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Book Review: Conclave by Robert Harris

Updated on March 12, 2020
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LJ Milan is books, movies, tv shows, anime, K drama's, history and life buff, who loves spreading his knowledge about all of those subjects.



By the title of this book everyone knows what's this book about, and everything I say here can be a spoiler. But, let me try anyway, the novel starts with with a death of the Pope. It didn't take long for Cardinals to get politics into it. And that's where it all begins.

It doesn't matter which denomination you belong to, or if you don't belong to none, there is something fascinating in the whole process of Conclave. For me, Conclave always looked so solemn, yet grandiose, and of course spiritual.The whole process fascinated me. But the thing that delighted me the most is the spiritual unity of the people gathered on St. Peter's Square.

Sometimes there is well over a hundred thousand people there, from all over the world. No matter the weather, be it snow, rain or scorching sun, they stand there united and waiting. Sometimes they wait there new spiritual leader for days. It is a pure depiction of strength of faith and unity in faith, that is so rare in today's world .

About The Author

Robert Harris is an English novelist with reputation of bestseller writer. He started as a reporter, writing novels on the side. After his first novel turned bestseller, he was free to devote himself to writing them.

He is the author of many bestselling and acclaimed novels:

  1. Fatherland
  2. Enigma
  3. Archangel
  4. Pompeii.

To name a few. Many of them got big screen adaptation.

My Review

With this novel Robert Harris has opened the world we are not usually privy too. And he described it to the tiniest detail. He led us through the complete process of the Conclave.

He paints us the picture from the death of the Pope to the selection of new one. The author shows us every ceremony in that process. Some of which we knew about, but most we didn't. He lays every detail on the pages in front of us, and doesn't omit a single thing from it. And he let's us take whatever we choose from it.

The main character is Cardinal Lomeli, Dean of the College of Cardinals. This character is well developed. He is a man who is tired of all the politics and intrigue his brethren are so inclined to. His job is to lead this process from begging to it's end. And yet he has to fight every step of the way. Because every favorite wants to position himself better in the ongoing election. and it falls on him to stop the one's that go out of bounds.

When by chance he becomes the front runner for the papacy, his internal struggle is palpable. And the author depicted it masterfully. I especially like that he is not drunk on the power he holds.

All the other characters are well written and developed. The thing this book is different then the other is that you don't have the big bad around the corner. Sure you have antagonists, but they are not villains in any sense.

And I loved that because the author made sure that he is respectful to the church, and his characters. Which is exceptionally rare these days. He made them real and human, you could feel sympathy with all of them.

One thing that has to be mentioned is that the plot of this novel is led masterfully. Plot twist after plot twist will make you turn the pages of this book into the wee hours of the night.

The author did a wonderful job in keeping the tension and mystery throughout the novel. It is obvious that he knows what string to pull, and at which time to keep you on the edge of your seat.The final twist is a pure and utter stroke of genius.

There is nothing I didn't like in this book. I did, however, think that something was missing. And that's the scene of introduction of the new Pope at the balcony. Or Habemus Papam part. But I understand why it was omitted, so all is good.


This book is one fantastic read, especially if you are interested at the subject. It can be read by all ages from 19 to 199. The best part is that this book doesn't offend your or other people's beliefs. It's mindful towards the institution of church. Which is super rare these days. And I'm thankful for that. Mostly because, although I'm not a Catholic, we are tired of assaults on our faith and church. It has gone to the point of discrimination.

So, it was a really nice surprise, to read this book without being offended and branded as an idiot, just because you believe in God.

5 stars for Conclave

© 2020 LJ Milan


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