The Alexandria Scrolls by Gordon Donnell

The Alexandria Scrolls
Gordon Donnell
iUniverse (2010)
ISBN 9781450214261
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (11/10) 


Ancient scrolls, dangerous monks, secrets that will change the history as we know it, beautiful babes and scary villains… Stories containing all or at least most of those elements abound. So what is it that sets “The Alexandria Scrolls” apart?

It is certainly not the plot, which, although entertaining and quite mad-cap, has been done and re-done many times in the past. It is not even the contemporary setting and the intriguing locale. Human greed, political intrigue, perfidy and double-faced characters are all too usual. What truly set this story apart was its hero, Owen Doran, a slightly dorky, but extraordinarily adaptable young man, and the way the story was told from his perspective. I am not aware of any other, similar books, which would contain sentences like the following one, “If he were an auto-erotic and women were no more than sensory stimuli, then they became as fungible as dollar bills.”

Owen Doran thought he was on a rather routine trip, playing an errand boy for his long-time friend and employer, Alex Falkenberg. The trip turned out to be anything but routine, and Owen narrowly escaped death in the wilderness close to the Chechen border.  Once he returned to the United States, he tried to unravel a tangled web of deceit, while at the same time weaving another web himself. Needless to say, things turned out slightly different than expected. He returned to Georgia, first to the capital, Tbilisi (and not Tblisi, as it kept being called in the book), where he had a series of rather shocking encounters, and from there he was thrown into the midst of indescribable violence. Is there a way out?

I’ve enjoyed every aspect of this story, from the fast-paced scenes of pursuit and battles to the hero’s musings on many different subjects. I found the dialogue vivid and flowing and the storyline engaging and credible. More than anything, I’ve enjoyed the unusual, but thoroughly unique voice of the narrator, Owen Doran. If the ending felt like a letdown, it was only because it left me with a feeling that the story was not finished. I only hope that this simply means a sequel for “The Alexandria Scrolls” is coming shortly. I shall definitely be looking out for it.

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