The best-selling author of Enigma and Fatherland turns to today's Vatican in a ripped-from-the-headlines novel, and gives us his most ambitious, page-turning thriller yet--where the power of God is nearly equaled by the ambition of men.
The pope is dead. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world's most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on Earth.
I enjoyed this book very much but I would not consider it to be a thrilling story. I would say more of a power-control type of novel. I enjoyed Harris' writing and the characters were well-developed. His research was amazing and gave much insight on the workings of a conclave behind the scenes. I learned a lot that I didn't know before and found the cardinals' struggle to become the next pope very intriguing. I now need to go back and read some more of Harris' novels and I would highly recommend this book to those who enjoy historical religious novels.
Cardinal Lomeli is devasted by the death of the Pope. He never believed or hoped to attend another Conclave, the congregation of cardinal electors to choose the next Pope, as this will be his third. Cardinal Lomeli is the Dean of the College of Cardinals, therefore, he is tasked with the running and management of the Conclave. With 117 (?) Cardinal electors, emotions run high as support is given to individuals and taken away as secrets are discovered. Will politics or the Holy Spirit guide this election?
First, I must say that I am not Catholic, so a lot of this information was new to me. At first I found some of it confusing, but after awhile, it became clearer as the author explained people's roles more in depth. I don't know if I would call this a thriller, which I see many people have done. I guess I would call it an intrigue because the reader and the protagonist, Lomeli, have the same information. I also suppose I feel a thriller should be more suspenseful or dangerous. This one was more of a religious/political intrigue, more twists, but no danger.
I really enjoyed all of the research the author put into the happenings of a Conclave. The actual ceremonies and rituals, as well as the feelings of boredom and waiting. It made the characters much more real. It also surprised me by how political it all was. It shouldn't have, but it did. Although they are spiritual leaders, they are just humans. Some of the things just seemed so below them. There were also many secrets that came out that didn't so much shock me, as repelled me. It was like any other election, mud-slinging, campaigning, compromising, etc. I did not see the major twist at the end and I did find it pretty far fetched. This Conclave happens at or after the year 2018, I cannot remember exactly, but the end was still unbelievable.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes books that are information and character driven as opposed to action driven. I throughly enjoyed it!
*I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book and have given an honest review *