Simon Toyne began the Sanctus trilogy to great fanfare from fans of thrillers. The Key is the second novel in the trilogy, and stands rather well on its own – you don’t necessarily have to had read Sanctus in order to understand and enjoy the plot in The Key. Toyne’s prose moves the plot along at a breezy pace, but it’s not anything truly memorable in the end, and returns to familiar settings for readers of the first book – the ancient city of Ruin with The Citadel in shambles at the end of the first book.
After discovering and revealing the secret held tightly within The Citadel, Liv Adamsen (the protagonist of the entire trilogy) has now become the most important person in the world. Despite dealing with the fallout of The Citadel’s downfall, she begins hearing voices and starts taking action based on these voices. She must fulfill a prophecy and discover more of the secrets behind the Sancti of the Citadel. The Garden of Eden gets involved.
There’s a mercenary called Ghost that lives in the desert that’s hoping that Liv will uncover a great secret for humankind. There’s a powerful hidden faction within the Catholic Church in Rome worried about Liv threatening the very existence of the Church itself. And of course, the remaining monks (Sancti) of the Citadel that want their secret locked back up safe and tight within the Citadel itself, because when Liv discovered the secret and released it, a plague beset the monks that survived the explosive ending of Sanctus. This plague is highly contagious and is transmitted via airborne droplets, with a very distinctive odor of oranges letting unlucky people know that they’ve become infected.
There are several divergent story lines that make up major chunks of The Key, but knowing that this is merely an intermezzo between the introductory book and the trilogy end-cap that allows the reader to finally learn all of the secrets within the world that Toyne has created. There’s several different scandals. There’s espionage. Short brief chapters told from a first-person perspective allows us to piece together the story in bits and pieces until we reach the end of a few storyline threads near the end of the book. Toyne expertly strings the reader along, offering us bits and pieces here and there to keep us gobbling up the pages as quickly as we possibly can, to finally reach the end of the book.
Overall, the whole trilogy’s story gets advanced further due to how much more we learn about the characters and their motivations, which is always nice to help fill in the gaps for the reader. Toyne makes it interesting and his fictional world has been vastly enriched by the story in The Key. Being able to wrap up a splinter story in a single volume while advancing the main overarching story is a feat not many authors are capable of pulling off. Toyne has proven himself fully capable, and The Key remains a thrilling and fully developed story on its own that the reader will appreciate for its own merits.
Overall Grade – B+ (for thriller fans) or D (for literature snobs)
Edition: William Morrow (June 19, 2012) – 1st ed.
Binding: Hardcover with dust jacket
Page Count: 448
Paper Quality: Matte, semi-deckled, easily ripped, semi-translucent at certain angles (Poor)
Original Language: English
Other Notes: I’ve provided a dual rating for this book as I did for Sanctus.