Warning: Spoilers ahead
This book was very fast paced and kept me guessing all through the story. I liked it because while it did seem like a typical religious conspiracy theory book, it wasn’t. The Citadel and even Ruin City, Turkey, don’t really exist. Therefore, the book doesn’t actually have anyone questioning their faith. So, in order words, even Christians may read and enjoy this book.
Throughout the story you find out about many [but not all the] secrets of the Citadel; who they are, how they managed to get hold of the sacrament they keep hidden and even what the sacrament is. The Citadel only accepts members who have no family and no one to miss them, or to look for them. They don’t realize that Samuel had a sister because they have different last names.
While many have tried to escape the Citadel, only one person was ever successful. Many years earlier Oscar de la Cruz [going by some other name] escaped by jumping into the moat surrounding the mountain. He faked his death to get the Citadel off his trail. He is part of the secret society that Kathryn Mann is also a part of, and he is her father. The moat was since drained to prevent further escapes. The only way into the mountain is now in a basket pulled up and down the mountain side.
Kathryn Mann is the head of a charitable organization [which also doesn’t really exist] named Ortus. But this is just a front to cover her life-long search for any information about the prophecy [ from a an ancient tablet that her father stole from the Citadel] which is now coming true. She is also part of a secret organization that has tried to find out the secret of the Citadel for centuries and wish to overthrow them. The prophecy said the Cross would rise and the cross would fall. Brother Samuel then stands on top of the mountain in the shape of a cross then jumps off the building. He uses his robe like a parachute to glide and make sure that he would fall outside the Citadel’s jurisdiction. I questioned whether he had actually hoped to live because he was gliding in a way that seemed to slow his descent giving hope that he would not fall too hard but then, he lost his grip on the robe and fell too fast and died on impact.
During the autopsy on Brother Samuel the Mortician notices that many scars from self-mutilation covers his body. People believe that the monks of the Citadel do this to themselves as a ritual or possibly as part of an initiation. Most seem newer [not fresh] but there is one scar which looks like a Christian cross on his side, which is much older. Detective Davud Arkadian takes on the case. Many people believe this is a suicide case, but he seems to believe that there was something more to it than just suicide. Like, why did he climb the mountain and wait hours before he jumped?
The Citadel does not want anyone but a selected few to know about the sacrament. They use their connections outside to steal Samuel’s body and return it to the Citadel. Liv Adamsen makes contact with Detective Arkadian and this is how the Citadel discovers her to be Samuel’s sister. They have connections, in the Police, who deliver them information on the case. It turns out that Liv and Samuel were actually conjoined identical twins, but for some miraculous reason, they are not the same gender. The Citadel contacts, on the outside, attempt several times to kidnap Liv, but she Gabriel de la Cruz helps her to escape. Gabriel then turns out to be Kathryn Mann’s son whom she sent to help protect Liv after also finding out about her from a source inside the Police force.. Kathryn’s husband had died years earlier while trying to find any information about the prophecy.
Oscar is exceptionally old but he is still alive because of being near to the sacrament earlier in his life. The sacrament tends to have a miraculous healing effect. It also lengthens the lives of the monks and makes planting prosperous inside the Citadel’s garden. Oscar now lives in Brazil and has spent many years trying to make the prophecy come true or find out as much information about it as possible. He comes to Ruin to see his grandson and daughter but is later killed in a direct attack at their [Ortus] office.
Eventually I found out what the sacrament is, and I was completely caught off guard. I will not spoil the entire mystery for you here but it was the last thing I expected. After reading this book I regretted not reading it when it first came out, but at the same time, while I love series, I still really don’t like waiting so I normally start reading a series close to the end or after all the books have come out.
About the Author:
Simon Toyne has a degree in English and Drama from Goldsmiths College in London. He worked in television for almost twenty years before he decided to write novels. This is his debut book and the first book in the Sancti Trilogy.