The time is five centuries in the future. The age of chaos, before man evolved out of his slavery to emotions, is past. The world narrowly avoided apocalyptic destruction. Now there are seven governments with the supreme in Byzantine (Rome) ruler of them all.
Rom, son of Elias, has thrust upon him a vial of blood and a piece of vellum with strange writing. As the novel progresses we learn that the eradication of all emotion except fear was accomplished by a virus crafted to change humanity's DNA. The pathogen was named Legion and altered the genetic code, dulling all emotions except fear.
The blood is a serum that allows a person to feel emotions again, to truly be human. It is a remnant from the chaos era and has been kept all this time by a clandestine group called the order of Keepers.
There are only five doses of blood in the vial. Rom and four others drink the blood and begin a harried journey to protect the world from disaster and bring its people back to true humanity. The sovereign to be helps Rom translate the vellum. It predicts a boy would be born who would be a ruler bringing the people back to their true humanity. Rom and his friends search for the boy to protect him and arrange for his being brought to rule. The boy is “alive.” The virus will fight to eradicate the pure blood in his body.
And we are set up for the next book in what looks like will be a trilogy.
This is a captivating novel. As with the Circle Trilogy, the entire aspect of gospel symbolism may not be understood until the series is completed. But already we have the blood, the evil virus named Legion, sacrificial dying, the Maker, and the impending war of good and evil. The emphasis of this novel is the essential nature of emotions to being human. “Without that suffering, there would be no true pleasure. Without tears, no joy. … This is the secret of the human heart...”
Dekker says he wanted to write something like he has never done before so collaborated with Lee. The two have crafted an exciting novel.
Be aware that the novel contains some gruesome aspects, graphic and violent death, for example. But then, the battle between good and evil has never been tidy.
Center Street (Hachette Book Group), 432 pages. This book releases Sept. 13, 2011.
I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.