The Four Symbols (Sacred Grounds) is a World War II thriller set against the shrouded beginnings and growth of Nazi ideology and the pursuit of ancient relics in establishing a new order – a Third Reich. Ancient swastika relics hold importance and deep meaning that foster a new religion and a supernatural potential that could garner unparalleled power.
As the Nazis exercised their ruthless and vicious intent on Jews and everyone who opposed their doctrine, Professor Otto Neumann was preparing to meet an old British friend, Malorley, and escape Germany. Before he could leave, Colonel Karl Weistort of the SS, and head of the Ahnenerbe, entered his book shop and confiscated an extremely old manuscript called the ‘Thule Borealis Kulten’ and left Neumann to die.
“Hunched over on his chair, Otto Neumann was slipping into darkness. The synagogue had become a torch before his eyes. Now he knew that the fires outside were only the beginning. Tonight, Germany was aflame. Tomorrow the world. All because of a book. A damn book.”
The Ahnenerbe is officially a cultural institute that conducts archaeological and esoteric research, but under the direct control of Himmler, there is a fixation with the occult, which sets a dark and evil tone to the already brutal activities of the SS. Commander Malorley explains to the British prime minister and golden circle, including Churchill and King George, the background of the relics and the importance of stopping Reichsführer Himmler’s supernatural quest.
“They managed to steal a book thought to be a legend—the Thule Borealis Kulten—from a bookseller in Berlin. It was written in the Middle Ages and is said to have belonged to Emperor Frederick Barbarossa before it disappeared. It tells a curious tale from a time long ago, before Ancient Greece, even before the pyramids. A mythical continent, Hyperborea, cradle of the so-called Aryan race, was faced with the onset of an ice age. Its inhabitants fled to the four corners of the earth, while their four lords hid the symbols of their power. Four swastikas symbolizing water, air, earth, and fire.”
With the first relic already discovered in Tibet by Weistort, Malorley convinces the British Government that they must find the remaining relics before the Germans.
Eric Giacometti, crafts a wonderfully sinister story with tension and suspense maintained throughout. The adventure has similarities to Raiders of the Lost Ark, but a lot less focused on the all-action, all-conquering hero. The intelligent, personable and psychotic Weistort is a great antihero for the drama that unfolds and Malorley plays his counterpart extremely well. The third main character is Tristan and he is caught between the two sides delicately playing the game that will keep him alive and possibly prevent the Germans from achieving their plans. The plot, while fascinating and packed with excitement contained a few holes that left me wondering. I’m not talking about the connection between the early Nazi party and the occult, because that was something the party actually established its roots in. The swastika in its left-facing form is an ancient religious icon from Asia, implying divinity and spirituality, which may have encouraged the Nazi party to use it with their own transformation. In reality and within this story, the party factions claiming devotion to the occult became more marginalised.
This book is the first of a trilogy called the Black Sun Trilogy and as one relic was discovered at the beginning of this novel the three novels are likely to focus on a relic each. This is a trilogy worth following and I would rate this first book 4.5 stars. I would like to thank Exitgirl05 for recommending this book to me and to Hodder and Stoughton, and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in return for an honest review.