Floreat Lux is a literary novel concerned with prophecy; its incisive cast ruminates their way through Western history.
In Robert Brace’s layered novel Floreat Lux, an investigation into a chief justice’s death prompts a cosmological search.
Sabrina is a law student; she was the favorite assistant of Justice Scaglietti, who admired her work ethic, youth, and beauty. Upon his sudden death, Sabrina is asked to weed scandalous and sensitive material out from his papers. At the same time, she receives a mysterious invitation to go to England. It comes from a lawyer, Ravenscroft, on behalf of his client, Bronaryre, who has lived centuries and acted as a spy, an academic, and an entrepreneur. Though Sabrina probes into Scaglietti’s papers and the cause of his death, she also accepts a job offer to teach at a new floating university. She is to be Bronaryre’s scribe…and more.
The book’s organization illustrates its philosophical and literary foundations. Its first twenty-seven chapters are sequential, following Sabrina’s introduction to Ravenscroft, Bronaryre, and her new colleagues. Its second half is divided into nine circles, with subsections that mimic Dante’s Inferno. These longer, intricate segments focus on hallucinogenic experiences, through which Bronaryre shows Sabrina elements of his life projects, drawing possible connections to Scaglietti. The final circle sets Bronaryre’s dramatic vision in motion. The numbering system includes breaks that prove necessary within the complex plot.
Ultimately, Sabrina’s function is to illuminate others’ lives. She is defined by her searches for knowledge, in which she takes risks: traveling alone, doing drugs, and accepting all-consuming assignments. Even her journal is scientific in tone, recording clues about Scaglietti’s death and who Bronaryre is. But once the circumstances of Scaglietti’s death are clear, his story line is dropped. Even Sabrina recedes once Bronaryre is present; the story takes the tone of a philosophical treatise, covering the Knights Templar, British history, the decline of democracies and Christianity, and an alternative theology of the devil.
Literary and rhetorical to complement its academic cast, the book is given to long descriptions of historical buildings; landscapes in Oxford, London, and New York; and lush details about plants and food. The scenes featuring drug use, witchcraft, and the occult are more otherworldly in tone, though, and the passages that involve sadistic sexual practices are disturbing. But once Bronaryre convinces Sabrina that they share the same outlook, the book moves toward a theatrical celebration of what like minds can accomplish.
Floreat Lux is a literary novel concerned with prophecy; its incisive cast ruminates their way through Western history to arrive at an alarming prediction for the future.
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