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The Grand Inquisitor (Crossroad Book) Paperback – May 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"Zmirak's work is typically . . . well, not typical. . . .  Carla Millar's illustrations bring flesh and blood to the text. The result is a sort of action movie in Miltonic verse."  —

About the Author

John Zmirak is an editor, a journalist, a college teacher, and a political commentator. He is the author of The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins and the coauthor of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good Living; The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song; and The Grand Inquisitor. He has contributed to Investor's Business Daily and the National Catholic Register. He lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Series: Crossroad Book
  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824524357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824524357
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.3 x 12.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #992,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Matthew G. Alderman on August 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
(This review first appeared at [...])

At first glance, it seems designed specifically to freak out everyone in its numerous potential overlapping markets--an intricately Gothic comic book, its dialogue written in elaborate blank verse, its plot inspired by and title borrowed from Dosdoyevsky's heavy-going Grand Inquisitor, and filled with all manner of strange hellfire, Marian visions, doctrinal arguments, and one deeply creepy Infant of Prague statue. But the author knows all that, already, and it is to his credit he forged ahead to produce this suspensful theological roller-coaster ride of a graphic novel.

The brilliance of John Zmirak's first graphic novel, The Grand Inquisitor, is precisely that its genre-bending, everything-but-the-sacristy-sink extravagance works so well. Uptight crypto-Jansenists will probably initially dismiss it as frivolous, beige Catholics as a Traddy screed, but those who actually read the text, and consider its elaborately-drawn pages for more than five seconds, will be rewarded.

(Plus, the illustrations have all sorts of wonderful little surprises embedded within them--conclaves, Tridentine liturgies, Cardinal Mahony playing golf, and my favorite, the Infant of Prague in full armor.)

The tale is simple, but all its permutations are profound. Sometime in the near future, a papal conclave drags on as the College of Cardinals finds itself at a deadlock. Tension mounts outside the Vatican walls. The liberals stage a walkout and hurl their scarlet robes to the crowd below in protest. The few remaining electors choose a complete unknown as the next pontiff, an African monk from a forgotten Traditionalist order.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Marty on June 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those that are not Catholic, I would suggest you read this book as good fiction. Enjoy the excellent artwork. When the DaVinci Code was popular, I was told it's just good fiction, not dogmatic, read it as such. Well, the same should apply here. The Grand Inquisitor thankfully, has re-introduced me to how good graphic novels can be.

Catholics and non-Catholics will enjoy the excellent storyline and art. Get the book.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jeri VINE VOICE on September 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Sometimes fiction can capture a truth better than simply reciting the facts. The "Grand Inquisitor" is an example.

Ever since the moment of its inception, the Catholic church has faced seemingly insurmountable challenges.

In the last, unlamented century, secularism and atheism have attacked the church relentlessly. Millions fell away in Europe. Communists sent priests and nuns to the gulag, murdered them, or sent them to insane asylums. The 20th century had more martyrs than any century before. Those who stood firm in the church against battalions of those who chanted: change, change, change, were derided.

But at the core of the church is not men with their failings. It is the Holy Spirit, guiding it always to the truth. And that is the truth told in this graphic novel.

It's so unique, such a strange and intelligent story, that I think it is one of the most remarkable books I have ever read. The pictures are wonderful. The language spare but gripping.

For every traditional Catholic, this a book to savor, and to send on to your friends and children.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By F. Ballard on June 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
"If you're already a fundamentalist Catholic, then this book will only reaffirm what you already believe." NO! The African Pope-elect starts out a fundamentalist, but undergoes a radical conversion in the course of his dialogue with the false progressive--not to any kind of progressivism, but to the mystical Christianity represented by the Cardinal of the Eastern Church. If you miss this, you miss the whole point of the book.

Zmirak shows, brilliantly, I think, how false traditionalism and false progressivism share a common vision, which leaves out the gospel of divine love and mercy. Hope is held out that the progressive is not finally damned, because the God he refused to serve was not the true God, but the Accuser--in Hebrew, Satan. After all, he did not conspire against Catholicism for selfish reasons, as the reviewer claims, but precisely for the salvation of souls.

Those of us who cling to either side of the sad debates of the last century are not ready for Zmirak's message. I pray that the new generations will be.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Arthur F. McVarish on July 16, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dostoevsky's parable,"The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor" may be literature's greatest commentary on the Human condition and its relationship with God and its own freedom.(Vladimir Solovyov's "War,Progress and the END of HISTORY~including a short story of the Anti-Christ is strong,lesser-known parable/contender).The PM reprise-retelling(in Post-modern format of GRAPHIC NOVEL)by John Zmirak and illustrated(profoundly,in tradition of Blake)by Carla Millar of The GRAND INQUISITOR is astonishingly comparable to its predecessors. The setting of the legend is Vatican ROME: Eternal City & seat of the world's Christian message of salvation for 3000 years.

The Pope has died. In CONCLAVE to elect the next(final/Peter II?)Holy Father conflict erupts:the "liberal"(pro-abortion;pro-divorce-pro-homosexual; "anti-dogma" Post-modernist)faction storms out in protest.Cardinal Mwome of Africa is arrested and interrogated by the Cardinal Grand Inquisitor. Mwome is to be the next(traditional,in the cast of John Paul II...and Jesus)Pope.

The stage is set for startling(often terrifying)debate between The Man of Faith
and the Man of Sin who would use the gift of Faith to defy God's plan of Salvation
(the Cross of Christ-"If you would be MY must pick-up your cross, AND FOLLOW ME). Echoing Dostoevsky's Inquisitor,this Cardinal challenges Christ with complaint that this Command(despite all the Lord's suffering-offered GRACE)is too hard;unfair and a road map for humanity's personal & collective Damnation(blisteringly illustrated with Bosch-like visions of Hell).

Against arguments of Free Will and(genuine)Choice are offered anti-Commands of Post-modernism and moral relativism (You may not smoke; but Abortion...60,000,000 since Roe a "Civil Right").
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