No, I didn’t spell it wrong. 🙂
So, buckle up.
All right, my little squirrel minions: what do you get when you cross a crime scene, the Secret Service, Vatican Security, Mossad, and a pope from the Sudan?
Correct. This book.
Seriously, Vatican ninjas.
Let me rephrase: convincing Vatican ninjas. None of that I Am Margaret dystopian-future-with-bad-worldbuilding nonsense.
I won’t give away too many spoilers, but basically, imagine what would happen to the world if the newly-elected pope was a hardcore badass from the Sudan who could bench-press a small car and was convinced that Islam had to be thwarted at all costs.
Yeah, that’s essentially mind-blowing.
Now, about the title: the new (badass) pope is called Pius XIII, and a good deal of the story background and the main plot centers around what happened in the 1940s with Pius XII (hence the spelling).
Declan does a great job integrating the history into the story; he’s almost as good at infodumping-without-infodumping as David Weber. What Weber can do with science (or, to be fair, pseudo-science) in the Honor Harrington books, Declan does with Church history. Give him a couple more books, and he’ll be an expert.
The beginning of the story has a lot of different characters to follow, instead of just one or two designated as the “main characters.” That put me off just a little bit, but only because I prefer the story sticking with one guy (most of the time), as opposed to the rotating point-of-view style. That’s just a matter of my personal taste, however, and not a slight against the story itself. Eventually, all those characters get together, so it works out.
There’s a lot of different ways Declan is able to pull a fast one with his story payoffs (which, of course, I will not mention), but they’re very well-done.
There’s action, history, a bit of romance, and yes, a seriously badass pope. So, you can’t go wrong with this book.
So, take yourself over to Silver Empire books, and pre-order a copy. Lori and her squirrel minions give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.