The Immortal Nicholas

The Immortal Nicholas

by Glenn Beck
The Immortal Nicholas

The Immortal Nicholas

by Glenn Beck

Hardcover

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Overview

A thrilling new holiday novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Glenn Beck.

BEFORE HE WAS FATHER CHRISTMAS…HE WAS SIMPLY A FATHER.


Thirteen-time #1 national bestselling author Glenn Beck realized years ago that somewhere along the way, his four children had become more focused on Santa than the meaning of Christmas. No matter how he tried, he could not redirect their attention away from presents and elves to the manger instead.

Glenn didn't want to be the Grinch who spoiled the magic of Kris Kringle, so he had to find a unique way to turn his kids back toward the true meaning of Christmas. He decided the best place to start was by first turning Santa himself back toward Christ.

That was when one of America’s best storytellers began to craft a tale that would change everything his kids thought they knew about Santa—the incredible story he went on to tell them that Christmas Eve spans over a thousand years and explains the meaning behind the immortality and generosity of the man named Claus.

The Immortal Nicholas has now been expanded and reimagined into this novel for adults; a novel full of drama, history, legend, and heart. From the snowy mountains of Western Asia, to the deserts of Egypt, to Yemen’s elusive frankincense-bearing boswellia trees, this is an epic tale that gives the legend of Santa a long overdue Christ-centered mission.

In this novel, Glenn Beck fundamentally transforms the figure that the world now mainly associates with shopping, all while staying true to the real story of the baby who brought redemption and salvation to the entire world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476798844
Publisher: Mercury Ink
Publication date: 10/27/2015
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 492,318
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 5.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Glenn Beck, the nationally syndicated radio host and founder of TheBlaze television network, has written thirteen #1 bestselling books and is one of the few authors in history to have had #1 national bestsellers in the fiction, nonfiction, self-help, and children’s picture book genres. His recent fiction works include the thrillers Agenda 21, The Overton Window, and its sequel, The Eye of Moloch; his many nonfiction titles include The Great Reset, Conform, Miracles and Massacres, Control, and Being George Washington. For more information about Glenn Beck, his books, and TheBlaze television network, visit GlennBeck.com and TheBlaze.com.

Read an Excerpt

The Immortal Nicholas

  • Sometimes death is a simple thing. A slip of the foot, a shift in the wind, a fall.

    Agios had faced death often in his thirty-three years. He had been an adventurer, a hunter, and—to tell the truth—something of a rogue. He had always expected to die by violence, his blood spilled and his body racked with agony.

    After he married the gentle foreigner named Weala, though, he had begun to consider his ways of life and death. For her sake he hoped that when his time came he would die well, as a man, not crying like a child or pleading for mercy. When their son Philos was born, Agios wanted even more to be strong for him.

    For years the boy had been begging to go with his father to the savagely dangerous land of bare sun-struck stone and rocky crags. Now they stood together, a muscular, broad-shouldered man with flowing midnight-black hair and long black beard, and beside him a thin-limbed lad of only ten. The previous winter Weala had died in premature childbirth, along with Philos’s stillborn younger brother. The loss of his mother had left the boy pale and unsmiling and had left Agios feeling that his heart had turned to lead.

    And so Philos’s coming with him on this trip was not a gift, but a necessity, for Agios had no one to watch over the boy. It had hurt, though, that the first faint smile that Agios had seen on his son’s face in months had flickered there for a moment when Agios said, “Let’s go gather frankincense.”

    Now they stood at the top of the cliffs where the trees grew, looking down the sheer rock face. Agios had already taken the resin from the first small grove of trees they had come to, and now they had reached the true orchard of wealth. “And you must pay close attention,” Agios told Philos, and the boy nodded solemnly. “You must take care. The resin is more valuable than gold because it is so hard to find and collect. We will sell it to traders on their way to Egypt, Greece, Rome, or even India. What we collect in one day lets us live for a whole year.”

    Philos nodded impatiently. “I know, Father.”

    “You’ve seen the dangers when you’ve watched me gather the resin. Remember how careful I’ve been and do the same things. You understand?”

    “Yes, Father.”

    Philos looked eager for the perilous work, and Agios well understood the intoxication of it. The resin offered rich reward at high risk. Of course his son was captivated. He had counted the days until he could follow in his father’s steps.

