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Musеum of facts and traces

The Parchment Maze by the Bulgarian writer Ludmila Filipova is an archival suspense thriller, which topped national best-seller lists for years and which is currently in its sixth reprinting. In 2012, National Geographic made a film based on the book and featuring the author, entitled Sword in the Stone & the Orpheus Amulet ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t76PYjUCPBc ) The novel combines an intellectual puzzle structure with real archeological evidence plus a healthy jolt of fantasy. The Parchment Maze itself has a curious history – created in 2007 by Ludmila Filipova and published in January of 2009, could its sensational discoveries be the true and unacknowledged source of the literary angel-mania that swept the globe in 2010? And what might really lie behind the well-known stories? The Parchment Maze offers readers a totally new way to look at human history and theories about the angelic ones.

 

ludmila_filipova_parchment_maze.jpgSome see them as saints and deities, while great artists such as Ovid, Dante and Orpheus described them as “shades.” Thousands of others have called them angels, but few have ever descended to the bowels of the earth to discover their true faces. Today, however, for the first time, a human being is close to grasping their true essence. While studying similarities between Christianity and Thracian Orphism, archeologist Vera Kandilova stumbles across perplexing symbols tied to a prehistoric Balkan civilization that mysteriously disappeared thousands years ago and a secret hidden deep in the Devil’s Throat cave in the Rhodope Mountains. What begins as a purely academic scavenger hunt across Germany, Russia, Italy and Bulgaria leads her to frescoes in the Roman catacombs, a medieval Orpheus amulet, prehistoric clay vessels and ultimately to a cryptic manuscript called The Parchment Maze. The intellectual puzzle quickly gets visceral – after a series of murders, thefts of valuable artifacts and a kidnapping, the clues show Vera the path to uncovering the secret of the legendary incorporeal ones – those who jealously guard the most ancient knowledge from humanity and grant insight only to enlightened individuals such as Jesus, Enoch, Dante and Orpheus. Their secrets have been sought over the centuries by powerful scientists and politicians, including Hitler, numerous popes, secret services and military organizations.

Vera is determined to follow a trail of clues before the handsome assassin Ariman, with pale skin and colorful eyes, can obliterate them. An underground brotherhood led by the ghoulish Incorporeal One has raised Ariman to be a cold-blooded automaton. However, the merciless killer is also on a secret mission of his own – the only thing that could possibly tempt him from his path is love, since angels are capable of loving as no human being can… 

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“Fiction and science combine in an intriguing novel based on real archaeological discoveries and actual icons, a daring combination of Dan Brown and Umberto Eco. Could the legend of Orpheus and his descent into the Underworld be more than just mythology? There is a supernatural love story, there are secrets; there is murder, there is history; from Berlin to Moscow, from Rome to Burma, Filipova’s novel is sure to intrigue." Colin Falconer, author of twenty novels, translated into seventeen languages over twenty-five years.

“A carefully crafted literary work that is both entertaining and illuminating for readers. The contribution of the novel to the literature of the occult is quite significant. In my professional opinion, this novel surpasses those of both Dan Brown and Elizabeth Kostova in terms of complexity and theme.” Joseph Ceccio, Ph.D., professor of English literature, University of Akron

A little about the story:

The Parchment Maze starts in the early 19th century, in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria. A pale, almost wraith-like creature climbs out of the Devil’s Throat, the deepest cave in the Balkans. He is an envoy sent by mysterious angel-like creatures who have been hiding deep underground for millennia, ever since the Seven Stars aligned to signal their Apocalypse. His mission is to reach the lands above and see whether the prophesied moment has come for them to be freed.

1945. Berlin. The Red Army has just overrun the German capital and captured Hitler's bunker where part of the Berlin Museum’s priceless collection is hidden. That night, as the Russian soldiers load trucks with looted art, a fire engulfs the watchtower. A Russian officer finds a strange necklace, engraved with a crucified man, seven stars above the cross and the inscription “ORPHEUS-BACCHUS.” The amulet, which strongly influenced the history and understanding of Christianity's origins after its discovery in the 19th century, disappears, presumably whisked away to Russia.

Present day. Moscow. The Russian authorities are organizing an international exhibition offering the first glimpse of treasures plundered from Europe in World War II. News of the Moscow exhibition catches up with the young Bulgarian scholar Vera Kandilova at an abandoned chateau in the Swiss Alps, where she is part of a team appraising a collection of artifacts left to the Bulgarian government after the owner's mysterious death. Vera, who is studying Thracian Orphism, discovers cryptic symbols and inscriptions hinting that both Jesus and Orpheus are somehow linked to the mysterious Meandrites, who disappeared thousands of years ago.

At the same moment, Ariman, a pale man with colorful eyes, has desperately been trying to search for Orphic/Christian symbols in the Roman catacombs. The cold-blooded assassin is a devoted servant of the Incorporeal One, a strange, cloaked figure who rules an austere brotherhood in an underground crypt in Rome. Their mission is to protect their secrets by destroying all traces that could show humans the way back to the underground world. Before destroying the artifacts, the Incorporeal One and his minions record all clues leading to the Hidden Ones in an encoded manuscript, The Parchment Maze, decipherable only by the enlightened.

The Moscow conference brings Ariman and Vera together. Vera is fascinated by the strong, stony-faced stranger. He disappears after a brief but electrifying dance with her, leaving Vera confused yet unable to forget him. However, the kindly if long-winded German historian, Dr. Werder, distracts her with news of the Orphic amulet’s reappearance. On learning Vera is a Thracian specialist, he quizzes her about a certain symbol: the meander– but refuses to explain why he is so interested in this particular sign…

 
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