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Diana Faillace Von Behren
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Every once in a while a good audio book provides me with the motivation I need to spur on my daily cardio exercise. When I saw M. J. Rose's "The Reincarnationist" available as a download for my iPod, the type of story (thriller), its theme (reincarnation) and its overall length seemed to fit the bill.
I wasn't disappointed--not really although the reader's usage of the same Italian accent for both male and female players did grate on my nerves somewhat. Ms Rose tries extremely hard to provide her reader (in this case, listener) with a plotline filled with the inevitable twists and turns necessary to categorize "The Reincarnationist" as a tale of suspense. As I am not aware if Rose herself has a belief in the complicated and controversial topic of reincarnation, I trust she has a healthy interest in it as she explores it in a meandering questing manner through the burgeoning enlightenment of her main character, photographer Josh Ryder that suggests like most of us she has more questions than answers.
Josh seems to be a believer, or is he? After a near collision with death during the detonation of a terrorist bomb, Josh is endowed with the ability to see auras over the heads of certain subjects as he views them through his camera lens. Although he cannot capture this nimbus effect on film, he does sense that it is indicative of a vital mystery of which he specifically needs understanding. In the same sense, sadly, Rose does not imbue Josh with any great insight regarding the hows and whys of reincarnation. He muddles along attempting to understand what is happening to him, but like Rose or anyone else, never quite puts it all together.
To move the story along, Rose increases the frequency of his fugue states--blackouts of a sort where he actually finds himself reliving an event in a different time from the vantage point of another body. When he isn't in the modern day, Josh inhabits the body of the pagan priest Julius, who in 391 AD is compelled by the mandate of the Emperor Theodosius the Great to cease and desist from practicing his religion and embrace only Christianity. Julius, bound in a passionately intense relationship with Sabina, a vestal virgin, knows all too well that the discovery of their forbidden affair means that his lover could be buried alive. Driven by a disastrous spiraling of events that puts everything he holds dear in jeopardy, Julius must concoct a plan of great connivance to save Sabina, himself, and the supernatural treasure trove the vestals have been guarding since their inception. Rose does a magnificent job of recreating this time period; her descriptions of temples, the life of the vestals, their terror with regard to the encroaching threat of Christianity makes for a thoroughly believable reenactment.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for the present day story that contains so many extra characters whose tales are told from a bewildering third person perspective, that the reader (listener) wonders just what purpose they serve in the overall scheme of things. Encumber this with a murder, a theft and a kidnapping that diverts the audience from the main theme of reincarnation to pursue a rather mundane mystery of which the perpetrator is known pretty much from the start of the novel. Multiply the complexity of all this with characters that also have past lives and we encounter a veritable labyrinth of intrigue that perpetuates to the nth power. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but believe me, many of the author's seemingly helpful additions merely lead to a bird's nest of confusion rather than yielding any epiphanies regarding reincarnation.
The main thrust remains the increasingly recurring and more detailed memories of the priest Julius which Josh analyzes with the help of the Phoenix Foundation, an organization headed by the intriguing Malachai Samuels, a man desperate to experience the flashbacks of remembrance first hand. Dispatching Josh to sniff out information regarding the legendary Memory Stones of ancient Egyptian origin found at the site of a dig on the outskirts of Rome, he craves to at least see the artifacts so that he can not only careen backwards with his soul in time but, become the master controller of the power that the stones contain.
During his Roman holiday, Josh concludes that he is searching for the lost Sabina, reincarnated now in the present day. Perhaps he can fulfill his karmic duty, shrug aside the failures of the past and save her, the stones and recapture his own sanity. As he races from Rome to New York, thwarting the Italian police, amazingly wealthy men who make it their business to acquire artifacts legitimately or not and flustered souls reborn from the past hell-bent on accomplishing what they did not succeed lifetimes ago, he eventually reaches a too-fast climatic cliffhanger of an ending that makes sense, but ultimately seems a fast and easy conclusion that does not provide the insight that this reader desired.
Bottom line? M.J. Rose's "The Reincarnationist" is an ambitious novel that keeps the pages turning, but in the long run fails to deliver a complete and satisfying story. Much of the prose seems over done, as is the inclusion of so many miscellaneous characters whose motives are never quite explained from a virtual timeline perspective. The main player remains mystified to the very end, and even then his moment of revelation seems underdeveloped and he, not accepting of his fate. Recommended to any who want a fast-paced read and do not mind trite phrasing and too many comments regarding Italian accents. Overall a pleasant audio experience.
Diana Faillace Von Behren