Was this the first of its kind, the icon from which all later icons sprang? Did it really contain a piece of Mary’s robe, stained with the blood of a dying Jesus? The tale is told in two time lines, first in 1944 when the young protagonists are Greek fighters seeking to survive under Nazi occupation, looking to sell the treasure of their village for guns with which to fight the communists with whom they would do battle for control of post war Greece. The second time line is contemporary, and is populated by a host of old men. Kessler is an old Nazi who bought the icon from the German captain who had taken it from the Greek village, then kept it in a private shrine, feeling the power of the thing for decades.
One of the problems with this tale is that it is all over the place. There is too much going on. I had trouble keeping up with the characters, and I write down all their names. It is amazing that so many old men dash about like young turks. It would have made more sense to have set the book in an earlier time, say the 70’s or 80’s. The book has its points, but because of the excessive swath of characters and difficulty entailed thusly in following the story, I would not recommend it.
There is some payload about icons. That is welcome, although I thought there could be more of that.