Grail quest and detection in a future both paranormal and fragmented. This is the second book in the Jaared Sen Quartet (I have yet to read the first), but this book can be easily read as a standalone tale.
The story begins in 1917 in the French village of Rennes-le-Château where Bérenger Saunière, a priest, is found collapsed at the door to his tower. He has fought to protect the object that he has been safeguarding, but loses it to his attacker and also loses his life a few days later.
In the present, this secret that the Priory of Sion protects inspires covetousness in many as they ruthlessly hunt for the object and wonder what power it can bestow on them. At the same time there are those who fight to protect the secret, but who is on which side?
Jaared Sen is tasked by his British masters in The Company to monitor a dubious man called The Head who has shown an interest in the Priory of Sion. The Head employs Stel who is an art historian and Stel works to discover the tracks through history that the Priory of Sion may have left. Emile is an antiques dealer in France who suffers from a leg that troubles him more than he can understand and has his shop broken into, yet nothing is stolen? Paulette is a psychic who watches over Emile and tries to protect and aid him. With the help of his mysterious benefactor Jaared tracks The Head and his dealings and follows him to France as the search and the major players converge.
This is an intriguing and highly entertaining read. A mixture of grail quest and the paranormal set in a futuristic world where people can be rejuvenated, have phones in their heads, and where Britain is a kleptocracy This is a fast paced tale that keeps the reader wanting to know more as they follow the twists and turns of the various characters. The use of language and imagery is fresh and pithy and the hangover descriptions are especially vivid.
‘Unholy Domain’ can be best described as a science fiction techno-thriller combined with speculative fiction. This is the second book in a trilogy, set between ‘Peacemaker’ and ‘2031: The Singularity Pogrom’. I have to date not read the other two in the series, but did not find this a hindrance while reading this book. References are made to ‘Peacemaker’, yet they are fairly self-explanatory.
Set in a highly believable Gibson-style dystopian future where humanity is fighting itself over the use of technology: this novel brings into focus long held fears of what would happen to humanity if technology went too far. Or if we lost our access to technology and reverted back to a time before we were so reliant on it. There are classic Marxist similes in this novel and it is easy to see the disparity between rich and poor, religious and capitalist etc. This novel creates a future that is not so different from human history and some nations at present and utilises themes that are likely to follow humanity for many more centuries.
The world is a very different place from our own, society and its infrastructure are falling into disrepair. Humanity is split and there are two battling factions (the Domain and the Church of Natural Humans) who are not too perturbed over the body count they create. Religion and science are pitted against each other both fighting for control of the people. The American government is weak and the public are confused and afraid.
Ten years previously the PeaceMaker virus crippled the internet, left thousands of people dead and the world in its greatest depression. In response to this governments put a hold on technological advancement and left the people with crumbling services and cities. Technology is only available to those who can afford black market prices and everyone else only has access to technology from prior to the PeaceMaker attack, which is speedily becoming irreparable.
David Brown is the son of the man accused of creating the PeaceMaker virus and has spent his life haunted by his father’s crime and victimised for believing in technology. He is swept into the war between science and religion upon the receipt of a time delayed email from his dead father. In an attempt to find out more about his father he contacts the few people left alive who knew him and quickly gets the top spot on the both factions’ hit lists. It is up to David to find out who caused the PeaceMaker virus, avenge his father’s murder and clear his name. In doing so David discovers that he has a gift that could change the path of human evolution and bring us all closer to technology.
This is a gripping tale that reminds us of our dependency on technology and reaffirms fears of what would happen if terrorists were able to affect the internet and consequently financial markets and our own personal electronic data. A highly recommended read.