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The Gemini Contenders
By Robert Ludlum

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The Gemini Contenders
By Robert Ludlum
G.K. Hall Large Print, (1988)
ISBN: 0-8161-4447-8
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Leo Johnston - June 23, 2003

As the Nazi hordes stride across Europe, they are stealing every treasure that they can get their hands on. The Order of Xenope, guardians of the Vault of Constantine know that as soon as the Nazi enter Salonika, Greece, that will attempt to steal the vault and its contents. The vault, contains ancient documents that could destroy not only the Christian Church, but which could also propel the Western World into a conflict that would make World War II seem like child's play. The Order of Xenope is a harsh monastic organizations whose members unquestionably obey their patriarch. The monks of Xenope are also willing to do whatever it takes to keep the vault out of Nazi hands - even if they have to resort to murder!

To protect the vault, the monks ferry it out of Greece and intrust it to the safe keeping of the wealthy Italian Patron, Savarone Fontini-Christi. Although this transaction was conducted with utmost secrecy, word that Savarone has the fault leaks out. The entire Fontini-Christi family is massacred down to the youngest child. The only survivor is Vittorio, Savarone's oldest son. A witness to the barbaric act, Vittorio is instantly transformed from being a hard drinking, women chasing cad into a serious, hard working man who will do what is necessary to see to the survival of his family, and as time progresses, the safety of the vault.

Shortly after the massacre, the English government goes to great risk to bring Vittorio to England in hopes that he will help them find the vault. The only problem is, he doesn't know where it is. So they but him to use creating a network of spies whose job it is to help disorganize the Nazi war machine. Yet there are still those that think he knows where the vault is, and who would think nothing of torturing Vittorio for that information. The hunt for the vault goes on for decades, and in the end it will pit brother against brother in a final showdown for possession of the Vault of Constantine.

The Gemini Contenders, by Robert Ludlum is a well-paced story that will grip you around the throat and not let you go until the very end of this eventful story. The story begins in the late 1930's and it follows the history of the vault for the next fifty years. The contents of the vault are explosive, as is the climax of this story, but you'll have to read the story to find out why as I don't want to deprive you of the pleasure of finding out for yourself!

Unlike most of Ludlum's books, The Gemini Contenders is more of a mystery than a thriller, although it does have many of the elements of a thriller. There is a lot of gun play, spies, insane religious fanatics, bombs, and other assorted items that spice up the plot. However the main focus of this story is on the various people who are trying to locate the vault, as well as the questions that the books raises, and answers, about what is actually in the vault.

The book is effectively divided into two parts. Part one is focuses primarily on Vittorio and his actions during World War II. The second part focuses on his sons and their efforts to track down the vault. During the course of this book a lot of people die, some very gruesomely, all for greed. Not greed for money, but greed for power that possession of the Vault of Constantine and its contents offers its possessor. In following those who covet this deadly price, Ludlum has created a memorable and chilling book that will transfix you from the first to last page.

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