Monday, April 21, 2008

The Crystal Skull by Manda Scott

I was really excited to receive this book through Librarything's Early Reviewer program. The day after the book arrived I began reading it. I do have to admit that my nervousness about writing a review may have clouded my enjoyment of the book, as this is the first review I've ever written.

This book is about a crystal skull referred to as a heart-stone, two of it's keepers (one past, one present), and possible Armageddon. It is also about the struggle between those who seek with all their souls to do the right thing and those individuals that succumb to the failings of humankind such as greed and a lust for power. It is about reconciling science with the mystical and following your path despite the difficulties.

Overall, I'd say The Crystal Skull by Manda Scott was a good read. The history was fascinating, though I can't vouch for it's accuracy. I found that Manda Scott was able to marry the practical and the mystical very convincingly. The characters are startlingly vivid, especially Fernandez De Aguiler. Character relations were believable and well fleshed out. I also found that most of the scene-setting descriptions were the perfect depth - no tedious goings on about each tree and hill. One criticism I feel I must point out is that a lot of the situations seemed a bit too convenient. The story bounces between past and present. I find no fault with the chapters dealing with the past, in fact they were my favorite. However, in the present things happened much too easily. People were easy to locate, meetings were always possible. Things were unbelievably punctual and reliable. I wouldn't say that it detracted from the story at all, it was just a personal pet peeve. I imagine that most books with an element of mystery and discovery have their own "well, isn't that convenient" moments as well.

All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who likes history with a bit of mystery and suspense thrown in. If I were to generalize, I would group The Crystal Skull with books such as The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and Labyrinth by Kate Mosse for their past/present switching and enthralling history as well as books like Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry, and The Lucifer Gospel by Paul Christopher for their similarly suspenseful history-mystery themes.

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