    The libanos trees, hunched and gnarled, clung to the cliff like weary climbers. At the pitch of noon, no wind stirred their branches. Many months earlier Agios had climbed down to make careful incisions in the flaking bark so that the golden tears would flow and dry. Anyone else who discovered this remote ravine with its precious trees might try to investigate, but they would soon hear the hiss of snakes twining among the branches— or feel the fatal sting of their fangs. Agios had deliberately established this colony of adders, now guards of the precarious grove.

    Knowing the serpents were there made all the difference. Together, father and son threw rocks at the snakes, forcing them to lower branches, to trees farther from the edge where Agios had marked Philos’s first tree. Because of Weala’s death, Agios had waited longer than usual to harvest, and the resin was nearly dry in the slash marks, golden and fragrant. That made the frankincense even more valuable.

    Agios knelt beside his son and looped a coil of rope around the boy’s waist. “When you gather the flakes, remember they’re worth more than everything we own,” he said. “It’s a great responsibility.”

    “Yes, Father.”

    “Be careful,” Agios said one last time. He tossed a few more rocks to make sure the snakes had retreated, then tugged the rope to test it and put his big hand on his son’s neck. He bent the scruffy head and inhaled the warm, woody scent of Philos’s hair.

    Before they had set out, Agios had scattered the dust of his last harvest of frankincense over the coals in their cabin. Philos now carried the lingering aroma of it, like pine and lemon and earth. To Agios, frankincense smelled exactly like his son.

    Philos drew back grinning, his excitement palpable. He edged toward the drop, his eagerness saying that this was not the time for affection, but for action.

    Agios looped the free end of the rope around his own waist and took in the slack. Philos had grown up in the high mountains and he did not falter when he lowered himself over the rocky edge, rope tight, knees bent, feet braced on stone. A misstep sent a shower of stones and gravel tumbling down the escarpment, but Philos adjusted himself and made it safely to the tree.

    Agios found his son’s weight absurdly easy to bear, but just in case, he had doubled the rope around his own waist. Philos’s life depended on its not slipping. He leaned back and watched his boy find and peel off the bubbled resin, the small sun-browned hands tucking each lump carefully away in a leather pouch at his waist before moving on to the next. Pride tightened Agios’s throat, pride and the sort of love that reminded him that everything else he had loved in life now lived only in the boy.

    Agios knew Philos was taking too long, but this was his first time. He did not urge the boy to hurry, because haste meant mistakes. He saw him brace his feet and reach deep into the heart of the gnarled branches.

    Then Philos screamed and jerked.

    He flung his arm wide. A snake clung to it for a half-heartbeat, then fell loose, tumbling, writhing.

    Philos’s agonized face arched back, and he shouted, “Father!”

    Though it had happened in less than a second, Agios was already hauling on the rope, his hands strong and sure while his heart beat wildly in his chest.

    The boy flailed in agony, blood from the bite spattering his arm and face as he spasmed. His twisting caught the rope between his body and the rugged cliff.

    Agios, frantic to recover him, didn’t realize that the knot was abrading until the rope snapped, with Philos not yet at the cliff top.

    Agios screamed as he watched his son fall, his dark eyes locked on the child that was everything good, that held all the hope he had left in the world. He could do nothing.

    Philos fell straight down to the lowest tree and smashed into it with an impact that surely ended his agony. His body hung there, broken and lifeless. After his first wail of pain he had not cried out again.

    His son had died like a man.

    It took Agios a day and part of a night to retrieve Philos’s shattered body and take him back home. In their cabin Agios rested before leaving the warmth for the cool night. The wind, soft on the heels of the rain that had preceded it, filled the air with a scent so warm and rich, so full and verdant, that it seemed an affront, whispering slyly of living things, of flowers, leaves fresh and green. He held his breath.

    From a lean-to shed behind the cabin, Agios took a homemade spade and pick and carried them to the top of a low rise not far away. All around the plateau the night lay soot-dark, but Agios had a hunter’s vision and the stars sufficed for the work he had to do. A cairn of pale, smooth stones marked the grave of Philos’s mother and stillborn younger brother. Near it Agios began to dig a second grave, difficult at first because of his weariness, and because he did not want to do this. His body was trying to refuse the errand. But Agios had no choice.

