Book Review: The Blood Gospel by James Rollins And Rebecca Cantrell

Book: The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Published August 2013 by Harper|717 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: The Order Of The Sanguines #1

Genre: Adult Thriller

In his first-ever collaboration, New York Times bestselling author James Rollins combines his skill for cutting-edge science and historical mystery with award-winning novelist Rebecca Cantrell’s talent for haunting suspense and sensual atmosphere in a gothic tale about an ancient order and the hunt for a miraculous book known only as . . . The Blood Gospel

An earthquake in Masada, Israel, kills hundreds and reveals a tomb buried in the heart of the mountain. A trio of investigators–Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensic expert; Father Rhun Korza, a Vatican priest; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant but disillusioned archaeologist–are sent to explore the macabre discovery, a subterranean temple holding the crucified body of a mummified girl.

But a brutal attack at the site sets the three on the run, thrusting them into a race to recover what was once preserved in the tomb’s sarcophagus: a book rumored to have been written by Christ’s own hand, a tome that is said to hold the secrets to His divinity. The enemy who hounds them is like no other, a force of ancient evil directed by a leader of impossible ambitions and incalculable cunning.

From crumbling tombs to splendorous churches, Erin and her two companions must confront a past that traces back thousands of years, to a time when ungodly beasts hunted the dark spaces of the world, to a moment in history when Christ made a miraculous offer, a pact of salvation for those who were damned for eternity.

Here is a novel that is explosive in its revelation of a secret history. Why do Catholic priests wear pectoral crosses? Why are they sworn to celibacy? Why do the monks hide their countenances under hoods? And why does Catholicism insist that the consecration of wine during Mass results in its transformation to Christ’s own blood? The answers to all go back to a secret sect within the Vatican, one whispered as rumor but whose very existence was painted for all to see by Rembrandt himself, a shadowy order known simply as the Sanguines.

In the end, be warned: some books should never be found, never opened–until now.

I really liked this one!  The Blood Gospel is definitely interesting, and it’s a good read-alike if you like Dan Brown.  Particularly the Da Vinci Code/Robert Langdon books.  But with vampires.

I did like the Sanguines, and how they came to be.  I also liked what Rollins and Cantrell did with history, particularly with Rasputin, and the Romanov family, though we only see Alexei, the son of Csar Nicholas.  Part of me wishes Anastasia had been the one mentioned, because of the stories of how she survived, but we can’t really do anything about that.  I will say that Alexei makes sense, because his hemophilia is how Rasputin ended up with the family in the first place.  Even though this book isn’t about that, part of me wishes we had a lot more detail about how he survived.

One thing I thought was confusing was when we had other perspectives.  We see a descendant of Elizabeth Bathory narrate at times, as well as a young boy who survived the earthquake.  People were referenced in those chapters, and those references were never explained.  They were known simply as He and Him, and I wanted something a lot more clear.  It made things more confusing and muddled than they needed to be.

Another thing I was not sure about was the kid who survived the earthquake.  I’m still not sure how he factors into things, but maybe we’ll see that in the other books?  The chapters that focused on some of these side characters were really strange.  I already mentioned how confusing they were and part of that is because it wasn’t obvious at first when we changed perspective.  I don’t mind multiple narrators or perspectives, but I do mind when it’s not obvious.

But things seemed to get randomly introduced and it wasn’t clear at first how they connected to the overall story.  Some of becomes clear by the end of the book, and while I’m doubtful it will come up again, I hope some of the people and things are explained more.  Again, the vagueness did not work for me at all because you’re trying to figure things out and it made it really confusing.  I hope that doesn’t continue in the other books.

I was definitely intrigued, and I did want to keep reading to see what would happen next.  It takes place over a couple of days, and even though we knew the timeline because dates and times were mentioned, it also seemed like it was happening over a longer period of time.

On a random note, I don’t understand why they couldn’t mention when we changed narrators, but could mention the exact day, time and location for the timeline.

Back to the timeline, though.  Things were definitely moving along, and I really liked the pace of the book.  Though it seemed like a lot, especially over a couple of days, there was never a lull in the action.

3 stars.  I liked The Blood Gospel, and I’m curious to see what happens next.

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