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Secreta Corporis [Kindle Edition]

John Evan Garvey
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $10.40
Kindle Price: $2.99
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Book Description

"A RICH AND DETAILED LANDSCAPE... I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT." --Michael Nava, author of the Henry Rios novels

Rating: H [Safe for heterosexual readers]

A.D. 1193. To avoid an arranged marriage, Rolant joins the Templars and is quickly transferred from France to Jaffa, the coastal city in the Holy Land that is the main port of entry for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. At the citadel in Jaffa, Rolant, who is nineteen and only recently knighted, is paired with Audric, a more experienced knight, who sensitively introduces him to a secret brotherhood of Templars who commit "the sin not named" in the dense groves of tamarisk trees scattered among the dunes along the coast.

Those Templars who frequent the groves begin receiving cryptic threats drawn in blood on their bedsheets. Two close to Rolant and Audric are murdered, and when they learn they are the next to be killed they, very reluctantly, leave the Order quietly. Finding few options in Crusader society, they eventually seek livelihoods among the Muslims.

A seemingly insignificant clay tablet that Rolant had found in a dirt pile near a new well turns out to hold information in its ancient text that the Templar leaders can use to manipulate the papacy. But threatening the papacy with disclosure of the artifact will be effective only if the laity remain unaware of its existence. Rolant and Audric are among the very few people who know of the tablet, and the Templar leaders secretly target them to suppress their knowledge.

Editorial Reviews

Review

MICHAEL NAVA, author of the Henry Rios novels--which were praised as "an exceptional series" by the New York Times--and the forthcoming historical novel, The City of Palaces
Secreta Corporis is, in the tradition of The Name of the Rose, a marvelously erudite novel that brings the past to life in all its complexity while engaging the reader's sympathy in the love story of Rolant and Audric, Knights Templar, as they travel in and around the Holy Land at the end of the 12th century. Garvey's book immerses the reader in Rolant and Audric's world while never losing sight of the deep bond between them that is the heart of the story. This is not the cartoon version of the past readers get in so many historical novels but a rich and detailed landscape in which the reader can happily lose him- or herself. I highly recommend it.

REVIEWS BY AMOS LASSEN
I love historical novels and this one is set in a place where I lived for many years and in one of my favorite periods of history.... I do promise you that you will have a wonderful read that is filled with interesting characters.

From the Author

Suggested prerequisites: Completion of at least one novel by Umberto Eco, and viewing Science Channel's series Biblical Conspiracies.
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I recently read the first few pages of Inferno by Dan Brown and thought, as I read, "Do I have to write like this to be a successful writer?" Brown's writing style includes passages like "I scramble, breathless..." and "hoarse voices smelling of lampredotto" and "They stare deep into my clear green eyes" and "dying unthinkable deaths" and "Langdon bolted awake" and "shot a glance at the bearded doctor" and "sat bolt upright" and "advanced with the intensity of a panther stalking its prey" and "mission had gone horribly awry." Popular writing mystifies me. Millions of people will read Inferno, and bestsellers like it, without cringing when they come across the cliches and awkward phrasing in the text. I don't understand that. I'm baffled that so many people tolerate writers writing at a mediocre level. Readers should gravitate to writers who are attentive enough to clean the cliches out of their writing and come up with poignant replacements. "Scramble"? I can't picture the Shade scrambling along the Arno. I think Brown meant something like "scuttle" or "crab," the Shade running sideways low to the ground to avoid being seen, since "scramble" usually implies more haphazardness than the Shade exhibits. "Hoarse voices smelling of"? Voices don't smell, breath does. Voices sound. More like "vendors..., with their hoarse voices, their breath smelling of lampredotto." Just to quibble, with actually modifies I. "I snake through vendors with their voices." But how did you get their voices away from them? "Into my clear green eyes"? That's an abrupt change in viewpoint, isn't it? Up to that point the reader has viewed the action as the Shade, but suddenly the reader has an external view of him. Rather than "unthinkable deaths," Brown probably meant "unimaginable deaths." "Langdon bolted awake"? The verb bolt should simply be retired from the language; label it obs. in the dictionary and leave it there. Brown uses the verb twice within a few pages. "Shot a glance." If the character had shot a glance, Langdon would have noticed it. I think Brown meant that she briefly met the other doctor's eyes to convey a message to him subtly. Advanced, intensity, panther, prey. Don't even get me started. If this were a movie, the actor would be overacting. "Horribly awry"? If the character is as methodically deadly as I think she is, a mission may catastrophically fail, but it would never go horribly awry.
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Note: This ebook was designed using HTML5 and CSS3, and at present the only reader that will display the ebook correctly is the Kindle Fire. The other Kindle readers will display the text, but much of the formatting will be lost.

