A bomb in Rome, a flash of bluish-white, and photojournalist Josh Ryder's world explodes. As Josh recovers, thoughts that have the emotion, the intensity, the intimacy of memories invade him. But they are not his. They are ancient…and violent with an urgency he cannot ignore—pulling him to save Sabina…and the treasures she protects. But who is Sabina?
Desperate for answers, Josh turns to the Phoenix Foundation—a research facility that scientifically documents past-life experiences. He is led to an archaeological dig and to Professor Gabriella Chase, who has discovered an ancient, powerful secret that threatens to merge the past with the present.
Here, the dead call out to the living, and murders of the past become murders of the present.
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By M. J. Rose
MiraCopyright © 2007 M. J. Rose
All right reserved.
They will come back, come back again, As long as the red earth rolls.
He never wasted a leaf or a tree.
Do you think he would squander souls? Rudyard Kipling
Rome, Italysixteen months ago
Josh Ryder looked through the camera's viewfinder, focusing on the security guard arguing with a young mother whose hair was dyed so red it looked like she was on fire. The search of the woman's baby carriage was quickly becoming anything but routine, and Josh moved in closer for his next shot.
He'd just been keeping himself busy while awaiting the arrival of a delegation of peacekeepers from several superpowers who would be meeting with the pope that morning, but like several other members of the press and tourists who'd been ignoring the altercation or losing patience with it, he was becoming concerned. Although searches went on every hour, every day, around the world, the potential for danger hung over everyone's lives, lingering like the smell of fire.
In the distance the sonorous sound of a bell ringing called the religious to prayer, its echo out of sync with the woman's shrill voice as she continued to protest. Then, with a huge shove, she pushed the carriage against the guard's legs, and just as Josh brought the image into that clarity he called "perfectvision," the kind of image that the newspaper would want, the kind of conflict they loved captured on film, he heard the blast.
Then a flash of bluish white light.
The next moment, the world exploded.
In the protective shadows of the altar, Julius and his brother whispered,reviewing their plans for the last part of the rescue and recovery. Each of them kept a hand on his dagger, prepared in case one of the emperor's soldiers sprang out of the darkness. In Rome, in theYear of their Lord 391, temples were no longer sanctuaries for pagan priests. Converting to Christianity was not a choice, but an official mandate. Resisting was a crime punishable by death. Blood spilled in the name of the Church was not a sin, it was the price of victory.
The two brothers strategizedDrago would stay in the temple for an hour longer and then rendezvous with Julius at the tomb by the city gates. As a diversion, that morning's elaborate funeral had been a success, but they were still worried. Everything depended on this last part of their strategy going smoothly.
Julius drew his cape closed, touched his brother's shoulder, bidding him goodbye and good luck, and skulked out of the basilica, keeping to the building's edge in case anyone was watching. He heard approaching horses and the clatter of wheels. Flattening himself against the stone wall, Julius held his breath and didn't move. The chariot passed without stopping.
He'd finally reached the edge of the porch when, behind him, like a sudden avalanche of rocks, he heard an angry shout split open the silence: "Show me where the treasury is!"
This was the disaster Julius and his brother had feared and discussed, but Drago had been cleareven if the temple was attacked, Julius was to continue on. Not turn back. Not try to help him. The treasure Julius needed to save was more important than any one life or any five lives or any fifty lives.
But then a razor-sharp cry of pain rang out, and ignoring the plan, he ran back through the shadows, into the temple and up to the altar.
His brother was not where he'd left him. "Drago?"
No answer. "Drago?"
Where was he?
Julius worked his way down one of the dark side aisles of the temple and up the next. When he found Drago, it wasn't by sound
He pulled him closer to the flickering torches. Drago's skin was already deathly pale, and his torn robe revealed a six-inch horizontal slash on his stomach crossing a vertical gash that cut him all the way down to his groin.
Julius gagged. He'd seen eviscerated carcasses of both man and beast before and had barely given them a passing glance. Sacrifices, felled soldiers or punished criminals were one thing. But this was Drago. This blood was his blood.
