Donald is a fabulous technical and historical writer overall, but Bodo the Apostate (his newest novel) is nothing short of his best work all the way around. Not only is his writing immaculate and his history engaging, but in this book his dialogue and character’s thoughts, personalities, and actions are so real and dimensional that I found myself enamored and smiling from the start.
The Bodo that Donald presents in this book (as of course, little was known of him and one-sided) is highly intelligent and advanced (“gifted”) from a very young age. He’s curious, inquisitive, thoughtful, analytic (I have some kids like that so I truly understand it), but in the Carolingian period, which is pre-Medieval age circa 8-9th century, religion was serious (yes, even more serious than by today’s standards). Bodo is taken to be enrolled at the Academy located at the winter palace of Emperor Louis the Pious (the son of Charlamagne) for his smarts, and as well, his great-aunt just happens to be the mother of Emperor Louis.
So, when on the cover it states, ” In a time of intolerance following your conscience is a dangerous choice….” I can totally understand this comment in relation to this book. When one is forced to become a priest and religion gets political and divisions are formed, loyalties demanded and abused, an educated person with a high intellect (these types of people generally think for themselves and don’t follow the crowd, but make logical and educated decisions) is likely to not follow the demanded path. Bodo made a decision to change religions and flee to exile (this is historical record so I don’t feel it is a spoiler), but the book mostly takes place prior to that. It was so very interesting reading of the path that led to his decision and his thoughts behind it. Donald takes what little historical detail was accounted for and intertwines the best scenarios he could deduce in order to bring us Bodo’s story, while simultaneously showing us what led to the demise of the Carolingian Empire. In fact, most of the book really dealt with the political and religious issues of the times, using Bodo as the propelling plot to showcase it. However, he does give us probably one of the only, or at least, best accounts of what his life might have been like afterwards when he lived in Andalusia (al-andalus), Hispania.
I love Carolingian historical fiction. There is something about it that lies between truth and fantasy, so even the facts seem surreal. I’ve grown up loving this era and Donald’s book is another wonderful novel on a list of highly regarded and entertaining books of this time period. Though the book is totally a historical fiction meant to be as authentic and plausible as possible, utilizing best guess based on research, in some way it just so reminded me at the start of something like Lord of the Rings. That’s probably crazy, but the book reads as if someone is telling us a legend (like the Legends of King Arthur, but rather, the legend of Bodo the Apostate, not Bodo Proudfoot, Hobbit!!). I totally admire this story and was enthralled by each chapter. I definitely never wanted to have to stop reading it, but would rather have had a day to do nothing but be entrenched in this book.
Donald’s writing is detailed, visual, entertaining, informative, interesting, and he creates characters that readers can relate or connect to, creating understanding among all various types of people and their relations with others. He writes with a courageous pen in order to honor little-known men in history that made giant decisions. I believe Donald likes to research, critically think, and put together and forth other accounts of those lost to history that could become their lasting legacy as much as he likes to write entertaining material.
Helping historians, as well as readers, to understand other sides of history and make sense of religious intolerance, strife, and its lasting ramifications does a great service way past adorning bookshelves. Donald writes historical fiction of true meaning in a fashion that is so very captivating.
Highly recommended for the true pre-Medieval or Carolingian reader who are made happy by this time period fantasy feel, as well as those who are interested in historical reference about the angst between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
PLEASE DO STOP BACK ON DEC. 17 FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH DONALD ABOUT BODO THE APOSTATE AND MUCH MORE!
Bodo The Apostate, Synopsis~
Genre: Historical Fiction
“… in the meantime, a credible report caused all ecclesiastics of the Catholic Church to lament and weep.” Prudentius of Troyes, Annales Bertiniani, anno 839
On Ascension Day May 22, 838, Bishop Bodo, chaplain, confessor, and favorite of both his kin, Emperor Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, and Empress Judith, caused the greatest scandal of the Carolingian Empire and the 9th century Roman Church.
Bodo, the novel, dramatizes the causes, motivations, and aftermath of Bodo’s astonishing cause célèbre that took place during an age of superstitions, a confused Roman Church, heterodoxies, lingering paganism, broken oaths, rebellions, and dissolution of the Carolingian Empire.
Author Donald Michael Platt, Biography~
Author of four other novels, ROCAMORA, HOUSE OF ROCAMORA, A GATHERING OF VULTURES, and CLOSE TO THE SUN, Donald Michael Platt was born and raised in San Francisco. Donald graduated from Lowell High School and received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. After two years in the Army, Donald attended graduate school at San Jose State where he won a batch of literary awards in the annual SENATOR PHELAN LITERARY CONTEST.
Donald moved to southern California to begin his professional writing career. He sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, Al Ruddy plus Paul Stader Sr, Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. While in Hollywood, Donald taught Creative Writing and Advanced Placement European History at Fairfax High School where he was Social Studies Department Chairman.
After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of his horror novel A GATHERING OF VULTURES, pub. 2007 & 2011, he moved to Florida where he wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.
Currently, Donald resides in Winter Haven, Florida where he is polishing a dark novel and preparing to write a sequel to CLOSE TO THE SUN.
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