Additional note: I just did a Google search for "'bad book review' sue." 572,000 results. I'm encouraged that there is so much dialogue going on about the topic. Yes, a reader who drops a cow pie on a new author's book should have a very good reason to--like the author knowingly presented false information or inadequately researched his book. If a reader dislikes a book because the demographic for whom the book was written didn't include the reader, that's not a valid reason for a bad book review and, yes, the reader should be called to account for writing one, especially when an author is new. The review stars are the same color for valid reviews as they are for inappropriate reviews and carry the same weight for potential readers. ... I've also come to realize that the one-star reviews for this book were submitted because the reviewers were asked to submit negative reviews by someone who wants to censor the book's questioning of the origins of Torah. This person could be either an Orthodox Jew who is an advocate of Israelis' "birthright," or an Evangelical Christian whose faith is based on the plenary inspiration of Scripture. Both would be motivated to keep the premise of this book and its sequel, The Talpiot Find, from influencing the opinions of a great number of people.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1832 KB
  • Print Length: 278 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1482738147
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BJD6TR0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,248,795 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and fresh historical fiction April 9, 2013
By apollo
Format:Kindle Edition
Clearly John Garvey has a mastery of this historical period (AD 1193), and the happenings seem very realistically portrayed. The details are very carefully and accurately portrayed. One interesting device is the use of the present tense throughout. An idea that other writers of historical fiction might emulate. The use of the present tense draws the reader in, makes the action seem relevant instead of something that happened long ago. The writing is refreshingly free of journalistic style--it's nicely done, but doesn't intrude. With so many novels, one feels that the writer is in the foreground, looking at characters on a stage. Not so with this book. It lets the characters tell their story. The story line is understated rather than dramatized, and that makes the credibility greater. An excellent alternative to the overblown and overly dramatic and emotional methods that one sees used in so much historical fiction.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A plodding adventure... March 20, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Interesting if somewhat dry read. This book definitely had promise but didn't really deliver. Writing style was a bit plodding and straight forward which isn't the best way to go about writing an adventure novel. I think Mr. Garvey may have been a little too ambitious with his storyline since he doesn't manage to resolve any of them. So I am sure a sequel may be in the works, just hope that offers a little more swash-buckling adventure. Also, don't understand why he was afraid to explore the characters sexuality. I get that not every gay novel has to focus on the sex, but, to have the two main characters who he clearly tries to portray in a committed relationship behave as a rather prudish elderly married couple seems the antithesis of there descriptions.

Will I read the next book...probably...but only to see how the story is resolved.

Good effort overall though...
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the time September 20, 2013
By grannyc
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The writing was turgid and not worth the time. The characters were not well developed and the voice/tense in which it was written is confusing.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars waste of time August 4, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Boring and any attempts at building tension or excitement just became annoying. Looks to be part one, but I have no interest in continuing the torture.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Format issues March 7, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The story would have been better if it started in the past with Rolant's childhood instead of starting in the present. The story moved from the present to the past and then back to the present. It made reading the book confusing and broke up the plot. It wasn't short like a "flash back", but a much longer transition between past and present in the book.

Edited to add the following:

Because Amazon and Good reads have a different star rating, the book receives stars based on the star rating of the venue it's posted in.

