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The Knights of the Cornerstone    by James P. Blaylock order for
Knights of the Cornerstone
by James P. Blaylock
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

James P. Blaylock's The Knights of the Cornerstone stars Calvin Bryson, a wealthy heir, closet cartoonist, and new age bibliophile. He gets a letter one day from his uncle out in insolated New Cyprus, California, asking him to come visit his aunt who is dying of stomach cancer. The same day, he receives a mysterious package from a distant cousin addressed to his uncle. When Calvin calls about it, he is told the package, a spirit veil that is a family heirloom, is too sensitive to send to such a small town with no post office, and needs to be hand delivered.

Calvin decides he must go to New Cyprus, although he dreads it because his uncle, the leader of The Knights of the Cornerstone, is always pressuring him to join the group. On the way, Calvin stops at a gas station to pick up a case of grape soda for his uncle. He is distracted by a rare pamphlet concerning a biblical tale set just outside New Cyprus. While he eyes the book, a strange man comes in and strikes up a conversation with him a conversation full of lies. When Calvin gets back out to his car, the package is gone. Upon telling his uncle this, he learns that the package was just a decoy, and now the Knights know who their enemy is. It seems that the real package contains the Veil of Veronica, the cloth used to wipe Jesus's face while he carried the cross; this cloth is said to have mysterious powers, letting the user take on the pain of others. The Knights want to add it to their mysterious cache of religious relics to protect it, but another group wants it in order to take over New Cyprus and more, by staging a crusade to get it.

The Knights of the Cornerstone is unique in that Blaylock takes historical story lines and transposes them to modern day California. The plot does not involve any world-wide conspiracies, like other modern tales of religious intrigue, but is all set in the colorful town of New Cyprus. This makes The Knights of the Cornerstone simply a fun, escapist read.

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