The Book of Fate
A book of fiction along with a very 'curious' website....
I was first asked to review this book just a couple of days after I'd heard about it via some daytime news 'filler' piece, probably the one on US National Public Radio. Mr. Meltzer had met President George W. Bush at Bush's Texas ranch and... well, it was one of those stories that you sort of half-hear. Later, the recollection of that story helped me place things in context.
Touted as being a 'thriller', the genre appealed to me immediately. I enjoy political intrigue mysteries along with books that have some believable hooks into actual events. A presidential assassination attempt, the Secret Service perhaps involved in the plot and more. I figured this was a book I'd devour with relish.
When it arrived, I 'cleared the decks' so that I could savor it to the fullest. I'd purposely avoided the online bookstore reviews so I wouldn't be biased (a problem that rarely occurs with books of strictly Masonic topics). I curled up in my comfy chair with a glass of iced tea and a couple of cookies at my side at about 10pm expecting that this would be an 'all-nighter' and in the morning I'd be ready to write. By 10:30, I was yawning and after a few more minutes, made my way to bed. Not a very auspicious start but I figured that I was probably 'flogged' from a long day.
The next day was Saturday. Not too much on the agenda except a grocery store trip in the rain. A dreary, drizzly Saturday afternoon: what better time to get going? I was 'psyched' for another trip to the psych ward where the book begins. Starting at the beginning again, I simply did not want to have missed a single clue from my presumed exhaustion of the night before. Sadly, I found myself getting up to stretch, turning on a football game, raiding the refrigerator, and staring out the window: doing almost anything but reading.
Oh, the story was ok but I was having problems with the 'voice'. Over the next three weeks, I struggled through the book a few pages at a time, finally deciding to see what others had written in the book-seller reviews. I wasn't alone in my behavior/reactions: there were a fair number of comments referencing a tedious plot and a somewhat absurd story line. Conversely, there were others who quickly asserted that Mr. Meltzer was in the class of David Baldacci (a current favorite of mine) and the earlier works of Tom Clancy (would you believe that I bought The Hunt for Red October when it was offered somewhat tentatively by the U.S. Naval Institute as the very first work of fiction they had published in their over century of book publishing? Hey, talk about picking a winner....). Reactions were generally positive but, like anything else in life, there are a few for whom this book wasn't appealing.
Ultimately, I've gone back and read the book again. I've decided that - for whatever reason - it doesn't overwhelm me as it has others, no doubt to my very peculiar tastes. However, so many have enjoyed it tremendously that I'd suggest you read it for yourself.
I've told Masons if they're looking for a book with lots of Masonic 'hooks', then this isn't the one. If they'd like some reasonably light reading in the 'political who-done-it' genre with some brief mentions of Freemasonry to enliven the plot line, then they might find this book appealing. It's not anti-Masonic by any stretch but like many other books released following The DaVinci Code, Freemasonry is employed because interest in the organization has been reinvigorated. All authors who expect to make any money, reach for those literary devices that will sell to the masses: Mr. Meltzer has done that here and may do it again in an upcoming work. Certainly there are a bunch of Masons out there who'll never read a review but will see the clearly provocative cover and buy it on that basis alone.
In hindsight, I wouldn't have put this book as #1 on my list of books to buy. Nevertheless, I'm glad I read it - and I think you might enjoy it as well. A MUCH more breathless review can be found here, along with a link to an audio excerpt. If it comes out in an audio book, I'll probably grab a copy for some late-night driving back from a distant Masonic meeting....
Do you want to play a game?
'Teasers' and games are an increasingly found on DVDs and on websites created to stimulate interest in books and movies. Interactive activity is believed to provide an additional marketing impetus - and it must be doing so based on the increasing complexity that marketers are using. This has been used by The Book of Fate publisher.
There's a 'Guess Who's A Mason' game on his website. Tacky? Well, I thought it was but then again, I've created a website filled with the names of Masons and non-Masons. So after my stunning performance on their quiz, the website was able to identify me as a 33rd Degree Mason! I'm not sure if I could have gotten higher to the 'ruler of the universe and head of the illuminati' status but it made me grin nevertheless.
Hey, play the game! What have you got to lose - unless it's a secret way for the evil Freemasons to practice mind control or something....
Oh, and just a couple of things: the 'debate' about Napoleon's membership is truly no debate at all - at least these days. If you guessed 'NO', you were right! And the stuff about hiding symbols in the Washington, DC street layout being creepy? Actually, believing it is pretty stupid - in our opinion!
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