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Neil M C Sinclair from Cardiff. Richard C Pendry’s Damascus Redemption is a well-written tale of intrigue, treachery, betrayal and adventure. Though personally I am not an avid fan of fiction or a reader of warfare bravado I found this story an interesting and captivating read. Agilely intertwining modern day warfare and its Special Forces with that of the Middle Ages and its Crusaders, this intriguing account takes the eager reader not only through the dry and arid desert landscape of Syria, Iraq and other places in the Levant but also into the corporate corridors and offices of the West’s outsourced and privatized military defence operations, with particular emphasis on one located in Belgravia Square where its reluctant protagonist, a retired SAS combatant, is persuaded to undertake yet another mercenary mission that reintroduces him to the Marsh Arab region of a war torn and thoroughly devastated Iraq. In a welcome break from the monotony of its testosterone macho action filled opening pages, a poignant moment occurs when, despondent at the tragic accidental loss of his wife and child, the voice of Katie, his deceased wife, intervenes to prevent his suicide as he places a gun to his head. With smatterings of humour, like the time when one character sprays his smelly shirt with body spray, and camaraderie between the boys whose quest for manhood draws them out there into these dangerous feats of daring do, the unspoken subtext of this subject matter however is the long range Western strategic interest in the region. Though it is daily fare on television it is rather sad to see up close the despoiling of the East as fictionally but believably portrayed in the pages of this gripping yarn. The crux of this tale however is the interspersion of a secret, a treasure that, if it were ever to be revealed, would devastate Christian faith, undermining one of the church’s fundamental tenets. Indeed the treasure in question happens to be located in an ossuary found in Palmyra that allegedly contains the remains of the body of Christ. Though this work is fiction, as previously stated, oddly enough alternative historical researcher Ralph Ellis uncovers evidence in his 2008 book King Jesus that actually locates the family of Jesus to the ancient rulers of Palmyra. Thus, it would appear that in Pendry’s fiction insightful coincidence apparently collides with potential historical fact. Although one would like to think that bloodshed in the name of Christ was long a thing of the past, the imperial lust for other people’s resources, however disguised in the cloak of Western Christianity, a mask indeed for the Western elite’s current neo-liberal economic ideology, is an ongoing existential threat to the peace of the peoples of the world that ferociously contradicts what Jesus had intended. Such weighty concerns and ponderous seriousness to the side however, for those who love a good fiction read Pendry’s Damascus Redemption is an enjoyable rollicking rollercoaster of a ride.
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