Martuk … the Holy
Number of pages: 446
Word Count: 89,000
Cover Artist: Timothy Burch
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In a crowded Left Bank cafe, an immortal man sits, the phantoms crawling near, the heat of their whispers stinging his cheek …
and Martuk … The Holy begins.
One thousand years before the birth of Christ, a golden god damns Martuk with a kiss. In a land ruled by a wounded king, life everlasting steals his mortality from the bottom of a golden cup. Finally, generations later, a Messiah who has the power to heal breaks under the weight of Martuk’s demons, stumbling to his death defeated by darkness.
From his home in modern Paris, he writes, his memories lush, his words evocative. Revisiting his impossible life, he vents his rage and shares his loneliness. From bloody battles with a demon he cannot escape to the ghost of a beauty who haunts him still, this is his story.
This is Martuk … The Holy.
If you enjoy books with a new twist on a familiar plot similar to Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code”, then you will most certainly love “Martuk . . . the Holy” by Jonathan Winn. This intense, gripping tale will keep you turning pages, biting fingernails, and re-evaluating your beliefs until the final sentence.
I’m not sure if Winn’s book can be classified into a single genre . . . or even a sub-genre. It’s multi-faceted and that’s part of the appeal. The fact Martuk . . . the Holy is a debut novel is impressive beyond words.
Martuk is a tormented immortal with roots in ancient history. Before you start thinking Adrian Paul and the TV series, “Highlander”, let me assure the differences are vast. Martuk . . . the Holy is a dark story filled with demons, angels, beastly abominations, horror, sexuality, violence and a provocative biblical twist. All that adds up to a fascinating, complex read that will thrill most readers and upset a few. Be warned . . . it’s not easy reading.
At times, you might feel confused because there’s a lot going on. The story covers past, present, future and can jump scenes before you’re emotionally ready. Martuk is written in first person, told in flashbacks and flash forwards because he’s a seer. Winn’s ability to transport the reader to various periods in history as well as build a fantastical world filled with breathtaking detailed imagery is astounding. Even scenes with horrifying violence transmit a beauty that both sickens and beguiles.
At this time, Martuk . . . the Holy averages 5 stars on Amazon. Add my 5 stars to that ranking.
Invest your time in this book. Authors like Jonathan Winn are a rare treat.
His scream brought me back.
The blackness lifted again, those Beyond the Veil disappearing again. I was on the stone again. He was straddling me, his hands on my throat. Again.
I opened my eyes.
Above me, he sat, his mouth open in another loud scream, a roar, the pain of his loss obsessing him, driving him to hurt me.
He bent low, his sweaty face inches from mine, the skin flushed red and dripping with sweat. Shaking his head, he caught his breath, his eyes wide with disbelief as I died and came to life again and again, his mind, still blunted and thick with wine, not comprehending the impossible.
He roared again, the spit rolling from his mouth to stain my lips and run down my cheek to tickle my ears.
I tried to move. Tried to breathe. Tried to escape. But it was useless.
I didn’t have the strength.
Yes, my demons had left me. I suffered, losing life, the Veil so near yet so far, tempting me with its peace, its quiet. Abandoned by my strength, the human in me unable to escape this man’s anger and rage, his brutality.
He lifted my head and smacked it against the stone, the thwack rippling over my skull, my eyes closing, the burning pain stealing my breath.
I had endured this once, long ago. So long ago. Trapped and held by cruel hands, my head hitting the stone with a crippling thwack while the stars twinkled above.
He tightened his grip around my throat.
Where were you? I silently asked. Oh my God, my demons, where were you?
My chest was on fire, my lungs burning, every bone hurting, every inch of skin screaming for release, for relief, for surrender.
The darkness was coming again.
There they stood, Those Beyond the Veil, their faces pressed close, watching me.
Help me, please.
They stood near suddenly, watching. Impassive. Unresponsive.
Having slipped into the Fog to move among them once again, I could see their unfinished forms wandering, their shapes shifting like a delicate fog. There were noses and chins, perhaps eyes, arms and legs and torsos and breasts. There were children and parents. Parents of parents. Some watched closely, the fragile gaze curious and afraid. Others stood in the distance, lost in the dreams of a life once lived. I didn’t know.
But they were shapes. Listless, ineffective shapes.
I thought of the altar lifetimes ago. How they had abandoned me then. The poisoned brew at my lips. The smell of blood. The smell of fear. The warmth on the soles of my feet as the darkness wound its way up my shins, my thighs, whipped itself around my waist and crawled up my chest as I drank and drank and drank.
I gasped, the air filling my lungs as I came back to this world. The world of stone and roaring fires, smoldering bodies, and an angry beast driven by anguish choking the life from me. This horrible reality ripping me from the Fog once again.
He was resting, this beast. Still straddling me, he fell forward, leaning forward, his weight crushing as, his chest on mine, he rested his forehead on the stone as he caught his breath.
He would stir again. I knew this. And the frustrating cycle would begin again. I knew this, too. I would suffer, my chest exploding, tears washing my cheeks, his drool slipping from his lips to slide down my chin, the pain of death endured yet again.
I need my demons. The restless, useless Dead couldn’t help me. I need my demons. I needed my strength. My power. To live, to rise up and seek revenge. To slaughter this man who had killed my angel. Who had brutalized her, leaving her for dead on the side of the road, in the dirt, the leaves, the grass and the trees. I needed that impervious strength I possessed lifetimes ago.
To hurt him the way he had hurt her, I needed my demons.
On the verge of exhaustion, he lifted himself, his eyes heavy, his skin sweating in the glow of the fire. He still sat on me, breathing deeply, his chest rising and falling, his shoulders slack.
Glancing to the side, his eyes focused and saw his dead daughter charred black, her flesh red and raw. And then his wife in the water, her flesh scorched, her skull red and raw, the fine dark hair burned away. His sons, his dead sons, laying peacefully as if in sleep, their heads awkwardly twisted.
The grief returned.
His face crumpled in tears, his chin trembling, the sobs struggling to escape as a shudder of pain rippled through his shoulders. He swallowed, paused, shaking the emotion away. He then turned to me, his eyes no longer heavy, his breath no longer ragged, his chin no longer trembling, his shoulders strong and straight.
He bent low, his lips almost on mine, and roared, his open mouth easily covering my face from the dip in my chin to the top of my nose. And then he sat up, his hands around my neck.
Lifting my head, he brought me close, looking at me for a moment, watching me. Wondering, perhaps, how I, this weak nothing of a boy, of a young man, a beardless, smooth, skinny young man, could possibly have killed so many so quickly.
The tears threatened again. He swallowed before snarling, gritting his teeth. And with my face still so close to his, he screamed again.
Just as my own tears came again, just as I lost all hope of this nightmare ending, just as I surrendered to the darkness swallowing me once more, the peace of the Veil taunting me with a quiet I can never claim as my own, they came.
The Whispers inched near, the heated breath slipping over my skin, the darkness, their darkness, their blessed darkness, the effective, terrifying darkness of my demons, clouding the air as his thumbs tightened around my throat.
We are here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Screenwriter, playwright, actor, and now award-winning author, Jonathan Winn was born in Seattle, WA, and currently divides his time between the East and West coasts. Martuk … The Holy is his first book.
Blog – http://martuktheholy.com
Twitter – http://twitter.com/Jonathan_Winn
Facebook – http://facebook.com/MartukTheHoly