Matt was the solid one of his family – successful student, a good husband and father, devoted missionary. The rock on which many churches would have been built. By contrast, elder brother Rafa is the troublemaker – sharp-tongued and only too well aware of his gifts, a broken marriage, estranged from his parents. But when Matt is murdered in northern India by an unknown assailant, it is Rafa who must investigate. And it is in India where he learns that the local police are claiming Matt was leader of a gang engaged in the theft and sale of precious temple artworks.
Rafa knows these allegations to be false. Yet it quickly becomes apparent that Matt was involved in something much bigger than simple mission work. But what? The answer, when it comes, is chilling. For Matt was part of a clandestine project with the potential to change the future course of world religion. And now Rafa must complete the assignment.
This book in the Brother Half Angel series is different from the previous two. Those were about the persecuted church in Korea and Japan while Military Orders takes place in India and involves finding the next Dalai Lama. The previous two involved Brother Half Angel as the main New Mercedarian while this one has Sister Sunhee as the main New Mercedarian.
While reading this, I wondered why the author took this deviation from the topic he established in the first two. Coincidentally, I received an email from him in response to one of mine, and he just happened to outline the background to this novel. He wrote,
"If you’re going to read Military Orders – formally the third in the series, though it’s actually set in the future – there’s a bit of a story with it. I actually wrote it before I wrote any of the others. I had found that my Johnny Ravine books weren’t taking off, in large part because the Australian Christian market is so small. So I decided to aim for the US market, and came up with the idea of a book that combined a hero somewhat like the hero of The Da Vinci Code (I made him a professor of spiritual art), with a beautiful heroine like the heroine from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
But during the writing I also came up with the character Brother Half Angel. I self-published the book on Amazon, but soon after I thought that I could create a series of books around Brother Half Angel. So I renamed the series (it was the Military Orders series, but became the Brother Half Angel series) and I also rewrote the book, to give him more prominence, and then re-uploaded it to Amazon. Then, after I had written Brother Half Angel and Maria Kannon, I made Military Orders the third in the series, even though I had written it first. And because it is set in the future it should probably be read as the last of the series."
This was more than enough to explain the query I had about this third book. Even though the author states this should be read as the last book, I found it a nice break from the previous two,. This change adds variety and versatility to the series and to the characters and operation of The New Mercedarians.
It was good to find out about the background to Sister Sunhee who had been mentioned in the previous two. I had a feeling that she was to play more of a part. It was also good to have Rafa back in this novel as I liked him from the previous one where he played an important albeit secondary role while in this one he played the main role. This was a good tie in between this and the Maria Kannon novel.
Roth is very good at incorporating the history of Buddhism and that of the Dalai Lama into this plot. Obviously this had to be the case for the plot to work and work well it does. In this plot, the pace is faster than the previous two, and there is more action as well. I had to chuckle at some of the locations being mentioned as most of the plot involves various locations in Australia which is my home country. Having Melbourne part of the plot was a treat for me as this is my home town.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.