Friday, September 04, 2009

The Nostradamus Prophecies by Mario Reading


Nostradamus wrote a thousand prophecies. Only 942 have survived. What happened to the missing quatrains? And what secrets did they contain to make it necessary for them to remain hidden? And why did Nostradamus leave his daughter a sealed container in his will? This mystery drives two men with very different desires. Adam Sabir is a writer desperate to revive his flagging career; Achor Bale is a member of an ancient secret society that has dedicated itself to the protection and support of the ‘Three Antichrists’ foretold in Nostradamus’s verses – Napoleon, Adolf Hitler, and the ‘one still to come’… The pair embark on a terrifying chase through the ancient Romany encampments of France in a quest to locate the missing verses.

The action starts practically immediately in Mario Reading's second fiction novel. We are introduced to Achor Bale, the antagonist in the novel and within a few passages we know that this man is genuinely not a nice guy. He is a stone cold trained killer and will do anything to get his way.

We are then introduced to Adam Sabir who is a very likeable guy, if utterly unaware of the amount of trouble he's getting himself into when he meets up with Babel Samana, a gypsy with something to sell - the supposed location of the lost prophecies of Nostradamus.

Samana realises that Bale is following him to meet with Sabir. He enacts a gypsy bonding, cutting his hand and then Sabir's, mixing their blood, making him family. Before he runs from the restaurant, he tells Sabir two words. (read the book to find out what they are)

Sabir is bemused - he was expecting to hear a fable from Samana, wondering why the man would have taken out an advert in the newspaper, selling information about the prophecies. He's torn between wanting to believe he's getting the genuine article. Instead he's attacked by the man he's come to meet, his hand is cut by shattered glass, the gypsy acts deranged and then flees the restaurant.

I'm not giving away any of the story-line, I promise. You can read this section on the website, as an extract from the novel.

What makes The Nostradamus Prophecies unique is the characters and the execution of the novel. I genuinely enjoyed meeting Sabir - he is a nice, intelligent guy, slightly taken aback by becoming, through the mixing of blood, part of a group of gypsies. He becomes the brother to Yola, Samana's sister. With Alexi, a newly inherited gypsy cousin, the three of them follow the clues left centuries before by Nostradamus himself with Samana's female family.

It is a rare thriller / quest novel that takes me by surprise. Superficially, the novel ticks all the right boxes - ancient prophecies, the quest to locate them, a hero, a difficult situation. What makes it different is the inclusion of a completely different locale - France - and the inclusion of gypsy lore, customs and the genuine "feel" of these enigmatic people - all of which is impeccably researched and well told. The two main gypsy characters, Yola and Alexi are vividly portrayed and ingeniously described. Through them we are introduced to their world, we follow Sabir as he stumbles around their odd world, trying not to make a hash of it. The three characters work together very well - they appear quite genuine.

The two policemen who follow Sabir and the gypsies are very together and on the ball. Also, very likeable - maybe Macron less so than Calque (whom you suspect is wasted as a policeman as he is too intelligent, too cultured and too nice) who is very old school and very amusing. Our antagonist, Achor Bale is a deeply flawed character but one you like to dislike because he's not a cardboard cut-out. He has his motivations, he has a good background which comes to the fore during the investigation and more importantly, like the Terminator, he just does not give up. In other words, there are no easy outs.
The story moves forward at a clipping pace as we follow the two gypsies, Sabir and the two policeman as they unravel the clues left by Nostradamus. The focus is on characterisation and the interesting relationship between the gypsies with Sabir. The legends of Nostradamus are touched on, so lightly, during the course of the novel that it never gets dull or boring and over-told, which makes all the difference. You aren't bombarded by the incessant explanations and conjecture. This is however a very clever ploy by the author - and I loved falling for it.

The novel is a very rapid read, it twists and turns and is a fascinating and wild read. It is definitely a very worthy addition to any the thriller / adventure reader's bookshelf, I can assure you.
Find Mario Reading's website here, the dedicated The Nostradamus Prophecies page can be found here with an extract from the novel and a video by the author talking about The Man himself. The Nostradamus Prophecies is published by Atlantic Books and is available now. Go buy a copy! Actually, to be honest: if you're not really someone to read these "types" of books, The Nostradamus Prophecy is a very good place to start as it just works so well.

1 comment:

Sassy Brit @ said...

HI! I LOVE the sound of this book. I'm finding so many books I haven't heard of today!

I have a Brit/UK only competition you may be interested in - on my site here!
Closes September 30th!

I think you'll love it - plus you can also enter a competition to win one out of 10,000 freebies - and not just the book, but a Radox product too!

**Please spread the word to other UK friends**


PS I am adding you to my blogroll, I don't know many Brits around here! LOL And I'm following you on twitter now, and google reader. Lovely to meet you!