"You weren't supposed to come back," Drago said, dragging every syllable out as if it was stuck in his throat. "I sent him to look in the loculi for the treasures. I thought Stabbed me, anyway. But there's time for us to get out now now!" Drago struggled to raise himself up to a sitting position, spilling his insides as he moved.
Julius pushed him down. "Now we need to go now." Drago's voice was weakening. Trying to staunch the blood flow, Julius put pressure on the laceration, willing the intestines and nerves and veins and skin to rejoin and fuse back together, but all he accomplished was staining his hands in the hot, sticky mess.
"Where are the virgins?" The voice erupted like Vesuvius without warning and echoed through the interior nave. Raucous laughter followed.
How many soldiers were there? "Let's find the booty we came here for," another voice chimed in. "Not yet, first I want one of the virgins. Where are the virgin whores?"
"The treasury first, you lecherous bastard."
So it wasn't one man; a regiment had stormed the temple. Shouting, demanding, blood-lust coating their words. Let them pillage this place, let them waste their energy, they'd come too late: there were no pagans to convert, no treasure left to find and no women left to rape, they'd all already been killed or sent into hiding.
"We have to go "Drago whispered as once again he fought to rise.
He'd stayed behind to make sure everyone else got out safely. Why him, why Drago?
"You can't move, you've been hurt" Julius broke off, not knowing how to tell his brother that half of his internal organs were
"Then leave me.You need to get to her Save her and the treasures . No one no one but you "
It wasn't about the sacred objects anymore. It was about two people who both needed him desperately: the woman he loved and his brother, and the fates were demanding Julius sacrifice one of them for the other.
I can't let her die and I can't leave you to die. No matter which one he chose,how would he live with the decision? "Look what I found," one of the soldiers shouted.
Screams of vengeance reverberated through the majestic hall. A shriek rang out above all the other noise. A woman's cry.
Julius crawled out, hid behind a column and peered into the nave. thrashing under the brute as the soldier pumped away so roughly that blood pooled under her. Who was the poor woman? Had she wandered in thinking she'd find a safe haven in the old temple, only to find she'd descended into hell? Could Julius help her? Take the men by surprise? No, there were too many of them. At least eight he could see. By now the rape had attracted more attention, drawing other men who forgot about their search to crowd around and cheer on their compatriot.
And what would happen to Drago if he left his side?
Then the question didn't matter because beneath his hands, Julius felt his brother's heart stop.
He felt his heart stop.
Julius beat Drago's chest, pumping and trying, trying but failing to stimulate the beating. Bending down, he breathed into his brother's mouth,forcing his own air down his throat,waiting for any sign of life.
Finally, his lips still on his brother's lips, his arm around his brother's neck, he wept, knowing he was wasting precious seconds but unable to stop. Now he didn't have to choose between themhe could go to the woman who was waiting for him at the city gates.
He must go to her.
backed up, found the wall and started crawling. There was a break in the columns up ahead; if he could get to it undetected, he might make it out.
And then he heard a soldier shout for him to halt.
If he couldn't save her, Julius would at least die trying, so, ignoring the order, he kept moving.
Outside, the air was thick with the black smoke that burned his lungs and stung his eyes. What were they incinerating now? No time to find out. Barely able to see what lay ahead of him, he kept running down the eerily quiet street. After the cacophony of the scene he'd just left, it was alarming to be able to hear his own footsteps. If someone was on the lookout the sound would give him away, but he needed to risk it.
Picturing her in the crypt, crouched in the weak light, counting the minutes, he worried that she would be anxious that he was late and torment herself that something had gone dangerously wrong. Her bravery had always been as steadfast as the stars; it was difficult even now to imagine her afraid. But this was a far different situation than anything she'd ever faced, and it was all his fault, all his shame.
They'd risked too much for each other. He should have been stronger, should have resisted.
And now, because of him, everything they treasured, especially their lives, was at stake.
