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Enoch's Device: An Epic Medieval Fantasy

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AD 998. When Brother Ciarán, a resourceful Irish monk, discovers a forbidden tome and a mystery about a lost book of scripture, he finds himself plunged into a secret war as old as the origin of evil itself. Pursued by a heretic-hunting bishop, Ciarán and his freethinking mentor flee to France in search of the scripture. The lost book of the Bible warns of the Nephilim, the AD 998. When Brother Ciarán, a resourceful Irish monk, discovers a forbidden tome and a mystery about a lost book of scripture, he finds himself plunged into a secret war as old as the origin of evil itself. Pursued by a heretic-hunting bishop, Ciarán and his freethinking mentor flee to France in search of the scripture. The lost book of the Bible warns of the Nephilim, the descendants of fallen angels who seek to free their master, The Dragon, and bring about the events foretold in the book of Revelation. Yet the book also speaks of Enoch’s device, a cryptic weapon with the power to defeat them. Along with a beautiful noblewoman who holds a key to the mystery, Ciarán and his mentor must race across Europe to find the device, which has left clues of its passage through history: from the time of Solomon to the reign of King Arthur and the paladins of Charlemagne. But time is running out, and if they don’t find the device soon, all that they love could perish with the End of Days.


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AD 998. When Brother Ciarán, a resourceful Irish monk, discovers a forbidden tome and a mystery about a lost book of scripture, he finds himself plunged into a secret war as old as the origin of evil itself. Pursued by a heretic-hunting bishop, Ciarán and his freethinking mentor flee to France in search of the scripture. The lost book of the Bible warns of the Nephilim, the AD 998. When Brother Ciarán, a resourceful Irish monk, discovers a forbidden tome and a mystery about a lost book of scripture, he finds himself plunged into a secret war as old as the origin of evil itself. Pursued by a heretic-hunting bishop, Ciarán and his freethinking mentor flee to France in search of the scripture. The lost book of the Bible warns of the Nephilim, the descendants of fallen angels who seek to free their master, The Dragon, and bring about the events foretold in the book of Revelation. Yet the book also speaks of Enoch’s device, a cryptic weapon with the power to defeat them. Along with a beautiful noblewoman who holds a key to the mystery, Ciarán and his mentor must race across Europe to find the device, which has left clues of its passage through history: from the time of Solomon to the reign of King Arthur and the paladins of Charlemagne. But time is running out, and if they don’t find the device soon, all that they love could perish with the End of Days.

30 review for Enoch's Device: An Epic Medieval Fantasy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lynsey Barron

    Finley accomplishes what many writers of historical fiction cannot: weaving religious, philosophical, mythological, and historical elements into a fast-paced novel the reader will compulsively devour. Without succumbing to the temptation to pen a mass-market (and invariably pedestrian) thriller where twists and turns seem artificial, Finley has chosen an intellectually complicated backdrop--tenth century eschatology--against which to tell his story of loyalty and betrayal, truth and artifice, Finley accomplishes what many writers of historical fiction cannot: weaving religious, philosophical, mythological, and historical elements into a fast-paced novel the reader will compulsively devour. Without succumbing to the temptation to pen a mass-market (and invariably pedestrian) thriller where twists and turns seem artificial, Finley has chosen an intellectually complicated backdrop--tenth century eschatology--against which to tell his story of loyalty and betrayal, truth and artifice, love and hate. Packed with its share of cliffhangers and "aha!" moments, Enoch's Device still delivers the well-researched and academically rigorous story readers of historical fiction demand. And while there is also a love interest (which too often renders trite an otherwise good story), Finley is careful not to let his romance slip into something hackneyed or contrived. I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Moss

