Conclave
The Pope is dead. Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election. They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.

Conclave Details

TitleConclave
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 22nd, 2016
PublisherCornerstone Digital
Rating
GenreFiction, Thriller, Historical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Religion

Conclave Review

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    January 1, 1970
    ”Sede vacante, . . . .The throne of the Holy See is vacant.” The Power of God, the Ambition of Men.Cardinal Jacopo Lomeli has been contemplating retirement to peaceful meditation and study for several years now, but the Pope insists that he still needs him at the Vatican. Lomeli is maybe a better manager than he is priest. This assessment makes Jacopo uneasy because it feels like a deviation from what he feels his real purpose should be. Can a manager truly be close to God? How much closer to Go ”Sede vacante, . . . .The throne of the Holy See is vacant.” The Power of God, the Ambition of Men.Cardinal Jacopo Lomeli has been contemplating retirement to peaceful meditation and study for several years now, but the Pope insists that he still needs him at the Vatican. Lomeli is maybe a better manager than he is priest. This assessment makes Jacopo uneasy because it feels like a deviation from what he feels his real purpose should be. Can a manager truly be close to God? How much closer to God can he get than to be the Dean for the Pope? He is seventy-five years old and serves at the discretion of the Pope. By serving the Pope, he serves God. And then the Pope dies. After the initial shock and more than a few prayers, Lomeli suddenly realizes, as the Dean, he is responsible for managing the conclave that will select the next Pope. God have mercy on his soul. ”My body is clay, my good fame a vapour, my end is ashes.”Managing a conclave is pretty much as terrifying as it seems. The egos of the Cardinals arriving are so large that the room can barely contain the mass of their collective self-esteem. As we all know, they must be sequestered during the conclave to insure that no outside influence can be brought to bear on the process. Despite all the precautions, there are always those who will go to great lengths to circumvent any system. Fervent disagreements arise early in the process as Cardinals jockey for votes, as piously as possible, thinly disguising their most vehement desires to be the most powerful spiritual leader on the planet. Lomeli is unnerved by the spectacle of so much naked aspirations, but at the same time, he is also trying to control his own ambitious pride. ”We are an ark, he thought, surrounded by a rising flood of discord.”He doesn’t want to be Pope. He doesn’t, but he does have the name he would use selected if God does call him to serve. As much as Lomeli tells himself and others that he doesn’t want to be Pope, there is a small part of his heart that glows with the possibility. As if Lomeli doesn’t have enough to do, an unknown Cardinal shows up claiming that he received the red hat: ”In pectore (‘in the heart’) was the ancient provision under which a Pope could create a cardinal without revealing his name….” A Pope only does this if the Cardinal is working in an area hostile to Catholicism. Cardinal Benitez is a Filipino by birth but has worked in dangerous areas across Africa. He has the paperwork to prove that the recently departed Pope had named him the Cardinal of Baghdad. There is a series of votes without any conclusive leader. There are four main contenders, but each of them has issues that could keep them from obtaining the papacy. I found myself sliding my thumb over the tallies until I’d read the paragraphs leading up to the results. I was on the edge of my seat in similar fashion to when I was watching the movie Lincoln, and they were voting on the Emancipation Proclamation. As more and more is revealed about the leading candidates, Lomeli finds himself in the uncomfortable position of investigating the various allegations that start to come to light. As he makes these indiscretions known to the Cardinals, it starts to look like Lomeli is meticulously eliminating his competition to be Pope. Is he just doing his duty, or is his secret desire guiding his actions? The shocking conclusion(s) to this conclave will rock you on your heels. In the course of his novel, Robert Harris had the opportunity to discuss the growing number of Catholics located outside of Europe and their underrepresentation with Cardinal hats. One wonders when that revolution will spark. It makes perfect sense to me that maybe the Pope needs more than one residence. When I think about the Kings/Queens of England and their numerous households scattered about the British Isles, it makes sense that they would spend time at each of these residences to show an interest in their subjects far from London. Maybe the Pope needs an offshoot of the Vatican in South America, for instance, where he would spend a few weeks every year. There is also an interesting discussion about Islam and how we welcome them to our Western countries, but we are certainly not welcome in theirs. No one has more influence in the world than the President of the United States. He (I guess I can call him he since there has never been a woman president) can have a positive or a negative impact on the direction of events in the world. As I’ve traveled around Europe, the people of those nations are well aware of the impact the decisions made by the President have on their lives. They wish they had a vote in the process. They count on us as United States citizens to choose wisely. The Pope might be the second most influential man on world events. Certainly world leaders, regardless of their political or religious affiliations, appreciate the support of the Pope in regards to any changes they are trying to make to the lives of their citizens. So far 127,253,037 votes have been counted of the people who elected the next President of the United States. Over 2 million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than did for Donald Trump, but due to the system put in place by our Founding Fathers, who didn’t really trust the rabble of American voters, the electoral college supersedes the results of the popular vote. Sounds vaguely undemocratic, doesn’t it? There are 1.2 billion Catholics across the face of the planet. 41.3% of those Catholics live in South America, almost double the 23.7% that live in Europe. 