Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spear of Destiny by Daniel Easterman

Synopsis: (taken from Allison and Busby's site)

The untimely and brutal death of an old man sparks a chain of events that will put his nephew in danger as he races across Europe to Egypt, to solve one of the oldest mysteries in the world: the location of the tomb of Christ and the sword that pierced his body on the Cross.

In 1942 Gerald Usherwood and his platoon discover a mysterious crypt and it becomes clear they’ve stumbled onto something extraordinary. Sixty years later, his nephew Ethan discovers his body, slumped over his desk, clutching a small, ancient relic. As Ethan begins piecing together the events of 60 years before, guided by Gerald’s diaries, he finds himself hurtling across Europe, just one step ahead of the killer who will stop at nothing to discover the final resting place of Jesus Christ … and the ultimate religious icon that could spearhead a violent campaign to revive the Nazi legacy …

There is a luxuriousness about falling into a book by an author so well versed in the writing craft. The opening sequence in Spear of Destiny has stayed with me, long after I had closed the covers. I wish I had the ability to create one of those CGI movies to show you what I mean or that I was a close personal friend to John Woo who is a cinematic genius when it comes to showing landscapes.

The novel moves swiftly. We are introduced to Ethan who I personally felt was out of his depth in this novel - his character is well drawn, but he seemed a bit too nice, maybe a relic from another time, someone brought up with a different set of moral skills, and not someone initially capable of handling what the death of his grandfather and old friend threw at him. I think the author did this on purpose to contrast Ethan against the vile antagonists in the novel.

There were sections in the novel I did not like - the extreme violence against Ethan's niece in particular - but it is a case of remembering that it is fiction and it drives the storyline, creating a further crisis for Ethan to deal with whilst highlighting the antagonists' ruthlessness.

A lot of research has gone into the novel with the discussion of places and local (both ancient and modern) history fitting in neatly. It reworks the Spear of Destiny myths adequately, making this very much a Daniel Easterman take on how things could have gone, weaving known fact with fiction into a surprisingly quick read.

The novel's set pieces are well executed and the reveals are measured out in a steady stream, keeping you turning the pages. There are some instances where the writing is too lyrical and you may be confused, thinking you are reading an esoteric literary novel, but then the fight scenes pop up and you realise that you aren't!

Spear of Destiny is a very enjoyable book, with a strong cast of characters, enough plot twists and turns and dastardly villains to keep the biggest thriller fans happy. It does tick all the boxes, lopping in conspiracy theories, dark shadowy Nazi organisations, biblical history - in other words, there is much here to satisfy!

Find information about Daniel Easterman on his UK publishers' Allison and Busby's site here.

No comments: