a fantasy by
Gerard is a centurion leading a Roman legion. In his legion is Max, who resembles a Neanderthal, seems to be immortal and leads a small legion of his own, made up of other primitives. Gerard refers to Max as his uncle and also seems to be immortal. The two of them oversee the crucifixion of Christ.
A few years later, Gerard's legion is sent to the frontier of Germania. He sleeps with a captive only to be disemboweled by her. Max comes to his bedside and eases his passing away.
Gerard finds himself growing up in Germania, aided by recollections of his earlier life. He is a great help to his politician father who takes him away on a diplomatic mission to the Schonau where he meets his mother from his past life and also meets a striking girl with green eyes called Morion, who is attending the diplomatic meeting for someone called Max. On the way home he steals away from his father and goes to Mandor to take up a life with his past mother.
He attends the wedding celebration of his cousin in a family made immortal by being related to Max. He sleeps with a woman, not knowing that she is the bride to be, is caught by the cousin and saved from execution by Max who sends him into exile. He is taken away with a bag over his head by Morion and a troop of primitives. By the time they turn him lose far to the west, he and Morion are attracted to each other and plan to meet further west as soon she has taken care of business for Max with a Bishop of Hypolita.
As Gerard travels along enjoying his freedom, he comes upon a monk who has just been waylaid and his companion slain. The monk warily introduces himself as Brother Simeon and offers to pay him to be his bodyguard whilst he travels to Mont St. Michael with eleven sacred scrolls which he believes his assailants were after.
Gerard agrees, and as they begin traveling together, Morion begins appearing to Gerard in his dreams, repeatedly asking him where he is. Simeon discloses that he is the Abbot of Hypolita. At the first town they come to, they fend off an attack in their room by a pair of ape-like primitives whom Simeon thinks are after the scrolls.
At Mont St. Michael, Simeon adds an eleventh scroll and reveals that not only is there a twelfth, but that he is Matthias, a disciple of Christ who wrote one of the very scrolls. There, they fend off an attack in the night by a large group of ape-like primitives. Matthias announces that the thirteenth scroll waits in Britain and that when all of the scrolls are assembled they can be read together to begin the process of rebuilding the world.
On their way across the Channel, they are beset by a tempest with a waterspout. Gerard and Matthias are the only ones to escape when their ship is turned into an inferno by lightning. When they find their way to the abbey at Venta (Winchester) and inquire about the twelfth scroll, they find that it has been declared an unholy work of the Devil. They are seized and tortured before they escape to find themselves pursued by the primitives again. Soon Gerard is not only having more visions of Morion, but of Max as well, and he and Matthias are now having enough close encounters with the primitives that it is clear that Morion and Max are indeed in league with them, attempting to get hold of the scrolls.
How all of this leads to the postponing of Armageddon would not be fair to disclose to potential readers, but as one can see, it is the beginning of a most unusual and intriguing story which develops and engages the reader very much like the very best fast reading murder mysteries. As far as I am aware, it is quite a new twist to slightly alter biblical and natural history in order to make a good fantasy. In the midst of its first rate entertaining of the reader, it raises thought provoking questions. One can plainly see at the end of the story why Armageddon is indeed postponed, but just exactly who are the demons here? Are they Morion and burly low browed Max and their wolf-men followers? Or are they abbots who order people nailed to timbers in blacksmiths' sheds whilst scheming over plans of enlarged monasteries?
Whatever the answer, Postponing Armageddon is outstanding entertainment, and as it is with the best films, I was compelled to read it twice immediately.
Carol Marrs Phipps