Sunday, September 20, 2015

fifth gospel

I didn't read Ian Caldwell's last book, The Rule of Four, but it apparently did very well. I tried to look it up in my library, but they only have one copy, and it was out. Presumably because that reader wanted to do what I wanted to do after finding his new book on the shelf; read the first one. But I checked with the librarian and there was no information about this book being a follow up or sequel to The Rule of Four.

Caldwell's latest book is called The Fifth Gospel, and it has apparently taken him something like 10 years to write. I think his previous publisher may have even given up on him, but this effort seems like it may have been worth the wait. I enjoyed it.

Caldwell takes a close look at the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, from a very interesting perspective; through the eyes of an Eastern Catholic priest, a religion that bridges the gap between the two faiths, which split about 1000 years ago. Our Eastern (or Greek Catholic) protagonist is the son of a Eastern Catholic father--this faith allows their priests to marry--and is a priest himself. His brother, also a priest, broke from the family tradition and has become a Roman Catholic Priest.

The kicker is; they grew up and continue live in Vatican City, during the last years of John Paul II tenure as Pope.

At its core, this is a story of intrigue within Vatican City, and a mystery revolving around the split and current efforts to reunify the churches, ancient relics, and what it means to be Greek Orthodox vs. Roman Catholic, and how some of the higher ups in each of these traditions may still sting from the split a thousand years ago.

Its about family, brothers, marriage, love, church politics, friendship, faith, loyalty and betrayal, lost and redemption. And you know... murder.

This story swirls with activity, cloak and dagger, mystery about the churches and their histories, and is sprinkled with the fun and interest of what a day in the life of an inhabitant of one of the smallest countries in the world may be like. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Read this book.

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