Tuesday, March 22, 2016

James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell - The Blood Gospel

Deep beneath the Vatican lies the holy Necropolis and its miles of labyrinthine catacombs. These dark, open tombs mark the final refuge for persecuted Christians from the beginning years A.D. Here rest the bones of St. Peter, along with countless other Saints and martyrs of early Christendom. Though these men are gone, their good and evil deeds have not interred with their bones. Their secrets, forgotten through the millennia, are about to be discovered. Far beneath the holy Necropolis, buried in catacombs deeper, far deeper, than the Saints, is a dark, wet city where sunlight never filters. Here dwell a people whose very existence is a mystery as great as death itself: the Sect of the Sanguines. In the darkness, they watch and wait for their orders, knowing they must one day surface into daylight. In times of crisis, the Sect are sent far and wide as the Church's emissaries: to secure artifacts; to mediate dangerous negotiations, and to fight battles. Rarely do their opponents realize they've brushed against creatures both ancient and eternal. daylight. Their order is as old as Christ, and their mission just as cataclysmic..

Comment: Well, this is another of the several books I've been borrowing lately in Portuguese and often they're not my choice, simply suggestions the person who owns them makes me. This title actually caught my attention because although I had never read the author's work, I've heard of him and the theme is quite interesting, I like plots around religion, the Bible, historical sets or situations... I was quite interested in reading this one.

This story focuses on a possible Gospel that might have a new POV on Jesus Christ's life and how that would obviously affect the Church and Faith as we know them. Three people, brought together because of very specific situations must join forces to not only retrieve the Gospel or the clues leading to it, but also to stop an evil group of getting it and destroying everything people have now. But the task is not easy because things aren't what they seem most of the times and there are countless challenges and obstacles on the way. What could be the reason behind all this, what can evil groups or well wishers do with the knowledge the Gospel has? Who is in real danger and what do the strange happenings in specific locations mean?

I confess I was expecting something along the lines of Dan Brown's work, meaning an adventure based on historical facts but with a lot of theories and believable imagination in the mix. I was certainly not counting on all the paranormal adds and, sincerely, the out of here scenes which were so very distracting to me.
In fact, so many things seemed so out of sync in this story I felt many times I was plainly reading one of those sci fi books with historical basis.
My biggest problem with this book was that I wanted to read more about the historical content, about the Gospel, about those involved in it, all the references not only to religion but to things related to the setting and reasons behind its existence. But all seemed to come second place after such an exaggerated and overly dramatic paranormal aspect that I often just wanted it all to be gone. Maybe this happened because of the two authors working together but I much preferred this to be centered in the mysteries, the Bible references, the history. But it wasn't so I must speak about it as a whole.

I suppose I can divide the key points into two main ideas. We have the three heroes actions and search for the Gospel and following the wishes of the apparent good guys. Then we have the bad guys looking for the same thing and leaving a trail of bad stuff on their way.
I don't like books where we have so many scenes from the villain's POVs. I think it's too boring to have to keep reading about bad deeds or killings when the story has so much more interesting things we could be seeing or following so I tend do skip all the unnecessary graphic scenes (I think if we are told they're bad, we can guess how bad, not necessarily having to "see" it).
The good guys parts which, as far as I thought, should show us what they're thinking, why and how they come up with certain knowledge, aren't actually that interesting either because the focus isn't clearly the search but the character's personality and the supposedly importance of getting to know even more characters as the story moves along, all of them strangely mattering to the world's history or literature (like Rasputin or Countess Bathory from Hungary).
I mean, there's nothing wrong with this and probably it is thrilling to many readers (who have enjoyed this a lot more than I did) but personally I felt the real interest of the book and what drove me to start it in the first place was lost among all the distractions we are presented.

The characters have a key role in all this of course. But I wasn't completely immersed in them, so I felt little empathy towards them or the task they had. I guess the reasons that led them to accept the dangerous task should have been proof of their amazing personalities and interest but I actually feel meh about it.

I suppose the goal of the reader matters here. I really thought I'd be reading a different type of book so I feel irritated I had to go through this, even if there is semblance of truth in the more exaggerated parts somehow. But I was hoping for something different, more adventure and history and not drama and over the top twists on known facts/theories.
The end was a surprise, not that I as that interested at that point, only that it presented yet another character that is there obviously to shock readers into keep reading but I don't feel that motivated because it would certainly be more of the same. Besides this is first in a trilogy - which I didn't now when I started reading - and nothing really is solved here so...having to read to more books like this to get to any sort of conclusion would be too much for me.

I think I'll read another book by James Rollins on his own, to see if it's closer to what I imagined this to be, because this one felt short to my expectations. All the justifications and ideas in this book revolve around something that isn't only a little bit silly but the execution didn't sold me that idea to something I could consider, even if out of reality. I think I wanted more scientific and historical reasons/studies/ideas to convince me or show me more about unknown facts or even to make me think about what people usually know but can't explain or something...
I get the feeling the paranormal and silly parts were too much to fit with the good parts.

As I don't have anything else to say about this besides rants and generic opinions about my expectations I'll stop here and just say that for fans of adventure and clever plots, this is severely lacking. But for fans of weird theories and paranormal maybe it can work.
What saved this was the Biblical references and some other facts I wished could have been more explored but weren't. A very weak five grade though...
Grade: 5/10

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