118 Cardinals (there are more Cardinals than this, but there is a rule that those over 80 years of age cannot vote in the conclave) are sequestered in conclave to decide who will be the next spiritual leader of those 1.2 billion people. You are going to need a lot of zeros after the decimal point before you reach the percentage of representation those 118 embody.Here are how the Cardinals break down by country. AFRICA - 20 cardinals from 17 countriesAMERICA - 57 cardinals from 19 countriesASIA - 23 cardinals from 11 countriesEUROPE - 114 cardinals from 24 countriesOCEANIA - 5 cardinals from 3 countriesTOTAL - 219 cardinals from 73 countries Map of populations of Catholics in the World.Anybody else see something askew? Europeans hold a huge advantage in electing the Pope, regardless of the number of Catholics they represent. So as undemocratic as this recent United States presidential election feels, it is without contestation way closer to representing the wishes of the people than the process used to determine the leader of the Catholic church. I know I’ve drifted away from a standard book review, but this is the result of reading. This book brought up some points which made me curious to explore further. I’ve deepened my understanding of those issues, and that will make me a better reader for books that touch on this same issue in the future. Regardless of how interested you are in the bigger picture, this book is a fantastic, page turning thriller that had me up til 2AM to find out who would be the next Pope. Highly Recommended!If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 The second book in as many days that I didn't want to put down. It initially appealed to me because I spent most of my school years in Catholic schools, was pretty young when Vatican two came around. All I really remember is that we no longer had to go to mass every morning at 6:30 am, before school started, that mass was no longer in Latin and that the nuns started wearing shorter habit, shorter veils and in different shades of pastel. Pretty big, though small in the scheme of things I supp 4.5 The second book in as many days that I didn't want to put down. It initially appealed to me because I spent most of my school years in Catholic schools, was pretty young when Vatican two came around. All I really remember is that we no longer had to go to mass every morning at 6:30 am, before school started, that mass was no longer in Latin and that the nuns started wearing shorter habit, shorter veils and in different shades of pastel. Pretty big, though small in the scheme of things I suppose, to a small child.The pope has died, descriptions of a peoples pope, a pope who refused to live in the grandeur of the Vatican apartments, point to this representing our current Pope, Francis. The dean of the Cardinals, is the Cardinal charged with making sure the Conclave runs smoothly, that all 118 cardinals from all over the world, adhere to the strict measures set within. Just like our political system, where each side represents different positions, there are factions with varying opinions on the future of the church. So the jockeying begins, votes are taken and the intrigue begins. Never expected to find myself completely enthralled by this inside look of what it takes to elect our next pope. Didn't expect so many revelations nor what extent some cardinals would to to hide offenses that would keep, them out of the running. Found myself totally glued to these pages, wanting to see what would happen next, who would ultimately be elected.A well written novel, my first by this author, and a wonderful portrayal of not only the differences in the many cardinals but how many differences there are in their views of the Church's future. The ending, could it happen? Probably. Would it happen? Who knows but I am not sure it is realistic. Still, I applaud the author for this total surprise, one I did not see coming.ARC from publisher.
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  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    Harris returns with another remarkable novel of historical fiction, turning his narrative to the present as explores a highly pious and political event. THE POPE IS DEAD! This startling piece of news makes its way to the ears of Cardinal Lomeli in the early hours one October morning. Heading to the apartment of the Holy Father, Lomeli is met by a small group, who confirm the news and begin the prescribed acts required when the Vatican is without its Supreme Pontiff. As the news becomes public, L Harris returns with another remarkable novel of historical fiction, turning his narrative to the present as explores a highly pious and political event. THE POPE IS DEAD! This startling piece of news makes its way to the ears of Cardinal Lomeli in the early hours one October morning. Heading to the apartment of the Holy Father, Lomeli is met by a small group, who confirm the news and begin the prescribed acts required when the Vatican is without its Supreme Pontiff. As the news becomes public, Lomeli is tasked with preparing for the highly publicised, though extremely secret, event known as The Conclave. As Dean of the College of Cardinals, Lomeli must organise the election of the next pope, which is only a few weeks hence. During the intervening time, the funeral must take place and Lomeli handles sundry pieces of Vatican business ahead of the papal election. As cardinals arrive from all over the world to cast their ballots, Lomeli wrestles with a few issues surrounding cardinal electors, including one Cardinal Tremblay, the Vatican Camerlengo, its temporary leader, a French-Canadian who was apparently removed from all positions the night before the pope died. As if this were not enough to occupy his time, as 117 confirmed cardinals have arrived for Conclave, a mysterious figure appears and makes he known that he, too, is a cardinal eligible to choose the next pontiff. Vincent Benitez, Archbishop of Baghdad, was appointed a cardinal in pectore, 'in the heart', and was known only to the recently deceased pope and God. Seeing the documentation and meditating on this oddity, Lomeli grants Benitez access to the Conclave and the preliminary events commence. Even before being sequestered into the Sistene Chapel, there are a few front runners for the position, all of whom seek to solidify their supporters before the voting begins. Tremblay stands firm that he can speak best for the Catholic Church, being a North American without being from America; Bellini, the current Secretary of State from Italy, served the last pope well on the world scene and can continue with his liberal outlook in directing the Church; Adeyemi, a cardinal from Nigeria, seeks to lead the way for the Third World and present the Church with its first black pontiff; and Tedesco, Italian and pining for a return of a fellow countryman to the Throne of St. Peter, who will also remove the impediments that Vatican II ushered in, keeping the faith pure and the language of the Church equally so. These four men vie as best they can before cardinals place their minds in God's hand to help them cast their ballots. Once the Conclave begins, Lomeli must continue running it by the strict orders laid out in the Apostolic Constitution, which includes specific rules and processes. While the outside world is left to wonder what is going on, receiving only the most minimal of news in the form of curling smoke from a chimney, inside the Sistene Chapel there is much politicking. Lomeli uncovers great issues with two of the front runners, whose power dwindles as the Dean uses the Constitution to keep the Conclave on track. As the ballots mount, surprises continue, and not even an act of terror can stop the cardinals from choosing the new Catholic leader. Voting continues until one cardinal receives the proscribed two-thirds of the