I have told you yesterday about Code Name, the first volume in the Codex Aureus trilogy. Today I have finished the second book, The 3 parchments. You probably wonder how come I read it so fast? Well, I liked it. Actually I loved it. There was something in it (tell you maybe in another article what) that made me love it until the last sheet. If in the first volume the action occurred from 1964 till 2016, this time it goes way back in the past, during World War II, 1942 more precisely, when Heinrich Himmler was the right hand of Adolf Hitler, one of the most atrocious personalities in history. Heinrich Himmler wanted the codex as there were many others. But this time, in this book, the manuscript is put aside to tell us an additional story, the one of the parchments. They say they were written by monks in a code very difficult to break, and that it can decipher the content of the Codex Aureus manuscript. The one that would do that would have unlimited power.
What I noticed in this volume is that there are more characters than in the previous book, and many of them come and go. There are also some that stay from the beginning till the end, and they are the ones who give the course of the book.
At the beginning, there is Heinrich Himmler, who wants the parchments, and there are a few scenes with him, but his presence fades away. We know he is there, but he doesn’t show much.
Also, important characters start to come in, like Stalin, Gheorghe Gheorghiu Dej, Nicolae Ceausescu and others who were members of the Communist Party. This book is even more sensitive than the other, as it touches subjects like the Communism and Nazism crimes. It brings to light people that many of us want to bury deep down in our memory, or even refuse to accept that they existed (never had a chance to know one, but they sure are).
After World War II, SS Officer Walther Markus is trapped in Romania and is forced to create an illegal identity, taking into account the timeline. He took a job and adopted a name of Valentin Marcu, trying to look as normal as could be. But he needed to have the three parchments secretly in order to complete his mission. He was capable to do anything to get them, to eliminate anyone who would stand in his way, even his own friend, Rudolf Reiner. He is smart and is able to outcome any situation.
On the religious side, there is Antonio Mantica, one of the key characters from Vatican in charge of taking the parchments, but he has secrets too. Actually, I guess everybody has a hidden secret, everybody wants to follow their own interest to come out to the surface eventually, especially as the ones above try to get rid of the ones who know too much after no longer needing them. It is like a game of who kills who.
In Romania, there isn’t much talking about the Codex, maybe because they already have it. The government is only interested in keeping it, not getting it. It might be a bit easier, but they still have to protect if from specialised criminals and smart thieves that would come get it as soon as they would have the opportunity. They are more preoccupied over politics, running the country. At first, you think they are the good guys having normal politician talks, but as you start to get deeper into their lives you notice that they are not as clean as you initially thought.
What’s interesting about this volume, or better said about the entire series, is that it mixes fiction with reality so well that at one point you stop being able to distinguish between the two of them. The author skilfully connected them so that he would give us a story that we can get lost into, a story where we can imagine how much is fiction and how much is reality.
Again, I was surprised about the amount of knowledge the author has about Romania, the past, the strings that are pulled in the high classes of the government, but even about the small characters that didn’t have great impact over history, but which were there.
I admit that at some point I got lost into the story. I mean there is a wonderful feeling to come into the life of such characters, to notice their discussions, even if their talks are only fiction. After all at one point, fiction can turn into reality, especially when is based on real persons.
The final book of the trilogy is called ‘The last pawn’ and will be published this year in May. Till then, I will leave you with these two reviews and hope you enjoy them.
I wish you all happy reading. 🙂
© Gabriela Radulescu, January 13, 2019