Tripping over the uneven, cracked surfaces, he stumbled. The muscles in his thighs and calves screamed, and every breath irritated his lungs so harshly he wanted to cry out. Tasting dirt and grit mixed with his salty sweat as it dripped down his face and wet his lips, he would have given anything for watercold, sweet water from the spring, not this alkaline piss. His feet pounded the stones and more pain shot up through his legs, but still he ran.
Suddenly, raucous shouting and thundering footfalls filled the air. The ground reverberated, and from the intensity he knew the marauders were coming closer. He looked right, left. If he could find a sheltered alcove, he could flatten himself against the wall and pray they'd run past and miss him. As if that would help. He knew all about praying. He'd relied on it, believed in it. But the prayers he'd offered up might as well have been spit in the gutter for the good they'd done.
"The sodomite is getting away!"
"Scum of the earth."
"Scared little pig."
"Did you defecate yourself yet, little pig?"
They laughed,trying to outdo each other with slurs and accusations. Their chortles echoed in the hollow night, lingered on the hot wind, and then, mixed in with their jeers, another voice broke through.
No,don't listen.Keep going.Everything depends on getting to her in time. A heavy fog was rolling in. He stumbled, then righted himself. He took the corner.
On both sides of him were identical colonnades with dozens of doors and recessed archways. He knew this place! He could hide here in plain sight and they would run by and
The voice sounded as if it was coming to him from a great bluegreen distance, but he refused to stop for it.
She was waiting for him to save her to save their secrets and treasures .
The voice was pulling him up, up through the murky, briny heaviness.
Reluctantly, he opened his eyes and took in the room, the equip and blood pressure monitor flashing its LED numbers, the IV drip and the EKG machine, he saw a woman's worried face watching him. But it was the wrong face.
This wasn't the woman he'd been running to save. "Josh? Oh, thank God, Josh. We thought "
He couldn't be here now. He needed to go back.
The taste of sweat was still on his lips; his lungs still burned. He could hear them coming for him under the steady beat of the machines, but all he could think about was that somewhere she was alone, in the encroaching darkness, and yes, she was afraid, and yes, she was going to suffocate to death if he didn't reach her. He closed his eyes against the onslaught of anguish. If he didn't reach her, he would fail her. And something else, too. The treasures? No. Something more important, something just beyond his consciousness, what was it"Josh?"
Grief ripped through him like a knife slitting open his chest, exposing his heart to the raw, harsh reality of having lost her. This wasn't possible. This wasn't real. He'd been remembering the chase and the escape and the rescue as if they had happened to him. But they hadn't. Of course they hadn't.
He wasn't Julius.
He was Josh Ryder. He was alive in the twenty-first century. This scene belonged sixteen hundred years in the past.
Then why did he feel as if he'd lost everything that had ever mattered to him?
Excerpted from The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose Copyright © 2007 by M. J. Rose. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
"One of the most original and exciting novels I've read in a long time, with a premise so delicious I'm sick with envy I didn't think of it myself. It will open your mind to some of the incredible mysteries of the past and the greatest secrets of existence. The Reincarnationist is more than a page-turner-it's a page-burner. Don't miss it."--(Douglas Preston, author of The Book of the Dead)
"A riveting thriller-smart, original, and so well written. Rose hooks you on the first pages of the book, where current-day murders pull the reader into ancient secrets and shocking revelations, and keeps you turning till the stunning denouement."--(Linda Fairstein, author of Bad Blood)
"A breakneck chase across the centuries. Fascinating and fabulous."--(David Morrell, author of Creepers)
"Packed with unforgettable characters, breath-taking drama, and fascinating research, The Reincarnationist cements M.J. Rose's reputation as a master storyteller. Pick your millennium, folks. You're in for a timeless ride."--(Gayle Lynds, author of The Last Spymaster)
"A compelling, ferocious read, an intelligent thrill ride, intricately plotted, with enough twists to keep the reader firmly in M.J. Rose's grasp."--(Robert Ferrigno, author of Prayers for the Assassin)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Reincarnationist is a very fast-paced, suspenseful, exciting read. Others reviewers have written an excellent synopsis of the book, so I'd just add that after having read numerous books on reincarnation, as well as my own personal experience with the subject, I thought that Ms. Rose did her homework. Her characters show how our past lifetimes often intertwine with the present, and she brings fate and destiny into question. Are we fated to experience a specific outcome in this lifetime, or do we have freewill?
