Sanctus by Simon Toyne

Sanctus by Simon Toyne

Move over “Brown” there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Toyne – Simon Toyne! One of my Top 10 books of 2011

A figure dressed in a hooded green cloth stands resolute, a thousand feet above the fictional city of Ruin, Turkey. Precariously poised on the edge of savage precipice he opens his arms in the shape of a cross and waits, and waits and waits – the wind picks up and a decision is made. Then, with the eyes of the world’s press and gathering crowd of curious onlookers below, he jumps. And so begins a tale of action, conspiracy, religious curiosity and a story of trust and finality – “Sanctus” has it all. Now available on Kindle and CD Audio.


The certainties of the modern world are about to be blown apart by a three thousand year-old conspiracy nurtured by blood and lies …

A man throws himself to his death from the oldest inhabited place on the face of the earth, a mountainous citadel in the historic Turkish city of Ruin. This is no ordinary suicide but a symbolic act. And thanks to the media, it is witnessed by the entire world.

But few understand it. For charity worker Kathryn Mann and a handful of others in the know, it is what they have been waiting for. The cowled and secretive fanatics that live in the Citadel suspect it could mean the end of everything they have built – and they will kill, torture and break every law to stop that. For Liv Adamsen, New York crime reporter, it begins the next stage of a journey into the heart of her own identity.

And at that journey’s end lies a discovery that will change EVERYTHING …”

Reading the accompanying press blurb above, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is just another Dan Brown novel – the comparisons are always going to be there. However, this most certainly isn’t “The Da Vinci Code” – the conspiracy isn’t as conspiritual – and even though it raises numerous questions about Christianity I found “Sanctus” a lot more believable and mellifluous.  The action scenes are well developed and with a bunch of sinister gun toting monks running around the back streets of Ruin you certainly won’t be left wanting.

Published by HarperCollins “Sanctus” is available to buy from The Book Depository & Kindle

With a background in television it’s quite clear to see Toyne’s influences in action with a fluid and discerning narrative. The short chapters – and there are many!- reminiscent of a TV script, ensure the story progresses at breakneck speed and to be honest there really is no let up from beginning to end. By the time the page count had reached 50 and the chapters sitting at a nervy 13, Toyne had intelligently introduced the main sub plots and you, the reader, have an inkling as to the direction the author was taking this thriller. The way he blends these sub plots, making them part of the main storyline, is done with the assured confidence of a seasoned pro – belying his true stature of a debut novelist.

“The one true cross will appear on earth, all will see it in a single moment – all will wonder”

Characterisation is strong and I found the balance between good and evil just about spot on. One thing I thoroughly enjoyed about “Sanctus” was the lack of a main protagonist until the second half of the novel. Toyne doesn’t spend time creating an obvious leading man or woman from the offset, preferring to allow the story to breathe and have a life all of its own. Slowly but surely as the story itself develops, as do the characters – as Gloria Swanson famously uttered in Sunset Boulevard “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up” – read on and you’ll discover who steps up to the plate in “Sanctus”.

With the inevitable cryptic code breaking and intriguing references to religious history of yesteryear I would have loved to have seen more illustrations and diagrams in the book – but then I suppose it would take “Sanctus” to an even closer comparison with “The Da Vinci Code” – I guess you can’t win!

He devoured the apple, feeling the sweetness flood into his aching body, warming him from within as it fuelled his exhausted muscles. He chewed the core to nothing and spat the pips into his lacerated palm. A splinter of rock was embedded in the fleshy pad. He raised it to his mouth and yanked it away, feeling the sharp pain of its extraction.

As I was nearing the end of the novel I allowed my thoughts to wander and anticipate its conclusion. When I enjoy a book as much as this I’m always fearful of a weak finish – in “Sanctus” I coveted a strong ending. If a book is great for two thirds and then comes to an unsatisfactory finish then the book is spoiled – as far as I am concerned. Fortunately, this isn’t the case with Sanctus and despite the obvious draw to leave things up in the air, for the later stages of this trilogy; the denouement is both powerful and unexpected.

Will the mysterious Sacrament be discovered? Will the autonomous Christian sect prevail and secure their secretive future? Will we find out why the Monk jumped to his death? All these questions, and more, will be answered but will they in turn lead us to explore avenues we never considered – you bet!

A stunning debut from an exciting new author, “Sanctus” isn’t your average high octane thriller – it’s more than that. If Ruin actually existed I would have booked the first flight to Turkey by mid-morning – if only for the bottled water!

Published by HarperCollins “Sanctus” is available to buy from The Book Depository , Kindle and CD Audio.

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11 Responses to “Sanctus by Simon Toyne – Book Review”

  1. I’m only about halfway through and have tweeted that this is what Dan Brown wanted to be – clearly I wasn’t alone (noting your comment at the top of your review).
    Rushes off to read the rest now….

  2. David Richmond says:

    Spent a good part of the day looking in google maps for RUIN only to find it is fictional.What a writer Dan Brown beware

  3. Alison Evans says:

    What a superb book. I can honestly say that this is the best book I have read in a very, very long time.
    I was fascinated by the intricacies of the storyline and the extremes that the author went to to describe in minute detail the intriguing Citadel and city if Ruin.
    All the way through this book I kept promising to google some of the places and references in the book only to find that the book is a complete work of fiction, well that’s what we’re led to believe ;)

  4. Maria Rivelli says:

    Great book, the place might be completly fictional but the story I believe is not…men are still trying this game nowadays.

  5. Dan Zeigler says:

    Just finished “Sanctus” yesterday. I also looked for “Ruin,Turkey” and found it was fictitious. Fascinating story, very well developed characters. I am looking forward to the remaining 2 books.

  6. Alan Lowe says:

    Just finished the book, cannot wait for the sequel. I was a little saddened that RUIN does not actually exist.

  7. Niharika Nautiyal says:

    WOW….it’s such an amazing thriller! not a dull moment..cant wait for more simon toyne!!

  8. Mick Cresswell says:

    Great read, best i have read since da vinci,shame that Ruin does not exist.

  9. D.A. Ohlemacher says:

    My GOD The Book “Sanctus” Is Awsome Please Go On With the Religion of Tau Which is one of the oldest on Earth if not the oldest. I was very much inspired by this book 1st and second book. please go on and due more .. Thank you

  10. Linda Mckay says:

    I have finished reading Sanctus, The Key and the Tower again , all three books a great read , what an amazing writer , they are on the can`t put down list

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