The Blood Gospel: The Order of the Sanguines
Released on 08.27.2013
In his first-ever collaboration, New York Times bestselling author James Rollins combines his skill for cutting-edge science and historical mystery with award-winning novelist Rebecca Cantrell’s talent for haunting suspense and sensual atmosphere in a gothic tale about an ancient order and the hunt for a miraculous book known only as...
An earthquake in Masada, Israel, kills hundreds and reveals a tomb buried in the heart of the mountain. A trio of investigators—Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensic expert; Father Rhun Korza, a Vatican priest; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant but disillusioned archaeologist—are sent to explore the macabre discovery, a subterranean temple holding the crucified body of a mummified girl.
But a brutal attack at the site sets the three on the run, thrusting them into a race to recover what was once preserved in the tomb’s sarcophagus: a book rumored to have been written by Christ’s own hand, a tome that is said to hold the secrets to His divinity. But the enemy who hounds them is like not other, a force of ancient evil directed by a leader of impossible ambitions and incalculable cunning.
From crumbling tombs to splendorous churches, Erin and her two companions must confront a past that traces back thousands of years, to a time when ungodly beasts hunted the dark spaces of the world, to a moment in history when Christ made a miraculous offer, a pact of salvation for those who were damned for eternity.
Here is a novel that is explosive in its revelation of a secret history. Why do Catholic priests wear pectoral crosses? Why are they sworn to celibacy? Why do the monks hide their countenances under hoods? And why does Catholicism insist that the consecration of wine during Mass results in its transformation to Christ’s own blood? The answers to all go back to a secret sect within the Vatican, one whispered as rumor but whose very existence was painted for all to see by Rembrandt himself, a shadowy order known simply as the Sanguines.
In the end, be warned: some books should never be found, never opened—until now.
INCLUDES CITY OF SCREAMS: A SHORT STORY EXCLUSIVE
ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN E-BOOK!
or visit the general buy page by clicking HERE
Spring, AD 73
The dead continued to sing.
Three hundred feet above Eleazar’s head, the chorus of nine hundred
Jewish rebels rang out in defiance of the Roman legion at their
gates. The defenders had sworn to take their own lives rather than
be captured. Those final prayers, chanted to Heaven on high, echoed
down to the tunnels below, carved out of the heart of the mountain
Abandoning the doomed men to their bitter sunlight, Eleazar
tore his gaze from the roof of the limestone passageway. He wished
that he could chant beside them, that he could give up his own life in
a final battle. But his destiny lay elsewhere.
He gathered the precious block into his arms. The sun-warmed
stone stretched from his hand to his elbow, the length of a newborn
baby. Cradling the stone block against his chest, he forced himself to
enter the rough-hewn passage that sliced into the heart of the mountain.
Masons sealed the way behind him. No living man could follow.
The seven soldiers who accompanied him forged ahead with
torches. Their thoughts must still be with their brothers, the nine hundred
above on the sun-scoured plateau. The stronghold had been under
siege for months. Ten thousand Roman soldiers, split into enormous
camps, surrounded the mesa, ensuring no one could leave or enter.
The rebels had vowed, when their chant was complete, to take the lives
of their families and then their own, before the Romans overran their
walls. They prayed and readied themselves to kill the innocent.
As must I.
Eleazar’s task weighed upon him as heavily as the stone in his
arms. His thoughts turned to what awaited below. The tomb. He
had spent hours praying in that subterranean temple, knees pressed
against stone blocks fitted so close together that not even an ant
might escape. He had studied its smooth walls and high, arched ceiling.
He had admired the careful handiwork of the craftsmen who
had labored to make the space sacred.
Even then, he had not dared to look upon the sarcophagus in the
That unholy crypt that would hold the most holy word of God.
He hugged the stone tighter to his chest.
Please, God, take this burden from me.
This last prayer, like the thousands before it, remained unanswered.
The sacrifices of the rebels above must be honored. Their
cursed lifeblood must serve a higher purpose.
When he reached the arched doorway to the temple, he could
not step through. Others jostled past to their posts. He rested his
forehead against the cold wall, praying for solace.
His gaze swept inside. Torchlight flickered, dancing shadows
across the stone bricks that formed an arched roof overhead. Smoke
swirled above, seeking escape, but there would be none.
Not for any of them.
At last, his eyes settled on the small girl, on her knees, held down
by soldiers. His heart ached at the piteous sight of her, but he would not
forsake the task that had been asked of him. He hoped that she would
shut her eyes so that he might not have to look into them at the end.
Eyes of water . . .
That was how his long-dead sister had described those innocent eyes, her daughter’s eyes, her little Azubah.
