I am a huge fan of Dan Brown, James Rollins and Steve Berry, so when Ronovan suggested I read The Judas Apocalypse by Dan McNeil, I jumped in.
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 in 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.
Author Dan McNeil hails from Canada. He grew up surrounded by books and music, ensuring that he would have a love for both. He spent much of the 80’s playing in bands around Ottawa, winning a number of song-writing contests with his writing partner Steve Casey. After spending 24 years as a camera operator and senior editor in television, often composing music for local productions, he decided to try penning a novel. The Judas Apocalypse was his first book, published in 2008. I hope he writes another in this genre!
Get The Judas Apocalypse on Amazon by clicking here.
Guest Book Reviewer
Noelle Granger of Sayling Away.
“I had a long and active career in academia, and if you want to know more about that, you can Google me. For now, I am just a writer trying to find her voice.”~ Noelle Granger Writing as N.A. Granger, Author of Death in a Red Canvas Sail and Death in a Dacron Sail.
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