Thursday, August 30, 2012
The Dark Monk by Oliver Pötzsch
If you like: riddles * secret societies * treachery
The Dark Monk is the second Hangman’s Daughter Tale. (See my review of the first here.) Instead of delving into superstition like its predecessor, The Dark Monk focuses on the mysteries of the Templars. Instead of working collaboratively, Jakob, Simon, and Magdalena work separately to try to unravel the mystery surrounding the murder of Andreas Koppmeyer, a local priest. As in the past, they must circumvent the law and local government in order to solve the mystery without being revealed to those they are trying to hunt down.
The tone of The Dark Monk is a bit more light-hearted than that of The Hangman’s Daughter. Readers will enjoy same even-handed approach to every situation from Jakob, and the erratic behavior from Simon and Magdalena. With lower stakes -- a lost treasure and an unsolved murder instead of mass hysteria and the wrongful execution of a dear friend -- Pötzsch is free to explore the eccentricities of the characters, which will serve the series in the future. Though Jakob must still perform executions and torture that he feels is unwarranted, it feels more justified and leaves the reader to embrace the other curiosities in the narrative.
As The Hangman’s Daughter explored mass hysteria and superstition, The Dark Monk highlights the excesses of religious fanaticism. In their efforts to protect the Templars' legacy, the priests and monks in the story cause the destruction of many holy relics, sacred texts, and religious buildings. Their opposition to the role of outsides causes them to destroy the very things they hope to protect. As the events progress, they do not learn from this, instead they become more extreme and secretive, and violate their own moral codes. A zeal for preservation can corrupt the purest of intentions. Instead of being leaders of their communities, these figureheads are sanctimonious murderers. Pötzsch does not criticize all religion though. With wholehearted and selfless intention, faith and prayer are rewarded in Schongau.
If you can’t let any question go unanswered, read The Dark Monk.
Pötzsch, Oliver. The Dark Monk. Las Vegas: AmazonEncore, 2012. Kindle Edition.