I agree with some comments that it was a bit difficult to follow several of the characters between lifetimes. I found myself asking, "Now, who is this again?" a couple of times. The ending felt abrupt, and left me wanting to know what happened to everyone else not in the final scene, but perhaps there will be a sequel?
You certainly don't need to know anything about reincarnation, or believe in it, to enjoy the book. Overall, the complex plot had a few holes, but it was still an engaging, thought-provoking, novel.
I stayed up late finishing this book and was left with a lot to thing about. The author did a seamless job of weaving together three stories from different centuries and told each tale with pathos and credibility. Highly recommended for readers who like suspense and smart fiction.
"The Rein­car­na­tion­ist" by M. J. Rose is a fic­tional story involv­ing past lives and reli­gious myth. It is the first of a series, I bought this book because I'm on a book tour for the third one. While on an assign­ment in Rome, pho­to­jour­nal­ist Josh Ryder expe­ri­ences strange feel­ings of déjà vu and strange mem­o­ries of a pre­vi­ous life. Josh enlists the Pheonix Foun­da­tion, which spe­cial­izes in past life research, for help. Soon Josh gets involved with dis­cov­er­ing an ancient tomb which he feels con­nected to. His past life expe­ri­ences help him solve present day mur­ders involv­ing mys­ti­cal artifacts. If I had to choose one word to describe "The Rein­car­na­tion­ist" by M. J. Rose it would be "ambi­tious". Ms. Rose fills the plot of the book with many twists and turns, as well as expla­na­tion of the com­plex sub­ject and beliefs of rein­car­na­tion. The pro­tag­o­nist of the story, Josh Ryder, seems to suf­fer many black­outs in which he remem­bers his past life as a pagan priest named Julius liv­ing in 391 AD. These black­outs have to move the story along until Josh suc­cumbs to his fate which is dic­tated by karma. While I found the story of Julius, the pagan priest, inter­est­ing, present day nar­ra­tive threw me for a loop here and there. The many char­ac­ters which the author threw mer­ci­lessly at me seem to jum­ble up towards the last quar­ter of the book and I fig­ured out the mys­tery before I fin­ished half the story. Over­all I liked the book, I didn't have any epiphany regard­ing rein­car­na­tion but I cer­tainly appre­ci­ated the research the author did and learned a thing or two about the sub­ject in a fun and pleas­ant way. Ms. Rose also includes a "rec­om­mended read­ing" sec­tion at the end if one would like to inves­ti­gate rein­car­na­tion more.
I read about a dozen chapters in this book, and realized it wasn't going to get any better. The writing is just plain mediocre, and the plot about a guy reliving a past life, including a love affair with a vestal virgin, is lame. And don't forget the 'secret treasure' that everyone wants - in other words, yet another Da Vinci Code wannabe. Wide margins and double spacing between lines are also clues that the publishers are trying to stretch a flimsy novel into more pages than it deserves. I'd give this one a pass.
Given the fact that the author can write, I'm not giving this book one star. But, as other reviewers here have pointed out, the astounding number of loose threads and totally disappointing ending 'or lack thereof' makes this a two star book. I'm sure this is going to be a series, but even that doesn't excuse such an untidy ending. There are other authors who manage to wrap things up while still leaving one or two things a cliffhanger. Rose wraps up almost nothing, hoping to drag the reader into further books, which I for one won't have the patience to read. If you like reincarnation and are into series that have no ending, pick this up, otherwise, find something else.
