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AXUM What do you do when you’ve discovered a secret that is likely to turn the world’s religions against each other, igniting a powder-keg of already simmering hostilities? For half a millennium that secret has lain in a journal hidden in the highlands of Ethiopia, a legacy of the 1520 Portuguese expedition into the uncharted interior. The Portuguese had been searching for the fabled lands of Prester John of the Indies, but one of their number, Tristan Perreira, had found something far more momentous. In 1535, Tristan finds himself destined to lead the people of the city of Axum in a fight for survival against the invading Moors from the east, and most of all a fight to protect the sacred Ark of the Covenant. Nearly five hundred years later, the murder of a priest leads Tristan’s descendant, Marco, on a desperate flight to save the journal and the explosive knowledge it contains. Marco is caught up with Claire McKinnon, a World Bank engineer, in an Ethiopia on the verge of war in the north and internal civil instability in the capital. In strange parallels with Marco’s ancestor, they find themselves on the run from the police through the harsh landscape of the Simien Mountains and the Danakil Desert, as they gradually learn the story and the fate that befell Marco’s forebears. Even as they do this, their lives are threatened by other ruthless forces with links to the British Embassy and a modern Jihad resurgence from the east, threatening not just a diplomatic incident but something much more far-reaching. Like a Wilbur Smith with overtones of Dan Brown, “Axum” takes the reader through an exotic and unforgiving land in two adventures, linked across the centuries.