    Finley's debut novel was a surprising delight. Sure, detailed, and well-wrought placed in a setting the Author has done his homework in, and it shows. It was interesting to come to an apocalyptic book where the fears of the coming Patmosian encounter are some thousand years in our past. While I know that such fears have plagued man since the dawn of civilization, it was refreshing to hear voices from the distant past echoing our current fears, albeit in a slightly mythological and magical Finley's debut novel was a surprising delight. Sure, detailed, and well-wrought placed in a setting the Author has done his homework in, and it shows. It was interesting to come to an apocalyptic book where the fears of the coming Patmosian encounter are some thousand years in our past. While I know that such fears have plagued man since the dawn of civilization, it was refreshing to hear voices from the distant past echoing our current fears, albeit in a slightly mythological and magical setting. The twists and turns of plot, while necessary for any "thrilling page-turner" did not necessarily feel forced. Most grew naturally from the setting involved, and from the events at play. While I did debate some of the developments while reading, I knew that some were primarily FPS (for purposes of story). My one critique rests somewhat squarely in one area. It is a small thing, but one that didn't help to attract notice, and it was in terms of the narrative only, seperate from plot and character. Descriptions of characters at times lapsed into a very quick form of emotive description, particularly the agents of the forces of darkness. Eyes that were "cruel", or "cunning" or "flashing", descriptions that give us trait-markers before the characters display any particular action that would show them as being cruel, or cunning, or any other marker. Being guilty of this myself, it's not much to take someone to task for, and to be honest did very little to detract from the pacing, however the shorthand must be noted. As well, I would have loved to see a little more of the final battle at Brosse. There is a conflict in the faerie realm, and while it is well imagined, the struggles of men against men is also of prime importance to the text (since while the fae involved in this book are indeed involved in a primeval struggle, they do need agents of mortal flesh in order to work their will) and so I had hoped a little more of that mortal world struggle would make itself clear. All told, however, I had a fine ride with this book. The philosophical musings and religious backdrop were well balanced with a bit of oomph and muscle and lots of running about. What "Enoch's Device" sets out to do - open a door of possibility and magic in a well researched historical setting - it does very well. I am curious to see where Finley takes us next in the twists and turns of the "Dark Ages", and look forward to his next work. A wonderful debut from a writer I will be looking forward to hearing from again.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tanjlisa Marie

    Wow! What a wonderful ride!! Where to begin... First, the entire time I was reading the story I was also hoping that the author would separate fact from fiction at the end. And he did not disappoint. I love learning while reading a terrific book. The characters in this mesmerizing historical fantasy were unforgettable! I just loved all the monks; some were evil, some were good, some were kooky, and some were brave. Brother Ciaran, the young monk whose point of view is one of the primary Wow! What a wonderful ride!! Where to begin... First, the entire time I was reading the story I was also hoping that the author would separate fact from fiction at the end. And he did not disappoint. I love learning while reading a terrific book. The characters in this mesmerizing historical fantasy were unforgettable! I just loved all the monks; some were evil, some were good, some were kooky, and some were brave. Brother Ciaran, the young monk whose point of view is one of the primary throughout the story, was quite believable and likeable. I didn't find one thing annoying about him. The emotions he felt were relevant to the whirlwind of events he experienced. The reader also gets the chance to watch Ciaran grow as the story unfolds. There were several villains in this story, which is another reason why I enjoyed it so much. Multiple bad guys just multiply the fun! The plot—flawless. Brother Ciaran and his assembled gang of unlikely cohorts are traveling around trying to find a device that will help save the world from meeting its end. The journey is peppered with not only people trying to kill them, but demons summoned to hunt them and kill them. Yikes! Each obstacle encountered was realistic because not everyone makes it out alive. The flow of the story is another plus! There is something going on in every page and I just didn't want to stop reading until the action stopped. But the action never ceased so whenever I had to stop reading, I was in physical agony!! A great read. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys getting lost in the fictional world, navigated by a superb author.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Richard Myers

    Wonderful book This book mixes real people and fantasy characters in a great story of epic actions. I highly recommend this book to everyone and I will be getting the next book in the series soon.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    When the Franks come to Ireland in search of a heretic, Brother Ciaran is thrown into a world of magic, Fae, and apocalyptic prophecies. Alongside his father-figure-slash-mentor Donall mac Taidg, he works to solve the riddles of Enoch’s Device, riddles which span over thousands of years and nearly every myth known to man. From the Nephilim of Judeo-Christianity to the Fae of Irish lore, the mythos of this book follows historical events as well as incorporating each of the world’s major When the Franks come to Ireland in search of a heretic, Brother Ciaran is thrown into a world of magic, Fae, and apocalyptic prophecies. Alongside his father-figure-slash-mentor Donall mac Taidg, he works to solve the riddles of Enoch’s Device, riddles which span over thousands of years and nearly every myth known to man. From the Nephilim of Judeo-Christianity to the Fae of Irish lore, the mythos of this book follows historical events as well as incorporating each of the world’s major religions. And it does it so well. Any time a book attempts to unify the multiple mythologies of the world, it can go one of two ways: 1) It becomes a far-reaching mess of conjecture and grasping at straws, or 2) it manages to succeed in some parts, but not all because of the scope of the book. Somehow Finley connects the dots in a way that really made me wonder if the myths he incorporates truly have the same starting point. The writing is beautifully fluid and transports the reader to the book’s various Dark Ages locations—Ireland; Cordoba, Spain; Paris; Selles-Sur-Cher in Central France, just to name a few. With Finley’s well-crafted characters, we journey through so many different locales and meet such interesting people. There’s a definite good-vs.-evil vibe through this book, and in some instances, you don’t know entirely who’s playing on which side. A few times, I thought I had it pegged just to be proven wrong. There are a lot of twists and turns, several unexpected (and gruesome) deaths, and a lot of ground to cover. All in all, a refreshing twist on the religious thriller, and one that will have you turning pages from cover to cover as fast as you can. Also, Donall is awesome. There are a few places toward the middle of the book where I got lost and had to reread a few times, and a couple of times toward the end, I wasn’t sure of who was whom, so you may want to watch out for that. Also, there is a fair bit of surprising violence, and also a rape (which does have a purpose). If these things make you squelchy, you may want to steer away from this one. Otherwise, GO GET THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY. Good for fans of: mythology, religious thrillers like The Da Vinci Code, Irish monks being badass, apocalyptic prophecy, and magic.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Compulsion Reads

