Advance copy provided by Reedsy Discovery.
The Sulphur Priest by Adrian Boas is about a castle in British mandate Palestine. The story unfolds through two accounts: Hermann’s, a German squire in 1271, and Robert, the British assistant to an excavator in 1926. What’s especially fascinating is that much of the book is based on real events and sources, some of which are included in the plot.
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Clever and Mysterious Plot Development
Hermann is helping an old man, Albert, track down his son and ends up at the castle shortly before a siege takes place. While he narrates parts of the past, Robert and his archaeological expedition unearth what’s left of that same castle. Both sides of the story tie into each other and form layers of substance and mystery.
The characters of The Sulphur Priest, existing centuries apart, face adversity in pursuit of different truths. Hermann is very likeable as he does his best to solve the mystery of Albert’s son. Robert is just as relatable while threats and intrigues revolve around the castle, its dark secrets slowly coming to light.
Suspenseful Weaving of Historical Fact and Fiction
Because of the plot’s careful structure, it’s not always clear whether something is fiction or not. And that’s the beauty of the book. Real and made-up parts are laid out in such a way as to build suspense and lead nicely into various twists.
The back and forth in time does fragment the narrative and slightly disrupts immersion. Also, there are a few historical info dumps and seemingly random details. However, these issues are so minor that the strong overall writing style easily counteracts them.
A lot of thought and care clearly went into The Sulphur Priest and the result brims with a love of history, archaeology, and the mysteries of ancient cultures. Fans of The Alchemist, The Name of the Rose, and maybe a bit of Indiana Jones would find it quite interesting.
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