THE SECRET OF THE KINGDOM by Mika Waltari
Kirkus Star

THE SECRET OF THE KINGDOM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This time Waltari has departed from the pattern set in The Egyptian and written a distinguished and original book. And this in spite of the fact that he has used material that could be considered hackneyed with overuse. Into a story of Judea at the time of the crucifixion, with a young Roman, sated with excesses of pleasure, as a central figure, he has given his readers a sense of participation not in the overwhelming sense of unquestioned truth, but in the period of doubt and fear and search. Marcus was running away from a love affair with a matron- virtually exiled from Rome. In Alexandria he waited for a year for her to join him. Then, driven by an impulse he did not recognize, he left Alexandria for Jerusalem. The story of what happened to him there is written in a succession of long diary letters, not sent, but kept as a record. For as he enters Jerusalem he is met by the sight of the crucifixion- and his life is never the same again. He feels emotional shock, curiosity, and an overwhelming need to know the truth behind the sign above the cross- King of the Jews. Spurned by those who had been closets to Jesus, helped by the women- Mary Magdalen, Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus, Mary of Beret (that ""other Mary""?), even-obliquely -by Pontius Pilate's wife, Claudia; helped too by Simon of Cyrene and Zaccheus- until they feared contact with the defiled Roman- Marcus, bit by bit assembled, rejected, accepted, rejected again, and recurrently doubting, found himself convinced. Jesus had risen and was walking the earth as a man again. Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus was the Messiah. He stumbled into adventure after adventure- for the most part made plausible by the sense of authenticity in people, in background, in a way of life. Although to the end, rejected by the disciples, he finds his own answers, his own conviction, his own way. It is a moving story, with none of the shock techniques that one has come to expect of Waltari. In Finland, 50,000 copies were sold in two months. The publishers here plan a major advertising campaign. Certainly this will be a leading early 1961 book.

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 1960
Publisher: Putnam