Two spiritual travelers set out to uncover one of the greatest mysteries of all time and discover as much about the meaning of life as they do about themselves.

Trying to uncover a deeper meaning in religious texts such as “The Ten Commandments” has led many scholars on an adventure of the soul and mind; after meeting at Paris’ Sorbonne University more than 30 years ago, authors Seraya and Haldane (Angel Signs, 2002) undertook such a quest. In their new book, they use their vast collective expertise to craft a story tracing a linear thread from “The Ten Commandments” across all belief systems, science and metaphysics. The authors are the main characters in the book, along with their guide, a seraph angel named Yeliyael, and a friend of theirs. By sojourning through history and to other galaxies via space-time travel, their adventure leads them to a plateau of greater understanding of humankind. As real-life experts in fields such as philosophy, religion, metaphysics, linguistics and many historical and ancient texts, the authors have a vast reservoir of knowledge from which to create this story. The tale begins as the authors summon the angel to help traverse history, time and space to visit historical sages to guide them on the path of discovery. Meeting up with great philosophical minds such as Moses, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Benjamin Franklin and many others, they receive guidance to decipher the true nature and meaning of “The Ten Commandments,” uncovering a complex series of coded messages in the text that could change the meaning of life as we understand it. In spite of the complex, heady nature of this tome, it makes for a smooth read. Although the basis of the authors’ overarching theories is scholarly in nature, the writing is accessible. Great care is taken to explain certain motifs and topics early on in the story so the reader may follow along easily later. Using their philosophies to uncover plot points is an ingenious method of storytelling, and the tone of the story is always at an even keel. Even when several major revelations are uncovered, the writers' reverence for the subject matter and their historical characters is always managed with great care.  Equal parts Dan Brown and Quantum Leap; an arresting, fun read, even for those with no deeper interest in religion.


Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983710202

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Manakael MasterWorks

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

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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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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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