Sons of Cain: St. Michael, Knights of Longinus, and Bohemians

Can you answer the Teaser Questions at the end?

When I asked my political science and history buff, numerical mechanics expert, Special Ops retired military officer husband to recommend his favorite author so I could read it, it was a wifely effort to show love, to get to know him better. He answered, “Tom Clancy,” and handed me Debt of Honor and Executive Orders, an overwhelming 2,500 page paperback brick stack. My eyes bugged out.

But hey, I’m committed, so I read Tom Clancy’s masterpiece tale, and my hesitation turned into enthusiasm. The technical world of national warfare, really the pitting of good and bad individual leaders against each other, was fascinating and caused me to rethink the meaning of pacifism. Through the characters, I developed an appreciation for the courage and humility required of good leaders. Tom Clancy is a master at teaching through storytelling because his novels are exhaustively researched, reality-based fiction. The two-part story (only part of a bigger series) centers around a terrorist attack in which a hijacked Boeing 747 is flown directly into the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress, decapitating the government. It is interesting to note that the books were published four and six years before September 11, 2001. Many people wondered about the prophetic nature of the book because it turned out to be more real than anyone anticipated. Tom Clancy understands the mentality of his characters, deeply.

Reading Val Bianco’s novel, Sons of Cain, was kind of like that, except Mr. Bianco brings a spiritual fullness to his work that makes it eternally pertinent. It is not nearly as tedious as working through a Clancy military novel, but the progression of the story ushers the reader into a life-changing experience, beckoning a more thoughtful dive into current world events and what goes on the minds of those who cause them. It makes spiritual warfare tangible and present, yet with an inspiring catechetical quality. I no longer wonder how to think of angels and demons, and I can almost see the “spiritual space” in the battle of good and evil when I consider how and why certain events happen the way they do. Are there large and terrible demons with their claws dug deeply in the heads and abdomens of men, preying on their minds and souls, coercing them to malice and perceived power, even as it makes them feel sick? Think about it!

The book begins with the story of Pope Leo XIII’s vision of St. Michael and explains the prophetic nature of that vision. By the end of the book, the reader will better understand the nature of spiritual warfare and how we are all called to battle it in whatever way God arms us to do so. And these battles go before and beyond our lifetimes.

“It happened in his soul moments before it registered to his senses. Panic seized him as deep in his spine he felt, more than heard, the rumbling guttural roar begin with the power of a hundred locomotives. Mind reeling, Leo thought that he might be dying and for the first time in his long life The Pope was suddenly petrified beyond prayer. He was faintly aware of an aide calling him as his sight faded completely. He slipped into unconsciousness, and then… it began.”

Sons of Cain may be full of research and insight, but Mr. Bianco’s writing style could be compared to John Grisham’s for his ability to capture the reader and pull him into the story so that he forgets he is reading and instead wonders later if he were really there. I’d be remiss to omit that in a sense, this book is like the Left Behind Series (yes, we both read the whole thing) because of the apocalyptic content, but sans the over-imaginative biblical interpretation that evokes a guarded caution in the reader; that is to say, Sons of Cain is much more believable. It’s a story that could happen and the fictional characters are woven into a political tale that is perhaps more believable than the reader may want to admit, for the same reason Clancy’s story was. It’s well researched, and eerily – entirely plausible.

That’s the power of this novel, a power that kept me awake at night as it all settled into my soul. The boxing priest, the valiant Special Ops modern-day yet ever-ancient knight, the endearing and redeemed athletic maiden drawn back to the faith of her childhood, the regal Spanish monk with the black Andalusian and a past, the evil imperious leaders who shrink in the face of their own choices, the demonic spirits and the herioic angels – each demand the reader’s attention. You’ll know them by the end, and, as with any great novel, you’ll miss some of them when you close the covers.

“Yet now they delicately cradled what he believed to be the living Body of Christ. She was stricken by the paradox. In many ways, this priest was a modern statement of Renaissance manhood, a Christ-like balance of strength, loyalty and purity of Faith. She recalled the authority in his voice as he commanded the thug to ‘be gone from this Holy Place’. Watching him now, she understood that he had been protecting this bread and wine as much as he was her. How ironic, she thought, that a man bereft of women could represent his gender with such astute dignity and perfect clarity.”

Were I to compare Val Bianco’s Sons of Cain to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, I could only say that while both manage a gripping narrative, only the former sets forth no misrepresentation of Holy Mother Church – and for that it is a masterpiece. It is a necessary read, for it is conceivable that this tale is as prophetic as Clancy’s was, except that this one also prepares you for the spiritual battles that may lay ahead not only with a clarity about why they need to be fought, but also with a confidence in the peace that comes by trusting in the infinite mercy and justice of God. And in addition to all of that, Val Bianco is gifted with the ability to turn a phrase.

