The Reckoning

by Thomas F. Monteleone

“If this is the Second Coming, then somebody was lying about something.”

Another fantastic read, this sequel doesn’t reach the levels of destruction you’ll be expecting after the end of The Blood of the Lamb. Armageddon up to the eyeballs, you’d probably guess, but instead we get a fast-paced, fairly complex thriller drawing heavily on biblical canon and history.

Peter is now Pope and is sweeping religious reform across the globe from his seat in the Vatican, his latest plan including legalizing marriage for the clergy. He is to set the initial example by marrying Marion as soon as this latest change is announced, but in a fit of anger he throws her out a window and kills her (then runs downstairs and brings her back to life).

Marion has had enough of Peter and many of the church members around him have found his casual dress, unconventional wisdom and flagrant violation of tradition more than they can bear, but Peter is unconcerned. He has discovered the Vatican’s Secret Library, with over 9 miles of shelving, and is frantically searching for ‘The Secret of the Seven’ among its volumes. The book of Revelation repeatedly mentions the seven seals, which we learn are all that’s standing between Peter and ultimate victory where The Adversary arrives and has his way with the Earth. It’s a globe-spanning race to the finish as a single seal is enough to defeat the indestructible Peter who eventually accepts his fate as the harbinger of the end.

There are two notable scenes where Peter is confronted by The Devil, one in each book. In The Blood of the Lamb, the spirit manifests as a kind of geometric black hole in the desert and mirrors Christ’s temptations, drawing parallels between Peter’s struggle as the Christ figure in book one and that ancient scene from The New Testament. Here in the sequel he is again confronted, this time much further along the path of destruction, and this time Peter isn’t being tempted but more receiving instruction. Forces are aligning, and while the divine and the infernal cannot directly intercede they’re present and accounted for. In a couple of books dealing with the biblical end of the world there are surprisingly few supernatural elements across the page, but that works out about exactly as it should. This is our conflict, and we have to fight it.

This one doesn’t quite reach the level of the first book. It’s an excellent read with lively, likable and believable characters, a feat in itself considering Peter at the beginning of book one is significantly different than at the end of book two though you can still see some of his core. Stakes don’t really get any higher, and these two books are superb examples of biblical, end of the world storytelling.

“He’d always seen the world differently and had to adjust to what other people called the real world. Still, he knew that just about everybody else was wrong and he was right.”

4+ stars

*Centipede has announced they may publish this. Please contact them and let Jerad know you’re interested if you like the work!


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