Feeling a pull to someone, not based on present day experience, but from another time
Basic idea was good but found the plot to be muddled; the bad guy obvious and the ending left me wondering why I bothered.
Poor pacing, not enough interesting characters, too much proseletyzing.
Photojournalist Josh Ryder has survived a terrorist bombing in Rome. While his physical injuries have healed, his mind has not. Why is he remembering a life that isn't his? Why is he remembering a life that happened in Ancient Rome?As Josh tries desperately to get to the bottom of his own crisis, he becomes embroiled in a search for ancient artifacts that could be the key to understanding the mysteries of his own mind. Unfotunately, he's not the only one interested in these artifacts and the race is on.First and foremost, although this novel is frequently billed as historical fiction, I wouldn't exactly categorize it as such. Rather, it is a thriller with historical elements. Flashbacks of previous lives is what provides the historical context in this novel and while the flashbacks are a large part of the novel and provide a storyline of their own, it is the present day thriller that makes up the bulk of The Reincarnationist.M.J. Rose is particularly adept at weaving past and present together. Her research into different theories of reincarnation is impeccable and it shows.That said, The Reincarnationist suffers from what I like to call character overpopulation. The abundance of characters leads to occassional confusion and also prevents any one character from becoming completely developed.All 9f that, though, is easily forgiven for those who enjoy a well-researched novel with a unique premise and The Reincarnationist certainly fits that bill.
Summary: Josh Ryder is a photojournalist on assignment in Rome, when a suicide bomb knocks him unconscious. He recovers, but the incident triggers flashes of hallucinatory clarity, visions of himself in ancient Rome, memories of dire events that Josh never lived through... or did he? He finds his way to the Phoenix Foundation, an institute that specializes in past-life experiences. When his involvement with the foundation lead him to an archeological dig outside of Rome - the possible tomb of one of the last Vestal Virgins - Josh becomes increasingly convinced that this site - and the woman buried alive inside of it - are of special significance to him personally. On his first visit to the tomb, however, Josh witnesses the murder of the site's lead archaeologist, and the theft of an ancient treasure of great power. It then becomes a race against time, for Josh must not only recover the treasure, but also deal with the increasing sense of urgency generated by his flashes: to somehow find and save the woman that he failed so desperately in a previous life.Review: Color me underwhelmed. I'd heard so many good things about this book, and I was really looking forward to reading it, so I'm disappointed to say that it didn't live up to expectations. The premise as well seemed incredibly promising, and the fact that it featured one of my favorite story devices - interweaving past and present timelines - was in its favor. And, in truth, as I read I did find the plot interesting and involving, but I was underwhelmed by the pacing, the writing, and the characterization.My main problem was that things just seemed to happen arbitrarily, with scenes often coming completely out of left field, and key explanations of what was going on either severely abbreviated or missing altogether. (For example, about 3/4 of the way through the book, the as-yet-unnamed bad guy is revealed to not only be a master of disguise and a criminal mastermind, but also a skilled hacker as well? What?) Most of the various pieces come together satisfactorily in the end, but for the bulk of the book, things just seem to be cobbled together in no particular order, and the rhythm and flow of the storytelling just felt off. There was also too much going on for any one piece of it to be fully developed. Too many characters for even the leads to have more than one dimension, too many past lives and plotlines for any one story or relationship to be particularly involving (the Percy/Esme flashbacks in particular I found to be overkill). In general, I was spending so much energy trying to make sense of the haphazard arrangement of the plot that I didn't have much left with which to care about the characters.I'm giving this book the benefit of my good mood, though, because I really did find the story to be fascinating, even if I wasn't particularly enamored of the structure in which it was told. 3 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: Eh. Some people seem to love it, so it may just be an idiosyncratic case of me not getting along with Rose's prose style. But as novels about reincarnation go, I enjoyed Daniel Quinn's After Dachau much more.
I enjoyed this. Fast moving and interesting. I love books with a sense of destiny, even as I disdain the idea of fatalism in real life.
