Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review--Praetorian

It's 2009, and Special Agent Kasandra Rodriguez of the FBI, is on the trail of a serial killer whose modus operandi is to decapitate the victims, and carve arcane symbols on the each victim's chest, while leaving no trace of the severed heads.

Soon Special Agent Rodriguez realizes she's in over her own head.

About 2,000 years over her head.

She seeks the aid of Professor Julian, an expert in ancient languages, only to find out he's more than just a mild-mannered scholar.  Julian is one of four Praetorian Guardsmen, who've been made immortal by Jesus Christ, and charged with protecting mankind.

As it turns out, these Praetorians have been trying to stop this "Judgment Killer" for the past 20 centuries.

Praetorian, obviously isn't the first story about immortals: Highlander, the film and the series come to mind. 

Nor is this the first story about someone made immortal by Christ:  Casca, the Eternal Mercenary has been alive and kicking since 1979.

 I've never read any of these books, only the back cover synopses.  As a writer and "cafeteria Catholic," I felt it was out of character for someone who preached we should love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), to turn around and curse one of his executioners. 

Praetorian differed from Casca on this principle of divine grace:  The immortal Romans were all accomplices in Christ's crucifixion, and yet were later forgiven by Him when he rose from the dead.

Despite the tie-in to Christian beliefs, I'd be surprised to find this novel in the Christian Literature Section, due to the graphic violence depicted in the story.

While I found Praetorian somewhat predictable, it was still a satisfying 3-star read.  I figured out who the killer was, and how the story should end; but I wasn't sure about the motivation behind the killings.

My only quibble is--it was unlikely that any of the Praetorian Guard took part in crucifying Christ.  Their primary duty was to safeguard the Caesars--when they weren't assassinating emperors they were displeased with, or selling the Imperial Throne to the highest bidder.  It's most likely the legionnaires stuck on execution detail that first Good Friday were from Legio VI Ferrata.

But hey.  No matter what legion they were originally assigned to, having some Roman soldiers kicking bad-guy butt in the 21st Century is a pretty cool concept, no matter how the story's told.

The artwork reminded me of illustrations you'd find in Heavy Metal magazine--minus the partial, or "full-monty" nudity.

The final page hinted at more stories to follow.  Unfortunately, Outlaw Entertainment, disappeared from the comic book scene near the end of 2009, after releasing several promising titles. 

The only on-line presence remaining of Outlaw Entertainment is a dormant Facebook page, and a single comic trailer advertisement.

You can find used copies of Praetorian in bookstores, or on-line, and often for $5 or less.

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