“To “belong” is the grand addiction of the privileged; a lust which cannot be sated by mere fame, power or women. Men, beyond wealthy, who have spent a lifetime chasing that name dropping, blue-blooded genie that they’d christened “Success” weren’t about to forfeit it over a silly little fireside show. So this was the opiate, this was their last high. Do you have what it takes to be one of us? Do you get it? Is joining us important enough that you are willing to suspend your common sense, your manhood and your faith, in order to accept that what we are is more important, more worthy than all that you have been until now? Have you arrived? Are you one of us, enough to be called…Bohemian?”

The book is available at Amazon, in hard copy and in Kindle format for only $5. Also be sure to visit the website to learn more about what is real in the book. This would be a perfect summer reading gift… to yourself!

*If you would like a review copy, please contact me.

 

16 Responses to Sons of Cain: St. Michael, Knights of Longinus, and Bohemians

  • “Watching him now, she understood that he had been protecting this bread and wine as much as he was her.” “Watching him now, she understood that he had been protecting the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, under the appearances of this bread and wine as much as he was her.” It is Jesus Christ Who gives us the power to command demons and their minions. It is Jesus Christ for Whom the Angels battle Satan.

  • Five: Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy. Pope Leo XIII. The miracle of the Sun. “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?” Dismus. Longinus cast the spear into Jesus Christ’s side, and was converted by the Blood of Christ. Two. Individuals who forfeit their humanity for success.

  • Good writing, I mean of Stacy Trasancos

  • Kindle, $5, boom. Mine. Starting . . . now.

  • Very fun read. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to some more from Val Bianco.

  • Mary,

    “Watching him now, she understood that he had been protecting the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, under the appearances of this bread and wine as much as he was her.”

    AMEN!

    In the story at this point, the narrative is through the eyes of a young woman who is in the beginning stages of reverting back to her childhood faith. She has just been rescued by this priest and is amazed at his reverence for God’s gifts.

    Oh…I’d better not say too much. ;-)

    Thank you, Mary!

  • Thank you, Stacy Trasancos: “Watching him now, she understood that he had been protecting this bread and wine as much as he was her.”
    “Watching him now, she understood that he had been protecting this bread and wine, Whom she would later come to realize is the Real Presence, as much as he was her. (or maybe more?) Calling Jesus bread and wine after consecration does not make sense to me. Let us leave it at that. OK?
    God bless you.
    Mary

  • Well, Mary, if you read the entire Chapter, you will find that there is absolutely NO question about the True Presence. It is, in fact, celebrated throughout the entire novel. It is, after all, the absolute core of our faith. You did very well on the questions: Missed a SC Judge, Quite a few more Oct 13 events, missed a State on Physician Assited Suicide. Perfect on all the rest.

    SONS OF CAIN will receive the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval in June, so if you ever decide to give it a look, please rest assured that it is faithful to Church teaching. Thank you for your input, Mary. God Bless you and I hope you have a nice weekend.

  • I must admit upfront that I did not read this article. However, the title of the book caught my attention and I comment strictly from a biblical exegesis point of view.

    If you follow the lineage in the early chapters of Genesis, you may notice that the line of Cain does not follow through. Biblically, we are not “Sons of Cain” but sons of Seth.

    Maybe symbolic Sons of Cain in our sinfulness and lack of respect for our brother, but I just thought I would take this opportunity to do a little Bible trivia.

  • Peter Trahan, why would you ever comment about something you are not educated on? Take 5 minutes and read the article. Any good Catholic knows we aren’t actually sons of Cain.

  • The last sentence in the last quote of the review — is in reference to the title.

    Oh, please!!! Don’t make me give away too much. Just read the book. It’s got lots of accurate and good trivia!

    There’s even a demon named Citereh. Anyone get that name??? :-D

  • “Heretic” spelled backwards.

    As interesting as this book seems, THAT particular bit seems cheesy as heck.

  • Kristin, Haha. OK. That was funny, sorry. :-D

  • Ha ha, Kristin, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. If you decide to read the book, contact me and I’ll send you a copy. I promise, it is a lot of things, but “cheesy” is one adjective I’ve not heard yet. Thanks for your comment, though.

  • I downloaded the book and read it.

    It is, in many ways, a good read. I will likely read it again to get the full feel for what the author is trying to do. And to ensure that the criticisms (such as I have below) are valid.

    With that said, one of the difficult times I had with the novel was attempting to figure out the personal point of view from which it is written. Who is the narrator who is with the Pope in his vision, who has spiritual sight beyond the holy men in the book such that the narrator is fully aware and sightful of all good and evil presences in play at any time? In short, is the narrator claiming angelic sight or to be God?

    Although J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were great friends for many years, as I recall, one of Tolkien’s criticisms of the Screwtape Letters (ironically dedicated to Tolkien) was that it was far too involved “voicing” evil – basically, too far into trying to understand evil. At one moment in Sons of Cain, the author (rightly) notes the dangers of things like the ceremonies taking place in the woods – talking to gods is like opening the door to evil. However, isn’t trying to give evil a voice not unlike this in some way? Using one’s imagination to delve deeply into the nature and operation of evil?

    As Elrond noted in Lord of the Rings: “It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the enemy, for good or for ill.” In that and many similar warnings, I think we hear the voice of Tolkien speaking, and I think it is a good consideration for authors and the rest of us as well.

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