    The rain had only slightly softened the soil and had not penetrated very far. Agios swung the pick, chipped into the solid earth, moved to the side, and did it again, gradually chopping the hard ground into solid chunks that, with effort, he could pry loose and stack on one side of the grave.

    His shoulder muscles clenched and tightened, and Agios began to sweat from the exertion. The rhythm of the pick and the burn in his arms was a relief, a pain that he could lean into.

    Here in this shallow bowl of a mountainside glen, the soil had accumulated over the centuries. Some washed on down the slopes into the lower forests, into the fertile river valleys, but much of it remained here. It lay rich and dark. In the spring and summer it had yielded fruits and vegetables to supplement the meat he brought home. Agios was part hunter, part trapper, part farmer, part collector—all things he did well.

    But now. Now what was he?

    He pushed himself, not pausing to rest. He didn’t realize he had fallen until the rocks began to dig into his knees. He welcomed the pain, something sharp and insistent that drew a little of the agony from his chest. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t see, and he blinked against the dark night and the tears that clouded his vision. The mountain cabin was solitary, but Agios was past caring if anyone could hear his sobs, the racking cry of an animal dying, of a shattered man.

    He wanted to die.

    He felt dead already.

    By the time the sun rose, Agios was an empty husk. Some blood seeped into the ground beneath his legs and mixed with the dirt on his hands, but he didn’t know if it was his blood or Philos’s. The climb down the ravine and back up again with his broken son slung against his back had been a nightmare that no man should ever have to endure. Agios could still feel the slight weight between his shoulders, though Philos now lay wrapped beneath an olive tree less than two strides away.

    Agios glanced at Philos’s body and wished to see the slight rise and fall of his son’s slender chest. But there was no undoing what had been done. The boy lay as still as stone, and just as cold. Morning burnished the marble skin of Philos’s arm where it had fallen out from the folds of the cloak that Agios had wrapped him in. It was an outrage, a cruel joke that sunlight could make even this small portion of the child look so beautiful and whole. Agios scrambled over and tucked the slender arm back into the cloak. With a tenderness that belied the taut muscles of his forearms and the stern slant of his dark brows, he lifted the body. He did not look like a compassionate man, but he stepped into the grave he had dug and placed his son in the center as gently as a mother laying down her newborn.

    “My son.” His mouth formed the words, but Agios made no sound even though he tried again and again, his throat clenched with grief.

    Still moving his lips, still groaning with the weight of all the yearning he couldn’t voice, Agios touched the place where Philos’s face was shrouded by the dusty cloak. It was a kind of blessing he offered in place of the words he could not say, a way to remember the feel of the boy’s high cheekbones, the proud nose that he shared with Agios, and the fine mouth that was his mother’s. It was good-bye.

    The grave was small, but Agios bent his knees and back and lay beside Philos, his cheek in the grainy dirt and his hand resting on the body of his son. He wished he could have dug the grave larger, so large that he could creep into it with his boy and pull the earth in after them. He imagined dirt filling his nostrils, choking off the air, bringing death and peace—but how could he share the grave when he had allowed his own son to die?

    No, he would leave his own bones elsewhere.

    When Agios took up the spade and began to shovel the loose earth into the hole, his grief was already finding a new incarnation. He burned with sorrow, but the flames began to ignite a fury in his belly, an anger that grew with each spadeful of dirt. He filled in the grave and then lugged stones from the bed of a nearby stream with a strength that seemed inhuman after his loss and sleepless night.

    He finished before the sun stood at noon. Agios looked at the fresh grave, the old grave, and the home that was no longer home, and then dragged his steps back into the cabin. Red embers of the fire still glared in the grate, and Agios blew them to life. He threw wood on, all the firewood left in the bin, and when that was gone the stools they had sat on, the short, crooked table he had made before becoming used to carpentry, and the olive-wood bowl his own hands had carved. What need did he have of these things now? Of the small bed he had shared with his wife? The pallet where his son had laid his head?

    When the fire roared, he raked the burning coals out and scattered them across the floor. No vagabond would find the empty house and live there, where the memories of Weala and Philos and the nameless little baby deserved peace.

    Agios didn’t leave the cabin until it was a blaze that could be seen for miles, a funeral pyre. The smoke choked the sun-bright sky, belching a dark shadow over the mountain that spoke of evil things.

