Book Life review
Pacific Book Review
Ancient history, religion, artifacts and more, are all part of this modern day adventure in the vein of classics such as Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. In George Vasil’s The Lance, the search for a two thousand year old relic becomes a raucous race between intense individuals with wildly divergent motives. Will the artifact be found? Is it real? Who will possess it? Those are just some of the questions that make this action-packed novel both an interesting and enjoyable read.
The story begins in Constantinople in the year 1204. The city is besieged by a rampaging army that threatens to lay waste to everything in its path. A monk secures a treasured item and bricks it into a wall to keep it from the brutish invaders. Will it be safe there? And for how long?
Fast forward to the year 2004. Constantinople is now Istanbul. Albert, a French archeological graduate student and his Turkish assistant, Mehmet, uncover something wondrous. It appears to be an iron spear tip from a lance, but not just any lance. Records stowed away with it, lead Albert and Mehmet to believe that what they’ve found is actually The Lance of Longinus—the spear that was thrust into the side of Jesus as he was crucified on the cross. Albert is sure this is his ticket to fame and glory. Mehmet is afraid the relic will be spirited out of Turkey. Both are about to be caught up in an adventure neither could ever imagine.
Osman, a friend of Mehmet, learns of the find and tells Luci, an international business tycoon who collects valuable artifacts from around the world. She becomes determined to have it, no matter the cost in dollars or lives. But quickly word is spreading, and others are committed to securing it as well. There’s Sir Richard and his aide Kevin. The Englishman is Grand Master of the Knights Of The Temple and fancies himself descended from the rumored union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. He’s committed to restoring the grandeur of the Knight Templers. There’s also Hugo, an obese German doctor who as a young man was a member of the dreaded Nazi SS. He’s in league with Siegfried, a six-foot blonde and muscled Aryan superman. They too seek the lance for its storied mystical powers.
Mehmet, seeking to make sure the artifact will stay where it belongs, attempts to take it to a visiting American archeologist named Connery. But he winds up leaving it in the room of the wrong Connery, and all of a sudden an American doctor and his wife are drawn into the mix. Soon the entire coterie of characters are chasing after each other like the Keystone Cops, all hoping to get their hands on the Lance of Longinus.
Vasil is a gifted storyteller who fills his tale with enough historical fact to make his fiction imminently credible. The characters he creates are finely drawn and he fills them each with idiosyncrasies that make them charming even when they’re cruelly criminal. He pens scenes that are visually cinematic, in everything from high-octane gun battles on the ocean to the loneliness of solitary reflection in empty chapels. His novel is a rousing tribute to audaciousness that is as fun as it is fascinating. If your reading explorations lean toward the adventurous, take up your own search for The Lance.
The US Review of Books
by George Vasil
book review by Joe Kilgore
“And soon I will have another of Christ’s possessions . . . and all the glory and money it will bring. My time in Purgatory is ending.”
It is a relic like no other, said to have magical powers that can make the possessor incapable of being defeated. Napoleon desired it. Hitler sought it. Now it’s been found: the Lance of Longinus—the spear that pierced the side of Jesus as he hung upon the cross. But who does it really belong to, and can the finders keep it when so many will do so much to have it for their own?
The setting is Istanbul 2004. An English archeologist and his Muslim assistant uncover the fabled relic. They know what they’ve stumbled onto, but soon others know as well. A kettle of human vultures begins to circle overhead. Luci is a corporate titan and collector of ancient artifacts. Hugo is an ex-Nazi with his own deadly stormtrooper. Sir Richard is not only the head of the few remaining Knight Templers but also perhaps the last of the lineage from Jesus and Mary Magdalene. As each one attempts to hijack the lance, mistaken identity thrusts two wedded American doctors into the fray. There follows a mad chase to claim the prize.
Author Vasil infuses his story with history, but it never slows down the hectic pace as his characters battle for possession of the legendary lance. The author uses character development to personify different moral failings from lust to gluttony, arrogance, pride, the quest for power, and more. He then intertwines religious rejuvenation with unexpected outcomes to eventually tie a bow on all of his plot’s loose ends. Upon reaching the last page, the race has been run, the prize has been won, and the writer has led the reader on a fun-filled ride of bedevilment, bedazzlement, and belief.