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The Franciscan (The Franciscan Trilogy) Paperback – October 23, 2014
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About the Author
Author, columnist, teacher, lecturer, past president of three advertising agencies, William R. Park, SR. is nationally known and respected in the advertising and literary worlds. His past works include: The Talking Stones, Overlay, Coma, and Fatal Incision, including nine more suspense-thriller novels, each backed by glowing praise from numerous bestselling authors. Check out his website: www.wrparkpublishinggroup.com
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The novel starts with the conclave to elect a new pope. Cardinal Buldini, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, schemes to get Domenico Masone elected. Buldini thinks he will be able to control Masone but that doesn’t happen.
Immediately after being elected, the new Pope Francis (Domenico Masone) announces that after a month of seclusion he will have a message from the Lord for the world. So the new pope and his Franciscan brothers busy themselves searching through the secret Vatican archives. During this month, one Franciscan is killed in an assassination attempt and another commits suicide because he was forced to betray Dom.
The novel is very fast paced. The majority of the action takes place in dialogue. It reminds me quite a bit of a screenplay at sometimes as the dialogue itself is setting the scene.
There are some theological issues that the fictional Pope Francis advocates that I, however, cannot agree with. As a faithful Catholic, I will follow the direction of Holy Mother Church and if, in time, various Church doctrines are changed or dismissed, I will follow the direction of the Church. There were some points in this book that had me going “Umm… not so much.”
That said, this was a very good novel. The characters were believable and the setting was accurate. I enjoyed reading this book. The ending was not what I expected but at the same times it really fits.
I received this book for free from the publisher for review consideration. This in no way affects my opinion of the title or the content of this review.
This review first appeared at Orandi et Legendi (catholicamanda.com).
Let’s start from the outside and work our way in. It is rare for me to say anything about the cover, but as soon as I got the book, it pleaded with me to say something. The entire cover needs to be redone. Get rid of all the quotes on the front cover, clean it up and it would look much better, keep it simple. Putting quotes on the front cover about how good the book is, doesn’t make it better. Keep it to the inside jacket cover, please, if you absolutely need them.
Let’s move onto the storyline. This is actually pretty good, and it is a similar plot to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code , meaning, there’s an archeologist, a pope and lots of intrigue running around Vatican City. At that point, the similarities end, entirely. The storyline action took probably up till perhaps a little past the halfway point in the book to really pick up in intensity and hook me to where I didn’t focus on the problem I will underline below.
The problem that I have with the book is a very basic one: the author’s writing style. All of the action, the entire plot is through the conversations. This leads to very two dimensional characters that seem to know everything and everybody, and very chatty scenes. This is definitely not my favorite method of getting the storyline across. This also leads to the fact that the storyline is in Vatican City, in the heart of Rome, and I still don’t know what it looks like.
Overall, a rather frustrating read for me.
Dom, also known as Pope Francis I, is a humorous, wily, intelligent gentleman who is not at all afraid of doing what is right. Even if the consequences do inspire fear. Readers will enjoy Dom's down to earth leadership, openness, and honesty. He believes that the Church can downsize it's material possessions in order to help the people who need it. He wants an open relationship with the world and he wants the religious leaders of that world to connect and work together in peace. A lot to hope for. But his ideas and beliefs are understandable. Readers will connect with Dom through his passion and his plan.
However this novel isn't just a story of good deeds and humanitarian strides. It's also a story of murder, control, jealousy, destiny and power. When Cardinal Buldini decides on Dom for the papacy, he forces those under his influence to vote for him. At once, Dom defies Buldini, following his own plan for what Pope Francis I will focus on. Buldini soon realizes that he has brought in a Pope that cannot be controlled. This mistake must be rectified and the quickest way is death. While Dom and his loyal friends plan, study, decide, and discover, Buldini is out to replace the Pope.
Readers will love the mysterious nature of this novel. It's similar to that of Angels and Demons but with less riddles. The plot starts off a little slow, with uncertainty as to what the new Pope actually wants to accomplish. After the first murder, the action picks up and sets a good pace for the mystery to evolve. The hardest part about this novel is the amount of characters. There are something like thirteen people helping Dom, and then there is Buldini with the rest of his villains, and a few outsiders who make their way onto the VIP list. It was difficult to keep them all straight in my mind, but at least the main characters were easy to keep track of. My favorite parts of the book were the riddled poetry and the dream predictions. Both added a little fun to an otherwise deadly situation.