    He left on foot with nothing in his hands. He didn’t look back.

    Agios had no destination, but he knew exactly what he wanted: oblivion. The village in the valley below his mountain home bustled with, if not friends, at least acquaintances. He didn’t want to see them, didn’t want them to ask about his son, and desired no commiseration or sympathy. He wished only to forget.

    So he stuck to the mountain, following a path that he had worn smooth on his hunting trips, and walked along it until his legs would no longer carry him. Then, finding a crevice in a steep cliff, Agios pulled his cloak over his head and turned his back to the world. He didn’t bother starting a fire because he didn’t deserve warmth or protection. A part of him wished that he would never see another day, that the wolves who prowled the mountains would be hungry and bold.

    Only a few short hours later, morning dawned crisp and gray, and Agios rolled over to face the faint light—still alive, whether he wanted to be or not, whether he believed he could bear it or not, weighted as he was with the burden of loss that hung like a stone in his chest.

    Agios rose and kept walking because he didn’t know what else to do. Grief moved him forward, away from the place where everything he had ever loved lay buried in the unforgiving ground. For two days he followed the mountain ridges until hunger and exhaustion drew him down to a village he had seen before but had never visited. He knew the kind of people who lived there, modest and hardworking famers, wary of strangers but slow to turn away someone in need.

    The squat, square buildings of the humble homes stood pale in the afternoon sun, and white tendrils of smoke twisted lazily from cooking fires. His sandals skidded on the stones as he hiked down from the hill, but this was familiar land to Agios. Even half-starved and mad with grief, he was sure-footed.

    It had been weeks since Agios had so much as spoken to anyone other than his son, and he approached the outskirts of the village reluctantly. The life he had carved out of the mountainside for himself and Philos was simple and solitary, but not lonely. Never lonely, for they’d had each other. But now the world seemed so barren and soulless that Agios wondered if he could trust his own mouth to form words. What was there to say?

    In the end, he didn’t have to say much at all. A girl who was drawing water from a well at the edge of the village pointed Agios in the direction of an inn before he even had the chance to ask. She also dipped a bowl into the cool, clean water and, with her eyes downcast, held it out to him. It was a customary offering, but Agios could tell it cost her effort. She was clearly shy in his presence. But that didn’t stop him from drinking greedily, grateful for something other than the iron-flavored water he had sipped from trickling mountain springs.

    “Thank you,” he said gruffly, his voice thick and unfamiliar in his own ears. She nodded and backed away, and Agios left in the direction she had pointed.

    The villagers weren’t unfriendly, but they hurried by as he made his way through the narrow streets. If they knew what he had sewn into the hem of his cloak they would have treated him very differently, but Agios had no wish to be known as a trader in precious frankincense. That would mean questions, greedy eyes, and prying. He wanted only to buy food and to leave immediately.

    He found the inn, but the woman who let him in shook her head and said, “No room.”

    “I can pay,” Agios said, and pressed a small golden nugget into her hand. “Please. I’m hungry and thirsty, and I’m not well.”

    She looked doubtfully at his wild mane of black hair and his tangled beard and finally closed her hand on the offering. Without a word she went back into another room and soon returned holding a small bundle and an earthenware jar. “Here. Food. Drink,” she said.

    Agios accepted the provisions without complaint, even though he knew the nugget should have bought much more. He sat on the steps of the inn and drank a mouthful of the sour wine, then rose and walked on. He had no desire to bargain with the woman for a bed in the inn. At least he felt free as he strode away from the village.

    The road ahead might be unknown, but it was better than the hum of chatter, the faint sound of laughter from behind a stone wall. Villagers had each other. Agios had no one.

    He felt like a ghost, as if all that remained of the man he had been was a wisp of humanity so thin he hardly existed at all. But his belly still ached for food, and he finally stopped and unwrapped the five flat cakes he had bought from the woman at the inn. He ate two without noticing their taste, and a handful of the dry, salty olives that she had put in a small muslin bag. He ate none of the smoked fish, but he drank deeply from the earthenware jug of wine. He thought the taste was odd, sour yet bitter—perhaps the woman had added herbs because he had claimed to be ill. The warmth spreading down his throat and deep into his belly promised a deep and dreamless sleep.

