Follow Here To Purchase The Devil's Legacy(KINDLE)

Author: Tom Jackson

Publisher: Smashwords

If you Google the phrase “Theft of Antiquities,” you’ll get several weeks’ worth of reading, a treasure trove of bilious history that includes descriptions of the wholesale raiding of Native American sacred burial grounds, the Nazi theft of European art, and even the more recent mass looting of the Baghdad art museum. It seems that wherever ancient artifacts reside, their space is a rental, not a purchase.

Sometimes though, over time, the removal of these objets d’art comes to be viewed as more of an “appropriation” than an outright theft. This, at least, is often the view of the “borrower.” The “borrowee” is usually less inclined to accept a historically-relativistic justification. If somebody takes your stuff, they haven’t appropriated it as a means of furthering their cultural hegemony. What they did is they took your stuff.

Questions of historical culpability swirl around the center of The Devil’s Legacy, Tom Jackson’s historical novel, which is focused on the British removal of a set of Greek statuary in 1801, a collection of works known collectively as the Parthenon Marbles. Originally, these statues, facades and inscriptions were part of the famous Greek Parthenon and other buildings that comprised the Acropolis of Athens. In the first decade of the 19th century, British agents – acting under the dubious complicity of some high-ranking Greek authorities – removed the sculptures, which soon became part of the permanent collection of the British Museum (engendering centuries of complaint that continue to this day).

Jackson’s novel, published by Smashwords and available as an e-book, leaps back and forth in time between the period when the sculptures were first removed, the early 20th century, and the present, as an intrepid group of archeo-detectives traipses through Greece. Along the way, readers will be exposed to alternative views of historical figures from Napoleon to Winston Churchill, and participate in such events as the sinking of the Titanic and the drug-induced death of Prince Albert (who is rumored to be Jack the Ripper).

Jackson keeps the action moving through a series of vignettes, hop-scotching across time and geography. He’s chosen an intriguing story to tell and his pacing keeps the reader engaged. There are, however, a few elements of Jackson’s writing style that, to my ear, distract his reader somewhat from his story. The author exhibits a tendency towards the cliché, or the over-described phrase, in some situations. The reader is frequently meeting eyes “that give little away,” hands “reaching automatically” for handbags or cell phones, and people who “present a striking figure.” And his over-reliance on the exclamation point in non-exclamatory phrases (“No doubt the man had some admirable, super-duper, redeeming qualities!” or “Classy, that was it. She was a classy young lady!”) can be a bit distracting.

For fans of historical fiction, Jackson’s novel adds an interesting chapter to the unfolding larger story of one imperial power seizing the works of another, former imperial power. If not quite a masterpiece, The Devil’s Legacy reminds us all that great art endures – it’s just impossible to predict where, exactly.

Follow Here To Purchase The Devil's Legacy(KINDLE)