July 24, 2014
An ancient legend. A deadly race.
The clouds of war gather over a world bitterly divided by science and religion. As steam locomotives thunder past the temples of Norse gods, and religious extremists terrorise the industrial powers of Europe, three very different people are pulled into a sinister conspiracy.
For Julian Harvey, a government agent tasked with controlling religion, a simple murder investigation becomes a fight for his life against a dark cult that threatens to plunge Europe into chaos.
For Freyja Barrett, a bounty hunter for hire, a secret breathed by a dying priest leads to a race against time to find an ancient relic of legendary power.
And for Zoe Rousseau, a devout believer, her preparation for initiation into an underground cult becomes a test more lethal than anything she could have imagined.
In a world where ancient pagan religion flourishes in an age of rationalism, all three will find their deepest beliefs under attack in a desperate struggle for survival.
Imago is a gripping, complex thriller. Although I’m not particularly religious and tend not to gravitate towards fiction that revolves around religion, Imago was fast-paced, and had a great underlying message.
The story involves two groups of people: the rationalists and the religionists. Both sides have extremists, and both sides also have moderates who have interesting arguments defending their respective views. For example, the rationalists point to the Crusades and other events where fear and emotion gave some people too much power. On the other hand, religionsists argue that the rationalists have become intolerant, and are acting the way they feared the religionists would act.
At the center of the story is Julian Harvey, a rationalist agent who must try to strike a balance between religionists and rationalists, without giving religionists too much power. He teams up with a religionist, a woman named Zoe Rousseau who ends up saving Julian’s life.
The two uncover a conspiracy that runs very deep in the rationalist government. Zoe also runs into Freyja Barrett, a former soldier who was enlisted to help a priest who died in the cause, Father Boucher. Between the thre of them, they are able to piece together who is involved in the conspiracy and why. In doing so, they collect a number of clues about the imago sanctarissima, an ancient, sacred artifact that is supposedly so powerful that anyone who holds it can control the world.
Obviously, this story carries a lot of intrigue, and author Jack Reyn skillfully weaves in all the main character’s tragic backstories to show their true motives. The beginning has a great build-up, with almost every chapter revealing new mysteries and secrets. But it all wraps up into a satisfying end, leaving room open for an action-packed sequel.
The only detail in the story that bothered me was the fact that Eliya, a high-priest in France considered one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world, insisted so often that “Christians do not kill.” He was so adamant, and throughout the story he only bombed areas that were empty, so as not to hurt anyone. He also felt very guilty that he may have been the reason at least one person dies. Yet, *SPOILER ALERT* his role in the book is to help start a war between the religionists and rationalists. He wants to make both sides angry enough to fight a war, which would mean that he and his fellow Christians would end up doing a lot of killing.
I also would have liked to know the timeframe of the story. Sometimes it sounded like it took place in the future, and I think the year 700-something was mentioned at one point. Other times it sounded like it took place in a parallel world, with some modern technologies that we take for granted, such as an elevator, being introduced as new.
Other than those minor details, Imago is a great, fast-paced read that really delves into human nature, and what it means to believe in something so deeply. The ending is messy and real, and very believable about what would happen in that situation.