A masterful blending of Christian scholarship and pure thrilling adventure, comes a novel about the race to find the secret location of the Vera Cruz, the True Cross on which Christ was crucified, and the ancient brotherhood sworn to protect it from Infidel hands.
Holy relics are disappearing from sacred spots around the world -- and the Vatican will do whatever it takes to stop thieves from their incredible goal; to steal what is left of the scattered and miniscule splinters of the True Cross the Catholic Church has in its possession.
Dr. Ottavia Salina, a brilliant and highly esteemed paleographer toils away at her classified workspace deep within Vatican City, analyzing and restoring some of the world's most valuable religious artifacts, until she is called upon by the highest levels of the Roman Catholic Church and charged with a mysterious new assignment: she is to decipher the strange tattoos -- seven Greek letters and seven crosses -- found on an Ethiopian man's corpse. Found next to what was left of the body were three pieces of wood -- suspected by Vatican scholars to be fragments of the Vera Cruz, actual splinters from the Cross on which Christ was crucified.
With the help of the captain of the Pope's infamous and tradition-rich Swiss Guard and a renown archaeologist from the ancient city of Alexandria, Dr. Salina is able to uncover a shocking truth: for hundreds of years, a secret brotherhood which refers to itself as the Staurofilakes, and headed by a mysterious figure called Cato, has been hiding the True Cross and means to gather all remaining fragments for themselves. The markings on the Ethiopian corpse, they soon discover, correspond with each of the Seven Deadly Sins, and are part of the complicated, possibly deadly, initiation ritual used to deem candidates worthy of membership into the brotherhood.
Having discovered a connection between the brotherhood and Dante's Divine Comedy, they use clues within the text as a roadmap which leads them on a race across the globe to Christianity's ancient capitals. As they travel from Rome to Antioch, with several harrowing stops in between, they must brave a series of unimaginable challenges that put their faith -- and their very lives -- to the ultimate test. If they are to uncover the secrets of the ancient brotherhood, and discover the location of the True Cross, they must do so at their own peril....Continua
Letto in spagnolo.
L'inizio è stato onestamente faticoso e non ho apprezzato le parti inerenti la vita personale di Ottavia (cioè sulla sua famiglia e le rivalità con l'altra famiglia siciliana). Mi sono sembrate incomplete e soprattutto poco collegate al resto della storia.
La trama invece è avvincente e le avventure dei 3 protagonisti si fanno più coinvolgenti dopo la seconda prova!
La scrittrice spagnola ha pubblicato questo romanzo nel 2001. Romanzo tradotto e pubblicato in Italia nel 2005.
Argomento affascinante e ambientazione suggestiva. Le premesse sembravano veramente ottime. Invece, andando avanti, la lettura è diventata, se non noiosa, direi non avvincente e l'esito finale se non scontato e prevedibile, un po' troppo fiabesco.
Protagonisti assoluti Ottavia Salina, paleografa dell'Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Farag Boswell, archeologo egiziano, il capo della Guardia Svizzera Vaticana Kaspar Linus Glauser-Roist e la loro indagine sulla misteriosa setta dei Staurophylakes, i guardiani della Vera Croce; indagine guidata dagli indizi lasciati da Dante Alighieri nel Purgatorio.
romanzo molto bello c'è avventura mozzafiato, storia, letteratura ("purgatorio" di dante) e anche l'amore, una suora che si innamora del professore che l'aiuta nella ricerca del paradiso perduto e alla fine lei diventa laica.....e vissero felici e contenti...Continua
First of all you have to keep this in your mind: this isn't a clone of Brown's Da Vince Code.
Not AT ALL.
There's even quite an evidence for you: it was published 2 whole years before Dan Brown became such a famous nuisance all around the world. But, still, this book falls in step with the genre that Brown made so famous, so this is what you have to expect when you start reading.
Secondly, this is a novel. Ms Asensi never said otherwise all along all the books. So, don't expect to find any true truth here... being a fictional story, the author took all the liberties she needed to make her story better.
Unfortunately, as any good book with a good writer behind, this isn't an easy story and it's required that the reader has at least a light knowledge of the historical background the author refers to. Otherwise, you'll find difficult to understand and quite boring in some passages.
The main characters is a nun, Dr. Ottavia Salina. And she's not a common nun, she's paleographer, with a doctorate both in paleography and art history... and she is the Director of the Vatican's Classified Archives.
So, it's not strange that some day she was asked to examine some tattoos -or, better, some scarifications- found on a men dead in a plane crash, whom was involved in the smuggle of priceless artifacts.
What instead was strange was that Dr Salina had to work with Captain Kaspar Glauser-Roist, a member of the Swiss Guard (with some sinister affiliations I won't spoiler you) , and with Professor Farag Boswell, an atheist archaeologist with a Coptic Christian background.
Of course, during the investigations, they started to be involved with a secret society (well, this is quite a cliché nowadays), whose secrets are hiddend between the lines of Dante Alighieri's Commedia - see why I absolutely love this book?. Obviously, this society and its leader, called 'Cato*' (from here, the title of the book), did whatever they could to stop our characters during their personal quest, going near to kill them multiple times.
What annoys me a bit was how Ms Asensi look for some romance to put in a story that shouldn't have any; I'm not disturbed by it as per se, but because it seemed a bit calculated to be believable, like she hadto put it so more people would like her book.
But, you know, in a story about religion and its mysteries, romance (and especially this kind of romance) is a bit out of place... but, since this wasn't the most important theme of the book, you can always pretend it doesn't exist, especially because you figure it out from the very first page and so you can simply ignore it.
Another bad spot is her character's characterization: she goes too easily with some stereotypes and focus too much on historical/architectural/philosophical/whatever detail instead of her characters, so tehy suffered a bit with the lack of attention. Not they aren't well portrayed, but I still think she could have done a far better job, especially because she created something quite itneresting that would have given her a lot of narrative possibilities.
Besides that, I LOVED how much architecture was described here. The characters move up and down Italy and through Europe and Ms Asens describe every place so well that you can almost picture it in front of you (and I'm pretty sure she did a good job, because I was in some of those places and they actually are as she said!). I hope the shades of her descriptions didn't get lost in the English translation, because it would be really said (luckily, she's Spanish, so the Italian translator couldn't possibly ruin it)..
So, what makes this book quite good are the descriptions and the settings. Ms Asens is an European, a Spanish woman, and you can see it: she describes something true, she hints at power balances and contrast that only someone that lives here can understand. Something that people like Mr Brown won't ever be able to do, not only because he lacks of the right premises to be a good writer (research before writing idiocies!), but because he lives in a country completely different from ours.
And I'm definitely going to buy and read even 'Iacobus' and 'The lost origin', so expect to hear about her very soon!...Continua