Book Review: The Heretics of St. Possenti

December 4, 2017
3 mins read

Few books have reached out, grabbed my attention, and held me captive like Rolf Nelson’s original The Stars Came Back.  While the format was not what one would expect, being a screen play, the story was simply so good that it only took a few pages before the format was not even noticeable. Since that book was first released, the publisher, Castalia House, has novelized the story, breaking it into two parts. The first is available now, and the second should be out shortly.
Based on my response to Nelson’s book, you can imagine how happy I was when I  heard that he had penned a prequel of sorts, The Heretics of St. Possenti.  Now, to be clear, it is not really a true prequel. Rather, it takes the mysterious group of warrior-monks that serve a pivotal role in The Stars Came Back, and tells the story of the monastic order’s origin. Set in our near future, with the world slightly more devolved by SJW dogma, the novel’s setting is recognizable, and serves as a warning for where the world is heading unless good men step forward to stop it.
As the book presents this origin story, it accomplishes two important tasks.
First, it does explain where these monks come from. Since the traditional view of monastic orders holds that they are essentially pacifists, often avoiding even eating meat, considering a group, in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, yet actually living as warriors, can be disconcerting. Yet Nelson has effectively shown how and why this group came to be, telling a realistic, viable, and engaging story.
Seldom have I read a Science Fiction book that gave me goosebumps, raising the hair on my arms. Yet multiple times, as I read the book, I found myself catching my breath, amazed at the emotional impact of the development of the order, and how it impacted the lives of the characters involved. I am doing my best to avoid spoilers, so I will have to leave this vague comment as is, but trust me, you will be impressed.
Second, Nelson provides a road map for those who have good hearts and intentions, but have succumbed to modernity’s lies about strength, masculinity, and manly tenacity. The men who make up the Order of St. Possenti are no shrinking violets. They are hard, rough, and will not match up to your expectations of monks, and yet they come across as exactly the kind of men that the world needs. They are the type of men that the Church needs – a major theme of the book.
Some might consider the story to be a type of “message-fiction,” but they would be ignoring the skill that Nelson uses to weave his proposed worldview into the narrative. The only ones who will respond this way are those who refuse to listen to what the characters do and say. The “messages” that are presented are organic to the story and fit nicely with the ethos of the men who are engaging the world around them.
The Order of St. Possenti is composed of men who are the perfect blend of lifelong clerics, unchurched (but believing) men, and struggling sinners. Nelson skillfully blends these various characters together into a unified force, and it is clear that the foundation has been set, leading to the monks found in The Stars Came Back.
I am sure that I am not the only person who hopes that the Order of St. Possenti becomes a series, so that we can follow the growth and trajectory of this monastic order, as it continues to develop and spread throughout the cosmos.
So not only has Rolf Nelson given us a fantastic read, he has given us insight into how we can confront the liberal world view. He has described what it takes to be a Man of the West, in a sense. Yes, it is fiction, but it is absolutely real.
At its heart, this novel is about redemption and reclamation. It speaks of the redemption and reclamation of individual men (and their souls), the church (which has, in so many cases, drifted from what it should be), and Western Culture. In doing so, it avoids being preachy, but accomplishes its purpose in a rollicking, adventurous, enjoyable, and encouraging story.
I cannot recommend this book enough. If you have men in your life that need encouragement, support, or even a nudge to become the men that they have been called to be, then this book is for you.

Lead Scheduler at MOTW. Husband, Father, but most importantly, a man of God. Possesses more degrees that most people find useful.

16 Comments

  1. If you haven’t plunked down the $4.99 for the book, do so. It’s that great. I read it, and will re-read it again, soon. Hopefully, Castalia will release the book in paperback?
    Going to recommend it to my dad and other men who I know will enjoy the messages.
    Thanks Rolf! Great book! Please keep the series going!

      • My source at Castalia House says that there will be a paperback. Should be out in the early part of next year.

    • I’d love to. But at the end of the day I have to not just write what I’d like, but what I can sell enough of to justify to the family for the time it takes to do so. If I can sell more HosP than TSCB sequels, I’ll definitely write more of them. If TSCB outsells HosP by an order of magnitude, I’ll not write nearly at much monk-fic, most likely (unless I do something like crowd-sourced anthologies, where I provide a few shorts or novella, and the create the bare outline of a half-dozen meaty chapters, and farm out writing those stories to fan who know more about the Church than I, then edit them into a coherent whole and pass it on to the CH editors to burnish)

    • Thank you for your support and comment.
      You might like to know that I’ve written a couple of short stories about a young barbarian just starting out in the world, sort of a young “conan” sort of guy. Posted them on my blog as a series of ~1k word posts.
      The tribe he belongs to is… Kurgen. 🙂

  2. I have asked the author to consider getting some merchandise created to go along with the book. A brown hoodie with the logo would be good as would a challenge coin similar to the medallions mentioned in the book.
    I also asked for more books following the growth of the St. Possenti monastery.

    • I would definitely support a series (as I mention in the review). I have really enjoyed each of Rolf’s works.

    • Might be a good idea, might not. Things like challenge coins are not cheap to make if you want quality, unless you order large quantities, and I’m not up for the costs of that; it does not appear that there would be sufficient demand for such an item. Long story, but it’s likely not happening unless sales are high for a sustained period. Something like a hoodie (ironically appropriate) or Tee, where I poke the right people, they do some art and then it’s POD as needed and I take a tiny cut of the price is more doable, but I have no idea what the likelihood is.

  3. “…I am sure that I am not the only person who hopes that the Order of St. Possenti becomes a series,…” — agreed. And I’d add a stronger point: I’d hope that the Order becomes reality in the real world, not just in the world of fiction. And I say that even though I’m an agnostic — because I have a long standing respect for people who sincerely live their faith.

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