    Ciarán was a content young monk living in Derry, Ireland in 997 A.D. until his quiet world came crashing down around him. His mentor, Dόnall has been accused of being a heretic and possessing an evil book that the Church wants. Faced with the reality that Dόnall may in fact be involved in sorcery, Ciarán must decide if he will trust Dόnall or turn him in. Things are further complicated when Ciarán discovers that he may play a role in a prophecy that is hidden in the book that Dόnall is keeping. Ciarán was a content young monk living in Derry, Ireland in 997 A.D. until his quiet world came crashing down around him. His mentor, Dόnall has been accused of being a heretic and possessing an evil book that the Church wants. Faced with the reality that Dόnall may in fact be involved in sorcery, Ciarán must decide if he will trust Dόnall or turn him in. Things are further complicated when Ciarán discovers that he may play a role in a prophecy that is hidden in the book that Dόnall is keeping. Together Ciarán and Dόnall are going to have use their wits and the help of strangers as they travel across Europe trying to decipher the ancient texts that the Church has been hiding if they want to stop an evil that threatens the world’s very existence. Enoch’s Device is a historical fiction novel that combines action, adventure, romance and fantasy elements to create an epic tale. The reader is instantly pulled into the life of a monk in 998 A.D. when political unrest and the battle for power between church and state created a chaotic climate where one wrong look could lead you onto a pyre. My hat goes off to author Joseph Finley for all of the time he invested into researching not only the habits of monks thousands of years ago, but also other religions of that time and historical events which allowed him to create an authentic story line. Finley was so careful with his efforts to stay true to the social mores that even his metaphors and slang reflected the time period. There are a lot of strong themes in this book, but one of my favorite themes was destiny. While it’s common in quest style stories for the hero to accept his fate, Finley allowed his characters to choose to go down their destined path. The reader gets to watch as the characters battle with their choices and accept the consequences of their decisions. These scenes added to realism of the story and allowed me to connect more deeply with the characters. Enoch’s Device has a little something for everyone, making it a great book for book clubs or to just share amongst friends. Either way, I would encourage you to join the adventure. (This book was provided to Compulsion Reads by the author for review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Indie Books

    When the Franks come to Ireland in search of a heretic, Brother Ciaran is thrown into a world of magic, Fae, and apocalyptic prophecies. Alongside his father-figure-slash-mentor Donall mac Taidg, he works to solve the riddles of Enoch’s Device, riddles which span over thousands of years and nearly every myth known to man. From the Nephilim of Judeo-Christianity to the Fae of Irish lore, the mythos of this book follows historical events as well as incorporating each of the world’s major When the Franks come to Ireland in search of a heretic, Brother Ciaran is thrown into a world of magic, Fae, and apocalyptic prophecies. Alongside his father-figure-slash-mentor Donall mac Taidg, he works to solve the riddles of Enoch’s Device, riddles which span over thousands of years and nearly every myth known to man. From the Nephilim of Judeo-Christianity to the Fae of Irish lore, the mythos of this book follows historical events as well as incorporating each of the world’s major religions. And it does it so well. Any time a book attempts to unify the multiple mythologies of the world, it can go one of two ways: 1) It becomes a far-reaching mess of conjecture and grasping at straws, or 2) it manages to succeed in some parts, but not all because of the scope of the book. Somehow Finley connects the dots in a way that really made me wonder if the myths he incorporates truly have the same starting point. The writing is beautifully fluid and transports the reader to the book’s various Dark Ages locations—Ireland; Cordoba, Spain; Paris; Selles-Sur-Cher in Central France, just to name a few. With Finley’s well-crafted characters, we journey through so many different locales and meet such interesting people. There’s a definite good-vs.-evil vibe through this book, and in some instances, you don’t know entirely who’s playing on which side. A few times, I thought I had it pegged just to be proven wrong. There are a lot of twists and turns, several unexpected (and gruesome) deaths, and a lot of ground to cover. All in all, a refreshing twist on the religious thriller, and one that will have you turning pages from cover to cover as fast as you can. Also, Donall is awesome. There are a few places toward the middle of the book where I got lost and had to reread a few times, and a couple of times toward the end, I wasn’t sure of who was whom, so you may want to watch out for that. Also, there is a fair bit of surprising violence, and also a rape (which does have a purpose). If these things make you squelchy, you may want to steer away from this one. Otherwise, GO GET THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY. Good for fans of: mythology, religious thrillers like The Da Vinci Code, Irish monks being badass, apocalyptic prophecy, and magic.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

