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Seed of the Dogwood TreeReview - Seed of the Dogwood Tree
by Greg Cicio
American Book Publishing, 2002
Review by Su Terry
Dec 1st 2002 (Volume 6, Issue 48)

“Do you like Mystery, Fiction, Folk Lore, History, Templar legend, Crusader legend, End-time Prophesy? Then you'll love ‘Seed of the Dogwood Tree’." This is how the author describes the novel on his website, but I must agree. Seed of the Dogwood Tree blends religious conspiracy theories with science fiction and ends up with one interesting and fast paced apocalyptic novel.

Seed of the Dogwood Tree by Greg Cicio takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland and Somerset, England. Michael Sinclair and his roommate, Bruce Plantard, are two doctoral students on a university archaeological dig at the Mendips Mines in Somerset, England. During the dig, they discover three letters written by Baldwin I, king of Jerusalem, during the First Crusades. The letters hint that artifacts from the crucifixion of Jesus were brought back and hidden in the mines. The two students sequester the letters in their apartment and plan a secret return trip to the Mendig Mines with the financial assistance of Bruce’s Uncle Edmond Plantard and with “a nod and a wink” from the Mines’ overseer, Mr. Montpezat. Their private excavation unearths more than their wildest dreams. Upon their return to Edinburgh, Michael reveals their secret to his sister, “Liz-Me” (Elizabeth Marie) who works at the Roslyn Science Center, a state of the arts bio-tech laboratory.  She volunteers to surreptitiously test samples from the artifacts through carbon dating as well as run a few other biological tests on the samples. So far so good, the students are on their way to archaeological fame and fortune, but then things begin to go wrong… horribly wrong. To reveal more would be to reveal too much. Thus begins the fast paced action and plot-counterplot intrigue of this novel.

I have a few initial comments about Seed of the Dogwood Tree. The book is overstuffed. There is too much history, legends, and extra-Biblical mythology in too compact a space. I love reading this type of material, but I want to savor it in all its rich fullness. I would have liked a hearty serving of many of these historic tales, but all I got was a large sampler platter. For the amount of research that must have gone into filling in the background of this novel, I would have enjoyed a much fuller treatment of it. In light of the popularity of the “Left Behind” series, this novel could easily be expanded to double or triple its length or converted to a multi-book series. While this book does not have the professional polish or megabuck financing of the “Left Behind” series, it has more intellectual substance. The characters are more complex and “the powers and principalities” are not so obviously good or evil. Evil in order to succeed must be marketed or at least be disguised as good in order to convince the masses to buy into it. In this novel, for much of the book I was not sure who was good and who was evil, who was telling the truth and who was lying, who could be trusted and who could not be. For me, this is a truer picture of the war between good and evil than winged seraphs and horned demons. Finally, the book really needs to be re-edited. There are many minor editorial problems such as double words and wrong words. I can overlook a few, but the increases as the book goes on. The most glaring error is that “Chapter 2” has the header “Chapter 3”. 

As to the background material, it is researchable. The Mendip Mines do exist and you can check out the Mendip Nature Research Committee homepage.  Obviously, the crusaders were real and Baldwin was the first crusader king of Jerusalem. The Holy Grail mythology and legends about Joseph of Arimathea and Mary Magdalene settling in Britain abound. Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent etal. is the most popular of the books about the secret bloodline of Jesus, but there are many others. The suspected plots and intrigues for religious and world domination by contemporary Templars and Masons are still getting press even today. (I reviewed just such a book, Death in the Air, here last year.) Cicio knows his material and this novel can be used as a sourcebook for hours of fun researching the esoteric.

Greg Cicio describes himself as a “radically saved/born-again Christian.” He was born in Washington, DC and raised in Brooklyn, NY.  He is “the son of a long line of entertainers” including Walt Whitman.  “Greg Cicio has written and co produced the contemporary Christian music album “Desires of Kings” and has written numerous business/professional materials.” Seed of the Dogwood Tree (2002) is his first novel.

Seed of the Dogwood Tree by Greg Cicio is a worthy addition to the genre of inspirational apocalyptic literature. It is clearly Christian in orientation and conversion in focus. (Expect an “altar call” sermon before the end of the book.) In conclusion, if you like the “Left Behind” series and want more, or if you like the idea behind “Left Behind” but found it to be too simplistic, Seed of the Dogwood Tree may be a good alternative. The book is a bit overstuffed, badly in need of edited, but is fast paced, has an interesting plot, realistic characters, and will keep you guessing. I would recommend this book to Christian minded folk.

 

© 2002 Su Terry

Link: Author website

 

Su Terry: Education: B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at Dowling College, Long Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested in the interplay between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area of research is in the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian mystics.


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