4 out of 4 stars
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I was going to start my review by saying that In the Time of the Feathered Serpent by Stanley Struble, such and such story is told. But I found myself struggling to narrow down to what the 'such and such' was. Yes, there are very distinct plot and storyline that transport the reader into the depths of a lush Lacandon jungle, where Mexico's Chiapas and Guatemala borders meet. Here resides a peculiar character that goes by the name of 'Bone Man.' He is an old – no one is sure of his age – shaman of Mayan descent. The ancient secrets he guards and the treasures he hoards are of great significance to some. He has what can only be described as a 'love-hate' relationship with an archaeologist David Wolf, who for some years now is digging around where the shaman with his Zapatista guards frequent. When the Papal Inquisitor, tasked with retrieving some ancient papyrus rolls suspected to have been written by St. Thomas some 2000 years ago, dies in a car crash whilst on the way back to the Vatican, Pope Lucas, against sister Angelina's advice, decides to take a trip to Mexico and try his luck in locating the documents that could shatter the foundations of Catholicism. Meanwhile, back in the Vatican, sister Angelina fires up her laptop and, to avoid connecting to the Vatican's own internet network, plugs in her USB satellite dongle. While a coup is brewing in the Vatican, what price will Pope Lucas have to pay for his bargain?
The reason due to which I found it difficult to summarise the story is that the author has done an outstanding job at character development. Stanley Struble's ability to present each character's personal story whilst in the midst of almost 'fast and furious' type action astonished me. Each character's story was so rich that it felt like a different plot. The way the author fused it all together and managed to keep me not only engaged but biting my fingernails is simply astounding. I hated, rooted, cheered, giggled, felt terrified and anxious, felt relieved.
I was – still am – pleasantly overwhelmed with the author's ability to fuse together thrill and action with something as profound as the following:
'Salvador had finally reached the stage where he was home all the time no matter where he was; comfortable in his present situation and content to know that he was doing and being who he wanted to be.'
Viscerally, I was in that jungle, drinking magic mushroom brew and feeling its effects. They were nothing like I read about before. I heard the rustling of the old papyrus rolls and crossed my fingers that they stay intact. I traced the outlines of the Feathered Serpent on the burial box. S. Struble did a grand job taking me to some magical places and getting me to feel connected with his characters.
This work contains several non-borderline profanities, so I advise caution. There are also some violent scenes that more sensitive readers should be aware of. Whilst these are not overly graphic, they may cause distress. I did not come across any erotic scenes. Questions of sexuality in Christianity are discussed, which may be found offensive or inappropriate by some readers.
There wasn't a single thing that I did not love about this book. I award Stanley Struble's In the Time of the Feathered Serpent with 4 out of 4 stars. Whilst I found several typos or missed punctuation marks, these were minor and did not impede the flow or my utter enjoyment of this adventure. Otherwise, the book is brilliantly written and edited, and it is incredibly engaging. I recommend it to all lovers of adventure, secrecy, thrill, history, and the controversy of Catholicism teachings. You will not be disappointed.
In the Time of the Feathered Serpent
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