Eleazar stared now at his niece’s eyes.
A child’s eyes still—but it was not a child who glared back at
him. She had seen what a child should never see. And soon would
see no more.
Forgive me, Azubah.
The foregoing is excerpted from Innocent The Blood Gospel: The Order of the Sanguines. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.
INCLUDES CITY OF SCREAMS: A SHORT STORY EXCLUSIVE
ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN E-BOOK!
or visit the general buy page by clicking HERE
“Irresistible. The DaVinci Code meets vampires.” – Booklist
“This work is all thriller fans would expect from a combination of Rollins and Cantrell: cutting-edge science, ancient history, and a solid gothic mystery plot. Fans of the authors will not be disappointed, and those who lapped up The Da Vinci Code will be clamoring for more in this series.” – Library Journal (starred review)
“…a rip-roaring good adventure that combines the headlong pace of Indiana Jones with the religious convolutions of The Da Vinci Code…Mr. Rollins and Ms. Cantrell seem to be a writing match made in heaven….This is a thriller of dark subterranean complexity, rather like a rare, vintage red wine.” Dan Brown vein. And these writers can write.” – Kirkus Reviews Nancy Herkness, NY Journal of Books
“Pure genius…The pairing of Rollins and Cantrell has brought the best out of both authors. “The Blood Gospel” is not just a must read, it would be a sin not to read it!.” – Suspense Magazine
“Good escapist reading in the Dan Brown vein. And these writers can write.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Their story seamlessly blends modern-day technology with historical intrigue and otherworldly phenomena. The highly original plot combines gripping world-could-end drama with characters who are complex, fascinating and personable.” – Romantic Times (4.5 stars out of 5)
As this is my first collaboration with another author, I figured introductions were in order. First of all, Rebecca Cantrell is the MULTIPLE award-winning author of the Hannah Vogel mysteries (A Trace of Smoke). I’ve been a fan of her work from before her first book was published. So how did we end up working together, what was our process like? I hope to offer some insight here.
Q: First, how did this book get started?
A: Jim - The story came about after I viewed a museum exhibit featuring the work of Rembrandt. I was struck by his painting of “The Raising of Lazarus.” I thought it strange how everyone in the painting looked frightened, and this started me down a road of reflection about early Catholicism, vampirism, and a story began to unfold. I knew this could be a huge, groundbreaking new mythology, a story so epic in scope that I knew I couldn’t tackle this alone. It was during that time that I was reading Rebecca’s novel, A Night of Long Knives. I always loved her atmospheric storytelling and knew it could be the perfect match for this story.
A: Rebecca - Jim called to ask me if I was interested in collaborating on a project. When I asked for details, he said he couldn’t give me any. I asked if he could answer yes or no questions, which brought a ten-second pause before he totally caved and told me everything about The Blood Gospel. Obviously he was not meant to withstand that kind of brutal interrogation. The premise and the world were so intriguing and controversial, I said yes immediately.
Q: How did you work together on the book?
A: Rebecca - Jim had a lot of stuff already in place—a long outline, the first 150 pages or so, and a full proposal. We had various meetings on the phone and Skype to sort out the tone of the book, more character details, etc. We wrote up a World Bible that clearly defined the world, the characters, and the plot. And then I started going through his outline and hacking and slashing and rewriting, and we sent pages back and forth. He was very patient about that, and I tried to be patient when he hacked and slashed on my stuff. For the record, he’s more patient than I am. Or he’s better at lying about it.
We were both ready to throw things out, add things in, do whatever was necessary to write the best book we could. In the end, I would read bits aloud to my husband, and he'd sometimes ask "who wrote that?" and I often couldn’t tell him.
A: Jim - I don’t think either of us could have written this story alone. It was a great synergy of ideas, talents, with each bringing our best skill set to the forefront, while challenging each other at every step of the way. And I agree with Becky. At this point, I can’t say which one of us wrote what.
Q: What do you do when you disagree?
A: Rebecca - This is going to sound weird, but we haven’t really disagreed on much about the book. Or maybe Jim is so clever and diplomatic that I haven’t noticed, which is basically the same thing. Once we knew what story we were writing, we’ve both just worked on writing the best story we could. If it serves the story, it stays. If it doesn’t, it goes. And, so far, we’ve both pretty much agreed on what serves the story best. Check back after book 2.
A: Jim - I agree. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that neither of has huge egos. Rebecca gave me latitude to experiment and stray from the path, and I offered the same to her. Sometimes it works; other times not. We talk it out, lay out the pros and cons, and settle on what works best for the story or characters. My usual response when Rebecca has suggested a change in story, plot, or writing was “Cool!” Those rare moments when I scratched my head about something that Becky recommended, I usually said “Run with it and let’s see.” And 99% of the time, Becky was right in the end (darn it all!).
