Reincarnation…heretical but inevitable
In 553 AD, the pious ruler of the decaying Roman Empire, Justinian I, imprisoned Pope Vigilius until that pontiff consented to ratify the decrees of the Council of Constantinople called by the emperor. Thus, with the stroke of the papal pen was any Church member who believed that souls existed before the present body’s birth or reincarnated after its death declared anathema: excommunicated, cast out.
In the year 1879, the Philadelphian Richard Strawn, a man disowned by his Quaker brethren because he chose to serve as a medic in the Civil War, the ghastly memories of which he drinks to forget, has his equilibrium further tested. His teenage daughter, Jennifer, who has dreamed since childhood that she was once a fabulous queen and he was her royal partner, goes public with her story.
Richard must either find some truth in Jennifer’s assertion or concur with his wife, Lucinda, that their daughter is patently insane.
Burying his head by day in work and at night at the pubs, he defers the decision, betting that time will either cure Jennifer’s fantasies or soften Lucinda’s intransigence. Then, just when a truce appears to be holding between the two, nightmarish events erupt around him. A fire destroys the business he manages, and he is blamed. He escapes town, drunk and despondent, only to be pursued by a dream of his own, one that portrays him not as a glamorous king but as a cowardly monarch about to capitulate to a revolting mob.
Lucinda takes advantage of his absence to have Jennifer committed to an asylum. With luck, which seems to materialize as randomly as misfortune, Richard rescues the girl. In the quiet place he takes her to recover, she too dreams of the revolt against the royal rulers. The coincidences, too similar to discount, determine them to track down what is behind this chain of paranormal events. Sometimes in tandem, sometimes in opposition, father and daughter seek out their ancestral identities: the 6th-century emperor, Justinian, and his empress, Theodora.
Her recent efforts to undermine her husband and daughter foiled, Lucinda ferrets out their new mission. After identifying herself with a powerful and ultimately destructive sorceress in the ancient story, she plots to use a similar magic to subvert the reincarnated pair, thus proving to them and to all who would meddle with the dead that history indeed repeats itself, and there is nothing that can be done to stop it.
THE ANATHEMAS weaves the religious controversy about reincarnation into a multi-lifetime saga of conspiracy, redemption and love. A novel, yet firmly based on history, notably Procopius’s Secret History and Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. With the pace of a thriller, it portrays the spiritual adventure of man and woman coming face-to-face with the life-and-death experience.