    This is one of those books that you do not want to put down. From start to finish, the book engrosses you with something happening on every single page. I’ll be honest in saying that I wasn’t 100% sure whether or not I would actually really enjoy this book or not. It sounded interesting, but I couldn’t shake the “feeling” that I would end up not enjoying the read. I’m glad I don’t listen to my instincts, because they absolutely suck. The characters themselves were pretty normal. None of them This is one of those books that you do not want to put down. From start to finish, the book engrosses you with something happening on every single page. I’ll be honest in saying that I wasn’t 100% sure whether or not I would actually really enjoy this book or not. It sounded interesting, but I couldn’t shake the “feeling” that I would end up not enjoying the read. I’m glad I don’t listen to my instincts, because they absolutely suck. The characters themselves were pretty normal. None of them really stuck out to me. Some authors, such as Brent Weeks, can really make me feel the characters. I absolutely fall in love with them, or maybe hate them, and thus I gather strong feelings towards them, longing to hear more of their story and afterwards having them stay with me for a long while after, not being able to forget about them. This book did not have any of that. I hardly remember any of the character’s names at this moment, and I only finished reading it around 5 hours ago. Fortunately, it made up for it with the story. The author masterfully combined elements of fact, fiction, and mythology to make a story that immerses the reader in its good versus evil storyline. The story was never dull, following a small party of monks as they try to solve humanity’s great puzzle and prevent the apocalypse. In other words, the novel was fast-paced from start to finish, and was very mysterious; it had me guessing from start to finish, and most of those guesses were flat out wrong. Lastly, I like the cover. It really has nothing to do with the review itself, but it’s pleasant to look at. *This copy was won through Firstreads

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Ireland, the year 997 AD. The monks at the local monastery watch in awe as a ship arrives from France, carrying a host of armed men and the bishop of Blois, a man called Ademar. Among the monks is a young man called Ciaran, and he is shocked to hear why the Franks have arrived: Ciaran’s friend and guardian Donall stands accused of witchcraft and heresy. This marks the beginning of a fast-paced adventure that takes in half of Europe, encompassing magic, fae, religion, legends, demons, the Ireland, the year 997 AD. The monks at the local monastery watch in awe as a ship arrives from France, carrying a host of armed men and the bishop of Blois, a man called Ademar. Among the monks is a young man called Ciaran, and he is shocked to hear why the Franks have arrived: Ciaran’s friend and guardian Donall stands accused of witchcraft and heresy. This marks the beginning of a fast-paced adventure that takes in half of Europe, encompassing magic, fae, religion, legends, demons, the offspring of fallen angels and much, much more, yet it never becomes muddled. History, fantasy and existing legends – sometimes religious, sometimes not – are interwoven seamlessly, and the whole makes for a wonderful ride that often has you on the edge of your seat. The heroes are likeable, the villains suitably loathsome, and the story is never boring. I’m still not entirely sure how plausible it is for a tenth-century monk to be as enlightened and to have as much knowledge as Donall, but his background is plausibly written, so I was happy to accept it. The only real gripe I have is that the ending was rather abrupt, but other than that I really, thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’d definitely recommend it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Thomas

    I've been a follower of Joseph Finley's blog (fresh-scrapedvellum.blogspot.com) for quite some time now but only recently got around to reading his excellent debut novel. Glad I did because this is a top notch story that combines history and myth/fantasy as well as throwing in lots of action, suspense,and intrigue. It's obvious the author is well versed in history and the myths surrounding the Book of Enoch and his love for the era and his characters. The writing is crisp and colorful and seems I've been a follower of Joseph Finley's blog (fresh-scrapedvellum.blogspot.com) for quite some time now but only recently got around to reading his excellent debut novel. Glad I did because this is a top notch story that combines history and myth/fantasy as well as throwing in lots of action, suspense,and intrigue. It's obvious the author is well versed in history and the myths surrounding the Book of Enoch and his love for the era and his characters. The writing is crisp and colorful and seems far beyond what one might expect from a first time author. Looking forward to more stories from this author and his continued excellence in blogging.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    Since historical fantasy fiction is not my typical genre, I honestly wasn't sure what to expect when starting Enoch's Device. What I found was a thoroughly researched, fast paced, entertaining read! From the first few pages, I was hooked. It starts out as a traditional historical fiction (because of the 10th century monks, it reminded me of "Pillars of the Earth"), but along with the main character, Ciaran, you soon realize that things are not always what they seem. Monks, Biblical mystery, myths Since historical fantasy fiction is not my typical genre, I honestly wasn't sure what to expect when starting Enoch's Device. What I found was a thoroughly researched, fast paced, entertaining read! From the first few pages, I was hooked. It starts out as a traditional historical fiction (because of the 10th century monks, it reminded me of "Pillars of the Earth"), but along with the main character, Ciaran, you soon realize that things are not always what they seem. Monks, Biblical mystery, myths and legends, and even a minor love storyline--this book really had it all! It's a wonderful stand-alone novel, but also sets up for a sequel/series!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kendrick

