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"The Poet Prince" is the third book in Kathleen McGowan’s Magdalene Line series. Most church historians will agree that in the early years of Christianity there was a wide variety of understandings with regard to what Christ had taught and exactly who or what he was. In the Magdalene Line series McGowan introduces the reader to one a line of Christianity that goes back to Mary Magdalene. This version of Christianity sees Magdalene as the wife of Jesus, has a Gospel written by Jesus and views the law of love as a fundamental moral principle. The community that follow this line of Christianity lost out as the dominant Christian line in the years following the rise of Constantine and the transformation of Christianity from a persecuted sect to a state religion. In the McGowan novels this community continues to exist as a subtle, underground force throughout history, attempting to shape the world in light of the law of love, rather than the power politics that all too often uses religion as a tool to manipulate people and nations.
The first book in the series established a shell story to root the series in the present and to aid the reader in uncovering the world of the Magdalene Line. Each book also takes the reader back in time to see how different people played a role in the history of this clandestine community and its impact on the world. The first book focused on the tale of Mary Magdalene, as the foundation story for the series. The second book developed the doctrinal content of the series and the characters that populated the shell story in the present. The historical aspect of the book told the story of Matilda of Tuscany, one of the truly great women of the Middle Ages. The third book in the series focuses on Lorenzo de Medici, one of the moving forces of the Renaissance. The shell story is also developed.
While the first two books in the series had their virtues and were engaging enough to get me to come back for the next installment, the third book had me all the way through. The author focused on the story and the characters, with much less of the didactic that filled the earlier works. All of the significant characters in both the shell story and the tale of Lorenzo de Medici were much more multi-dimensional than in the first two books; not just the heroic lovers of each tale, as with the earlier books.
My biggest complaint regarding the first two books was that the villains were cardboard characters, who came across as mere plot devices rather than as real people. In The Poet Prince there was a real improvement with the villains. Each of the villains was sufficiently developed that you could understand why they made the choices they did. It became a cavalcade of the seven deadly sins, as the villains made their choices from greed, lust, envy, shame, pride and even psychosis fueled by toxic and fanatical faith.
My complements to the narrator, Cassandra Campbell; she did an excellent job of making the characters come alive and providing distinct voices for each of them.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
I am sure others will review this book and write more eloquently than me. I will state, however, that I consider the book to be well-written, and it touched me deeply in myriad ways. Cassandra Campbell narrated the book in a world-class manner; easy on the ears and very convincing.
If you are familiar with the first two books of the Magdalene Line (The Expected One and The Book of Love), and if you liked them, then you will, in my opinion, consider this offering even a notch higher in quality and storytelling. I believe that through what was probably a huge amount of research on the part of the author, we have to stop and, at least, consider her beliefs and the arguments she presents to defend them. Even the author's notes at the end were enjoyable.
There might be others who will review this book and give it low marks. Perhaps one should consider their motives. It is easy to be cynical of love. Only the brave push through the sorrow to attain it. And, as far as Kathleen McGowan's skill as a writer is concerned, she is very skilled. Everyone who reviews on this book is entitled to their opinion, but I know a great writer when I read one.
Now for my soap box: as with many of the more recent audio books, I am disappointed that there is less and less ... or none ... incidental music. I believe we are being short-changed by the publishers. Music is every bit important in an audio book as it is in a movie. It actually rests the ear. But, though this audio book does not have any incidental music, do not let that keep you from making the purchase.
I anxiously await the fourth book.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful