by Simon Toyne
(Wm Morrow 2012)
Do you enjoy stories that take Biblical passages and put them into a current world context of intrigue, thrills, and thought-provoking events? If you savor any of these elements, you will enjoy the world created by Simon Toyne in the Sanctus series.
In The Key, we are treated to a group of heroes who have found the key to historic sacraments that must be followed to save the world from a triggering of the denouement of Revelations. Liv, Kathryn, and Gabriel have found their way into the secret mountain caves of the Citadel, the keeper of the secrets of the Catholic Church from the beginning of time. Gabriel is son of Kathryn, both seeking to fulfill the work of husband/father who was apparently killed on his hunt for Eden and other elements of Genesis in the Iraqi desert, from which life is believed to have begun.
Thrilling intrigue comes from competition between the forces of the Church, the Citadel, a Ghost, and our heroes as they converge on the potential triggering of Revelations. The convergence of dragons, fire, plague, the Tau, sacraments, Starmaps, selling of sacraments to the highest bidder, and murderous competition between the forces of good and evil (each side believing it to be the former and the competitor the latter) provides a thrilling ride through history and how the world could come to an end.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the story-telling of The Key. The writing style is heavily narrative in structure, with the story being told by the omniscient narrator. This approach moves the story along at a thrilling pace. On the other hand, several of the characters are compelling. For example, Liv penetrated the Citadel and experienced the Sacrament. It then dwelled within her, which will trigger Revelations if she does not, in essence as Eve, get to the Garden of Eden in time. How does she feel about all of this? How would we feel in such a position.
I was, frankly, frustrated that there was so little insight into their emotions and identity, because they were not allowed in this story-telling format to express themselves in such a way. In the absence of such expression, a reader cannot see into them and understand their inner needs and conflicts. For example, I am almost inevitably bored by television series for the same reason. On the other hand, the Showtime Homeland series, recently reviewed here, provides viewers with a compelling insight to the core of the characters, which makes the overall story come alive as we can feel and internalize in ourselves their conflicts, wondering how we would handle the horrible situations into which they are immersed.
I hope in the next installment of the Sanctus series, Mr. Toyne will treat us to insight into the continuing characters, which are framed at the end of The Key. Simplification of storyline, insight into the characters, and narrowing of the list of actors on stage could make this series into a riveting best seller for a long time.