Some crucial discoveries are made when Sonja and Jason visit Chartres, the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris, and the mountain sanctuary of Le Mont Sainte-Odile in Alsace. The latter was founded around 690 and served as an independent centre of learning for nuns, including women of nobility, until fire destroyed both Le Mont Sainte-Odile (1546) and the Niedermünster (1572). In the Niedermünster’s crypt, so hearsay has it, a visiting woman was murdered for her part in smuggling an Aristotelian manuscript out of Spain. Like those who conspired to kill Francisco d’Almeida, her assassins shared an allegiance to the Knights of Santiago de Compostela, the same fraternity by which he first obtained this manuscript. These two murders—one at the Cape of Good Hope, the other in Alsace—bind the narrative behind Knot of Stone.
An aerial view of Le Mont Sainte-Odile showing the spur on which the monastery is perched, and the forest-covered valley of the Niedermünster below. Evidence suggests that the spur was once used for solar worship. Photograph courtesy of Patrick Bantzhaff.
While seeking the manuscript’s whereabouts, they not only discover connections to early Celtic Christianity and the Grail legend, but gain new insights into the lives of Charles de Gaulle, Napoleon, Richelieu and Philip IV of France.