Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CSFF Tour - The Begotten

I finally have a contender for favorite book of 2008.

Monday I posted about the Corinthian letters from Paul in the New Testament due to the featured book in the CSFF blog tour this month: The Begotten. Written by Lisa T. Bergren, it is the first of the Gifted trilogy, with the second book The Betrayed already available, and The Blessed being released in fall 2008.

The Gifted trilogy is centered around a fictional "lost" letter of Paul, that speaks of a group called the Gifted who will arise to fight evil and proclaim God's love with magnificent gifts. Father Piero is a Dominican priest in 1300's Italy who is the chosen carrier of one section of this lost book, with other sections scattered by time due to factions trying to destroy the work. He meets Daria D'Angelo, a wealthy aristocrat in the city of Siena who is single because she was unable to conceive during a handfasting. The beautiful Daria has the gift of healing, and the two join together to complete their mission of bringing together the rest of the Gifted and following through with their prophesied destiny.

Sir Gianni is an Italian knight for the Vatican who is chasing a child-sacrificing Sorcerer through the Roman catacombs. After a harrowing chase, the Sorcerer escapes, and begins plotting to find the Gifted and twist their holy purpose to serve his vile plans. Also, Cardinal Boeri watches for both the Gifted and Sorcerer to further his agenda as well.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I read the back cover. It has a bit of a Da Vinci Code feel from the cover. If only Dan Brown had respect for his subject matter and wrote more than cardboard characters, he might raise to the level of The Begotten. The book is not quite like Code, as it is fully set in a historical setting, but it is a very entertaining book.

Bergren manages to combine great historical research and detail with multi-dimensional characters who grow and have flaws and a moving, suspenseful plot. She keeps the reader guessing with who the "Judas" character might be, wondering if a character will be good or bad, and putting the Gifted in deeper peril through the book. I felt that I was living in the time, and the way I was drawn in to the story was very enjoyable. Sometimes the plot slowed as the characters seemed to wander around a little bit to set up a scene or plot twist in the middle, but overall the whole came together in a delightful package.

I ordered the next book, The Betrayed, before I finished the first one. I have a feeling I will be waiting impatiently for the fall when the series concludes. So if you are a fan of suspense, historical fiction, or speculative fiction, this book meets many tastes and ought to entertain and challenge with the powerful theme woven through the pages.

I want to post a little more about two questions:
What makes this book "speculative"?
Isn't the idea of a "lost" book of Scripture dangerous territory?

Make sure to check back on this. In the meantime, see the author's website and on Monday's post visit some of my fellow tourmates' sites. There's good stuff always in the CSFF tour.

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