“The Blood Gospel: The Order of the Sanguines Series” by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell (William Morrow, 2013)

Blood Gospel
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Many readers are familiar with James Rollins, known for his bestselling Sigma Force novels, as well as his standalone thrillers like Sandstorm and Amazonia.  Not as many people may know the author James Clemens, who is in fact a pseudonym for James Rollins.  Under this name, he has published seven fantasy novels.  The Blood Gospel, a new novel from Rollins collaborating with Rebecca Cantrell, author of thrillers like A Trace of Smoke and A City of Broken Glass, is the first in a new series known as The Order of the Sanguines, and marks Rollins’ return to the world of the supernatural and the fantastic.

In this gothic tale, a strange trio is on the hunt for a sacred text out of ancient history that must be recovered, known as the Blood Gospel.  The story begins with a devastating earthquake in Masada, Israel, killing many, but also revealing the hidden location of a sacred tomb.  The trio is assembled: Sergeant Jordan Stone, a forensic expert working for the military; Father Rhun Korza, a strange priest sent by the Vatican; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant archaeologist who had been working nearby at the time.  Within the tomb they find the strange crucified body of a young, mummified girl.

Before they know it, the trio finds themselves under attack by some very strange characters, some of which don’t appear to be human, but they survive.  This begins the chase to track down the secret location of the Blood Gospel.  The enigmatic Father Korza reveals some important details about this sacred text and why it is important, and perhaps who some of these unusual characters they’ve been running into are.  As they follow clues, using their individual skills as well as plenty of intuition, the search leads them deep into the heart of Europe, within an ancient German castle.

As the story continues to open and reveal itself, like a beautiful, sacred tapestry, the authors do a great job of ratcheting up the suspense and action, making things tougher for their characters, as well as showing more of the back story, which has a history reaching back thousands of years.  Back to a time and origin of some strange beasts, which bear an uncanny resemblance to their current enemies.

The Blood Gospel is an impressive collaboration between Rollins and Cantrell, revealing a complex and fascinating tale, as well as an intriguing world that sucks the reader in from the start.  Each main character has his or her own point of view, adding a depth and intricacy to them that is not usually common in these types of thrillers.  Unique answers that fit the story are presented to questions like: Why are Catholic priests sworn to celibacy?  Why do they ware pectoral crosses?  Why is wine consecrated and transformed into Christ’s blood during Mass?  And what is the real story behind the raising of Lazarus?  Whether you’ve tried Rollins or Cantrell before, The Blood Gospel will be the ride of your life.

Originally written on February 6, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

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