THE GOSPEL OF CORAX by Paul Park

THE GOSPEL OF CORAX

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Science-fiction specialist Park (Celestis, 1995, etc.) turns from distant planets to the distant past, here using an apocryphal conceit to retell the story of Jesus as a bearish ex-zealot who, exiled from Palestine for murder and treason, gradually discovers his true identity during a perilous trek to the Far East. The story begins in Rome with the flight of a slave, Corax, who watched his master kill himself rather than be killed in an Imperial power struggle. Finding his way to Palestine by sea, Corax makes use of his considerable skills as a healer to make money but runs afoul of Pilate's soldiers and is imprisoned. He becomes an informer to regain his freedom, then sets out on a pilgrimage through the former realms of Alexander the Great, intending to honor his father's memory by going to the headwaters of the Ganges. His medical training hindering his progress as much as helping, Corax eventually teams up with Jeshua of Nazareth, the Jewish bear- man he first saw in a cave of zealots in Palestine but who now seems to be popping up wherever Corax goes. Jeshua has both the Romans and his former comrades against him; he wanders in exile from one painful situation to another until Corax rescues him from a pigsty and the two flee eastward together. Along the way, they encounter gracious Persians, Jewish bandits, African slaves, and deadly but fair-minded Huns, and, finally, in the remotest outpost of Greek civilization, they witness the slaughter of the last inbred remnants of Hellenic culture. The two intrepid voyagers part company at the bloody scene, each to meet a separate destiny. A comfortable cruise for the armchair traveler through the Ancient World but not much as a novel: The characters serve mostly as points of reference in an ever-changing historical pageant without ever making the story their own.

Pub Date: June 12th, 1996
ISBN: 1-56947-061-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996




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