The Book of Fate

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I enjoy reading.  For a lot of reasons.  It's insightful.  Educational.  Fun. Rewarding.  Revelatory. Instructive. 

And, sometimes, it's not.

I'm not afraid of buying a book based on its cover.  Of course, when I mention "the cover" that includes the back cover as well.  Plot summaries are obviously helpful.  I don't know that I would purchase a book based on the cover picture alone.  That would be a weakness that I reserve for CDs alone.

I was in need of "filler," a pleasant diversion from other things, to be easily digested in a fairly short amount of time.  You know, like a warm, soft and buttery croissantcroissant lightly covered with honey, a very short term commitment with no expectation of abating hunger.  Basically, it was time to read a book.  It was to be an entertaining book that did not reach beyond its stature as "disposable fiction."  That doesn't mean that I didn't want to get anything out of it, though.  A croissant is still a croissant.  And as such, there should be at least one "aha" moment, that point where the reader feels edified for having learned just a little something more about life... or how to live it.

Thus motivated, I purchased The Book of Fate.  The book is about the personal assistant to an ex-President, Wes, who suddenly discovers a political cover-up that surrounds an assassination attempt that ended his employer's Presidency at1690300601 one term and that also resulted in his own facial disfigurement.   Standard cloak and dagger stuff, with a touch of melancholy.

Per the back cover basics, it clearly appeared to qualify as a croissant, suitably baked and prepared to serve.  It also hinted at the fluff and butter ((I'm reserving the honey for later) in the form of "disturbing secrets buried in Freemason history" and a "two hundred year old code invented by Thomas Jefferson that conceals secrets worth dying for."  Hey, I've seen National Treasure.  I know this stuff is real. 

The fact is that I've been able to tour a fair number of Masonic lodges and Shriner temples, and I've always been a little curious about the history of it.  But... not enough to join the club or read a "tells all" book.  No butter or honey there.

The author, Brad Metzler, in his comments at the conclusion of the book, indicates he spent 3 years researching freemasonry.  As much revelatory exposition as I uncovered in its pages, I suspect that I could have gained significantly more insight prodding Mr. Google for perhaps 15 minutes.  The back cover was clearly drafted by someone sensitive to reader interest polling or a publisher's handbook of fishing hooks.  The topical allusion was a strike-out compared to other authors like James Rollins or Dan Brown, who by research provide a reasonable measure of background information before launching into wild beyond of their imaginations. After all, the best fiction has some basis in fact.

A better result came from the author's research into the relationship between the President and his aides and the manner by which the daily grind is ground.  Comments regarding an unspoken system of understanding and carrying out the President's desires in social situations were, by the author's admission, based on insights provided by those that have lived in that world.  Closely related was Wes' consistently cynical point of view about the inherent but necessary falsehoods behind every Presidential appearance - the practiced smile, the rehearsed and calculated tone of sincerity in speeches, the seeming conviction of the double clasped handshake ... that kind of thing.  These were observations that made the book worth reading, if to no particular advantage.

The plot, however, suffered.  There was nothing about the characters that suggested that the reader should really care for any of them, and even the bad guys weren't so despicable that their eventually comeuppance held anything satisfying.  Other than Wes, the characters played roles instead of well defined people.  And as for Wes, well, the disadvantaged deserve sympathy, but it doesn't mean they're automatically likable.

The plot had an interesting leverage point, that being the ability of a member from each major intelligence agency to "independently" corroborate national threats amongst themselves to generate a personal profit.  But... it might have been better suited to another story that involved, oh, a 007 who is burned by bad intel and traces it backwards.  Or a use of that power towards more impactful political or military ambitions rather than profit.  Or something... besides a retired President and his handler.  At 5 and a fraction pages per chapter, the book was certainly built as a page turner, but the content didn't measure up.

In short, it was filler.

On to the honey, or lack thereof.  The front cover projects a dark image of a person in theThe Apotheosis foreground of the painting on the ceiling of the Capitol rotunda, namely "The Apotheosis."  This picture depicts George Washington ascending to the heavens as a God.  It's not quite the "We were founded as a Christian nation" centerpiece that some might expect in our nation's capital.  As it turns out, there's not a single scene in the book set in the Capitol.  But combine the possibilities of that picture with the hints of Freemasonry whoknowswhat, and the cover promised far more than it delivered.

Maybe I'll go look for a doughnut.

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