votes, which seems almost impossible until impassioned speeches before the eighth ballot. Lomeli is on the verge of witnessing history, but even then, there is one more surprise that no one saw coming. The Catholic Church is set to change dramatically, though its congregants cannot know how deeply divided its upper echelon has become over a single decision. From the embers of the deceased pope comes the cry the world has waited to hear: Habemus papam (We have a Pope)! A thought-provoking thriller that keeps readers glued to the page until the very last sentence.This is a brilliant piece that pulls together the most political event in the world, far exceeding the election of an American president (and this is from a non-Catholic). The intricacies and nuances with a Conclave are enough to drive any historian or political fanatic mad, but to create one in a piece of fiction is surely an even more onerous task. Harris develops a wonderful collection of characters to serve as cardinals and support staff, though he promises in his author's note that none are based on actual people. Using these multi-dimensional individuals, the narrative moves in interesting ways to enrich the story the further it advances, using Lomeli as the central protagonist throughout. From what I know of Conclaves and the rules surrounding them, Harris has used everything at his disposal to create momentum in the most interesting of spots without dragging things out too much or weighing the story down in a constitutional miasma. Tackling the fallibility of each cardinal, the struggle between man and God, the views of the outside world, and the highly political event that is electing the Supreme Pontiff, Harris delivers a thriller that far exceeds any expectations and does so in under three hundred pages. Weaving dramatic interactions into the storyline, the reader is left to cheer on their favourite cardinal, in hopes that he will obtain the magic eighty votes. I cannot think of a novel that churned up so much political excitement in me or so flawlessly depicts this highly secretive event as a Conclave. Readers of all political and religious stripes will surely enjoy devouring this piece, which reads so fluidly and is timeless in its presentation that it could be read over the years without losing any lustre.Kudos, Mr. Harris for entertaining, educating, and keeping the reader guessing until the very end. I cannot think of a better novel to read to contrast and compare with the circus of the upcoming US General Election.Like/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/
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  • Jaidee
    January 1, 1970
    4 "solid, carefully layered, quietly thrilling" stars ! We have all of Mr. Robert Harris' novels and I have read none of them. When I saw this in the bookstore, however, I just had to have it. I was allowed to buy it on the condition that I start reading it within two weeks of purchase. I live with a tyrant but a sweet and generous one :) After reading this novel I will be certain to read all his others as Mr. Harris is an excellent and subtle storyteller. He has done meticulous research on the 4 "solid, carefully layered, quietly thrilling" stars ! We have all of Mr. Robert Harris' novels and I have read none of them. When I saw this in the bookstore, however, I just had to have it. I was allowed to buy it on the condition that I start reading it within two weeks of purchase. I live with a tyrant but a sweet and generous one :) After reading this novel I will be certain to read all his others as Mr. Harris is an excellent and subtle storyteller. He has done meticulous research on the traditions and laws of Roman Catholic Conclave and created an exciting and compelling story of a fictionalized account in the near future. Among my agnostic friends and friends that are ex-Catholics they questioned my desire to read this novel. I am not Catholic but have learned an awful lot from wise clergy, compassionate nuns and monks and have been moved spiritually when attending Old Rites services. I have also witnessed the great social justice work that is done by liberation theologians and practitioners in Latin America. This is not to say that great evil has not been perpetuated by this huge institution including widespread childhood sexual abuse and the oppression of women, sexual minorities and other faiths. I digress ( as usual) and will start with a quote from the book: " Bless you, Sister, for your generosity. I believe my heart is pure. But how can any one of say for sure why we act as we do? In my experience, the basest sins are often committed for the highest motives. " This book follows Lomelli a cardinal who has the task of facilitating Conclave as the Dean of Cardinals. We follow his investigations into corruption, secrets, his spiritual struggles and the reflection of his own conscience as he navigates mystery upon mystery of this compelling novel. Mr. Harris has great skill in painting portraits with very little information and only a few colors to create realistic dialogue, fascinating tension and the formation of alliances and the development of schisms. Mr. Harris does not weigh us down with too much detail but enough to get a crystal clear picture of procedure, strategy and ambience. He understands politics, human psychology and the struggle of the spirit. A wonderful and thrilling read. I look forward to your Roman trilogy Mr. Harris !!
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  • Annet
    January 1, 1970
    This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late...Interesting, fascinating, intriguing. 'Unputdownable'(Guardian), yes, that is the right word. The process of the Vatican Conclave, the thought of the beautiful art there and an intrigue. What goes on behind those closed doors? It kept me reading to get to the twist. The twist... mmmm... far fetched? Well who knows, in today's day & age. I did love the struggle of Cardinal & Dean Lomeli in guiding the delicate process of the Conclave. Gre This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late...Interesting, fascinating, intriguing. 'Unputdownable'(Guardian), yes, that is the right word. The process of the Vatican Conclave, the thought of the beautiful art there and an intrigue. What goes on behind those closed doors? It kept me reading to get to the twist. The twist... mmmm... far fetched? Well who knows, in today's day & age. I did love the struggle of Cardinal & Dean Lomeli in guiding the delicate process of the Conclave. Great book. Note: great cover. The atmosphere of the red cover pulled me in. In the afterword the author writes that he was allowed to visit the locations used during a Conclave that are permanently closed to the public. Wow, wish I could do that... It made me think I really need to visit Rome and the Vatican again soon. Wander the streets in wonder and awe.... Great book. Recommended!Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the Apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, 'Give me also this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit'. But Peter said to him, 'May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!'...
