Published: April 2, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction (ish)
Source: TLC Book Tours
July 14, 1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city's gates. There, inside the ancient city's walls, men and women of every age and ever faith have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. He has summoned the townspeople to address their fears with truth:
"Tomorrow, harmony will become discord. Joy will be replaced by grief. Peace will give way to war....None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face."
The people begin with questions about defeat, struggle, and the nature of their enemies; they contemplate the will to change and the virtues of loyalty and solitude; and they ultimately turn to questions of beauty, love, wisdom, sex, elegance and what the future holds. "What is success?" poses the Copt. "It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace."
I'll be honest here....I gave this book 3 stars simply because I just didn't know what to make of it. Despite its categorization, it really isn't a historical novel. The basis is such--the city of Jerusalem (which is a haven of peaceful cohabitation among Christians, Jews, and Muslims) on the eve of an invasion--but there really isn't any plot to speak of.
Instead, this is more a philosophical, maybe self-help, book. It consists of a series of questions posed to the Copt (a mysterious prophet figure) and his answers. What he says is interesting, but really nothing new--even for 1099. All his answers echo Bible passages and, in several cases, quote scripture directly. This is probably horribly blasphemous, but I didn't find the Copt mysterious at all--instead he struck me as sort of a laid back Jesus. Yes, Surfer Dude Jesus.
This isn't a bad book, but I'm sure that it is not the book most people are expecting. I did find it very readable and it did hold my attention. However, I didn't find it especially illuminating as nothing the Copt said was anything I hadn't heard before.
If you are looking for something that tackles eternal questions in a readable way, Manuscript Found in Accra might be right up your alley. If you are looking for historical fiction, you may still like this book--but you'll still be looking for some historical fiction once you finish the last page.
Monday, March 18th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, March 25th: Book Club Classics
Tuesday, March 26th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, April 1st: Dwell in Possibility
Thursday, April 4th: Well Read Wife
Monday, April 8th: Fiction Addict
Thursday, April 11th: Shall Write
Monday, April 15th: A Philosopher’s Blog
Tuesday, April 16th: Lavish Bookshelf
Thursday, April 18th: Broken Teepee
Monday, April 22nd: A Book Geek
Wednesday, April 24th: The Way Forward
Monday, April 29th: Book Snob
Wednesday, May 1st: Reading Between the Lines
Monday, May 6th: Aspire2
Thursday, May 9th: Luxury Reading
This review is part of a blog tour by TLC Books Tours. I received a copy of the book to read and review. All opinions in this review are mine and mine alone, and I received no other compensation.