________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 14 . . . . December 4, 2009

cover

Betrayed: The Legend of Oak Island.

Christopher Dinsdale.
Toronto, ON: Napoleon. 2009.
292 pp., pbk, $10.95.
ISBN 978-1-894917-919.

Subject Headings:
Adventure and adventurers-Juvenile fiction.
Micmac Indians-Juvenile fiction.
Oak Island(Lunenburg, N.S.)-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.

Review by Ruth Latta.

*** /4

excerpt:

The boys followed the rutted trail to the massive wooden structure near the centre of the island. It was as wide as the chapel in Kirkwell but twice as high. Within its base lay a square shaped pit which disappeared deep into the ground. Looking down, they could see men hammering together a wooden platform across the dirt floor of the pit. They introduced themselves to an exhausted master builder...who gave the boys a cart and told them to load it up then push it through the soft earth to the awaiting ship at the pier. By sunset the boys could see that the height of the structure had been reduced by almost a quarter.

 

Betrayed is The DaVinci Code for adolescents, with a Canadian connection.

     The novel begins in 1392 in Egypt, when Prince Henry Sinclair, a Knight Templar, meets with King Severus of Ethiopia as war rages around them, and the city of Alexandria is being sacked by Islamic forces. The King gives Prince Henry a large intricately carved crate which his soldiers transport to his ship.

     The scene then shifts to Roslin, Scotland, in 1393, where young Colin MacDonald and his mother are rescued by Prince Henry and his knight, Rudyard Gunn. In the ensuing conversation, Prince Henry recalls that Colin's late father was under his command in the Holy Land.

     Then, in 1397, Prince Henry turns up amongst Mi'kmaq people on the east coast of what is now Canada. He and the Mi'kmaq chief discuss Vikings and Irish monks who have travelled to the "new world," and Henry secures the chief's promise of help, at a future date, in stashing away some treasure from the old world, treasure which must be hidden "until the sinful, divided world we left behind is once again worthy enough to possess such holy objects."

     Back to Roslin Castle, in 1399, we find that Colin and Rudyard Gunn's son, Angus, are chosen by Sir Rudyard to go on a journey with some former Templar Knights. Their quest takes them across the ocean, into the company of both a princess and a famous knight known as "The Black Douglas."

     To tell more of the plot would spoil the story, which is skilfully written so that the informational sections about the Knights Templar are broken up by scenes of action and adventure.

     In an extensive author's note, Christopher Dinsdale explains that he first got the idea for Betrayed when he visited a small medieval church in Edinburgh, Roslyn Chapel, completed in 1452. Its construction was paid for by William Sinclair, the grandson of Prince Henry Sinclair. Dinsdale was puzzled by the ears of corn carved the ceiling, as maize was believed to have been brought to Europe for the first time by Columbus, whose first voyage was in 1492. Dinsdale wondered if Prince Henry Sinclair might have voyaged to America. As a Knight Templar, Sir Henry was a member of an order in charge of protecting Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Rewarded by land and money, the Templar Knights became very wealthy. But when Jerusalem fell to the armies of Islam, the King of France persuaded the Pope that the Order should be destroyed and its funds seized. The Templar Knights heard of these plans and sailed their fleet and treasure out of mainland Europe.

     One popular theory is that they went to Scotland where powerful clans had ties to the Order. The St. Clairs, a powerful French family, may have helped the Templar Knights to settle there. Many people believe that the banished Templar Order transformed itself into the Freemasonry movement.

     "The DaVinci Code is a classic example of taking the Templar legend and having a lot of fun with it," writes Dinsdale. Dinsdale has fun by taking his story to Oak Island, Nova Scotia, where there is a pit in the middle of the island which was thought to have been built by pirates. Dinsdale says it is an engineering marvel based on Masonic engineering technology from the fourteenth century. As further indication of a Templar presence in North America, he notes the Newport Tower in Rhode Island, similar to many medieval Templar chapels in Northern Europe, and he points out that many of the founding fathers of the United States were Freemasons.

     Not long ago, the CBC show, The National had a segment about Masonic architectural and symbolic elements in the Manitoba legislative building. With so much interest in this subject, Christopher Dinsdale may become the Dan Brown of the pre-teen set.

Recommended.

Ruth Latta's most recent novel, Spelling Bee (Ottawa, Baico, 2009) is a general interest work of fiction, of particular interest to women readers.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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