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Literature / The Confessions of Peter Crossman

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We're the part of the Temple that's hidden from the other Knights Templar: the secret from the holders of the secrets, the ace up the sleeve. All of us warriors, all of us priests. We serve, we obey. When needed, we kick ass.

The Confessions of Peter Crossman is a collection of short stories by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald. A hybrid of spy thriller and urban fantasy, they concerns the actions of the Catholic Church's secret service, in the person of Father Peter Crossman (of the Inner Temple of The Knights Templar) and Sister Mary Magdalene (of the Special Action Executive of the Poor Clares).

Averts Christianity is Catholic to the extent it's not just window-dressing, or because the authors don't know better; it's a deliberate attempt to create an intelligent and entertaining story within the Catholic world view, by authors who knows their subject. Everything the warrior priests and the fun nun with the gun do is justifiable within the Church's rules, and the fantastic elements are all drawn from Catholic lore. It should be emphasized that this doesn't mean the book isn't fun.

The short stories in this collection originally appeared in Katherine Kurtz's Tales of the Knights Templar anthologies. Peter Crossman and Mary Magdalene also feature in the novel The Apocalypse Door.

The Confessions of Peter Crossman provides examples of:

  • Meaningful Rename: "Peter Crossman" is not, as he puts it in The Apocalypse Door, the name he was given at Baptism. Probably this is also the case with his colleagues, and almost certainly also with Mary Magdalene.
  • Nun Too Holy: Sister Mary Magdalene of the Special Action Executive of the Poor Clares, "the fun nun with the gun", never actually strays beyond the bounds of her vows, but you wouldn't think it from the way she carries on.

"Stealing God"

  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This is the only story in which Peter Crossman has access to magical tools like the invisibility cloak and demonstrates Master of Your Domain abilities.
  • Follow That Car: Peter Crossman notes that he's never yet had occasion to do this, but there's always a first time. (But this time isn't it either.)
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Grail. It helps that very few people remember that the original description of it didn't say it was a cup.
  • Instant Sedation: Peter gets hit in the neck by a poison dart.
    I slapped at it by reflex, but before my hand got there, my knees were already buckling.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Peter Crossman gets to use one. It's one of only three known to exist in the world. By the end of the story, there are only two.
  • Master of Your Domain: Peter Crossman has some training in this area:
    With enough concentration some people can slow their heartbeat down to where doctors can't detect it. Other people can slow their breathing to where they can make a coffinful of air last a week. I concentrated on finding all the molecules of poison in my bloodstream and making Maxwell's Demon shunt them off to somewhere harmless.

"Selling the Devil"

  • Empathic Weapon: The sword Clarent; when Peter Crossman uses it, he finds himself doing moves he's never trained for and feels that it's more like it's wielding him. It doesn't just take over during fights; it can also influence the person holding it to seek out particular people and pick fights with them, for its own motives. Legend credits it with an implacable sense of justice (which, as Crossman notes, is a very dangerous thing when untempered by mercy).

"Sleeping Kings"

  • Meaningful Name: The members of the Kipling Society all have names of characters from Rudyard Kipling's works, which are meaningful if you know the originals. (And not flattering, so presumably not chosen by the men themselves.)
  • Wandering Jew: A guest appearance by the one and only original Wandering Jew, who's been living in New York for the last few centuries. There's also a passing mention of the Three Nephites; the Wandering Jew mentions that he hasn't seen them about lately, and Crossman points out that this is because they moved out to Utah in the 19th century.