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The Judas Apocalypse Paperback – May 29, 2008
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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The book begins in Judea in AD 33, then moves on to Rennes-le-Château, France in 1917, creating the basis for the story from actual fact. Rennes-le-Château is a small hilltop town known in modern times for various conspiracy theories, including the possible burial of a treasure discovered by its somewhat mysterious 19th-century priest Bérenger Saunière. The nature of the treasure is at the core of this book.
The story itself is rather remarkably set in WW II. Its protagonist is the German archeologist, Dr. Gerhard Denninger, who works for the German Ahnenerbe, an institute of the Nazi Germany government, founded by Heinrich Himmler and originally purposed to research the archaeological and cultural history of the Aryan race. Denninger is approached by infamous Otto Rahn, who was a real German historian, medievalist and fanatic seeker of the Holy Grail. Rahn tells Denninger a fantastic story of Templars, Church scandal, a long-buried manuscript, and the key to finding the famous lost treasure of the Cathars. The Cathars were a sect of ascetic priests who believed in the idea of two gods or principles, one being good and the other evil, which was of course anathema to the monotheistic Catholic Church. They lived in the region of Rennes-le-Château, and their treasure is presumably the one discovered by Bérenger Saunière. Rahn gives him what turns out to be the diary of Father Saunière’s confessor and a sheet of parchment containing clues to the location of Saunière’s supposed treasure.
I must admit I became a little lost Rahn’s story, which encompassed so much and in much detail. However, I came out the other side relatively unscathed and traveled with Denninger to Tibet for five frustrating years of measuring Tibetan heads, noses and eyes for the Ahnenerbe, before he gets back on track to find the treasure.
Denninger finagles passage to France on a German U boat, using his Ahnenerbe credentials and once on French soil, runs into a group of American soldiers, whom he persuades to help him in his quest for the secret of the Cathar treasure. At this point, I had become so engrossed with the story, I couldn’t put the book down. The fact that the resolution to the search is a shocking discovery was the best part.
The author’s characters are highly believable and inherently interesting, real or not, and there were enough twists and turns to keep the reader enthralled. This is a good read for anyone who loves historical fiction as well as a rollicking story.
I hope he writes another in this genre!
what to expect but I found myself drawn into the story very quickly. I
usually read more contemporary books, but this story about a treasure
hunt in the middle of World War 2 was fascinating and the ending really
makes you think. If you're looking for a really good wintertime read, this is
a good book to curl up in front of a fire with. I
would highly recommend this one.