Book Review – Conclave

conclave

My Robert Harris mania goes on! As if I hadn’t had enough of him after reading the Cicero trilogy, I have now read his latest title, Conclave. And it’s a pretty good one, y’all.

I find it funny that, coming from such a strongly Catholic country, I am so ignorant about most aspects of that faith. I had no idea what happened after a Pope died, or how a new one is elected. I’m not just talking about what we see in the news, but about all the nitty-gritty procedures that only the cardinals know about.

As always, Robert Harris proves to be a very elucidating man. Not only does he write novels that grip you and never let go, but he also lets his knowledge seep through his prose and inform his readers. Now I know much more about choosing a Pope than ever before!

But let’s discuss the novel itself, shall we?

The Pope is dead. When a nun finds him dead in his bed, victim of a heart attack, the cardinals residing in Rome know what must be done. A conclave must be called upon to choose his successor.

As Dean of the College of Cardinals, it will fall to Lomelli to watch over the procedures and ensure that everything goes smoothly. Things wouldn’t be so problematic if it wasn’t for the fact that he, himself, has felt his faith waver recently. Lately he has started wondering, who is he really serving? God, or the Church?

There will be, of course, men whose ambition will get in the way of a clean election. Mistakes made many years ago will get in the way; conservatism will show its ugliest face; and even blackmailing and bribery will prevent the Conclave from selecting the best candidate among the many cardinals who have reunited in Rome.

It will be then that Lomelli’s sacred mission will become clear to him: he, who had been described as a manager rather than a shepherd, will have to cut through the lies and secrets in order to let the Conclave find a candidate whose nomination won’t unleash a scandal upon the Church. But what will he do when he himself becomes the number one candidate…?

I am quite the fan of political intrigue, and Robert Harris is a master of the genre. Here, as in the Cicero trilogy, we find the intricacies of politics written in such a way that they become appealing, rather than boring. You don’t need to be religious or a Catholic in order to enjoy this book; as long as you enjoy intellectual thrillers, this will be a safe choice for your bedside table.

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