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 StarsI was baptized Catholic, my mother raised in the Catholic faith, my father converted so they could be married in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia. My older brother was also baptized Catholic, not that I recall either of these events, but I do remember when my younger brother was baptized in the Episcopal church, where we went until I was in my early teens. I didn’t know until I was 24, when my godmother mentioned it to me, but I did spend a bit of time inside the Catho 4.5 StarsI was baptized Catholic, my mother raised in the Catholic faith, my father converted so they could be married in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia. My older brother was also baptized Catholic, not that I recall either of these events, but I do remember when my younger brother was baptized in the Episcopal church, where we went until I was in my early teens. I didn’t know until I was 24, when my godmother mentioned it to me, but I did spend a bit of time inside the Catholic church growing up, with one neighborhood girl who enjoyed “sneaking” in to light the candles. This wasn’t all that strange considering that even though it’s probably a mile walk, the woods behind my house backed up to the Catholic Church property. It’s 2:00 a.m. when Cardinal Lomeli is hurried through the dark walkways of the Vatican to the Pope’s bedroom, whispering prayers as he hastens to his side, begging for his life to be spared. Memories of their last talks flood his thoughts as the elevator slowly rises.”Later, Lomeli would look back on this as the moment when the contest for the succession began.” The Pope was gone before Lomeli arrived at his side, and he is grieving, not wanting to face the responsibilities that are now facing him. He is the Dean of the Cardinals, and as such it is his job to make sure that he is on top of everything involved in the Conclave, the transition from the now deceased, much loved Pope, to the newly elected Pope-to-be. It must be handled flawlessly, the entire world will be watching.One hundred and eighteen Cardinals from all over the world gather for this process, the College of Cardinals voting over and over until there is a clear choice. This was fascinating to me. I had only read the first 20 pages the day before, but I could not put this book down once I picked it up again. There are some hints that perhaps some of the Cardinals are more favoured than others to rank higher in the number of votes, but the process is such that it gives you a perspective that can’t be attained with only one vote, such as in the US Presidential polls. As each voting “round” goes by, the votes are counted for each Cardinal. Behind the scenes of each vote, though, there is enough scheming and maneuvering to make your head spin. Would the leading three Cardinals in position maintain their positions? Which one of them would be the next Bishop of Rome, the Pope? This is a truly fascinating novel, with writing that just flows effortlessly from page to page leaving the reader to focus on this fictional peek behind these lives lived beyond our sight, peeling back the layers of sins, the secrets, the mysteries of these lives.Harris had the privilege of visiting these locations, not available to the public, to facilitate his research. It shows in the lovely details he gives of the process, the location, the traditions, day-to-day life and dedication involved. This really helped to bring this to life for me. Recommended!
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  • Dem
    January 1, 1970
    A captivating and intelligent thriller that takes us inside the Vatican for an election of the new pope. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to read this novel but something about it's cover drew me to the book and the fact that a couple of my goodread friend's enjoyed it I knew I had to step outside for comfort zone and give it a try and what a enjoyable and interesting read it was. It's one of those books that quietly sucks you in and you just keep turning the pages. Conclave, as its title title A captivating and intelligent thriller that takes us inside the Vatican for an election of the new pope. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to read this novel but something about it's cover drew me to the book and the fact that a couple of my goodread friend's enjoyed it I knew I had to step outside for comfort zone and give it a try and what a enjoyable and interesting read it was. It's one of those books that quietly sucks you in and you just keep turning the pages. Conclave, as its title title suggests, is about a papal conclave set sometime in the near future. The pope has died and the cardinals are gathering to elect his successor, cardinals from all over the world, some have ambition and some are rivals but each one will cast his vote in the World's more secretive election.This is one of those books that is a slow but effective burner, the writing is good and the plot entertaining. I loved the character's of Lomeli, Sister Agnes and O'Malley. Its a short read I think it would make a great book club discussion book.
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  • Cathrine ☯️
    January 1, 1970
    4.4★Holy smoke was this a good one.The blurb tells you what you need to know. I had never read or heard of this author but most definitely will be checking out his other books.It was compelling, fascinating, intelligent and ... that ending! Did not see that coming. Most enjoyable. Next!
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent read! It almost felt like historical fiction because there was quite a lot about the traditions of the conclave and also where the outside world is deliberately shut out for the process of electing a new pope, it almost might have been set 400 years ago.I'm lucky enough to have visited Rome and the Vatican and it really helped me to visualise the setting. I also saw a programme about the Borgias and a dramatised version of the Conclave, so when I saw this book I knew I would have to re Excellent read! It almost felt like historical fiction because there was quite a lot about the traditions of the conclave and also where the outside world is deliberately shut out for the process of electing a new pope, it almost might have been set 400 years ago.I'm lucky enough to have visited Rome and the Vatican and it really helped me to visualise the setting. I also saw a programme about the Borgias and a dramatised version of the Conclave, so when I saw this book I knew I would have to read it.This book has plenty of intrigue and thrills and it really kept me guessing. It's quite a short book and I found it hard to put down.. if you fancy a book with a thrill of a different kind, this book could be for you. Recommended.
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    The author, Robert Harris, was given the privilege of visiting the locations that are permanently closed to the public to help him in his research of this book. The reader is given an in-depth tour and detailed account of traditions and rituals that take place. His writing style makes it so easy to visualize every aspect of the happenings.What starts out as a usual process for choosing a new pope, soon develops into a plot with numerous complications, unraveling secrets long hidden, and just whe The author, Robert Harris, was given the privilege of visiting the locations that are permanently closed to the public to help him in his research of this book. The reader is given an in-depth tour and detailed account of traditions and rituals that take place. His writing style makes it so easy to visualize every aspect of the happenings.What starts out as a usual process for choosing a new pope, soon develops into a plot with numerous complications, unraveling secrets long hidden, and just when you think you have it all figured out, a new twist to the storyline is thrown in. It was interesting to me how much a role politics play in the selection. The "Conclave" had me turning pages at a new pace. From the novel's beautiful cover to its last page that left me in complete surprise, I never wavered from being deeply involved. It's one of those books that comes along way too seldom.This amazing book was one of my favorite reads for 2016.
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  • Paul O'Neill
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting book, thought provoking with a great ending. I thought this would be a thriller played against the backdrop of a Conclave. Turns out that it had more depth than I anticipated, with religious theory and the state of the church at the forefront and all the nessecary twists and turns until the church elects its new pope. It is a little predicable, but nonetheless thoroughly enjoyable.
