Friday March 15, 2013
Fiery fact and fiction
Review by CHRISTINE CHEAH
Author: Will Adams
Publisher: Harper, 502 pages
IF you are a fan of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, then Newton’s Fire will be your cup of tea.
Historian Luke Hayward is at an all-time low point in his life after having been black-balled from academia for some supposedly ill-judged opinions.
So when a friend offers him a job that would require Luke to delve deeper into the subject of his career, Sir Isaac Newton, he quickly accepts. But when he discovers some hidden Newton papers alluding to an ancient conspiracy, Luke’s life takes a turn for the worse, as he finds himself accused of murder and on the run not only from the police but a mysterious global organisation.
Luke now has to uncover a secret that survived the Great Fire of London and lies buried beneath major historical sites like St Paul’s Cathedral and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Also, after it is militant Jewish priest Avram Kohen who wants to spark a worldwide holy war and rebuild old Jerusalem. And Kohen has the backing of powerful men from around the globe on his side.
The story weaves through Sir Issac’s real history and includes his friendships with the great Englishmen of his era the likes of Sir Christopher Wren and John Evelyn; author Will Adams adds further authenticity by basing his premise on the fact that Newton did indeed make a prediction about Armageddon occurring in 2060 and was fascinated by the occult.
Architecture fans will also discover fascinating facts about the origins of certain significant British monuments. Another discovery those who aren’t familiar with Newton will make is that the great thinker is believed to have been autistic – and Adams deals with the subject compassionately in this novel.
The plot interweaves pricelessly rich British history with fictional additions, all the while solving mind-bending puzzles and codes. While it might seem similar to Da Vinci’s Code, Newton’s Fire differs in how it jumps straight into the action; Brown’s story took a while to get going, if you remember. Also, I feel Luke and the woman who ends up helping him, Rachel, are more realistic and believable characters. Both are good Samaritans trying to help people but who find themselves pushed to the fringes of their chosen careers in the process.
The research is well done, with details of Newton’s lesser-known history at the Royal Mint explained as well as his obsession with alchemy. There are a number of twists in this story rich with history, which they make you want to get to the end as soon as possible to find out how it all turns out. In other words, Newton’s Fire is one good read that will make you want to burn through it as soon as possible. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!)