Top positive review
More than Sons we are dealing with Brothers
on 14 April 2012
Let me be clear about one essential thing first. If you are looking for some serious knowledge about the Dead Sea Scroll known as the War Scroll, to which this novel refers, you will be disappointed and proved totally wrong. That the final pages of the scroll are missing is maybe true but does not matter really. The Scroll is what it is and nothing else. And anyway we cannot know what the supposedly missing pages could contain, certainly not bloodlines with modern names since two thousand years ago they could not know in the Middle East the naming practices of modern states, among others the United States. You can easily find the names of ancestors, but it is a lot more difficult to know the names of descendants, especially two thousand years down the line. It would have been just as realistic if the list had contained the email addresses and mobile phone numbers of the concerned individuals.
We must also be clear that these Scrolls are NOT pre-biblical, which would mean at least three thousand years old. The War Scroll is dated today between 20 BCE and 20 CE. The Essenes are thus contemporary to the emergence of the movement around John the Baptist and Jesus, the emergence of the new prophet that is considered by some to be the Messiah announced in the Old Testament. It is also contemporary to the taking over of the Middle East and Judea by the Romans, hence with the resistance against this colonization that will end badly with the assassination of the elder brother of Jesus, James, in 62 CE or slightly later by the priests of the Temple. This event will cause great trouble among Jews and then the destruction of the temple in 70 CE by the Romans. It is considered James was close to the Essenes of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
This being said the novel here under consideration is not a piece of scientific work and cannot be believed in its assertions on the Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Even if you believe in God and Lucifer and all the angels and demons, the Essenes are not on any side at all. They are plain human beings and their Dead Sea Scrolls represent what they thought at the time of writing. In the War Scroll the final war that is envisaged is the final war against the northern empire of the Assyrians and probably the Roman Empire when it started trickling down into the region. It is a human war manual that integrates some Roman war techniques showing its date of writing. So all that is said in the novel is pure fantasy if not pure invention, though the two words are rather related.
Now the novel is funny because it is a merchandizing byproduct of the series Supernatural. It is positioned right after the freeing of Lucifer by Sam when he killed Lilith, the 66th seal. A bad double agent Abaddon, supposedly an angel looking after Lucifer in his cage, is trying to make the two brothers cheat with supernatural history and is trying to pull the blanket to his side. They are forcefully sent to 1954 in New York, to seize the last pages of the War Scroll to be sold in this city then and to more or less keep Lucifer on the surface of the earth and hence Abaddon enjoying Mexico and other exotic places instead of hell. In fact it is a trick and he hopes the two brothers fall in the trap: get confronted to an organized coven of hunters who want to prevent the Apocalypse by getting the names of the blood lines and killing all those who would be vessels of angels or fallen angels at the time of Armageddon, the Winchester brothers among others. But at the same time the Hellhound pet of Lilith is freed from the amphorae and the second wife of Lucifer, Eisheth, is freed from the same amphorae. And this Eisheth wants all the angelic and fallen-angelic vessels killed except one, Sam who is her future "husband" when she reunites with Lucifer.
If you understand that complicated polygamous family business you can enjoy the adventures and especially the total incompetence of the two brothers, who only succeed on one point: to trick Eisheth into invading Sam (using him as a vessel) so that she makes them be transported back to 2010 by Abaddon, her included with her intention to reunite with Lucifer. That will cause some damage at the arrival in modern times when she in Sam is confronted to Abaddon, but that is an easy situation to be solved by angels of good faith, if there is one.
The novel is a little bit simple at the beginning and it takes quite some time for the rhythm to be found, at least some rhythm. But if everything had just been normal, the two brothers should have been killed at least twenty times by the Waldorf Hotel's security people, by the New York Police, not to speak of the FBI, the secret services, the railroad security guards and a few other bands of armed people of that type, not to count the hunters, the demons and the angels, and just plain angry bystanders and civilians.
The main problem with such a novel is that the original is a TV series, hence a visual universe and to translate it into words is quite not easy at all. And that difficulty is obvious here. The book lacks a style of its own and the two brothers are quite skeletal as for psychology and personality, especially the sex-crazed Dean. And Sam tries to be realistic when he admits he cannot learn ancient Aramaic in two days, how it was written and how to read it and translate it into plain English. And the helper they find does not seem to be much better. Even in 1954 Aramaic was known since it was the language of Jesus and its writing system was also well known since most of the gospels are written in that language originally. There might even be some dictionaries and grammars available by then, and once again it was not more than 2000 years old, so not at all in old Semitic languages like the hieroglyphs of old Egyptian as is insinuated a couple of times.
The main problem is probably that the novel was written too fast and by two authors, the main author acknowledging the fact that she was pressed by her pending marriage and that she had to use the services of some assistant. Two people on a novel necessarily produce a pith-less language, hence a style-less novel. Rebecca Dessertine should have chosen between a good novel or a good marriage (a marriage can always be postpone a couple of months), or just worked slightly harder.
But the book is altogether funny if you are in for a rather not too heady and too mental piece of reading.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU