|Katherine Kurtz: St. Patrick's Gargoyle|
Ace Books (Paperback), ISBN 0-441-00905-0
St. Patrick's Gargoyle introduces us to Paddy, the resident gargoyle atop St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. Paddy, like most gargoyles, takes his vocation very seriously. As an angel under orders from God he can do no less.
Faced with the release of a nasty demon, Paddy and his fellow gargoyles must turn to a human and a mummified Templar Knight for help. The Knights (of various orders descendant from The Crusades) stand in great esteem among angels. One assumes this esteem derives from the crusaders' unending devotion to God and the Church and not their espousal of wholesale slaughter in the Holy Land during The Crusades.
St. Patrick's Gargoyle centers, almost entirely, around religion, specifically Christianity. We learn that modern day gargoyles embody former avenging angels -- those that smote heathens and lesser beings in days of yore. These gargoyles especially enjoyed smiting Vikings for some inexplicable reason. Though the story does not specifically state "Gargoyles are Christian" it never gives any inkling that they may be comprised of anything other than Christians. And yet, by their own exposition (and a great deal of that mind you) they predate everything except other angels and God.
Christianity arose relatively late in human history and extraordinarily late in universal history. This story offended my secular egalitarianism by completely forgetting the entire rest of history -- religion-wise anyway. The gargoyles/angels guard the Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants of Dublin (and other cities). What about other sects and religions? Whether by design, ignorance or simple forgetfulness, Kurtz relegates the rest of the religions of the world to less than an afterthought by declining to mention them.
What might have made the book more enjoyable to read would have been colloquial Irish speech. Not privy to a British version of this story I can't tell if the editors culled out the specifically Irish voices based on the misguided assumption that stupid American readers wouldn't understand it. Regardless, except for "Jayzus" and "Shite" tossed in a couple of times, the characters may as well have resided in Kansas as Dublin. The language, on whole, came across as simply too blasť for the subject matter.
Kurtz postulates a great idea here, but the story quickly sinks into a morass of religious exposition and preaching which left this reader feeling unfulfilled.
Click here to read Stephen Smith's review of St. Patrick's Gargoyle.
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