The Immortal Nicholas ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp
The Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck is an unusual Christmas-themed novel that never mentions the word “Christmas” and isn’t any traditional Christmas story as we’ve come to know it. The main character is a man named Agios (Ah-GEE-os). He is embittered because his wife dies and then his young son dies through what he believes is his own carelessness while harvesting frankincense from trees growing on a mountainside that he himself has protected from intruders with poisonous snakes. He has no hope in life and wants only to die. When he is forced to leave his home, he encounters in his travels a young man named Krampus who is physically handicapped and who has been tortured by the Romans. He immediately takes up with Krampus and becomes his protector and, in a way, his father. His knowledge of frankincense and his possession of a small amount of the precious substance eventually leads him into the company of three “kings” (Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar) who are following a star that they believe will lead to the foretold Messiah who will save the world.
Agios finds himself in Bethlehem with the three kings at the stable where Jesus lay as a tiny baby. He wholeheartedly believes in the promise of Jesus’ birth and from that moment vows to protect Jesus, Mary and Joseph from those who would do them harm. He and Krampus follow Jesus around through the years, always staying in the background. He loses sight of Jesus until Jesus is a grown man and is going around ministering to the masses. Agios hears of Jesus’ ability to heal the lame and sick and he somehow believes that Jesus can cure Krampus of whatever is wrong with him if Agios can get him close enough to him. Agios and Krampus are present at the Sermon on the Mount but are not able to get very close to Jesus because of all the people. Finally, after all they go through to keep an eye on Jesus while staying always on the fringes of what is going on, they are there to witness the crucifixion. Agios is deeply stirred by the cruel death of the savior and goes away an embittered man. He believes that is the end of the promise that the birth of Jesus Christ gave to the world.
For some reason Agios doesn’t die but lives for centuries, to watch Krampus die and everybody else he ever cared about. While living as a hermit in the mountains centuries after the death of Jesus, he befriends a shepherd boy named Nicholas and learns from him that Jesus arose after his crucifixion, proving that his promise to the world was true and that he overcame death. From that moment on, Agios’ life is different. Despite his desire to not want to be near other people, he and Nicholas become close and Agios becomes a surrogate father to him. As Nicholas grows into adulthood, he becomes a priest with a very generous spirit and out of that the legend of Saint Nicholas grows, with a direct link back, through Agios, to the ministry of Jesus Christ.
The notes on the dust jacket tell us that Glenn Beck expanded The Immortal Nicholas into a novel for adults that started out as a children’s story. It’s simply written but smart and engaging enough for adults. It took a few surprising turns for me. When I started reading it, I didn’t know how a story about a man who lived at the beginning of the Christian Era could have anything to do with Saint Nicholas. I deliberately didn’t want to read any synopsis or summary while reading the book because I wanted to find out for myself where it would lead. Think what you will of Glenn Beck and his conservative principles, he is a very effective fiction writer.
Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp