Conclave by Robert Harris book review

Conclave by Robert Harris is a really interesting book that focuses on what would happen behind the scenes if the pope were to die and the election of a new pope was needed. How realistic the politics and everything behind it is, I don’t know, but either way, it’s a fascinating look into an area I know very little about. It also throws in some fun twists too.

Book review. Conclave by Robert Harris.

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Conclave’s hero is Cardinal Lomeli, dean of the College of Cardinals and the person whose job it is to preside over the conclave. When the pope does it is then his duty to make sure all the right actions are taken to try to ensure the correct successor is elected. However, it’s never as easy as that and he’s soon to find that out.

Conclave plot – 4.25/5

Conclave is essentially a story about power. About what happens when people whose own power could be significantly increased if they win over the hearts and minds of their fellow peers around them. The election of the next pope appears to be no less political than the decision of who is to become the next part leader of any select part of Britain for example. It’s all about who you butter up enough.

Cardinal Lomeli must oversee the transition from the old pope to the new pope by inviting all the right people to take part in the election and then hopefully the right man is chosen for the job

However, Harris never makes it easier for our protagonists and that’s the case here too. Whilst the voting is happening to decide who is to be the next pope, all sorts of secrets start to unearth from those who are contenders and it creates some great drama and, without spilling too much information, there’s a very unique and fantastic twist at the end!

The plot in Conclave never slows down. It is constantly moving along with intrigue and pace. This is good because it’s not the longest book and one you’ll likely find yourself finishing in a few days (or less if you’re an avid reader).

Conclave characters – 4.25/5

In Conclave, we’re dealing with a lot of religious people who, you may argue, should all have a moral compass and therefore be kind, calm and considerate people. However, this isn’t always the case in Conclave as there’s a lot at stake, which brings out the worse in some people.

Our main man Cardinal Lomeli seems almost angelic in his actions – everything he does is for the betterment of others and his decisions and final actions always aim to help or do the morally correct thing. Sometimes I find this annoying in characters however there’s a humbleness to Lomeli which makes these characteristics endearing and makes him the perfect protagonist to navigate this hotbed of egos in which he eventually finds himself.

As I mentioned, there are other characters who are part of the voting that act as “the villains” weedling their way to the top by immoral means. This adds a great dynamic to the plot that could otherwise have resulted in 250 pages of some morally-right men just chatting and eventually deciding on the best of the best.

Conclave final rating – 4.25

Conclave surprised me with how much I ended up enjoying it. The topic isn’t one I’d usually have much interest in but Robert Harris has managed to write a really fantastic take on the whole series of events that would lead from the death of one pope and to the election of another including the political intrigue and game-playing that likely takes place during such times. Our main protagonist is incredibly likeable and there are some equally dislikeable other characters to balance him out. This makes Conclave a brief but brilliant story about a matter I never knew I’d be so interested in.

Pick up a copy of Conclave from Amazon.

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