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  • Susan Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars One of the signs of a great book, to me, is that you feel you are actually living the book. I felt like I was in the middle of the Conclave and actually meeting and greeting the other Cardinals, meditating, plotting and participating in history. Yet it was all fiction. Every bit and still felt so real to me. I have read other books about the Conclave so I had the basics down but Harris made it sing in a way that other books haven't. The grind, the boredom, the endless task of followin 4.5 stars One of the signs of a great book, to me, is that you feel you are actually living the book. I felt like I was in the middle of the Conclave and actually meeting and greeting the other Cardinals, meditating, plotting and participating in history. Yet it was all fiction. Every bit and still felt so real to me. I have read other books about the Conclave so I had the basics down but Harris made it sing in a way that other books haven't. The grind, the boredom, the endless task of following tradition all lead to a moment when the members hope God speaks to them and gives them insight all come to life under Harris's skilled writing. I would rather poke my eyes out than sit there for endless hours without being able to read which probably explains why I am not a Cardinal, that and I am not Catholic, male or speak Latin. The only slightly jarring note to me was the ending. I felt it was just little too pat, a little too politically correct and a little patronizing. The selected Pope had secrets too but why his was OK and others weren't was a puzzle of sorts to me. Still it was kind of fantastic in it's own way. It certainly caught me off guard. I certainly had something else in mind. I think this is an excellent read and highly recommend it.
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  • James
    January 1, 1970
    This is an intelligent, compelling, unpredictable and absorbing thriller of the best kind. Whilst the subject matter – Conclave (an assembly of cardinals for the election of a pope) is something I knew very little about (other than the iconic chimneys emitting either black or white smoke!) the general themes concerning political machinations and the struggle for power will be familiar to Robert Harris readers. Clear parallels can be drawn between themes explored in Conclave and those in Harris’ This is an intelligent, compelling, unpredictable and absorbing thriller of the best kind. Whilst the subject matter – Conclave (an assembly of cardinals for the election of a pope) is something I knew very little about (other than the iconic chimneys emitting either black or white smoke!) the general themes concerning political machinations and the struggle for power will be familiar to Robert Harris readers. Clear parallels can be drawn between themes explored in Conclave and those in Harris’ Cicero trilogy – the obvious difference here being the contemporary Vatican setting and the bestowing of religious / quasi-political power – contrasting with the ancient Roman Senate and the goal of political / military / absolute power.What’s also noticeably different here from Harris’ other studies of the struggle for power are: Firstly: The cloistered nature and setting of the Conclave – which naturally and greatly adds to the uncontrived tension and claustrophobia of the novel (a setting which must be a gift to an author such as Harris). Secondly: By definition the omnipresent religious element underlying the Conclave voting, this at least superficially dominates proceedings and varies by degree of course dependant on the implied motivations of the various characters. Definitely recommended to any fan of this genre – it’s a great read.
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  • Ova - Excuse My Reading
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the tense atmospheric glance to Vatican but I hated the ending of this book. I thought it was a bit hasty, felt like an unfinished work of art.The writing and the characters were beautiful, I love how different cardinals were portrayed all with their own flaws and the traits of being more human than holy. Wished the end was a bit different (or it was done in a different way!)
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  • ☮Karen
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsIn my twenties I read every Andrew Greeley novel I could lay my hands on; and now listening to Conclave reminded me a lot of Greeley since he wrote so prolifically about Cardinals, Popes, celibacy, politics, etc. Men of God, be they priests, Monsignors, Cardinals, or the Pope himself are, after all, men and by nature, not without sin. In Conclave, as the name implies, 118 Cardinals have gathered to elect a new Pope. One by one, their sins are disclosed and the contender list shrinks. Ca 4.5 starsIn my twenties I read every Andrew Greeley novel I could lay my hands on; and now listening to Conclave reminded me a lot of Greeley since he wrote so prolifically about Cardinals, Popes, celibacy, politics, etc. Men of God, be they priests, Monsignors, Cardinals, or the Pope himself are, after all, men and by nature, not without sin. In Conclave, as the name implies, 118 Cardinals have gathered to elect a new Pope. One by one, their sins are disclosed and the contender list shrinks. Can anyone be found who is pure, worthy, capable, and qualified for the calling?The dear departed Pope sounded as if modeled after our current liberal-leaner, Frances, but probably more of a schemer--who knows. It seemed as if this conclave was taking place somewhere in the not too distant future. Harris' view of the future might not be as we would imagine. Or maybe so. I figured out the new Pope's identity almost immediately, but that was about it. The ending was just great--it made me whoop out loud. I highly recommend this, whether you're Catholic or not (I'm not and I still loved it).
