Sunday, February 07, 2016

“The Virgin of the Wind Rose” by Glen Craney – The Brotherhood's Vigil

The Virgin of the Wind Rose by Glen Craney - book cover
The deep-buried past of which we can only catch glimpses has forever been a point of fascination for people; where there are blanks to fill, possibilities for the fantastic, grandiose and even surreal arise. We like to think that the closer we get, in terms of history, to the beginning of our society, the more meaningful and far-reaching are the intentions and actions of people.

Societies that are mocked and ostracized today may very well have been of great importance and deserving of respect many years ago. Though we'll never know with certainty all the events and people that came before us, we'll certainly never stop weaving fantastic tales around what could have been, which is what Glen Craney does in The Virgin of the Wind Rose.

The novel is a mystery thriller set in the modern day, but focused more on the events of the distant past that transpired more than six centuries ago. The discovery of an ancient tablet in Ethiopia eventually prompts Jaqueline – a young State Department lawyer who is there to investigate the murder of an American missionary – to veer off the course of her hunt to turn her attention to something completely different. And so, Jaqueline stumbles into two conspiracies that stretch all around the globe and go back numerous centuries... to the time of Christopher Columbus. Along with the eventual help of a renowned global smuggler, Moses “Boz” D'Orville, the threads of mystery are untangled and it becomes increasingly obvious that the stakes for which they are playing are far bigger than they could have imagined... as they run one step behind a dangerous terrorist and killer. In the end, the real million-dollar-question is what's Christopher Columbus' true identity, and how the fate of the world is tied to his works.

To start by looking at the book from a more technical aspect, the writing itself is rather simple for the most part, with the descriptions seldom falling into long expositions or boring details; we are told as much as we need to to picture what Craney wants us to. When you do find yourself face-to-face with a longer description, it's generally for a good cause, such as creating ambiance and providing adequate context. The story moves along mostly at a rapid pace, going from one surprising twist to the next, charging through a sea of historical content that serves as the tracks on which the train of the plot speeds along.

Speaking of the historical content, it shows that Craney spent a whole lot of time and effort on researching the various characters and events that pop up. Of course, we're still in the realm of fiction and the author does cross over into the world of realistically-implausible with the direction in which he takes his conspiracies... which really doesn't affect the novel in any negative way, but on the contrary, paves a truly epic path for the protagonists to follow. We get treated to secrets guarded by Prince Henry and the Order of the Christ, Queen Isabella's hunt for them, The Spanish Inquisition's lesser-known purposes, cryptographic tablets with orders passed on them, End-Time cults... all in all, things definitely worth suspending one's disbelief for.

The balanced narration ensures that the mystery is exposed at the right pace, switching between the present and the past at the right times, with Craney revealing just enough to pique our curiosity while keeping the really jaw-dropping revelations until the climax. The way the whole thing evolves is rather reminiscent of Dan Brown's style (or Brad Thor, as some prefer to compare), focused on keeping the mystery alive and prominent until the end, and perhaps even after that.

All things considered, The Virgin of the Wind Rose is a fantastic and enthralling page-turner that will keep you glued to your couch. It's the kind of book you can read without seeing the hours pass by, enveloping the reader in its complex and yet logical and well-developed mystery. It's most certainly a tour-de-force where these types of historical mystery novels are concerned, and anyone who enjoys these types of globetrotting adventures through time will certainly love this book.

Glen Craney

Glen Craney

Personal site

Glen Craney is an American author, novelist, journalist and lawyer with degrees from Hanover College, Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis, and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. He has taken to writing novels with more of a historical penchant, such as The Virgin of the Wind Rose and The Fire and the Light.

More of the Glen Craney book reviews:
The Spider and the Stone
The Yanks are Starving

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