Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Publication Date: 2011
Who'll want to read it? If you like action, conspiracy theories, don't mind if the established Church is the bad guy, then this a book you'll enjoy. Apparently it's the first of three, an ambitious undertaking for a first novel, but Simon Toyne is now on my list of authors to keep an eye on.
Point of no return: The first chapter is very short, and full of teasers. There is a "he", imprisoned for learning, and not accepting, an unknown order's secret. He is cold, hurt, bleeding, and sentenced to death. He decides not to hang around and wait. The last line of the first chapter (page 5): "Then, his heart heavy from the weight of the ancient secret he now carried, he breathed out as far as his lungs would allow, squeezed through the narrow gap, and launched himself into the night."
What's it all about? Our mysterious "he" throws himself from the top of the Citadel, the oldest inhabited place on Earth, ensuring his act is captured on film, and broadcast around the world. A charity worker and her family see this as the fulfilment of part of a prophecy, known only to a select few.
The order of monks, who do not set foot outside the Citadel, but have contacts and dealings everywhere, attempt to recover the body, without making it obvious that it is important to them. They don't want any more attention than they already have, but they can't risk any chance of their secret escaping.
An American crime reporter's phone number is found with the body, and she immediately travels across the globe, to find out just how, and why, this Citadel is connected to her.
I think if I said anything more, I would start to spoil it.
I seem to be reading a fair few first novels that are excellent, and this certainly fits that bill. It was only after I'd finished the book that I read the front blurb about how this book came about. It makes for a pretty good story in itself.
I have also read a few novels in this genre (the accepted-organised-religion-is-evil kind), and this is definitely one of the better written ones. It has some very good twists and turns, some highly unexpected revelations, and moves along at a reasonably exciting pace. I made time to read this book, rather than dipping in during short breaks, which is becoming an increasingly rare thing for me to do.
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