I enjoyed the premise of this book. I really liked the idea of a protagonist using past life episodes to solve a modern day intrigue. The biggest question for him is why is this happening to him and who is he supposed help? I was a bit surprised at the answer. Nonetheless, the weaving of past and present draws you in (albeit a bit slowly at first). It did take me awhile to get used to the choppy shift between times, but by about page 300 I was fully invested and couldn't wait for the resolution. The suspense really kicks up around page 400 as more of the puzzle is put together. The ending was a bit abrupt and not all the questions raised throughout the novel get answered. In that respect, I was left unsatisfied. Still, it was a good read.
I really enjoyed the premise of this book, and as an entertaining light read, a quick-fix suspense thriller, it fulfilled its purpose. The trouble is, I don't think that was meant to be its purpose. This book wanted to be something greater, more meaningful and epic, but just never quite got there. The threads of story from different eras were all interesting, but never woven together quite as expertly as I had hoped. This novel tried to push to a higher level, but fell short of its ultimate goal. I would still recommend this for people with an interest in historical fiction and/or reincarnation, though -- anyone who hasn't made a study of reincarnation will, I think, be drawn in and intrigued by the concepts, which are presented with great clarity. (Those who are already avid students, though, will find little to surprise them).
Ultimately I enjoyed this novel. However, it required a lot of work and a bit of re-reading to keep all the characters straight as well as everyone's past lives.
Photographer Josh Ryder nearly dies when a bomb explodes nearby. He is in fact, taking photographs when it happens. After waking in a hospital, he finds himself experiencing what he calls lurches back in time. Most of these lurches take him back to ancient Rome, his life as a priest, and the his love for the Vestal Virgin whom he loves. Once he is recovered from the bomb blast, the lurches continue. He finds his way to The Phoenix Foundation, a renowned place of research into the past lives of children. Because of certain memories from a more recent lifetime, and due to the intense interest of the owners of the foundation, they make something of an exception for Josh. They do not take him on as a client, but he finds himself working with the foundation to prove the existence of past lives, including those that haunt him. A trip to Rome triggers more and very intense lurches. He finds himself involved in murder and intrigue, just when it seems that the answers to his own questions lay in front of him. What follows is an intriguing look into the connections past lives have to current lifetimes, and people who have reincarnated within the same families to perhaps right karmic wrongs?I liked this one a lot. Recommended.
The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose is a fast paced suspense about many lives that intertwine over centuries. Josh Ryder is a photojournalist who is caught in the blast of a bomb. Since his accident, he has been experiencing something he refers to as "lurches" in time. He is often taken back to early Christian Rome and a man named Julius. Is this man Julius really a past incarnation of the modern day Josh Ryder, or is Josh just losing his mind to hallucinations? On his journey to figure out what is going on with his sanity, Josh finds himself back in modern day Rome where he meets Professor Gabriella Chase. Professor Chase discovers an ancient Roman tomb believed to be the final resting place of a Vestal Virgin. From here everything gets turned upside down. Murder, kidnapping, and betrayal, and the mixing of several lives in various times keeps the main characters running in a race against the clock; both ancient and modern.This was a very interesting book. It explored the possibility of past lives and history repeating itself, while showing the interconnectedness of the characters. Are the villains always villains or can there be redemption for wrongs righted? And are the seemingly good really good? The easy prose and style of this writer made the story easy to read, and the character development was done fairly well. There were a couple of holes that I would have preferred to have filled in, but having more background wasn't integral to the story. Overall, I really liked this book.On a scale of 1-4, I give this book a 3, because of my desire to have more back story on a couple of characters, and because I would have preferred a more concrete ending.This book was published by Mira Books.ISBN: 978-0-7783-2420-1
I really enjoyed this book and recommend it for light reading but especially for people like me who are intrigued by the idea of reincarnation. The characters were interesting and ones I cared about. I will be on the lookout for book 2 in the series and definitely want to read on to see what happens next.
Love these kinds of stories!!