    Agios had not been drunk for years, and the stupor came quickly. As his head fell back against the tree where he had paused to eat and drink, Agios felt momentarily grateful that he had at least avoided the main road. He should have climbed back into the mountains, but no matter. The sparse stand of pines a few miles from the village would do. The roads weren’t safe, but he welcomed whatever the harsh and often deadly trade route had to offer. What could anyone take from him, after all, but his life?

    Let them take it.

    The days blurred into an endless weariness as Agios traveled on, never knowing or caring where his legs were taking him. But he couldn’t outwalk memory, or the physical ache of his longing, or ease the feeling that something stronger than rope bound him to the mountain glen where he had buried his wife and sons. The cords drew tighter and tighter, a noose around his heart.

    Agios dulled the pain with drink. Sometimes the homemade wine was premature and thin, the alcohol weak. Other times he could convince the merchant to lace it with something stronger. Occasionally the wine brought fleeting oblivion. A month went by, and then another, and still Agios could not sleep without wine—for if he tried, Philos came to him in dreams, silent but staring at him with reproachful eyes.

    So Agios drank every night and woke every morning with wine still blurring his mind and pain throbbing in his temples. In a way, he wasn’t at all surprised when one dawn he awakened to the cold sharp press of a spear point beneath his chin.

    Fuzzy from sleep and still muddled by the contents of the empty jar beside him, Agios was nonetheless a fighter. The second the blade touched his skin he was awake, every nerve alive and flickering. This, he thought in the moment of first awareness, this is what I’ve been waiting for. He lay with eyes still closed, pretending to sleep on.

    A man spoke, words in a language he did not know, and then in his own tongue someone else asked, “Is he alive?”

    The first one, the one with the spear, grunted, and the second said, “Get him up.”

    Two men grabbed his arms and hauled him to his feet. He opened his eyes then and saw they were tall, well-muscled, and wearing leather armor.

    The one with the spear stepped back and spat. With an unfamiliar accent, he said, “Still drunk. No threat.”

    It was nearly true, and Agios blearily looked around. Four men held him captive: the one with the spear, a shorter and older man in a sunset-colored robe who seemed to be in command, and the two armored guards who pinioned him. Beyond them—well, beyond them milled a crowd, men and camels and donkeys and three colossal gray beasts, a kind of animal he had never seen before.

    “A caravan?” he asked, his tongue deliberately thick. He realized he was still too unsteady to fight well, and yet a part of him ached to fight. To die fighting.

    The spearman said, “Let us kill him.”

    Agios felt the grip on his arms tighten.

    “What did I do?” he demanded, making his voice more slurred than necessary. Could he fight, could he land a few blows that would make him feel he was striking back against the injustice that had stripped from his life everything good and beautiful?

    His speaking had given them pause. The two men who flanked him looked dangerous and powerful, but they were bare-handed. The spearman, the one who had called for his death, had rested his spear and had drawn a dagger and looked eager to use it—but the leader was holding up his hand, as if undecided.

    Agios pretended to lose his footing, as if he were about to topple into unconsciousness, and the guard on his right shifted to support him. With a sudden twist, Agios wrenched his arm free and went for his own dagger.

    “Watch him!” the older man warned, stepping back. The guards were good. They took his dagger before he had the chance to use it, but he struck hard with his fists, connecting more than once. He blacked one man’s eye and bloodied another’s nose, but the two guards took the blows, then wrestled him facedown to the ground and pressed him hard, twisting his arms in a painful lock.

    “Go ahead,” Agios said, hard gravel pressing into his cheek, his nose smarting as he breathed in dust. “Use your dagger.”

    But nothing came. No kick to the head or side, no angry cries calling for someone to spill his rebellious blood.

    Then the older man said, “They will release you. Don’t put up a fight. I have no wish to see you die.”

    The voice was close, and when they let Agios go, he rose to his hands and knees and saw the leader, whose face was sun-darkened and seamed like old leather, kneeling close to him. He held a faint smile on his face and a honeyed nugget of frankincense in his fingers. Agios realized with a start that it must have been dislodged from the folds of his robe.

    “I want to ask you about this,” the man said. “However”—he stood up—“I don’t have the time at the moment, and you are still drunk. Later, then.” He delivered the kick that Agios had been waiting for, and the world went dark.

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