A novel by

Guido Mina di Sospiro and Joscelyn Godwin
The Forbidden Book is a multi-faceted mystery that treats some of the most serious and sensitive issues of our time. It is based on a real book of 1603, written by Cesare Della Riviera, entitled "Il Mondo magico de gli heroi" (The Magical World of the Heroes). It is a very mysterious treatise of alchemy and supposedly teaches how to attain the Tree of Life and make a man into a god. In the novel, the Riviera family possesses a secret, annotated edition that gives specific instructions on magical techniques and sexual alchemy. Della Riviera's treatise presents itself as a conclusive summa of Renaissance Neoplatonism, Hermetic and alchemic thought, and Christian mysticism. It really is the swan song of all magic treatises, and was a great success at the time.

From the outset, we are faced with the ugly reality of Islamic extremism, with a terrorist assault first on Italian and then on Spanish soil. Later, the equally ugly terrorism of other factions, deliberately blamed on the Muslims, complicates the plot. The repercussions of these acts are felt throughout Europe, the USA and the world.

Against the background of these topical events, the main characters play out their own drama. The reader enters the less familiar ground of esoteric and occult beliefs and practices. No mystery novel has ever given so much insight into these. In particular, there is the theme of ancient European families which, in defiance of the modern world, have maintained secret traditions from father to son (or, in this case, to daughter). These secrets are enshrined in the very architecture of their villas and palaces, built at a time when the occult was an accepted, if feared, reality. Secondly, there is the theme of sexual magic, or sexual alchemy. This involves practices that are not only shocking for the reader, but extremely dangerous, both for the magician and for his companion, who may well become his victim. The power of the novelists' imagination, elaborating on these, has produced some unforgettable scenes of the outer and inner workings of this form of alchemy.

The spirit of place also plays an essential part in the story. The evocative setting of Venice and the Veneto dominates it, supplemented by vivid scenes in Santiago de Compostela, Provence, Washington, and the Vatican. Here the authors draw on their wide experience and long residences on both sides of the Atlantic.

Lastly, there is the mystery which propels the reader from start to finish. What is the Forbidden Book? Is it real, or have the authors invented it? How many people will have to suffer before it renders up its secrets?

This novel is more than entertainment. It opens up new vistas, some glorious, others terrifying, which will not be easily forgotten.
by Guido Mina di Sospiro and Joscelyn Godwin.
All rights reserved.
                                                            MAIN CHARACTERS

Leo Kavenaugh. Chair of the Italian Department at Georgetown University. Age about 44. Handsome but inhibited, having distanced himself from a past he is ashamed of in favor of Catholic piety and a comfortable, albeit numbed, bachelor existence. He lives in an apartment in the Rowlandsons' town house.

Orsina Riviera della Motta. Age 28. Beautiful, aristocratic, cultured, passionate; the last scion of a once great aristocratic family. Was an Italian intern at Georgetown; fell in love with Leo, but he persuaded himself through a supreme effort of will that he should pretend not to notice.

Nigel MacPherson. Age 45. Hearty Eton-educated Englishman, rich through commodities trading, now semi-retired into a life of self-indulgence: wine, yachts, fast cars. Orsina has married him on the rebound from Leo.

Baron Emanuele Riviera della Motta. Age 64. Orsina's intolerably snobbish, erudite, and sinister uncle, patriarch of the family, who became the legal guardian of Angela when her parents died. He owns the ancestral villa near Verona and the palazzo on Venice's Grand Canal. Pursues a combination of right-wing politics and occultism, especially some ethically unacceptable ancient practices of sexual alchemy.

Angela Riviera della Motta. Age 17. Orsina's younger sister and only sibling. Stunningly lovely, seductive, but victimized by her uncle.

Inspector Ghedina. Age about 35. Inspector of police in charge of both investigations. Well-dressed, chain-smoking, self-confident, not devoid of the occasional brilliant intuition, but ultimately incapable of seeing the bigger picture.

Palazzo Riviera. A palace on the Grand Canal in Venice, closely resembling Ca' Rezzonico. It conceals secret chambers and is closely linked with the Forbidden Book. As an added bonus, an architect has drawn plans to our specifications, which can be found at the end of the novel.

Villa Riviera. A villa near Verona, in the Veneto, with magnificent vineyards, gardens, statues, library, ballroom, and a nearby hunting lodge in which the Baron pursues his secret practices.
This is a really excellent book -- gripping, thought-provoking, mysterious, deep and resonant with esoteric knowledge. It keeps you turning the pages in a most compelling way. I couldn't put it down.

           Graham Hancock, author of the international bestsellers
The Sign and the Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods, Heaven's Mirror.    

In the sure hands of Guido Mina di Sospiro and Joscelyn Godwin,
The Forbidden Book is many things at once: murder mystery, meditation on religious extremism, and a complex but invitingly deep introduction into the esoteric. I don't think I've encountered as original a book as this in a long time and I'm confident it will resonate with readers everywhere.

            Mitchell Kaplan, co-founder of Miami Book Fair International, president of Books & Books, 2011 recipient of the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community by the National Book Foundation.

Watch out Dan Brown and Umberto Eco! Here's a real esoteric thriller written by some real Illuminati who know the real thing and aren't afraid to let the secret out. Sex, magic, politics, and mystery.
The Forbidden Book is a gripping, exciting, and illuminating read.

           Gary Lachman, author of
A Dark Muse: A History of the Occult, Jung The Mystic: The Esoteric Dimensions of Carl Jung's Life and Teachings, The Quest For Hermes Trismegistus From Ancient Egypt to the Modern World.

A harrowing tapestry of esoteric mystery, unseen history, and the search for inner knowledge --
The Forbidden Book is the thinking-person's adventure yarn.

          Mitch Horowitz, author of
Occult America and editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin.

Much more than simply a captivating adventure with a generous dose of love, intrigue, sex, and violence,
The Forbidden Book provides an introduction to alchemical-magical practices of the late Italian Renaissance, a spiritual tradition that persists surreptitiously to this day. The authors, in possession of a deep understanding of - and sympathy for - esoteric Hermeticism, successfully weave pearls of occult wisdom into the fabric of their book, creating a compelling story-within-the-story that is all the more genuine for being based on an authentic early seventeenth century alchemical text. This is a book rich on many levels, with multiple layers of meaning and interpretation, from the riveting action-packed twenty-first century fictional narrative to deep insights into the ancient and enduring perennial philosophy. Indeed, The Forbidden Book is itself a modern incarnation of the 'forbidden book' which forms the central theme of the novel. Read it closely!

         Robert M. Schoch, author of
Voyages of the Pyramid Builders, Pyramid Quest, and The Parapsychology Revolution.
Reviews etc.