Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Constantine Codex

I really wanted to be excited about this book once I was done with it. But sadly, The Constantine Codex by Dr. Paul L. Maier turned out to be largely disappointing.

This is the third book in what you might call the Skeleton series. Dr. Jonathan Weber, a mainstay in Maier's books, is back with his wife, Shannon. The married archaeologists have stumbled on what could be a monumental discovery: in a dusty corner of a library in Istanbul is a codex, an ancient manuscript that might be part of a Bible commissioned by the Emperor Constantine, one of fifty mentioned by the church historian Eusebius. As great as that is, the codex contains two surprises that could bring about major changes to the Bible.

Small problem, though: the codex goes missing. Now the Webers must race against the clock to find it and prove that it is authentic.

Normally I love Maier's books, but this one fell really, really flat. Part of the reason why is because what I would consider the plot's inciting incident didn't occur until two-thirds of the way through the story. Everything up until that point seemed like needless set up and filler (especially a debate between Weber and a Muslim scholar; while informative, it felt tacked on). The whole time I was reading, I kept waiting for the story to truly get started. When it finally did, the whole thing felt rushed.

Also problematic for me was the fact that some of the material from the codex was lifted from one of Maier's previous novels, namely The Flames of Rome. While Flames is a phenomenal book, the material stood out in this one like a sore thumb.

In short, this could have been a great novel but sadly, it fell flat. I'm not saying I wouldn't read another Jonathan Weber novel (and in the ending, Maier left the door open for more), but I'd probably be less enthusiastic about it going in.

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