Thursday, December 12, 2002

Seed of the Dogwood Tree by Gregory Cicio


American Book Publishing, 1589820061, $22



Michael Sinclair and his best friend Bruce are archaeology students with one desire - to make that one historical discovery to propel them into a stratosphere of fame, riches, and beautiful women interested in archaeologists. As Seed of the Dogwood Tree opens, both young men are hoping the time is nigh as they happen upon some ancient letters during an excavation of the mines at Mendips in England. Convinced the author is Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem during the Crusades, Michael and Bruce enlist the help of Bruce's uncle for a second, secret excavation in hope of finding something else.



This second trip yields, Michael believes, an even greater treasure - the Cross of Calvary and a jar of what appears to be blood, perhaps a sampling of the very Blood Christ shed for mankind. While Bruce is ready to celebrate, Michael decides to confirm their findings with carbon dating tests at the laboratory where his sister Liz works. Though Liz and her colleagues are engrossed in genetic studies which may one day aid couples having difficulty conceiving children, they are only too happy to take on the side work.



Things, as the reader might expect, do not go as planned for the young discoverers. There are no parades or tours of the talk show circuit, but instead mysterious and dangerous circumstances that lead to several deaths. Michael is soon plunged in the middle of a millennia-old conspiracy involving various secretive orders (seems nearly everybody but the Girl Scouts are participants) who all have designs on the same thing: to control the sequence of events Michael set in motion with his discovery, namely the coming of the Antichrist. Though not of a strong faith, Michael soon comes to find solace in Christ at this time, mainly through the occasional pub wisdom of a man named Gabriel.



In the realm of 'end-times' novels, Seed of the Dogwood Tree works in that it offers a unique twist to the story - author Cicio offers a fascinating fictional account with the cloning and genetic angles. Oftentimes in stories such as these the Antichrist is simply born or appears as an adult from nowhere, whereas here the reader is given a beginning that harkens back somewhat to the works of Aldous Huxley.



That said, Seed of the Dogwood Tree is not without its flaws, albeit minor ones. A long time gap towards the end of the book may leave the reader wanting for more closure for some of the supporting players (Gabriel, in particular) as well as with a few plot questions. Despite this, Seed of the Dogwood Tree does make for a dramatic faith thriller.







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