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The 480-page novel revolves around a lost biblical text, a world at war and the end of history. It’s the Rosetta Stone to all seven novels of Thomas Greanias, including not only his blockbuster Atlantis trilogy but also last summer’s THE PROMISED WAR and next summer’s capstone DOMINUS DEI.
“THE 34TH DEGREE is really my debut novel, because I wrote the original draft when I was 25, before all of my other novels,” Greanias said. “For example, SS General Ludwig von Berg, the Baron of the Black Order, makes appearances of sorts in both THE ATLANTIS PROPHECY and THE ATLANTIS REVELATION. Here we see in him in the flesh, in all his gory glory, and find him an almost romantic if haunting figure.”
Until now, THE 34TH DEGREE didn’t fit the Atlantis Mapping Project series of books that Greanias had planned. But he said it illuminated his path all along the way and contains outrageous arcania from “way, way too much research”—from secret Swiss banking protocols to Bible code formulas in ancient Greek to real American OSS spy operations of mystical proportions.
“It’s all in there,” Greanias said.
Inspiration first struck Thomas Greanias while reading Leo Tolstoy’s WAR AND PEACE.
“One of Tolstoy’s main characters, the bumbling Pierre, becomes a Freemason and is convinced that the name Napoleon Bonaparte spells out 666, which is the number of the Antichrist,” Greanias said. “So Pierre packs a pistol and sets out to kill Napoleon in war-ravaged St. Petersburg.”
Reading it in the context of today’s proclamations by preachers and prophets that Armageddon is at America’s doorstep, along with some pretty convincing news headlines and natural disasters, Greanias said he couldn’t help but wonder how many times earlier generations believed that it was The End.
“Look at the people trapped in Hitler’s Fortress Europe during World War II who were waiting for the promised Allied invasion,” he said. “My late mother was a little girl in Nazi-occupied Greece, where most of THE 34TH DEGREE takes place. She could never forget the starvation that claimed nearly a half million lives in the winter of 1941, or fleeing her mountain village home as the Luftwaffe dropped bombs. No Rapture for them or the Jews in the concentration camps. Sometimes there is just no escape, where evil reigns but heroes rise.”
Other inspiration came from a cryptic reference in the Bible about the prophetic text at the heart of THE 34TH DEGREE that the Axis and Allies are after.
“It actually existed, and maybe still does,” Greanias said. “In his second letter to the Thessalonians, a church where a large number of believers had quit their jobs in anticipation of Christ’s return, the apostle Paul warns them not to become easily alarmed by any prediction allegedly written by him asserting that the ‘Day of the Lord’ was imminent.”
In THE 34TH DEGREE, that text allegedly contains the codes that spell out the date the world will end along with the original atomic formula for Greek Fire, a legendary weapon from Atlantis that can turn water into fire. The Byzantine Greeks tried to come up with their own, napalm-like Greek Fire to burn Muslim fleets in the Mediterranean. It was but a pale imitation of the kind of force the Bible says will “melt the elements in fervent heat.”
With the world today apparently accelerating in that direction, Greanias hopes readers will find hope and courage from the crucible of history’s earlier tribulations and the role models of those souls who both perished and survived them.
“We tend to think that history outlives us all, which is why nation states throughout history have so often laid claim to our souls,” Greanias said. “The Roman Empire with its Caesars was such a power. So was Nazi Germany under Hitler. Some Silicon Valley companies aren’t much different. But what if people, when all is said and done, outlive corporations, nations and history? Then the nation-state owes its existence to its people, and the people have the right to change it, like Thomas Jefferson wrote. We are seeing this in the Middle East right now. “
More down to earth, said Greanias, today’s unemployed or overworked employees should take courage that they will outlast their “built to last” companies like Lehmann Brothers in finance, or broken brands like Nokia and now BlackBerry in mobile.
“Every now and then we all have to take a bullet for our company or charitable organization, for the Church or the State, for the good of the Cause,” Greanias said. “But the revolutionary idea that sparked the American Revolution is that we the people are the cause. My novels like THE 34TH DEGREE are about heroes and heroines who defy their times and outlast adversity, people who are a lot like my readers.”
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