Christ the Lord shares predilections with her other books. Even in biblical times and in the Holy Land, Ms. Rice retains her obsessions with ritual and purification, with lavish detail and gaudy décor. But she writes this book in a simpler, leaner style, giving it the slow but inexorable rhythm of an incantation. The restraint and prayerful beauty of Christ the Lord is apt to surprise her usual readers and attract new ones.
The New York Times
Believer and nonbeliever alike are familiar with the story of Jesus Christ. But most tales tend to focus on his last days and eventual crucifixion. Rice explores Jesus' youth, and tells of his family's journey from Egypt to Judea and of the requisite strife they encounter along the way. The novel follows the young Jesus as he starts to learn about his divine heritage and experiments with his mysterious healing powers. Heine narrates in an earnest, youthful alto, and one might think this suitable considering that the story is a first-person account of the life of a seven-year-old Jesus; however, the story is actually told by an older Jesus, looking back on the events of his youth, so Heine's innocent and childlike performance is somewhat out of place. Though competent, Heine's reading lacks any spark or fire to it, making the overall result rather bland. Heine is also bound by the source material, which, while an honest and heartfelt attempt to explore the all-but-unknown youth of Jesus, fails to live up to its lofty ambitions. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 10). (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A novel with Jesus of Nazareth as the narrator from the author who has spent decades writing about vampires may strike many as strange, but Rice brings the same passion to her colorful account of the young Jesus and his quest to understand his strange powers (turning clay pigeons into live birds, bringing a dead child back to life). As in her other books, Rice has extensively researched the historical context in which she writes, here drawing on the Gospels and respected New Testament scholarship. The story opens with the seven-year-old Jesus and his family living in Egypt, where Jesus is the prize pupil of the scholar Philo. Joseph (Jesus has been carefully taught not to call him Father) decides adamantly that the family must return to their Jewish homeland in Israel. On the journey to Nazareth, Jesus continues to experience supernatural abilities and tries to come to terms with what they mean. Rice's Jesus is childlike but divine, wise beyond his years yet wondering who he is and why he is different from other boys. In her attempt to breathe life into a historical religious figure, Rice's superb storytelling skills enable her to succeed where many other writers have failed. Whether or not her literary conversion to this story will be accepted by fans and critics alike remains to be seen. Highly recommended for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/05.]-Tamara Butler, Bryant & Stratton Coll. Lib, Buffalo, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-In crisp, straightforward prose, Rice leaves the gothic behind and explores the mysteries beneath the childhood of Jesus. At age seven, the boy and his family leave Egypt to return to their home. They find themselves caught in a revolution after the death of the first King Herod, ruler of the portion of the Roman Empire that includes Israel. Although the historical and cultural details are authentic and well done, it is the character of Jesus that drives this novel. He feels like a typical seven-year-old, but he's also suddenly discovering abilities that no one else possesses. He brings clay birds to life, makes snow fall, and even resurrects a dead playmate. Stunned by these odd happenings, he turns to Joseph and Mary for answers. When they are not forthcoming, he's forced to hunt out clues through local legends, rumors, and a strange spirit that taunts him in his dreams. The story is told from Jesus's point of view, and the strength of the book weighs heavily on Rice's ability to make him believable both as a child and as the son of God; she does a winning job. The wisdom of all things religious fills Jesus completely, but he's naive about day-to-day events: he can't understand why a young girl he used to play with prefers at age 12 to learn about weaving and rearing children. This new direction for Rice is both bold and reverent, and is bound to please fans and newcomers alike.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A riveting, reverent imagining of the hidden years of the child Jesus. Attacked by a vicious bully, seven-year-old Yeshua employs uncanny powers to drop his assailant onto the sand and then to bring him back to life. It's the remarkable beginning of the 26th novel by an author whose pulpy vampire chronicles (Blood Canticle, 2003, etc.) hardly prepare us for a book so spiritually potent as this. Following Jesus and his family's journey from Egyptian exile to their ancestral home, it recasts Bible stories (the Magi's visit, the presentation at the temple) in the detailed context of Jewish rebellion against Herod Archelaus, the impious ruler of Israel. A cross between a historical novel and an update of Tolstoy's The Gospels in Brief, it presents Jesus as nature mystic, healer, prophet and very much a real young boy. Essentially, it's a mystery story, of the child grappling to understand his miraculous gifts and numinous birth. He animates clay pigeons, causes snowfall and dazzles his elders with unheard-of knowledge. Rice's book is a triumph of tone-her prose lean, lyrical, vivid-and character: As he ponders his staggering responsibility, the boy is fully believable-and yet there's something in his supernatural empathy and blazing intelligence that conveys the wondrousness of a boy like no other. Rice's concluding Author's Note traces the book's genesis to her return to Catholicism in 1993, her voracious reading-a mountain of New Testament scholarship, the Apochrya, the ancient texts of Philo and Jospephus-and her passionate search for the Jesus of the Gospels. With this novel, she has indeed found a convincing version of him; this is fiction that transcends story and instead qualifies asan act of faith. Joins Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ and Shusaku Endo's A Life of Jesus as one of the bolder re-tellings. First printing of 500,000
Praise for Christ the Lord
“Rice blends Gospel fact with popular myth to create a finely tuned work of historical fiction.”
“Rice writes this book in a simpler, leaner style, giving it the slow but inexorable rhythm of an incantation. The restraint and prayerful beauty of Christ the Lord is apt to surprise her usual readers and attract new ones.”
—The New York Times
“Riveting. . . . Rice’s book is a triumph of tone–her prose lean, lyrical, vivid–and character. . . . This is fiction that transcends story and instead qualifies as an act of faith.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Her most daring book yet. . . . Rice shows she still has her great gift to imbue gothic chills with moral complexity and heartfelt sorrow.”
“Riveting. . . . Rice's book is a triumph of tone her prose lean, lyrical, vivid and character. As he ponders his staggering responsibility, the boy is fully believable and yet there's something in his supernatural empathy and blazing intelligence that conveys the wondrousness of a boy like no other. . . . With this novel, she has indeed found a convincing version of him; this is fiction that transcends story and instead qualifies as an act of faith. Joins Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ and Endo's A Life of Jesus as one of the bolder re-tellings.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Praise for Blood Canticle
“When Anne Rice releases a new book in The Vampire Chronicles series, cheers from her huge fan base can be heard everywhere.”
—The Edmonton Journal