Sunday, October 1, 2017

Book Review: 'The Matriarch Matrix' by Maxime Trencavel

Author Maxime Trencavel has many aspects of her life that add to the marvel of this her debut novel. She has earned degrees in science and in marketing and has worked in business and sports, traveling to countries across five continents – absorbing cultures, traditions and the importance of tolerance and understanding. THE MATRIARCH MATRIX was written in the contrasting locations as Belgium, including the Turkish and Kurdish neighborhoods of Brussels, in Peru, and on the East and West Coasts of the United States.

How does one distill the massive information and emotions of a 600-page novel in the form of a review? The author has remarked that the book ‘combines the timber of an action adventure with the overtones of spirituality and familiality’.’ The sheer scope of the novel (time, spectrum, romance, spirituality, humor, history) defies condensation.

But much can be gained by a small sample from Maxime’s Prologue – ‘If only lambs could fly, peace could be a choice in front of us now. For through knowing their innocence, their understanding, their love, comes peace and tolerance. But they cannot. And there can be no peace tonight. Neither lamb nor sheep, I must be the wolf to save her. Our present has happened in the past from where our future appears. Our lesson learned from the voice of the object. So here I must stand. Our last stand on this desolate pier jutting into the tempest of an angry Black Sea, the tears of a darkened, sorrowful heaven pelting my face. Finger on this detonator. One flinch and a kilometer of this world will vaporize. All because of this black object, for which we have been chased, shot, and bombed in our quest to solve a mystery that burns deep in both my dreams and those of the man who is going to kill us now. That is, if I don’t kill us first. To my left stands Jean-Paul, once Father Sobiros, now an armed biblical archeologist who has done his best to assuage my “alien origins of religion” hypothesis. To my right is Zara, once a Kurdish freedom fighter, who has personified the Neolithic goddess of my dreams. In front of us is the object, the one of my family’s legends, the one of the matriarch of so many millennia gone by, the one that has changed Zara in the profound spiritual ways she has long sought, wrapped in six kilos of the most explosive material in the world. I cannot do what Zara has asked me to do, to her and to the object. I just can’t. Not after what she and I have been through

Richly colorful writing that reads with propulsive speed and manages to take us to the ancient past and to the future and all the interstices in between. The author’s summary serves the book well – ‘A speculative fiction novel of origins, faith, passion, and the pursuit of peace. It was always his destiny to save her. It was always her destiny to die. The fate of the world hangs on their choices…The past foretells her future…What does it take to change a loving child of peace into an assassin for a dangerous and powerful oligarch? Zara Khatum knows. Once a fighter for her Kurdish people, the memory of the atrocities inflicted by her captors has Zara seeking one thing: vengeance. But the voices of the ancients call to Zara. In the past, in another life, she knew the secrets of the artifact… Twelve thousand years ago…She is Nanshe, revered matriarch of the family she led away from the monsters of the north. In the land that would one day mark the treacherous border between Turkey and Syria, she created the temples at Gobleki Tepe and founded a dynasty, heirs to a powerful object. For millennia, Nanshe’s descendants have passed down the legend of the artifact: “The object can save. But only a man and woman together can guide the salvation of others.” Heirs to destiny…By fate or destiny, Zara is thrown in with Peter Gollinger, a quirky Californian from the other side of the world and the other side of everything she believes. But he, too, is heeding the voices of his ancestors. Joined by Jean-Paul, a former Jesuit priest, these three people—from wildly different religions and cultures—must find a way to work together to solve a twelve thousand-year-old mystery of the powerful object that spawned a faith. The world teeters on the precipice of war. The outcome depends on them. And one of them is living a lie. The Matriarch Matrix blends the drama, the comedy, the romance, the tragedy of three protagonists with different cultures, traditions, and beliefs – a Sufi woman, a Jesuit priest, and an alien origin believing atheist. Their journeys separately and together will be a test of their respective faiths and their inner search for personal and family redemption.’

Magnificent to read and to allow the epic to infuse our thoughts, THE MATRIARCH MATRIX is a remarkable debut novel by an obviously gifted writer and human soul. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.