A dark, entangled, eerily insinuating first novel concerning the labyrinthine power-politics of the 14th-century Roman Catholic Church, and the intricate knot of conspiracies among clashing clerics and kings. At the center here is the humbly born Cistercian friar (he will become Pope Benedict XII) who grows in authority—as well as in cynical wisdom—as he searches for what will become known as the Shroud of Turin. Brother Jacques Fornier is stunned to be called before the ruthless Bernard de Caen, Inquisitor General for Provence, and, further, to be told that he and the young dispossessed knight, Nicholas de Lirey, will be sent to carry out a secret mission whose failure might mean the total control of the Church by King Philip the Fair of France. Oddly, a lot depends on the secrets of one prisoner—aging Pietro of Ocre, a preceptor of the order of the Temple and descendant of the counts of Ocre. (The now-destroyed Templars had aimed for control of the Church through a puppet pope.) It is some time, plus thickets of dangers undergone, before the goal of the quest—an ``image''—is apparent to Jacques, whose sleuthing leads to Ocre, in Italy. Before Jacques rides off with the''image,'' there will be perilous journeys, during which Jacques and Nicholas enjoy growing mutual respect; audiences with powerful men—from a weak Pope Clement to a terrifying King Philip—whose purposes and plots are mainly hidden; interrogations, hideous tortures and deaths; and, at the close, with the Shroud discovered, the hacking away at each other of King Philip's men, mercenaries, a remnant of Templar knights, and clerics as Jacques rides away with the prize, knowing its falsity. He has real power now, plus a knowledge of human folly. A thorny, intelligent medieval tale of nasty business in the name of religion.

Pub Date: May 23, 1991

ISBN: 0-312-05876-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1991

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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