The Heretic: Manly men stoically getting the job done

Joseph Nassise The Templar Chronicles 1. Hereticurban fantasy book reviews Joseph Nassise The Templar Chronicles 1. The HereticThe Heretic by Joseph Nassise

Joseph Nassise’s THE TEMPLAR CHRONICLES series features a modern-day Knights Templar organization that battles the supernatural bad guys of the world. Its hero, Cade Williams, is a member of the Templars but has an uncanny reputation among the order for his psychic abilities. The Heretic is the first in the series and revolves around a cabal of sorcerers who is attacking Templar commanderies, slaughtering the members, and desecrating the cemeteries in search of a holy relic. Cade and his unit are assigned to the problem. The Heretic could be described as urban fantasy by way of a paramilitary/religious thriller.

As is apropos for a thriller, The Heretic includes a lot of action and tough-guy heroics. There’s also a great deal of gore, so the weak of stomach need not apply.

Unfortunately, character development is sparse. There are only two women in the book; one of them is horribly murdered before the plot begins and the other is horribly murdered early in the book. Perhaps a Templar-focused novel was destined to be a sausage fest, but I can’t say the men fare much better. There are more of them, but they’re not well developed. Cade is given a touch of humanity by his grief for his late wife, but this is mentioned only in a few key scenes. The rest of the time he seems like a machine. The narrative is rarely introspective, instead simply giving the blow-by-blow of his outward actions as he orders and shoots and enhanced-interrogates his way through the plot. The other characters are less developed than Cade is. Perhaps the absence I felt most keenly was that of humor; no one ever cracks a joke. I didn’t realize until reading The Heretic how much I’ve come to count on a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of gallows humor in my urban fantasy.

The writing is unornamented and occasionally has issues such as abrupt point-of-view shifts and repetitive sentence structure. The Heretic was originally published in 2005, however, and it’s clear from Robert’s review of Nassise’s 2011 novel Eyes to See that he has grown in his prose writing in the intervening years. I would be willing to try another book of his one day.

The Heretic is not a horrible book; it just isn’t for me. It could be a 3-star or 4-star book for a very different type of reader. This is a novel about manly men stoically getting the job done, with little in the way of stylistic or emotional frills. If that appeals to you, give this book a try. But for my own part, I must confess I like my frills.


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KELLY LASITER is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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3 comments

  1. I have to disagree with you on this one. I LOVED this book. It was easily a 5 star book, despite a bit of a slow, military referencing start. I thought the main character had a lot of heart and pain to get over…it’s usually the characters that make a book for me and I enjoyed this one thoroughly. I label it as “tough guy” books, and was right up there with authors like Robert Crais (although he writes thrillers not spec fiction.)

    • Oh, it’s definitely a tough guy book! :) The character’s emotions didn’t really come through the page for me, though it sounds like they did for you, and I think that made all the difference! Thanks for commenting.

  2. I really liked this book. Was a great thriller ride for me!

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