    Joseph Finley's detailed and painstakingly-researched historical fantasy provides a fun and twisting adventure that's hard to put down. Set in the year 997, the characters are alive and believable, the descriptions are exotic and convincing, and the pacing is pitch perfect. There's a healthy dose of 10th century history mixed with some magic, mythology, astrology, puzzles, and even a dose of sex -- something for everyone. And while it is a thoughtful and carefully-written work, it is also a fun Joseph Finley's detailed and painstakingly-researched historical fantasy provides a fun and twisting adventure that's hard to put down. Set in the year 997, the characters are alive and believable, the descriptions are exotic and convincing, and the pacing is pitch perfect. There's a healthy dose of 10th century history mixed with some magic, mythology, astrology, puzzles, and even a dose of sex -- something for everyone. And while it is a thoughtful and carefully-written work, it is also a fun read, in the spirit of the "The Da Vinci Code" (but with more accurate historical references.) Whether you like history, fantasy, mysteries or high conflict thrillers, "Enoch's Device" delivers.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ilonka Bruce

    I received this book for free from Goodreads First Reads. I absolutely loved this book. It was a great adventure from beginning to end. It is a fantastic medieval endeavour full of history, mythology and mystery. For a debut novel it is impressive.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

    Enjoyable read well written and captivating! I had a hard time putting this down for whatever mundane reason. Highly recommended for an intriguing mix of fantasy history and fiction. The characters are well developed and intertwined perfectly. Very much enjoyed this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jana

    Enoch's Device by Joseph Finley is Indiana Jones meets Name of the Rose meets Lord of the Rings. WOW! What a great movie it would make. It's fast paced with well-developed characters, history, and magic! Well done, Mr. Finley. Thank you for a fabulous tale.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Love intelligent writing... Fabulous fantasy. Looked up so many interesting things included in this thoughtful and knowledgeable read. Much appreciated Joseph's hard-earned and oh so much fun book!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Shafer

    I really, really liked this. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    I loved this book!!! From the way it ended, I am guessing there will be a Book 2, which I am so looking forward to reading!!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Holly Culbertson

    An amazing novel! I rarely write reviews but this book is a must read! I am anxiously awaiting the next book of this story!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pauline Ross