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  • Jody McGrath
    January 1, 1970
    Cardinal Lomeli is devasted by the death of the Pope. He never believed or hoped to attend another Conclave, the congregation of cardinal electors to choose the next Pope, as this will be his third. Cardinal Lomeli is the Dean of the College of Cardinals, therefore, he is tasked with the running and management of the Conclave. With 117 (?) Cardinal electors, emotions run high as support is given to individuals and taken away as secrets are discovered. Will politics or the Holy Spirit guide this Cardinal Lomeli is devasted by the death of the Pope. He never believed or hoped to attend another Conclave, the congregation of cardinal electors to choose the next Pope, as this will be his third. Cardinal Lomeli is the Dean of the College of Cardinals, therefore, he is tasked with the running and management of the Conclave. With 117 (?) Cardinal electors, emotions run high as support is given to individuals and taken away as secrets are discovered. Will politics or the Holy Spirit guide this election?First, I must say that I am not Catholic, so a lot of this information was new to me. At first I found some of it confusing, but after awhile, it became clearer as the author explained people's roles more in depth. I don't know if I would call this a thriller, which I see many people have done. I guess I would call it an intrigue because the reader and the protagonist, Lomeli, have the same information. I also suppose I feel a thriller should be more suspenseful or dangerous. This one was more of a religious/political intrigue, more twists, but no danger.I really enjoyed all of the research the author put into the happenings of a Conclave. The actual ceremonies and rituals, as well as the feelings of boredom and waiting. It made the characters much more real. It also surprised me by how political it all was. It shouldn't have, but it did. Although they are spiritual leaders, they are just humans. Some of the things just seemed so below them. There were also many secrets that came out that didn't so much shock me, as repelled me. It was like any other election, mud-slinging, campaigning, compromising, etc. I did not see the major twist at the end and I did find it pretty far fetched. This Conclave happens at or after the year 2018, I cannot remember exactly, but the end was still unbelievable.I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes books that are information and character driven as opposed to action driven. I throughly enjoyed it!*I voluntarily read an Advance Reader Copy of this book and have given an honest review *
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  • Mandy
    January 1, 1970
    I have to say, I am rather surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. This is the story of the election of a new pope, but it is also the story of the men who elect the leader of the Church, and I found it to be a compelling read. The book is told in the third person, but told from the point of view of Jacopo Lomeli, who is the most senior member of the conclave and directs the proceedings throughout the election process. I liked the main character, I enjoyed reading about the procedure taken to I have to say, I am rather surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. This is the story of the election of a new pope, but it is also the story of the men who elect the leader of the Church, and I found it to be a compelling read. The book is told in the third person, but told from the point of view of Jacopo Lomeli, who is the most senior member of the conclave and directs the proceedings throughout the election process. I liked the main character, I enjoyed reading about the procedure taken to elect a new pope. I knew some things but not everything and I found it interesting. The ending really surprised me, I did not see that coming at all. It seemed a very topical book as well, with the events in Manchester and everything. I will definitely read more from this author as I really liked the writing style as well.
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    It seems Robert Harris can make pretty much anything into a deeply intriguing political drama with the addictive qualities of a soap. In this case, it's the election of a new pope; the sympathetic Cardinal Lomeli is our protagonist, observing the the power play as potential candidates come to the fore, have their hopes dashed, and/or are scuppered by scandal. Like the author's Cicero novels, Conclave takes a world that seems distant and rarefied to most and aligns it with the sort of rivalry and It seems Robert Harris can make pretty much anything into a deeply intriguing political drama with the addictive qualities of a soap. In this case, it's the election of a new pope; the sympathetic Cardinal Lomeli is our protagonist, observing the the power play as potential candidates come to the fore, have their hopes dashed, and/or are scuppered by scandal. Like the author's Cicero novels, Conclave takes a world that seems distant and rarefied to most and aligns it with the sort of rivalry and backstabbing we're all familiar with. I could have done without the silly final twist, but on the whole this is a thoroughly entertaining book (and if nothing else, you will likely come out of it with a better understanding of how popes are chosen).TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • TS Chan
    January 1, 1970
    The power of God. The ambition of men. The allure of an intriguing read. Ever since I've read about the papal conclave for the first time in Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, I've been fascinated with the Catholic Church's process of electing a new Pope - a tradition observed for hundreds of years. I also had the opportunity to visit Vatican City which gave me a greater appreciation of the power of the Church, which is evident from the awe-inspiring and jaw-droppingly beautiful sovereign state in The power of God. The ambition of men. The allure of an intriguing read. Ever since I've read about the papal conclave for the first time in Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, I've been fascinated with the Catholic Church's process of electing a new Pope - a tradition observed for hundreds of years. I also had the opportunity to visit Vatican City which gave me a greater appreciation of the power of the Church, which is evident from the awe-inspiring and jaw-droppingly beautiful sovereign state in the city of Rome. Robert Harris is more well-known for his other novels, such as Fatherland and Pompeii, but Conclave is the first book I've read from this author because the subject matter intrigued me a bit more than the others at this point. A modern 'political' thriller set solely within the confines of the Vatican City, and significantly in the Sistine Chapel where the voting takes place, Conclave is an engrossing read. Granted, it did take a while for my head to grasp the church hierarchies and a staggering number of names of the cardinals and archbishops of various dioceses and religious factions. The author also drops a lot of actual historical references of past Popes and elections, injecting a sense of authenticity to the storytelling. The Acknowledgements at the end evidence the level of research that went into the writing of this novel.I was curious as to how a story as simple as the election of a Pope can be drawn out into a novel onto itself, but the author has succeeded in doing so most captivatingly. Written in a third person limited perspective of a single character, Cardinal Lomeli, who is the dean appointed to oversee the papal conclave, the narrative is subtly compelling in the way it strings the reader along to keep turning the pages to discover what happens next. Given the simplicity of the plot, there is not much else I can mention in this review without giving too much away. I will say this, however - even though the conclusion is somewhat predictable, there is still an element of suspense and surprise right till the very end. And it is a fantastic one!This review can also be found at Booknest
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  • Dan Thompson
    January 1, 1970
    My first Harris book. *sighs*Very well written, well researched and interesting to a point, but it fell flat quickly. I guessed the ending about half way through and I can't really see the point of the book. If the ending was the beginning and how the world reacted to it - then possibly, it would have been a more thorough and engaging book.
