|About the Book|
1621 – A Jesuit pilgrim to the Mont St. Michel comes into possession of an arcane emblem, the symbols of which suggest the abbey conceals a great secret evoking the Rosicrucians, alchemy, and the Holy Grail. Inspired by a passion for Arthurian legendMore1621 – A Jesuit pilgrim to the Mont St. Michel comes into possession of an arcane emblem, the symbols of which suggest the abbey conceals a great secret evoking the Rosicrucians, alchemy, and the Holy Grail. Inspired by a passion for Arthurian legend and the febrile atmosphere of the period, the narrator pursues his pilgrimage, intent upon decrypting the mystery, but the world he discovers is one very far removed from the ideals and romances of his youth.Governed by Robert, its incorrigibly carnal and irreverent bursar, the abbey has fallen into disrepute, and only Eugene, the austere Precentor, maintains any pretence at sustaining its spiritual purpose. But behind Robert’s frivolity and Eugene’s asceticism, there lie other secrets and conflicts that simultaneously inflame and frustrate the narrator’s quest for meaning. The focus of discord is Marthe, a serving girl, midwife, and putative witch whose fugitive brother is at large in the Baie de Mont St. Michel. Enlisted to help Marthe find her brother before more sinister parties track him down, the narrator falls under the spell of both the bay and the girl, beguiled by the majesty of nature and the earthy wisdom of Marthe.At once disoriented and captivated, he begins to question his calling, his probity and even his sanity as he is drawn into a labyrinth of conspiracies and mysteries, in the course of which he finds himself breaking his vows, brawling, stealing, lying, consuming witchs unguent and hallucinatory herbs, and succumbing to love, all in the pursuit of meaning. There is little leisure for introspection though, since word of his investigations is spreading, and the ranks of pilgrims are swelling as the time approaches when the emblem’s secret is to be revealed.Trapped by his own speculations and the machinations of the abbey’s principal officers, the narrator unwittingly unleashes a tumult of lust, incest, sexual jealousy, betrayal, apocalyptic expectations, subterranean monsters, mob frenzy, and decapitation, in which disclosure leads to self discovery and the realization that occult mysteries and chimerical quests can veil a more mundane but no less astonishing physical reality.VITRIOLVisita interiora terrae rectificando invenies occultum lapideum.Visit the interior of the earth, by rectifying thou shalt find the hidden stone.