“… 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.
I seem to be spending more and more time deep in the Dark Ages - by way of amazing historical fiction novels like Bodo the Apostate by Donald Michael Platt. We follow Bodo, from the age of five shortly before he became an orphan, through his childhood to becoming an adult.
I was a bit surprised that he became a bishop since Bodo did not seem to care for the clergy at court much. Perhaps this was because they were trying to assert the primacy of the church over that of the empire, and his favorite cousin, Judith, was empress. He saw their vices and duplicity and saw it as treason.
Indeed, it must be as difficult for those of us born in this age of technology to comprehend the difficulties of life before electronics and non-human powered machines. As difficult as it would be for someone from the Dark Ages to be replanted in our modern times.
Thanks to Mr. Platt's prose, I enjoyed my sojourn in Bodo's world. I am a visual person, and was able to easily paint pictures in my mind of the scenery in the novel.
The book caused me to be able to ponder questions of history, politics and religion in an deep and entertaining manner. Some of the questions, either appearing in so many words in the text, or suggested and then blossoming in our minds dealt with topics such as: why did 'nobility' and higher-ranking clergy live in the lap of luxury when the majority of their subjects or parishioners barely had enough food or shelter to keep body and soul together. Why did clergy require certain sacrifices and practices from the souls they shepherded, and not be accountable for following the same practices?
Bodo the Apostate has some of everything needed by a good book. There is adventure, intrigue, love, lust, politics, religion, injustice, fighting, lies, education, betrayal...I could go on, but I believe you get the point.
If you like this time period, Bodo should be on your TBR (to be read) list. Even if you like more modern reads, you will find that really the more things change, the more they stay the same. If you teach this time period or subject matter, Bodo would be an excellent addition to your curriculum. And if you are an eclectic reader, like myself, you will enjoy Bodo because it's just a darned good story!
Be sure to come back on Friday, December 12, for a guest post from author Donald Michael Platt!
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.
For more information please visit Donald Michael Platt’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.
Click the logo link just above to see the rest of the tour, including more reviews, as well as interviews and guest posts.
(Disclosure: I received a print copy of Bodo the Apostate from the author and publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)