Sunday, December 6, 2020

Review: The Order by Daniel Silva

by Daniel Silva
Release Date: July 14th 2020
2020 Harper
Kindle Edition; 444 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062834843
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Gabriel Allon has slipped quietly into Venice for a much-needed holiday with his wife and two young children. But when Pope Paul VII dies suddenly, Gabriel is summoned to Rome by the Holy Father’s loyal private secretary, Archbishop Luigi Donati. A billion Catholic faithful have been told that the pope died of a heart attack. Donati, however, has two good reasons to suspect his master was murdered. The Swiss Guard who was standing watch outside the papal apartments the night of the pope’s death is missing. So, too, is the letter the Holy Father was writing during the final hours of his life. A letter that was addressed to Gabriel.

While researching in the Vatican Secret Archives, I came upon a most remarkable book....

The book is a long-suppressed gospel that calls into question the accuracy of the New Testament’s depiction of one of the most portentous events in human history. For that reason alone, the Order of St. Helena will stop at nothing to keep it out of Gabriel’s hands. A shadowy Catholic society with ties to the European far right, the Order is plotting to seize control of the papacy. And it is only the beginning.

As the cardinals gather in Rome for the start of the conclave, Gabriel sets out on a desperate search for proof of the Order’s conspiracy and for a long-lost gospel with the power to put an end to 2,000 years of murderous hatred. His quest will take him from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, to a monastery in Assisi, to the hidden depths of the Secret Archives, and finally to the Sistine Chapel, where he will witness an event no outsider has ever before seen - the sacred passing of the Keys of St. Peter to a newly elected pope.
My Thoughts
The Order is the next instalment in the Gabriel Allon series and while you don't necessarily have to read the previous entries in order to understand this book, it does help as Gabriel was friends with the pontiff who passed away and has some history in Italy.
First of all, this is a series that is grounded in reality, with some pretty hard-hitting elements.  Yes, you have to suspend reality a lot of the time as Allon is in his late sixties and often dodges his security team when outside of Israel to do some pretty risky stuff, but it is entertaining and the action is usually non-stop.  This book took on a really different flavour from the previous books and even added a supernatural element (Yeshua, really?) that I didn't like as it didn't fit in with the series. In fact, if I hadn't looked at the cover to see Daniel Silva's name on it, I would have thought I was reading a Dan Brown novel. 
I have usually enjoyed the books where Gabriel is in Italy, especially in The Vatican, but I am not particularly fond of this one as it seemed like he spent the majority of the book putting down the Roman Catholic religion.  Yes, I know it was responsible for some terrible things in the past, but I know for a fact there is much more to the story during World War II than what is mentioned in this book as I have a history background and I thought the explanations regarding the pope during that time period were very biased and unfair.   Also, to paint the church as being filled with right-wing political activists does the Church an injustice; how can you decide that over 1 billion people in the world have right-wing tendencies simply because of their religion?  The conspiracy theories went a little too far in my opinion.
What Silva is able to do however, is create plausible theories. I liked the element of the old pontiff, Pope Paul VII (who appears in previous books) leaving Gabriel a secret document that could shake the foundations of religious thinking, a Gospel of Pontius Pilate. The philosophy behind this in the book is that the selection of the four Gospels in the Bible were responsible for the anti-semitism all these years, including the choice to hide other Gospels, including the one by Pilate, which would have given a different spin on things.  However, the sources chosen by the author were chosen very carefully to support his arguments, and a lot of respected researchers and arguments were left out of this work.. As a researcher, this type of biased researching offends me. Enough said.
However, I don't read a Daniel Silva novel for religious indoctrination, I read them because the plot is usually quick and the action is often non-stop.  This was not the case in this book and at times, it moved so slowly, it was...gasp...boring.  And I LIKE history.  There was even a three-page discussion of what would happen if there was a global pandemic and how the world would react.  You guessed it, no one would be prepared.  Gee, no criticism of the political leaders there.  Especially as some of the political leaders in this book seemed to parrot actual political leaders in our world today as well as actual situations and political movements.  
The Order was definitely not this author's best work.  Typically, his books are engaging and thrilling with non-stop action that leaves you breathless.  Not in this one.  To be honest, I thought the plot was really preachy in the sense that we kept getting lectures about the problems between the Catholic Church and the Jewish population. I am never opposed to a history lesson, and his books have often contained interesting nuggets of history, but when it is as biased as it was in this book, then I take issue. I will be giving this author another chance, so hopefully he will return to more of his historical thriller style novel and stay away from his own personal political agendas or I may call it quits with this author.    



Post a Comment