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  • Andy
    January 1, 1970
    Have really enjoyed other works by this author & was great to get my hands on his latest which intrigued me with its concept of more Roman politics albeit from a much later period in history from his Cicero series. And seeing as his Cicero series is one of my all time fav reads..... As for the review..... I cant really say much at all as it would give a lot away perhaps even inadvertently so. I would even encourage you to avoid any reviews on the book at all! So a few brief thoughts/observat Have really enjoyed other works by this author & was great to get my hands on his latest which intrigued me with its concept of more Roman politics albeit from a much later period in history from his Cicero series. And seeing as his Cicero series is one of my all time fav reads..... As for the review..... I cant really say much at all as it would give a lot away perhaps even inadvertently so. I would even encourage you to avoid any reviews on the book at all! So a few brief thoughts/observations for you.....The scene is set early, the pope is dead & a new pope must be chosen through the conclave. A fast flowing start as we’re straight into the story with the main narrative via a Cardinal Lomeli who is the Dean of the College of Cardinals & as such oversees the conclave, it’s a style that was used with great effect in the Cicero series with the main narrative coming via Cicero’s secretary. His character was one I had great empathy with throughout the story who in truth hooked me fully.There’s great detail about the conclave, the Vatican & it’s machinations which I’m guessing would be of interest to many good RC’s (Ruddy Christians that is :) ). Before you know it yer over half way into the story & you might think well, what’s going to happen here then? Then “stuff” happens, “things” are said, folk do “things” & the conclave is played out through the papal ballots. That’s all i’ll say.One word to the wise, as much as it’s hard not too, try not to flip ahead to see the ballot results..... you’ll only ruin it royally!!Did I enjoy it YES, Did it hook me YES, was I intrigued YES, Could it have been more PERHAPS, is it as good as some of his other works MAYBE NO But it’s ambitious in what he’s done & would give it a high 3.* rounded upto 4 stars. The length of the book being spot-on too.PS Dont read any of the comments below - they may contain spoilers!!
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  • Roger Brunyate
    January 1, 1970
    A Balancing ActRobert Harris has always excelled in writing historical novels in the manner of a thriller. They have succeeded because of his seriousness of purpose, his sensitivity to character, and his eye for detail. Also, I would suggest, because his subjects have mostly been comfortably in the past, In addition to several books set in ancient Rome, he has written about the turn-of-the-century Dreyfus case (An Officer and a Spy), the Bletchley cryptological center in WW2 (Enigma), and an alt A Balancing ActRobert Harris has always excelled in writing historical novels in the manner of a thriller. They have succeeded because of his seriousness of purpose, his sensitivity to character, and his eye for detail. Also, I would suggest, because his subjects have mostly been comfortably in the past, In addition to several books set in ancient Rome, he has written about the turn-of-the-century Dreyfus case (An Officer and a Spy), the Bletchley cryptological center in WW2 (Enigma), and an alternate history (Fatherland) in which the Germans have won the war. Hitherto, his most contemporary book, The Ghost, has been about the Tony Blair premiership, but written after he left office. Conclave, however, is set in very near future, about the election of a new Pope after the death of a fictional Pontiff looking very much like the present one, although Harris swears otherwise. Furthermore, in writing about the conclave of cardinals, Harris is attempting to describe a secretive process taking place entirely behind locked doors. He cannot obtain his detail at first hand, and the psychology of these princes of the Church must be largely a matter for speculation. I was worried when I picked the book up at an airport that it would become either sensational, gossipy, or willfully arcane in the manner of Dan Brown.For the most part, I need not have worried. Harris has done his research, and of the the most fascinating things about the book is the detail in which he describes the conclave, the sequestering of the cardinals, the many rituals, and details of the voting process; it is almost a police procedural, only with prelates. More importantly, the author's ability to create three-dimensional characters has not left him. The central figure is Cardinal Jacopo Lomeli, Dean of the College of Cardinals, and the ex officio manager of the conclave. Lomeli is a highly competent man who tries to keep an impartial attitude towards the many factions. He is also a humble one, full of doubt about his own spirituality. Yet when the moment comes, and he must preach the sermon that is in effect the keynote address for the entire conference, he finds himself putting aside his prepared text and speaking from the heart, proclaiming a vision of the Church that acknowledges fallibility and doubt rather than thrusting it aside. This gains him a significant number of votes in the early rounds—much to his horror, as he feels himself unworthy to be Pope. If the reader should think otherwise, it is because the author has done so much to make the novel work in theological terms as well as psychological ones.But Harris's trade is still to write thrillers. I am sure there are intense doctrinal differences at play in any conclave, warring egos, and personal ambitions. One certainly hears of various scandals within the Vatican, especially the struggles between a reformer like Pope Francis and the entrenched bureaucracy of the Curia. But these in themselves do not make for a typical thriller. While Harris does not go anywhere near the lengths of a Dan Brown, he does have to make certain compromises. So to the differences in personality and belief he adds hints of blackmail, bribery, hidden documents, sexual indiscretion, and even terrorism. It makes for an exciting read; past page 100 or so, I literally could not stop. But I wondered how much was necessary. Harris does such a good job of charting the flux of opinion, the rise of one candidate and the gradual decline of another, that I really think it could have worked on its own terms. He even manages to keep one in suspense as to who the final winner would be; I admit I guessed very early on, but Harris worked very hard to convince me that my guess was wrong, only to make a sudden leap at the end. Both personally and spiritually, the conclave ends by selecting the right man. I kind of wish that Harris had not chosen to add one final twist—though given the state of the Church today, I see why he did it.
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  • Bart
    January 1, 1970
    4 GR* (I loved it.) - my actual rating is 8 out of 10.Solid 5* book, but the unbelievable end ruined it for me.
  • Richard
    January 1, 1970
    8/10The thinking man’s thriller writer writes a thriller which surely will have no thrills?! Will it be thriller or not? Everything points at thriller, I mean what could be more thrilling than a group of pensioners deciding on who should next lead them in a state of delusion? That being said, this was a great read. Things started slowly enough but there are over 140+ people getting together so the usual setting up of the situation and introductions of people means for a bit of info dumping until 8/10The thinking man’s thriller writer writes a thriller which surely will have no thrills?! Will it be thriller or not? Everything points at thriller, I mean what could be more thrilling than a group of pensioners deciding on who should next lead them in a state of delusion? That being said, this was a great read. Things started slowly enough but there are over 140+ people getting together so the usual setting up of the situation and introductions of people means for a bit of info dumping until things finally hit some traction and get going. The key players are introduced and locked in a room until one of them is elected to the highest of positions within the church. Each character is layered, along with the lead whose viewpoint you follow who is suffering from a crisis of faith with the Church he has devoted his life to. There are many twists abound and before anyone can say the Lord’s Prayer things change from under your nose. It’s quite political doing God’s work. Robert Harris is a safe bet for me, I couldn’t read his work closely together but they never fail to hook me in and this was no different. Worth a read if the plot at all intrigues you. I got this from my local library, libraries rule!!
