Sunday, April 21, 2013

Review: The Blood Gospel

The Blood Gospel
The Blood Gospel by James Rollins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Historical fiction/Supernatural Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Folks who enjoy treasure-hunt type stories, stories that intertwine history with fantasy, fast-paced thrillers
Trigger Warnings: murder, torture, child abuse (implied), child murder (historical)

My Thoughts: Come on, who can resist a book that combines ancient religious conspiracies with vampires? I know I can't!

The story is fast-paced and that helps prevent the reader worrying too much about details. However, some things stood out to me. For instance, as far as I'm aware (and if so, it's only recently), Stetson does not make a straw cowboy hat. Stetson is the gold-standard for cowboy hats and makes high-quality felt hats. Also, at one point Rhun bloodies his palm “where the nails had been driven into the palms of Christ.” However, research has shown there is absolutely no way that anyone was crucified by driving nails through his hands; the small bones would not support the weight of the body and would rip free. Likely the nails would have been driven through the wrist, between the major bones of the arm.

Jordan is really funny. Every time I laughed, it was at something Jordan said. For instance:
We [solders] just bang on it [mass spectrometer] with rocks, Doc, but it seems to work.”

Or this conversation with Erin:
[Erin:] “What do you think they want with us?”
[Jordan:] ... “Don't know. Maybe to debrief us. Swear us to secrecy. Maybe give us a million dollars.”
[Erin:] “Why a million dollars?”
He shrugged. “Why not? I'm just saying... let's be optimistic.”

I felt really badly about Magor and Bathory. Yeah, Magor was a vicious, bloodthirsty killing machine, but he was so devoted to Bathory. The scene made me cry.

There were a lot of “Oh!” moments in the story, like when they revealed who the Vitandus was, who Aloysha was, and who the head of the Belial was. These were sprinkled through the story, providing one surprise after another. It kept things interesting!

In the end, I really enjoyed the story. I'm not well-enough versed in Church history to know how much of the dogma and history used in the story is accurate, but it is provided in such a way as to keep the reader interested and focused on the story. The pace is fast and furious, and it definitely keeps you reading. If you like these sort of stories, don't hesitate. It's a good 'un.

Disclosure: I received an ARC paperback from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: 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.

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