    The blurb says that “Enoch’s Device is a fast-paced medieval adventure steeped in history, mythology, and mysteries from a dark and magical past” and the only part I’d argue with is ‘fast-paced’. I found it rather a slow book overall, and although it’s not without plenty of action, there’s also a heavy dollop of the above-mentioned history and mythology. Long and detailed explanations, it has to be said, don’t exactly help the plot to skim along. The setting is Ireland, France and Moorish Spain The blurb says that “Enoch’s Device is a fast-paced medieval adventure steeped in history, mythology, and mysteries from a dark and magical past” and the only part I’d argue with is ‘fast-paced’. I found it rather a slow book overall, and although it’s not without plenty of action, there’s also a heavy dollop of the above-mentioned history and mythology. Long and detailed explanations, it has to be said, don’t exactly help the plot to skim along. The setting is Ireland, France and Moorish Spain in the year 997, with the threat of the coming apocalypse when the millennium ends, and a race to prevent disaster for Irish monks Ciarán and Dónall and French aristocrat Alais. This is historical fantasy at its best - so deeply rooted in its period that to my inexpert eyes it seemed entirely authentic. The weaving together of historical data with biblical references, religious and pseudo-religious details (druids and the zodiac), mythological elements like the Fae and outright fantasy (demons and just a hint of dragons!) is masterfully done, with a wealth of detail, and I had very little idea which aspects were solid fact, which were inference or speculation, and which were invented wholesale. Whether it’s an Irish monastery, the streets of Paris, the rich farmlands of rural France or the Moorish city of Córdoba, the author paints a nuanced and believable picture. Sometimes I felt there was a little too much detail for the needs of the story, as if the author had to squeeze in every colourful bit of his research, but that’s a matter of personal preference. Where the story really sagged, for me, was the vast amount of backstory that had to be revealed. Sometimes it seemed as if most of the interesting action had happened years before, and was told in flashback. My heart sank every time I came across a paragraph beginning: ‘It seemed as if it were only yesterday when...’ or similar. Despite the drama of these events, it’s still the past and therefore less interesting than the actual story (the journey of Ciarán and Dónall), which seemed very slow by comparison. Worse still, much of the backstory was told in a very dry, text-book style which I struggled to get through. For example: “She had been born a child of Aquitaine, the richest province in Gaul. Her grandfather was the third William, called Towhead for the pale flaxen color of his hair. He was both count of Poitiers and duke of Aquitaine, and her grandmother was the daughter of Rollo, then duke of Normandy. Her father, Odo, was cousin to the fourth William, called Iron Arm, who had ruled Aquitaine for nearly thirty years. William Iron Arm had strengthened his alliances by marrying his sister to Hugh Capet, the late king of France and father of the current king, Robert, and by arranging his own marriage to Emma, daughter of the count of Blois, who was lord of neighboring Touraine. Alais’ mother, Adelais, too, had been bound in a political marriage— a gift from her father, the count of Toulouse, who was currying favor with the house of Poitiers.” I’m sure this sort of stuff is endlessly fascinating to some readers, but I was (mentally) tapping my feet and muttering, ‘Yes, yes, but are these people important? Does the colour of his hair matter? And if not, can we get on with the story, please?’. The characters are well-delineated and mostly believable, the only exception being Alais, the token female, whose role is merely to be rescued periodically, to act as plot device and to inspire and motivate Ciarán as the object of his desire. I wonder how many captivatingly beautiful women have to be captured/almost raped/burnt at the stake before this particular seam of fantasy clichés is finally worked out. Alais spends the book gasping in horror, clinging to Ciarán's hand, or standing frozen with terror as various sharp implements are hurled at her, so that the nearest man has to leap in front of her or drag her out of danger. And finally, the one useful role she seems destined to play is snatched away from her at the last minute. Bleargh. I hate these useless hand-wringing females. There’s a slightly unpleasant tone to the writing sometimes: one character was described as being fond of his wife ‘despite the fact that she had borne him no children’. I get that this is an era when women were subservient by law and custom (the nuns are required to be silent in church, for instance), but there’s no need for that attitude to spill over into authorial voice. As for the bad guys, they are out and out evil, which is par for the course if not particularly interesting. Fortunately, the plot is nicely convoluted, and once the bulk of the backstory is got out of the way things go along swimmingly. There are puzzles for our heroes to solve, clues to follow, crypic utterances to interpret and symbols to speculate about. There's also a prophecied apocalypse to avoid, and a mysterious device (the 'Enoch's device' of the title) to be discovered, understood and (perhaps) deployed. It’s all hugely detailed and impressively academic-sounding. For example: “There is a text, the Sefer Yetzirah— the Book of Creation— that tells how Abraham received a divine testimony of mystic lore. He lived long before Moses received the Torah, so he must have received something different. Abraham was the father of Jewish mysticism, much of which focuses on the origins of the many names of God, and the various combinations of sacred letters that make up those names, all in the quest to realize the one great name of God. That is the knowledge that many believe Abraham received. If this knowledge was embodied in a physical object, one theory is that it was a gemstone.” There’s a lot of this sort of stuff, and it may all be complete tosh, but if so, it’s impressive sounding tosh and I found it quite easy to let it all slide by, mostly way over my head. Sometimes, it has to be said, the interpretations of all these not very obvious puzzles seems a bit glib (if it were that easy, how come no one else has worked it out?) but it still made a nice story as piece after piece fell into place, and our heroes are driven from place to place in their quest. As with the backstory, the interludes when the characters sit around interpreting and speculating and saying ‘Gosh, it must be...!’ (paraphrasing ever so slightly here) slow the pace down to glacial levels, but as the action gets more frantic and intense towards the end, the pauses are a welcome respite from the drama. There were moments when the theological debate got quite interesting. Our Irish friends were very confident of the truth of their interpretations, which the more conventional priests saw as simple heresy. There is a moment when one of the priests makes a pronouncement about the apocalypse, and Ciarán immediately says 'How do you know that?' It's a good question, but the priest deflects it with an outraged 'How dare you presume to question me!' The voice of absolute authority putting down the ordinary person who has the temerity to say 'Yes but...'. I'm not sure whether the author is making a general point about organised religion, or illustrating the religious dogma of the day, or simply painting the character as a bad guy, but it struck a chord with me. In this particular case, the Irish interpretation of events is presumed to be the correct one purely because they are the protagonists in this particular story, but more than once I was wondering how exactly they could know particular facts. Some chains of logic seemed rather tenuous to me. This is a long, intricate book, literate and full of convincing historical detail, with demons, magic swords, a prophecy, mad monks and a whole host of great fantasy elements to spice up the well-realised setting. It's a pity there's so much sitting around analysing texts between the battles and so much dry exposition, and for my taste the battles got a bit over the top towards the end. But hey, this is the apocalypse, after all, so it's allowed to be epic in scale. For those who are riveted by the tiny details of medieval life or enjoy puzzling over the hidden meanings in religious texts and zodiacal symbols, I highly recommend this book. Anyone who is prepared to put up with the explanations to get to the juicy battles with demons, it's still a great read. For anyone who, like me, would willingly sacrifice historical accuracy for a more evenly paced story, it doesn’t work quite so well. The action scenes are terrific, the long sections of exposition less so, and I would have liked a less insipid female lead character. Three stars.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan Meyer

