Thursday, 21 May 2015
Book review: The Return by Carter Vance
"Thriller, suspense, action, intrigue: The Return is a story of the modern day fulfilment of the Grail prophecy. The time has come for the prophesied return of Christ. Long thought extinct, the secret Order of Knights Templar battle the Dark Forces that fear His return. At the center of this battle of good & evil are Sarah Davidson, an expectant mother with an unique heritage, & Peter Christos, her shipping magnate husband. The couple, who were married in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, is confronted with a series of surreptitious schemes & attacks causing them to flee to seek a secure birthplace for their son. They are aided in this endeavor by the Knights Templar, a clandestine organization that has, over the centuries, amassed enormous wealth & power & the organization to deliver it in anticipation of this day. Ultimately, they engage in a grand battle for the prophesied birth."
There are two types of fiction writing: plot-driven, and character-driven. 'The Return' takes plot focused novels to a whole new level. There was nearly nothing in terms of character development. They were cold, one-dimensional, and entirely emotionless. I also have a confession to make. I didn't read the entire book. I just couldn't. I have never not finished a book. I've always tried to make a point to read the entirety of books so I can give fuller comments, and try to find something else that's positive. I just couldn't do it. I read about a fifth of the book before I skimmed through the majority of it to get basic plot points.
It's obvious that Vance started with an interesting concept. While not unique, it's still interesting. I was initially drawn to the book because I've taken courses in medieval pseudohistory and how false histories and conspiracies are developed is really quite fascinating. I had hoped this would be a new twist on the Templars, and in a way it was. The background is mostly the same (although how the characters come to this conclusion isn't described at all other than Geoff going to libraries) and I would have liked to have seen a new theory. But the concept of Christ's second coming through his bloodline was a new and welcome addition to the popular Holy Grail theory.
Unfortunately, that's about where the positives stopped for me. As I mentioned before, the characters are basically non-existent. Two of the characters fall in love, and get married...at least, I'm told they fell in love. I didn't really see it. I was told a lot of things. Actually, I was told pretty much everything. It read more like a list of events rather than a novel. There was absolutely no emotional or personal connection with any of the characters. One was told about her bloodline going back to Jesus, and her response was "Okay Mom I have to go now." And we're told she said this cheerfully. Yeah...I don't think so. This probably doesn't matter to many people..but I hate the names of the characters. They're so obvious, it made me angry. I mean, seriously...Peter Christos?
I'm sure someone somewhere out there will enjoy this book. Maybe they'll like point form style writing with no characters. I am definitely not one of those people.