Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Review: The Black Rood

Title The Black Rood (Book #2 of the Celtic Crusades Series)
Author Stephen R. Lawhead
Genre Science Fiction
Category Historical Fantasy
Rating C-

Summary Duncan, Son of Murdo, takes up his own pilgrimage to the Holy Land to recapture the Black Rood (a holy relic that is purportedly a piece of Christ's cross). In the process we find that this journey in the 1100's is related to some work being done by an underground organization in the 1900's, but that connection remains hazy.

First Line "The summons came while I was sitting at my desk."

Review This book is just another example of Stephen Lawhead doing the things that he does well, well (and continuing to do the things he does poorly, poorly). Read my review of Book #1 in this series.

In comparison to Book #1 in this series, I think The Black Rood built off that set-up and provided additional interesting glimpses into life in the Middle East in the 12th Century. Lawhead does active description really well (I have the mental imagery of a pig torture scene in my mind and it's probably going to haunt me for some time) and scenes are very well drawn. I also enjoyed that there was the added complexity that Duncan spent a great deal of time in this narrative in captivity, much of the book takes the form of a letter recounting his experiences. This further fleshed out Lawhead's interesting take on the cagey nature of monarchs and various rulers.

What I didn't like was the loose threads at the end of this book. There are relationships severed and relationships forged, but you don't see any of that resolved. Book #3 takes up the story of Duncan's daughter (which should tie some of these dangling pieces together), but it was all felt too unfinished at the end of this book.

Recommendation Fans of religious conspiracies (a la, Dan Brown) would probably enjoy this book.

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