Temple (novel)

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Temple novel.jpg
Cover of Temple
AuthorMatthew Reilly
GenreTechno-thriller novel
PublisherPan Macmillan
Publication date
August, 1999
Media typePrint (Paperback & Hardback)
Pages689 pp

Temple is a thriller novel written by Australian author Matthew Reilly and first published in 1999. Like Reilly's other books, Temple's major attractions are the fast pace and the complexity of the action scenes.

At the time of publication, Reilly hinted at the possibility of a sequel starring the same protagonist, Professor William Race, but the release of such a book has never been officially confirmed.

Plot introduction[edit]

Deep in the jungles of Peru, the hunt for a legendary Incan idol is underway - an idol that in the present day could be used as the basis for a highly destructive and terrifying weapon.

Guiding the US Army team is Professor William Race, a young linguist who must translate an ancient manuscript which contains the location of the idol.

What they find is an ominous stone temple, sealed tight. They open it - and soon discover that some doors are meant to remain unopened...

Temple is split into two stories, both set in South America: One set during the Spanish Occupation and one set in 1999. The main focus of the former story is the journey of a monk named Alberto Santiago who becomes a traitor to his country after witnessing Spanish atrocities among the Incan civilisation. Aiding an Incan Prince named Renco Capac to escape, Santiago begins a quest to protect a special Idol - 'The Spirit of the People', an idol carved from black stone with purple veins running through it, carved from a meteorite. Upon his return to Spain, Santiago records his story in a transcript in a monastery in France. Four hundred years later, a group of armed militia storms the monastery, execute the Jesuit monks living there and recover the Santiago manuscript and another party raids DARPA headquarters. Seeing the seriousness of the mission, DARPA sends Colonel Frank Nash to Peru with the aid of NYU linguistics professor William Race to recover the idol before anyone else can retrieve it. Along the way, Race has to deal with neo-Nazis, a powerplay between the three branches of the US armed forces, group of nihilistic domestic terrorists, The Republican Army of Texas and terrifying rapas (large jaguar like cats). Their mission: to retrieve 'the Spirit of the People' (as the natives call it), carved out of Thyrium-261, a nuclear material from a binary star system that came to Earth via a meteorite. Thyrium has the potential to provide virtually limitless clean energy ... or fuel the Supernova, a next-generation weapon of mass destruction with the power to decimate a third of the Earth's surface and bring about Doomsday.

Plot summary[edit]

Alberto Santiago's Story[edit]

Santiago's story takes place five hundred years prior to the main events of the story. It is told in the form of a story within a story, the memoirs of a Spanish priest during the discovery of South America. Santiago betrays his countrymen when he frees Renco Capac, an Incan prince, from a prison hulk. Much of Santiago's story details his journey with Renco and a criminal named Bassario from Cuzco to the citadel at Vilcafor as they attempt to defend a sacred Incan idol from pursuing conquistadors who will do anything to get it back. Santiago's manuscript appears several times in the story, often providing the main characters with crucial information.


Professor William Race is a young linguist, working for NYU. One day, he is approached by a retired Col. Frank Nash, a physicist from the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to translate a manuscript written in ancient Latin. Initially, Race is reluctant because Nash only describes what is required from him on the most vaguest terms and does not appear to be interested in the alternatives Race gives him. Race is relectant to join even when he hears that his brother, Marty, was the one who suggested his name. What clinches it, is that when Nash mentions the names of the civilians who are going to be on the trip, one of the names turns out to be Race's college sweetheart, Lauren, who left him many years ago. In a sudden impulse to see what she has done with herself, Race agrees to join the team.

Nash assigns Van Lewen, a Sergent in the Green Berets, as Race's bodyguard and they move to the airport to fly to Peru. En route, Nash provides Race with photocopied pages of what turns out to be a copy of the Santiago Manuscript, which describes the adventures of Alberto Santiago a Spanish missionary in Peru whilst also holding the key to the final resting place of a legendary Incan idol, allegedly made of thyrium-261, an element that, when combined with the mass destruction weapon the Supernova, would destroy a third of the Earth's mass throwing it off from the orbit and effectively killing the planet. The team lands in Peru with mission leader Frank Nash, physicist Troy Copeland, archaeologist Gaby Lopez, anthropologist Walter Chambers, five Green Berets, his personal bodyguard, and his college sweetheart. But when the manuscript leads the team to an ancient Incan temple, the hunt becomes a fight for survival when their raid of the temple is taken over by hostile German terrorists. And the situation becomes even worse for Race and the team when an army of giant "rapa" cats, hellbent on ripping throats, snapping spines and mauling anyone who comes near them. Can Race lead the team to the idol, or is he leading them into disaster, and violent death?


Civilians (American)[edit]

William Race The main protagonist. He is a linguist and works for the NYU. He is unwillingly dragged into a US army special operation by Francis Nash. He is highly inspired by the story of Alberto Santiago's adventure with Renco Capac and several similarities are shown between him and Renco.

Troy Copeland A nuclear physicist, who is part of Nash's scam to steal the idol for hostile purposes. He was having an affair with Lauren, and using the information she got from her husband he aided Bittiker in detonating the Supernova. Race later kills him with a tank shell.

Lauren O'Conner Married to the brother of her college sweetheart, William Race, she too is in on Nash's scam. She was having an affair with Copeland, and unintentionally gave him secrets that her husband Marty knew, which aided Copeland in setting up the Supernova with the idol. Copeland later shoots her.

Walter Chambers The anthropologist of the crew, Chambers is brutally killed by vicious caimans, massive crocodilians.

Gabriela Lopez The archeologist survives the horrors of Peru. She was seconds from death when Doogie saved her from a caiman. She later asks him out.

American Armed Forces Members[edit]

Colonel Frank Nash Claims to be part of DARPA, but is revealed to be an Army man. He betrays his own squad and shoots Van Lewen after he intervenes in the execution of Race. He brought along Chambers, Lopez and Race to aid him, and Copeland and Lauren to steal the idol from its rightful owner, the Incan people. He is later mauled by the rapas.

Captain Dwayne Scott, the leader of the Green Berets. He dies a painful death when the first venture into the Incan temple results in a rapa attack.

Sergeant Leonardo Van Lewen, Race's assigned bodyguard. He makes the ultimate sacrifice for Race, stepping in front of him when Nash brandishes a gun. Nash shoots Van Lewen anyway.

Corporal Jacob "Buzz" Cochrane is part of the team that goes into the temple for the second time. He is shot brutally by the Nazis, and as a result Race and Van Lewen leave him at the temple, due to his inability to fly away. He is later mauled by the rapas.

Corporal George "Tex" Reichart is shot fatally in the same attack that wounded Cochrane, when he retrieved the idol, which is later revealed to be a fake.

Corporal Charles "Chuck" Wilson, like Captain Scott, is mauled by rapas in the first venture into the temple.

Corporal Douglas "Doogie" Kennedy is the only Green Beret that survives. He has a crush on Lopez, which results in a date when he saves her from the caimans.