The Coin Of The Realm
Date Published: December 17, 2008
Number of Pages: 360
Print Price: $14.36
eBook Price: $
Roger Dubin’s first novel, The Coin of the Realm begins with the gift of a singular treasure, the Zevi Coin, and quickly launches the protagonist, Rick Weisman, into an adventure that brings him much more than the luck that traditionally accompanies the owner of the coin.
Rick is not sure why he has been entrusted with the heirloom of the famous Romanov family. Legend promises that “he who bears the Zevi Coin will be led to whatever his soul is seeking, be it love, gold, glory, or God.” In fact, Rick has always had a pretty tenuous relationship with each of those desires. He is a sailor for the merchant marine on an old but stubborn vessel, the Caroline Coast. But his personal Odyssey doesn’t begin with a particular destination in sight.
Throughout the novel, Rick’s penchant for getting himself into trouble and surviving leads him across the Atlantic and through the back alleys and dessert oases of North Africa to a mission for justice, a mysterious woman, and a deeper understanding of God and self.
It’s hard to believe that this is Dubin’s first novel. His command of detail and style as he tantalizes the reader with descriptions of exotic lands and even more varied and colorful characters is excellent. Dubin’s images are so concrete that the reader is instantly drawn into the scene. For instance, as the ship pulls into one port, we’re shown: “Rising from the flat Tunisian coast, the lights of the city and its harbor fused through stifling vapors of chemical dust, the phosphate depot and oil refinery and the ancient medina at the heart of town appearing as clusters of bonfires in the smog.” Occasionally, as he briefly captures Rick’s troubled dreams and sub-conscious musings, Dubin pulls us along on strings of loosely connected imagery, reminiscent of the modernist approaches of T. S. Eliot and others.
Catholicity in well-crafted fiction is often present through a subconscious world view and a glimpse at the unseen motivations and spiritual forces at work in a character’s life. Some would reduce Catholic fiction to a sort of demonstration achieved by reaching a quota of priests and nuns or statements of Catholic teaching. Dubin’s novel is Catholic in the former, more subtle manner.
Dubin’s main characters are influenced by the spiritualities of Judaism, Eastern meditation, Sufism (a branch of Islam), and Christianity. But the ultimate truths that they share are generally part of a Catholic understanding of God and faith. For instance, the sufi revere one Ammi Zarga as one of their own, but he is more Christian than Islamic. Yet, they both share the basic concept that one must give oneself to God completely to follow His good plan for one’s life. And while Rick Weisman does not embrace faith or moral purity under a very specific form within the confines of the novel, he does accept that Divine Providence is at the root of his life course and that there are greater callings than worldly expectations. He ironically fulfills the nick-name of “Wise-man” given to him by his crew. I wouldn’t recommend this novel as a Catholic treatise, but I do think it serves as a beautiful reflection on the complexity of a man’s discovery that faith is an option in a world seemingly ruled by very material fists, blood, storms, and passion.
The Coin of the Realm sweeps the reader along in a current of adventure and danger with a splash of humor. Yet, undercurrents of choice, faith, one’s purpose, the dignity of individual lives, and love call us into deeper considerations. For instance, Rick has the following conversation with Zarga:?
“Each of us is led to whatever his soul is seeking, yet by our own choices, for good or for evil; one doesn’t need a mystical talisman for that. And somehow, in the ineffable gift of grace, most roads lead to God’s love anyway.”?
“Even if you’ve seen things, and want to believe, but still find that you can’t?”
“Especially then.” A grin. “It doesn’t hurt, you know.”?
The Coin of the Realm manages to encompass several genres and will entertain and intrigue readers of adventure, mystery, romance, travel narratives, and introspective coming-of-age stories alike. I highly recommend Dubin’s first novel, and I look forward to more like it.
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.9 x 7.9 inches
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