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  • The Pfaeffle Journal (Diane)
    January 1, 1970
    Many years ago, my brother and I saw a play called Hadrian the Seventh, which was based on a book by the same name. The gist of the story is that two members of the Roman Catholic church visit a pathetic Englishman whom failed at becoming a priest; they make him a priest and take him back to the Vatican where he is elected Pope. Instead of having control over this rather pathetic fellow, he goes on to have his way with the Roman Catholic church. So any time I read a book about the Vatican I alwa Many years ago, my brother and I saw a play called Hadrian the Seventh, which was based on a book by the same name. The gist of the story is that two members of the Roman Catholic church visit a pathetic Englishman whom failed at becoming a priest; they make him a priest and take him back to the Vatican where he is elected Pope. Instead of having control over this rather pathetic fellow, he goes on to have his way with the Roman Catholic church. So any time I read a book about the Vatican I always think of Hadrian the Seventh.Robert Harris has taken another tack, which has been written about before but Harris does such an excellent job that you really won't mind. Using current day politics of growing place the third world, race and ethics Harris takes us through the election of a Pope. As we all know the Roman Catholic church is going faster in the third world than it is in the "old world", so as the Vatican prepares to pick its newest Pope there are a lot of unknowns. It appears that the former Pope did somethings that no one was aware of until after his death. A good read, but not something I see happening. This review was originally posted on The Pfaeffle Journal
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  • ☙ percy ❧
    January 1, 1970
    never thought that a book about choosing the next pope would make me as Shooketh as i currently am, but it did and i am.what a great way to start 2018 fhahdakkadjadsdkfanyway i'm too Shook to write a proper review but let me just say that if you think a book about choosing the next pope sounds boring you are Extremely Very Wrong
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Tense, clever, unusual - extraordinary. On the rare occasions when I put this book down, I couldn't stop thinking about it.
  • Jean
    January 1, 1970
    I have read a number of Harris’s books. I was surprised by the topic of this book. Most of Harris’s books have been about either Ancient Rome or World War II. This book is about the catholic church selecting a new pope.The book kept me reading until two a.m.; then I started reading again as soon as wakened. The book is well written and researched. I find I enjoy the way Harris writes and his beautiful prose. Most of Harris’s books have a theme about the inevitable corrupting effects of power; th I have read a number of Harris’s books. I was surprised by the topic of this book. Most of Harris’s books have been about either Ancient Rome or World War II. This book is about the catholic church selecting a new pope.The book kept me reading until two a.m.; then I started reading again as soon as wakened. The book is well written and researched. I find I enjoy the way Harris writes and his beautiful prose. Most of Harris’s books have a theme about the inevitable corrupting effects of power; this book is no exception. The book is about the current times as the last part of the book definitely reveals. Harris is a master storyteller. I am looking forward to reading more of his books. I highly recommend this book.I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is just over eight hours. Roy McMillan does an excellent job narrating the book. I enjoyed listening to his voice. McMillian is an actor and audiobook narrator.
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  • Tosh
    January 1, 1970
    I liked it, even though it really wasn't all that exciting. It does have a certain level of suspense that made it difficult to put down for very long. It’s predictable, but then the uncertainty is there right until the last few pages.I’ve given this book 4 stars despite my feelings about the very end, which I found to be ridiculous and just too unbelievable. I was half expecting the outcome, but the twist was just too much. Besides which, I had begun to have a high level of respect for one of th I liked it, even though it really wasn't all that exciting. It does have a certain level of suspense that made it difficult to put down for very long. It’s predictable, but then the uncertainty is there right until the last few pages.I’ve given this book 4 stars despite my feelings about the very end, which I found to be ridiculous and just too unbelievable. I was half expecting the outcome, but the twist was just too much. Besides which, I had begun to have a high level of respect for one of the characters, due to his faithful adherence to his duties, but in the end he disappointed me. (view spoiler)[I can't respect a person who compromises after all the trouble he went to to eliminate all the other scandals. (hide spoiler)]
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  • Grumpus
    January 1, 1970
    This is only the 3rd book among 784 read to go on the "Field-of-dreams" shelf. Remember the movie, Field of Dreams? When it was over, I was left wondering what happened. I had to have my wife explain it to me. I don't want to be left with an ambiguous ending. I spent the time reading it, make it clear to me what happens next. Yes, I'm a guy with little gray. I prefer black and white.Anyway, I enjoyed the story's intrigue and the behind the scenes look at the type of things that happen in conclav This is only the 3rd book among 784 read to go on the "Field-of-dreams" shelf. Remember the movie, Field of Dreams? When it was over, I was left wondering what happened. I had to have my wife explain it to me. I don't want to be left with an ambiguous ending. I spent the time reading it, make it clear to me what happens next. Yes, I'm a guy with little gray. I prefer black and white.Anyway, I enjoyed the story's intrigue and the behind the scenes look at the type of things that happen in conclave when it is time to elect a new pope. I would have given it four stars but had to deduct one for the ending. Still, I can recommend it as I don't believe most folks are as troubled by these types of endings as am I. Be forewarned. Field of dreams. So aggravating.
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