    End of Times? This book had me fascinated. Although it is not my usual preferred genre, I found it to be quite intense, the characters lived in my reading. If I hadn't fallen asleep, I would have finished it in one day, it was so....captivating. Cieran, a young monk from Eire, along with his friend and mentor, Donall, find themselves hunted, and hunting, mysterious artifacts from legend. Although neither of them truly believe the take they are told, Donall has some inside facts that Cieran does End of Times? This book had me fascinated. Although it is not my usual preferred genre, I found it to be quite intense, the characters lived in my reading. If I hadn't fallen asleep, I would have finished it in one day, it was so....captivating. Cieran, a young monk from Eire, along with his friend and mentor, Donall, find themselves hunted, and hunting, mysterious artifacts from legend. Although neither of them truly believe the take they are told, Donall has some inside facts that Cieran does not. Together, they race across their known world, meeting friends and enemies, searching, fighting, and learning more about myths and the simple fact that behind each myth may be a kernel of truth. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced historical look into the trials of the past, because the author has done a marvelous job into research of the times. Even the bare-faced and horrid facts of war of the times is mentioned. In all, a great read and I look forward to figure books by Mr. Finley.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    ANCIENT TEXTS, CYPHERS, circa 986 BCE Fun, educational , fantasy mystery thriller full of codes and cyphers to unravel that’s set in the Middle Ages with references to many actual historical people, texts, events and places. The reader gets to explore a variety of ancient cultures, in numerous settings in several lands, as the hunt for sacred documents are sought in order to retrieve long hidden legendary artifacts that are foretold by mystics to be the prevention of an Armageddon every ANCIENT TEXTS, CYPHERS, circa 986 BCE Fun, educational , fantasy mystery thriller full of codes and cyphers to unravel that’s set in the Middle Ages with references to many actual historical people, texts, events and places. The reader gets to explore a variety of ancient cultures, in numerous settings in several lands, as the hunt for sacred documents are sought in order to retrieve long hidden legendary artifacts that are foretold by mystics to be the prevention of an Armageddon every millennium.

  23. 4 out of 5

    James N. Moon

    Fascinating read Good writing, excellent fusion of history and fantasy. Good pacing and action. Really enjoyed this book! Looking forward to the next one.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lily Woolrich

    Absolutely loved this !!!! Well written, great research and a fantastic read. Onto number 2 next !!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Foust

    Great book! Wonderful tale, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the adventures it took me on. Well written, the historical bits woven in were especially fun and interesting.

  26. 4 out of 5

    pamela boseman

    Enoch device What a thrilling read.A lot of What a thrilling read I enjoyed this book. I want to read more from this Author.

  27. 5 out of 5

    LeAnn Cantrell

    Loved the book This is a great story with fact tossed in here and there with fiction. Heartrending at times and at others courage and prophecy carry the day.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lesa Brown

    Loved it This is not my typical type of book. I loved the biblical accounts and the love of brotherhood. Adventure and of to one's own fate.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hazel West

