Author: Jonathan Rabb
Read: July 1, 2014
Summary: Father Ian Pearse leads a scholar's life within the Vatican walls, intent on ferreting out the textual complexities of Saint Ambrose's letters. But when a fellow priest gives him an ancient prayer that seems to hint at unspeakable heresy, and then mysteriously disappears, Pearse is forced from contemplation into action. The prayer is a fuse that will ignite a centuries-old conspiracy to establish a radical new church on the ruins of Catholicism, leading back to the ancient sect of Manichaeism, which held that man is equal to God and questioned the validity of Catholicism's central tenet: the Divine Resurrection. The Manichaeans are alive and well, as Pearse discovers, and have a disturbing tendency to turn up in the most unexpected of places--including the papal throne. And they have much, much bigger plans. It's up to Pearse to decipher the scroll and to follow its trail to the fountainhead of Manichaean truth. His journey will take him from an ancient Greek monastery to the scarred and bloody landscape of Bosnia, where a secret from his own past threatens to undermine his quest and his struggle to stay one step ahead of the Manichaean conspirators.
Unfortunately, so clumsily and pedantically does Rabb introduce the history behind the scroll, and so completely does he shortchange the reader when it comes to deciphering its secrets, that only the most patient and forgiving of fans will arrive at the novel's end without the sneaking sensation that this has all been a tempest in a teacup. Abstruseness is no crime, as any Umberto Eco fan will tell you. Dullness, however, is.
If you're looking for a rollickingly clever thriller that combines ancient religious politics, a mysterious power that threatens the stability of the Catholic church, and a tour of a vibrantly detailed Rome, The Story of Q isn't it. If you're looking for a thoughtful exploration of the soul-searing paradox that arises when a priest is forced to doubt the authenticity of the Resurrection, The Story of Q isn't it, either. For the former, you can't go wrong with Dan Brown's gloriously over-the-top Angels & Demons; for the latter, check out The Gospel of Judas, Simon Mawer's quietly powerful take on ancient history and contemporary mores. --Kelly Flynn goodreads
Review: I've debated reviewing this book because I disliked it so much but I read it (even though it was like pulling teeth) and I told y'all I was going to in my monthly goals so I might as well mention it. Here we go...
First and foremost, to compare this book to anything Dan Brown's every written is the greatest insult ever imagined. I know a lot of people dislike Brown, and while I'm not one of them, I can at least understand where they are coming from. But if they were to read this book compared to his Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons, they would probably view him as a literary god. The only thing this book has in common with anything Brown has ever written is that there is a religious conspiracy that involves the Vatican. That's it. This book was poorly written not to mention that this conspiracy wasn't even believable (which I think some of Brown's are with a stretch of the imagination.) It was very hard for me to get my head around the fact that these religious zealots hid the evidence for their beliefs so well that they couldn't even find it themselves. WTF? I also had a very hard time getting through the preachy, dry religious mumbo jumbo that didn't make sense and was very biased.
The only redeeming factor of this book was the period in Bosnia, some of the characters (especially Ivo) and when those two things came together, which may have been a total 50 pages of this book. If the author would have focused more on that rather than overly descriptive, unnecessary religious filler, he may have succeeded in writing an average novel. Alas, he did not and I was not satisfied. Hmpf.