Q: With two authors at work, how do you manage the sex scenes?
A: Rebecca - Because he blushes too much, which is damn funny to watch if not particularly productive, I usually wrote the first draft of those scenes. Then we talked through them, just like any other scene. He’s usually pretty nice about critiquing stuff, and he never once said what every writer dreads hearing about a sex scene: You’re doing it all wrong!
A: Jim - I’m blushing now. Though I have to say, there are some very sexy moments in this book.
Q: How do you collaborate?
A: Rebecca - Writing a book is a very intimate process. It’s not all “which word goes here” or “what’s the coolest way to kill a massive enraged black bear?” I mean, there’s a lot of that too. But it’s also a lot of talking about sex and death and what would a character do if you dragged them through the worst experiences in their life, what would it mean, how would they be changed? And you can’t talk and write about that without revealing a lot about yourself. So, for me, it was a giant scary trust exercise. Because, when I write alone, I’m just talking about those things inside my own head, and I know the people in there really well. At this point, Jim is practically a voice in my head too, so I think the trust exercise worked.
A: Jim - Being my first collaboration, too, it was a learning curve about how “open” to be about the depth necessary to tell this story. Prior to this project, writing has been a solitary experience, where the best and worst could be kept under wraps and dabbled with in private. It took a while to reach that stage with each other where we could drop our guards with one another: to be brutally honest, emotionally sincere, and willing to trust. But I think any true collaboration has to cross that Rubicon.
Since your book was written by a man and a woman, do you ever get into arguments about whether a woman (or a man) would or wouldn’t say something?
A: Rebecca - Not really. I used to make a note of it and go ask my husband, but he always agreed with Jim, so I eventually gave up on that and decided that maybe, as a man, Jim actually does know more about how they think than I do.
Jim: And to be honest, this didn’t come up too often. Once we workshopped the characters together, hashing who they are, their individual distinct voices came through, and there was no going back.
Q: Is it hard to collaborate living so far apart? Does distance ever come into play?
A: Jim - Distance is a challenge, especially now that Rebecca is in Germany and almost on an opposite daytime schedule than me in the West Coast. But once the logistics were worked out, it flows well. And we both prefer Skype when we talk, so we can see each other. Mostly because my method of communication is half words, half gesturing. And I get to see when Rebecca rolls her eyes when I say something stupid (which is surprisingly quite often).
A: Rebecca - We do get a lot more done when we’re in the same room together, but with Skype and the Internet and the fact that we send each other a million emails a day, it seems to work out.
Q: How did you decide who writes what sections?
A: Jim - It’s one of the best things about collaboration: we each bring a unique skill set to the table. Scenes where I know I perhaps am more deft (ie., action), I handle first. Likewise, Becky’s skill at characterization and atmospheric historical descriptions, I let her run with it. But after that, we each take each other’s work and tweak it in new and surprising ways that neither of us could have done alone.
A: Rebecca - Since we’re two people, more ideas come out and the books end up going in a direction I don’t think either of us would have found on our own. Luckily, he’s very open and easy to work with and has never once said “that’s the stupidest idea ever,” because I think you need to feel safe to throw out any idea at the beginning and see what sticks.
Q: What do you do when you get stuck?
A: Rebecca - For The Blood Gospel, I got stuck less than usual, because Jim can often fix the points where I get stuck and I can fix the points where he does. It’s basically sold me on collaboration.
A: Jim - I agree. One of the strong points of collaboration is that there are TWO brains to solve dilemmas.
Q: How do you approach character differently?
A: Rebecca - Jim is much meaner to them physically. So, once we’ve beaten the crap out of some character and they’re lying there bleeding, Jim’s always dragging them up to do one last heroic thing. I’m all, “can’t they have a tiny break right here?” and he’s always “Nope. The world needs saving. Up you go!” Makes me grateful he’s not a Boy Scout leader.
But emotionally, I’m much meaner to the characters than Jim is. He’s fine decapitating them, but when it comes to being mean to them psychologically, he’s a little less gung ho.
A: Jim - Again that’s why we work so well together: I grind my characters through the gristmill physically; she does the same emotionally. Then like two dysfunctional parents, we try to pick up the respective pieces of our character’s lives, dust them off, and point the way forward.
So I hope this offers some glimpse behind the creation of both The Blood Gospel and the short story “City of Screams.” I’m very proud of this new epic world, and I invite all of you to join us on this dark journey.