of the book), and their experience means they react immediately when a situation arises. Many situations arise, which threaten the people in their care, as well as their own lives. One of them gets a small taste for pyromania, both get their feet wet and surprise a few tourists. There is one female in the book, Heidi, who is strong willed and curious enough that she attaches herself to Payne and Jones' team even when they object. Her field of expertise helps the team reach their goal quicker, as does he more stereotypical historian, Ulster, who has a personal stake in the mystery.
This book had much less drama than The Sword of God, and yet I enjoyed it because of Payne and Jones. In some instances I felt the plot fell a little flat and predictable, but the surprises that did arrive were enjoyable. I feel that maybe some of the background information could have been worked into the story a little better - there were a few major info dumping spots. I was more interested in the king's mystery than the enemy side of the story, and in some ways I'm glad. This was the reason why the blurb was a little misleading. Yes Payne, Jones and the characters they pick up along the way are in danger, and there are some nail-biting moments as the enemy closes in on them. However, the enemy didn't feel that big a threat to me. The enemy force didn't feel impossible to beat, there wasn't an overwhelming number of them nor was their anything particularly ruthless about them. They still provided trouble from Payne and Jones, and their demise was a most welcome one.
Nonetheless, this is a book I recommend to people and definitely one I'll re-read again. Chris has once again produced an engaging read, full of humour with a great emphasis on friendship between characters.
I give this book an 8/10