The Hiram Key
Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas
Perhaps the most common book one finds when attempting to learn more about Freemasonry, those who start reading without any background in the many themes presented become totally enthralled. Breathless, it's only later that they find the theories and postulations are nothing but fantasy and speculation. The claims made are 'buttressed' by a speculation that appears just a few pages earlier. The idea that there's an unbroken link between the current 300 year-old organization and a past far distant has no basis in fact but that doesn't stop the generalizations and wild theories. The authors take great liberties with scholarship in favor of their 'findings' and to think that this work is based on fact is absurd in the extreme. However, overlaying fantasy on barely plausible possibility, it rushes the reader headlong into suspension of belief and at the end, a belief that one has actually learned something new. Those who read this book generally agree that it's "an interesting read" but nearly all should also agree that it's far more fiction than the non-fiction work it was intended to be.
Interestingly - and perhaps harkening back to the days when it was critically important for an organization to have links to the past in order to establish their credibility - a very small handful of Masons loudly assert the correctness of this work. They are, however, in a miniscule minority and without exception those who are recognized as Masonic educators and researchers find this work highly speculative at best. Many ridicule its sloppy scholarship. In Masonic libraries, it's often found in the 'Fiction' section - which should tell you something!
This book began a whole genre of Templar speculation books: read them at the risk of totally missing the true history of Freemasonry!
Want a second opinion? Head here to an independent magazine published in their homeland (England). While the magazine is now managed by the United Grand Lodge of England, it wasn't when this review was published (it happened about 10 years later!) - but then again, if you believe Knight and Lomas, it's part of a huge conspiracy against them and UGLE is keeping secrets. SHHHHhhhh.....
And for a third opinion, we'd highly recommend this review on Library Thing which makes some particularly interesting comments. If you're not part of the LT community, try it out for free. It's $25 for a lifetime. (We get no referral fees but have really, really enjoyed this book venue for a number of reasons which will become apparent immediately to any avid reader.)
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