Reviews

Book Review: Christopher Buckley Satires The Business Of Religion In “The Relic Master”

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Christopher Buckley is an acclaimed New York Times Best Selling Author and with good reason. He has a distinct voice that is vast in vocabulary and unpretentious. Not many writers can make words like sanguine and blithe be so casually dropped into their characters’ verses and not come off arrogant. Thus, in Buckley’s newest novel, The Relic Master, readers will be impressed by the detailed and righteous world that is the business of religion. 

Dismas is a relic hunter in 1517, whom procures valuable “religious” artifacts and sells them to his notable collectors like Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony and soon-to-be Cardinal Albrecht of Mainz, whom each tussle between the political, superficial, and spiritual weight such items bring to their life. For Dismas, religion is a lucrative world, and thanks to Buckley’s artful writing we see how. From market-scenes and causal mentions of “St. Peter’s boat” being up for sale or the many sellers whom claim to have the “nails” that pierced Jesus, all readers, even those whom are not religious, will be enthralled by the world of Dismas. It is easy to forget how much money goes into religion’s foundation, to which even the Vatican gets a satirical splicing in the grand and hilarious journey of Dismas to steal the Shroud of Chambray, i.e. Jesus Christ’s burial cloth. 
As Dismas and his best friend, real-life German painter Albrecht Dürer, travel Europe to steal the most precious religious relic Europe has to offer, they have humorous encounters with German mercenaries, a beautiful female apothecary, and a few “nobles” that act anything but noble. The funny mishaps that plague Dismas’s attempted heist will remind viewers of a “Three Stooges” episode: brilliantly comedic while oddly innocent. Buckley has created through Dismas a character that challenges whether adding money and power to religion’s network depletes the spiritual empowerment it should give followers. Dismiss is an ex-monk/soldier that is weary with both state and religious politics, but is driven by the money and prestige such a world offers, until it does not. Through hi-jinks and moments of regret/guilt, Dismas represents how money can block religion from making people feel genuinely saved or redeemable. This lesson is taught through Buckley’s intelligent writing. 
I cannot gush enough over Buckley’s writing style. This may sound plain, but he comes off as the smartest man to ever make you laugh. Religious satire is not easy to pull off, especially without prickling certain sensitivities. Yet, Buckley is not trying to rouse a questioning of religion, but, instead, uses his thoughtful, fearless wit to have the audience draw their own conclusion over the intertwining of faith, economy, and politics. In doing this, Buckley brings us back to the 1500’s through a vivid, inspired narrative that is too funny to deny. This 400 paged Simon and Schuster novel is one of the breeziest fictions I have ever read because Buckley is a phenomenal, exuberant writer. Click Here to buy The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley, which is now on paperback.