On Goodreads (It was OK) is only rated a 2 star, while on Amazon (OK) is rated as three stars.

Based on the harassive e-mails I've receive from the author, I should have placed equal stars on both reviews. However since to me it was really only OK I went by the star rating of the venue.

I didn't like the formatting of the book, the story was heavy on Christian religion which was not noted in the tags, and the blurb actually made the book seem way more interesting then it actually was.
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More About the Author

John Evan Garvey is an artisanal publisher who loves the whole process of researching and writing a book, typesetting it with unique touches, designing the covers, and creating promotional materials like video trailers, webpages and ads. It's an artistic process that blends visual arts with creative writing and social-media technology to create a something, a gestaltic virtual 'thing' that traditional publishing can't quite match, because traditional publishers leave the artisan's soul out of the corporate process. Each book he creates is a canvas, a sculpture, he's painstakingly worked into its final form.

John is originally from southern New Jersey, a small town named Vineland after the Norse Vikings' name for North America, Vinland, and where the grape-juice company, Welch's, was founded in 1869. John's upbringing was conservative evangelical, and his educational background reflects that. In his early 30s, he stepped outside of faith, creating a rift between himself and his family and friends, which is still in place. It's because of this dramatic change in world-view and the resultant separation from his extended family that John's writing so often probes the nature of faith and the unfamiliar realm of non-faith. He has a desire to share what he's learned and to continue learning about the mystifying realms of particle physics and the cosmos.
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"I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure." --J.D. Salinger

"It is my rather subversive opinion that a writer's feelings of anonymity-obscurity are the second most valuable property on loan to him during his working years." --J.D. Salinger
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John Evan Garvey refuses to write about violence, and so his books don't fit into the expected thriller, suspense or adventure genres. They were written as literary fiction, not as genre fiction. If one of John's novels lacks some aspects normally associated with a genre, it's because it wasn't intended to be in that genre. John did write three brief scenes in Secreta Corporis which include the use of a knife, and he found them disturbing to write. Similarly, there are images in movies and on TV he will not look at (e.g., video from 9/11).

His writing offers the reader less violence than normal, and the reader benefits from that.
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From the author:

I apologize for this response to a reader's review of Secreta Corporis, as well as for posting it here so it's not buried under Comments and never found. I ordinarily think it's inappropriate for an author to respond to a review, but in this case the reviewer must have fundamentally misunderstood the book. 'A Christian gay mystery.' If the reader had read carefully, he would have understood that the artifact discovered in the story *undercuts* the credibility of Christianity, or would if it weren't fictional. The reader felt it was a pro-Christianity book? You can see why I feel I have to correct the mistaken impression; my intended readers will be scared away if they conclude from the review that I've written a novel for conservative Evangelicals who somehow also happen to be gay. In my attempt not to be too harsh in how I presented Christianity, I must have been successful in that regard if a reader actually thought I was promoting it. The novel is neither Christian nor a mystery. 'With a tiny bit of romance.' Nor is it a gay romance. I wrote the novel as literary fiction, not as genre fiction. If the novel lacks some aspects normally associated with a genre, it's because it wasn't intended to be in that genre. How would you classify a book like 'A Prayer for Owen Meany' by John Irving? If you tried to fit it into any of the genres - mystery, suspense, romance, whatever - it would be a lousy example of that genre. Is it a lousy book? Of course not. But if John Irving weren't a household name and a reader expected the book to be, say, a novel of suspense, he might call the book lousy in a review.

I should emphasize that I appreciate the reviewer giving the book three stars. He easily could have given it one star, and he didn't. Much appreciated. I just wish he had mentioned some of the positive aspects of the novel, like the extent of the research, or the depth of the character development, especially of the character Audric as he works through episodes of depression. Perhaps another reviewer will sense that the author had a great time writing the book and doing all that research. Surely when a writer really enjoys writing a book, a reader can sense it in the writing and has an enjoyable time as well.

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