Pilgrims Passage: Brave World
by Joe Buda

"Those key individuals were… too big to fall from their ivory towers."

In the 1950s, corrupt scientists bent on the mind control of citizens for the benefit of various governments selected thirteen children from around the globe to be programmed as operatives. Today only three are still alive. Karl Vloda is a millionaire industrialist and profound cynic. Benet Tasman retired from a military career. And Paul Bardeck left a successful dot-com entertainment business to become a writer. According to the scientists, the experiments succeeded if the subjects survived. But maybe it isn't that simple. All three survivors are proudly independent-minded, especially Bardeck. He is part of InterMission, a religion with a core doctrine of unconditional love, compassion, and forgiveness. Its teachings counteract the government's brainwashing propaganda. Representing underrepresented segments of society such as women, children, and immigrants, InterMission advocates for the otherwise helpless. Sometimes they're subtle, at other times overt, but the gentling effects of InterMission's teachings on everyone they touch are always undeniable.

This volume is the third in a series. The setting is widely varied, ranging between the wilds and quaint villages of Slovakia to the urban chaos of New York City. Strong female characters such as Claudia and Maria develop close, mutually beneficial friendships. The bond between Claudia and Maria sustains Maria through the collapse of her marriage and the petty hostility of her underachieving husband. Maria does not try to intimidate Jacques through her accomplishments. Rather, he chooses to allow them to threaten him instead of admiring her because of them. That refreshingly implies that the intimidation some men experience in the presence of a successful woman is not always the woman's fault. Characters who have died are considered present with the living in all but physical form, and the story includes details of their reflections in another realm. Those who enjoy fiction about mind control may be drawn to this novel.

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