December 10, 2008
Review by Benjamin Denes
Before the popular media latched onto the 'controversial' plotline proposed in the phenom novel 'The DaVinci Code', there were many other books that already investigated some of the dangerous ideas that Dan Brown played with. There were two books that, for me, were the heavy hitters; 'Holy Blood and Holy Grail', the fascinating yet ultimately unconvincing look into the connection between the life of Christ and Southern France, and Gardner's 'Bloodline of the Holy Grail'.
'Bloodline' is an extremely intriguing book. I devoured it relatively quickly, and overall quite enjoyed it. Gardner puts forth the same sort of heretical ideas 'Holy Blood' did, including the possibility that Jesus survived the crucifixion, possibly married Mary Magdelene, and had children whose ancestors make up some of the most important figures in royal history. It does this while tracing a meandering legacy from their union to modern day, and includes the bloodlines links to the Arthurian legend, Tarot imagery, Freemasonry and early American history.
As fascinating as this all is, the book really stands on precarious legs. For one, Gardner is happy to provide footnotes for already established facts, yet the more intriguing details are simply stated. The author can easily tell us the name of Christ's daughter, a piece of knowledge that would be explosive if provided with evidence, but in no way documents where this information came from. It's quite easy to be caught up in teasingly naughty tidbits like this (I found myself giving out nanosecond-long gasps) but the reader should quickly realize that much of the 'history' mentioned is not backed up at all. The author also never explains the importance of the bloodline or his theories. If Christ wasn't the Son of God as proposed by the author, then why should we care who His great grandkids were? Gardner seems to show the crowd the ball he caught, but never runs with it. The books other weakness lies in the often bulky geneaologies presented. Pages upon pages of dry information take up the book, especially in the later chapters.
However, for all its plot holes, the assertions made never fail to spark curiosity. Definately the book will spark the imaginations of its readers and will cause many to ask questions. 'Bloodlines' never proves anything, with the exception that the ideas presented create a highly entertaining read. If you can get past the endless lists ( the book has more 'begats' than the Bible) and questionable conclusions, 'Bloodline of the Holy Grail' is a fun read.