Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Blood Gospel
review copy provided by William Morrow
Description from Goodreads:
An earthquake in Masada, Israel, kills hundreds and reveals a tomb buried in the heart of the mountain. A trio of investigators—Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensic expert; Father Rhun Korza, a Vatican priest; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant but disillusioned archaeologist—are sent to explore the macabre discovery, a subterranean temple holding the crucified body of a mummified girl.
But a brutal attack at the site sets the three on the run, thrusting them into a race to recover what was once preserved in the tomb’s sarcophagus: a book rumored to have been written by Christ’s own hand, a tome that is said to hold the secrets to His divinity. But the enemy who hounds them is like no other, a force of ancient evil directed by a leader of impossible ambitions and incalculable cunning.
From crumbling tombs to splendorous churches, Erin and her two companions must confront a past that traces back thousands of years, to a time when ungodly beasts hunted the dark spaces of the world, to a moment in history when Christ made a miraculous offer, a pact of salvation for those who were damned for eternity.
Here is a novel that is explosive in its revelation of a secret history. Why do Catholic priests wear pectoral crosses? Why are they sworn to celibacy? Why do the monks hide their countenances under hoods? And why does Catholicism insist that the consecration of wine during Mass results in its transformation to Christ’s own blood? The answers to all go back to a secret sect within the Vatican, one whispered as rumor but whose very existence was painted for all to see by Rembrandt himself, a shadowy order known simply as the Sanguines.
In the end, be warned: some books should never be found, never opened—until now.
When I saw there was a new book by James Rollins, I was anxious to read it because the last book I read by Rollins was just such a page turner and I really wanted another fast, exciting read. When I first read the prologue, for some reason, it struck me as something completely different from what I was expecting and I put it down for a few weeks. When I picked it up again, it was just what I was looking for and I read the book from cover to cover in a day. I'm not sure why the prologue hit me wrong the first time, but I am so glad I picked it up again.
Rollins has taken an age-old idea of the vampire and taken it to new and daring places - or actually, it feels like he has put it back where it belongs. I really liked the new terminology that Rollins applies to the concept of vampire and how he treats them in a historical context.
I have to hand it to Rollins and Cantrell - I don't know of very many authors who would tackle vampires and ancient history and Biblical history all in one book. I absolutely loved how it was handled. I thought the concepts worked well and I liked the way so many of the explanations for why priests wore a hooded cassock and silver crosses to taking a vow of celibacy (or chastity), for example, were brought into the story.
The prophecy of the Knight of Christ, Woman of Learning and Warrior of Man is interesting and brings in three great characters: Rhun Korza the Sanguinist, Dr. Erin Granger, archaeologist, and Sargent Jordan Stone. There is tension between the three main protagonists, but they compliment each other and work well as a team - most of the time. I like this trio and very much look forward to reading more about them in the next book in the series.
This was such a action-packed book -- and it should be, considering the topic. There is a lot of history as well, which makes the story even more interesting. I loved the way it goes from Biblical times all the way to World War II and current time and then several places in between while revealing the various aspects of the Blood Gospel itself and Rhun's life history. So exciting and fascinating.
I don't want to give anything away, but oh! I loved how things get um. . . twisty and tangly at the end. Well played. I am anxiously waiting for the next installment in The Sanguines Series.