Monday, April 9, 2012

The Voynich Cipher

By: Russell Blake

When a sacred relic is stolen from its subterranean guarded vault, Dr. Steven Cross, amateur cryptographer, becomes embroiled in a deadly quest to decipher one of history's most enigmatic documents - a 15th century parchment written entirely in unbreakable code; The Voynich Manuscript. Stalked by secret societies, and aided by the daughter of a murdered colleague, a trail of riddles catapults Cross from England to Italy to the Middle East, where a Byzantine web of ancient secrets leads him to a revelation so profound it will change the world order.

Another one of my Amazon Kindle free finds, The Voynich Cipher looked like a decent read and, apparently, I caught it at a perfect time as it's now around $3 for the Kindle version. It pays to check Amazon often and to sort by price.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, this book was a really good read.  Lately, I have been finding myself reading through archaeological novels, and The Voynich Cipher just so happens to be another of that genre - though written from a decidedly different perspective. I normally read books by Christian authors, but I have lately been grabbing anything I can from anywhere I can, just so that I can have a diversion at work. This book fit the bill perfectly. Almost too perfectly. I found that I didn't want to put it down. I actually downloaded Kindle for PC onto my laptop so that I could continue reading this book without having to drain my phone battery.

The Voynich Cipher follows the story of Dr. Steven Cross as he becomes entangled in a mystery, wrapped in danger, and delivered by a stunning beauty. Cross finds himself willingly giving up his business and his life to go off in search of an unknown treasure that can only be found after breaking a code that is unbreakable. Along the way, the fires of romantic passion are rekindled and he must decide if the object of his desire is who she claims to be.

As an aside, this book is the second in a series of books involving Dr. Steven Cross - however, I wasn't aware of that until well after reading The Voynich Cipher. You don't have to read the first one to understand this one, but I am going to be looking for the first one because I really like this character.
Blake really roped me in with this story. The plot is believable, the characters connect with you, and the first few chapters pique your curiosity like no other. I dove in and from the moment I finished the first chapter, I knew I was going to enjoy the ride.
That's not to say that it didn't have it's moments of predictability. I did see some of the twists a chapter or two ahead of time, but it wasn't enough to ruin the story, believability, or enjoyment of the book itself.  There was also some sex scenes and references that I could have done without, but again, it didn't ruin anything for me.

Blake is no amateur, and it shows with his writing style. The Voynich Cipher is well paced and everything from the dialogue to the events that play out have a natural feel. Nothing seems forced.  The only real drawback for me was that, though the history seems to be well researched, it seems that Blake should have dug a little deeper into the Bible for information on one character. If Mr. Blake ever reads this, Jesus didn't have any bones broken or crushed.

All in all, I found The Voynich Cipher to be an excellent read. I would highly recommend this book to just about anyone.

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