    Thoughts on the Overall Book: When I started this book I was kind of expecting a Dark Ages version of Indiana Jones, and while there are similar elements, it’s also an original story. Interesting concept, good historical fantasy, and an exciting adventure novel. Cover--Yea or Nay: The cover definitely fits the kind of story this is, so yes, I like it. Characters: Ciaran and Donall were good main characters, Donall was a pretty good mentor, and Ciaran was your typical young man who is thrown into a Thoughts on the Overall Book: When I started this book I was kind of expecting a Dark Ages version of Indiana Jones, and while there are similar elements, it’s also an original story. Interesting concept, good historical fantasy, and an exciting adventure novel. Cover--Yea or Nay: The cover definitely fits the kind of story this is, so yes, I like it. Characters: Ciaran and Donall were good main characters, Donall was a pretty good mentor, and Ciaran was your typical young man who is thrown into a difficult situation due to drastic happenings. I liked to see him grow through the story. Alais, I’m kind of torn about. I didn’t dislike her, but she certainly wasn’t one of my favorite heroines either. For the most part she seemed mainly like a victim of circumstance and despite her role in the story I kind of felt she was only there to provide a damsel in distress. I don’t think the story would have been bad without her. Geoffrey could have easily played her role. Ademar was a pretty good villain. He was frightening, and you knew he was perfectly capable of all he threatened. I also liked the supporting characters, though some sadly didn’t stick around long enough for me to really get to know them. One of the main complaints I had with this book was the fact that I thought it could have done with a little more characterization. I got to know Ciaran and Donall pretty well, and even Alais, but at the same time, I think there could have been a little more internalizing, and relationship between the characters. Since this is an action/adventure story though, and more plot driven, it didn’t bother me as much as it could have. I cared about the characters, but I didn’t form a die-hard attachment to them either. The Romance: There really wasn’t much in the way of romance, but there is probably an inkling of there being something between Ciaran and Alais in future. Writing Style: While not the best of most beautiful I have ever read, the writing style fits the book genre well. It’s an action/adventure novel and on occasion kind of reads like a movie. Again I can tolerate that because of the genre. In fact, I think this book would make an awesome movie. On that note, it was very visual, and the description was easy to picture and very vivid. This is something I am always glad of in books like this because reading fantasy novels that I can’t picture or follow really bothers me. The mixture of historical events and mythology and biblical myth (not sure what else to call it) was pretty interesting and unique. It made for good historical fantasy material and there’s a detailed author’s note in the back of the book explaining what is what. Problems/What bothered me: Apart from the characterization pet peeve I have and that fact that I obviously didn’t really agree with the biblical aspect of this book (though I didn’t expect to seeing as this is fantasy) I really didn’t have any other big problems. I think the beginning could have been stretched out a little more to get to know the characters a little better before all the action started, but again for this kind of book that’s acceptable. Conclusion: 3/5 stars. It was a very good debut novel, a fast read and a good adventure. Despite the couple niggles I had, I did enjoy it. Recommended Audience: Historical fantasy fans and those who love books about puzzles and codes that lead to finding hidden artifacts. I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review; that in no way changes my opinion or rating for this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    In full disclosure I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. This book is a blend of historic fiction, fantasy, action thriller, mystery and apoplectic themes. While trying to be all of these genres makes it interesting and more original, it overreaches and suffers from the fact that it never fully realizes any of them because it is pulled back by one of the others. For example while some parts are historic fiction it loses a lot of realism because it is also a fantasy with magical elements, In full disclosure I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. This book is a blend of historic fiction, fantasy, action thriller, mystery and apoplectic themes. While trying to be all of these genres makes it interesting and more original, it overreaches and suffers from the fact that it never fully realizes any of them because it is pulled back by one of the others. For example while some parts are historic fiction it loses a lot of realism because it is also a fantasy with magical elements, conversely the fantasy never feels like a special other world because it is also a historical fiction. As part of the same problem, the genres also lack some depth, for example we are told a little about the magic system, but it never goes into as much details as other fantasy books, because it has to move on with the other parts of the story. The different genres aren’t really integrated, and most of the time a chapter will have the feel of just one of them rather than a blend of two or more. I thought the thriller/mystery was well written; it had the feel of a Dan Brown novel that is set in a historical/fantasy world. The pacing is nice and fast, and the story stays exciting and interesting throughout. There were times were I felt the magical abilities of the characters was too powerful, especially early on in the book. This meant it never felt that the characters were in danger because they always had their magic to save them. Later in the book it was less of a problem as they were facing more powerful opponents. There were some moments that were hard to believe, for example near the start of the book, a group of monks decide to fight some soldiers (under the command of a bishop), and to me this didn’t seem very monk-like, especially as the soldiers weren’t acting too badly. I also felt it was somewhat unrealistic that, other than the main antagonists, no-one had a problem with the main characters using magic. The characters were okay, Brother Ciaran was interesting with a strong personality, but I did think he didn’t think or acted like a monk. He didn’t have much of a problem with killing or hurting people, he also didn’t seem to think much was wrong with the thoughts and feelings he had for Alais. Alais was an interesting character; she was a good blend of a strong but vulnerable female who is held back by the trappings of the times. I feel that this book is borderline adult only due to some scenes of a sexual nature, although it maybe okay for the older end of a young adult (sixteen or seventeen and older). I really enjoyed “historical notes” at the end of the book, it lists the inspiration the author had from real events as you would expect, but he also admits where he has changed facts to make for a more interesting story, this honesty is why I decided to give the book a full four stars instead of three and a half. Overall this was a good book, which was an interesting mixture of historical fiction, fantasy, action thriller, mystery and apoplectic themes. But by trying to be a jack-of-all-trades it becomes a master of none. It doesn’t have the depth a book has when it focuses on just one of these genres and at times it is hurt by being pulled in different directions by these different ideas. Still it was an exciting and interesting read.

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