Friday, May 4, 2012

The Prophet's Scribe by Osman Kartal

The newly published fiction novel The Prophet's Scribe by Osman Kartal is a unique hybrid of a detective story, history, fiction and myth in one story. The author himself is identified as  "a Caucasion scholar who divides his time between Instanbul, London and New York".  Perhaps these credentials add to the scholarly and worldly reputation of the author. Under the umbrella of "historical" fiction, the author presents to the reader, the embellished life of the historical figure, Mohammed. (At least I hope its embellished, because it would otherwise be highly improbable that an entire religious movement is based on such an explicit individual.)  This is a complex work of fiction and myth that combines some authentic historical details with religious myth. Opinion is purported as fact, for example on page 55, the author asserts, "Sergio quickly appreciated that Church and state were, in fact, instruments of government for the benefit of kings and emperors.  God was a convenient second".  This is just one of many opinions that the author cleverly inserts to persuade the reader.  This eccentric writer presents his conspiracy theories of hidden gospels- specifically, the so called lost gospel of Jesus.   This of course seems to be a common theme these days to discredit organized religion in general and more specifically, Christianity.  In fact, the same readers that actually believed Dan Brown's intricate tales of church intrigue and conspiracy theories in the fictional novel, The Davinci Code, may be the very same gullible readers who may believe that Osman Kartal's  stories and  theories, are in fact real.  This detailed writing and insertion of historical figures and geographic places may make this work seem almost plausible to many readers.

The credibility of this story is greatly obscured with the inclusion of extraneous and explicit details and scenes.  Totally unneccesary, these scenes were most likely inserted for shock value and "entertainment" purposes.  The vivid depiction of x-rated scenes and beastial, senseless violence make this work entirely unsuitable for general readership and undermine its purpose.  I cannot help but feel this is a misuse of the author's talent and reduces the nature of his work.  I felt that my conscious was tainted, simply by reading this book. Perhaps Kartal was influenced by the works of Ann Rice and VC Andrews.

History fans will enjoy the vivid depictions of the sites, sounds and smells in the mid-evil historical time periods and the  various cultures presented. That is if, one can actually overlook the explicit x rated scenes. Food, clothing, buildings and other historical details are authentically described. The book challenges commonly held stereotypes of ancient society. And at times the book dismisses horrific inhumane cultural practices. Authority and enlightenment are claimed to be  found in the most unexpected and remote of places, years in the past. In fact the author at times, attempts to rewrite history, and adds embelishments. At minimum, the reader will be enlightened with the interesting origins of the concept of "allah" as well as the shocking details of Islam's most known figures. Many readers will be left confused and unsure what to actually believe. 

The classic battle between good and evil is integrated into the story- whereas the lurking danger of an  antagonistic presence is always there trying to obstruct destiny and truth. This book is an interesting attempt at the popular ecumenical movement- perhaps an attempt to bridge together the major feuding religions.  The pseudo-historical ideas and  historical-like scenes make the story seem almost plausible.  I received a free copy of this book for review from the author and  the ideas expressed are my own.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a very positive review. It is better than I expected.
    You mentioned the sex scenes in the book. You may be interested to know the thinking behind my inclusion of this material. In researching the lives of Sergius, the brilliant but defrocked priest and the Prophet Mohamed, I came across one historic reference which stated that the two were lovers. However, most other references pinpointed to Sergius’ attraction to women which then led me to research the personal and sexual lives of people in the late 6th and early 7th centuries. That was the time of the progressive collapse of Rome with the leftover of Athenian democracy, Athenian social sophistication and free well. Hence, in that uncertain time decadence and personal choice stood against crumbling institutions. It was interesting to discover the decadence that existed inside the Christian church and how Pope Boniface tried to reform his church. That was the setting for the sexual scenes which my historical account seems to have reasonably accurately captured. It was important to depict the twin sides of Sergius, brilliant theologian and mathematician as well as philanderer but in many ways no different of many of his contemporaries in order to show why that state of affairs needed to be brought to an end.
    Thank you for linking the works of Ann Rice and VC Andrews to my book, The Prophet’s Scribe, but I was not influenced by them at all. In fact, I have not been influenced by any other fiction writer as I do not read novels. I come from a different walk of life, that of being a professional person who reads a very different literature. The Prophet’s Scribe is my first novel and what I did was to historically immerse myself in that period of time and visualise life as it was. In fact the technique I used I have termed, “deeply immersed contextualisation”, in other words try and live life as it was in every detail. Your words give me encouragement that perhaps I should attempt to write more novels. Thank you once again. I feel you have provided a very fair review.
    Osman Kartal