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The quest


First edition.
New York : Center Street, 2013.
Physical Description:
458 pages ; 24 cm
After receiving a tip from a dying priest, four unlikely partners begin a quest to find the Holy Grail in the jungles of Ethiopia.
Personal Subject:
Electronic Access:


Call Number
DeMille, N.
DeMille, N.

On Order



An earlier, shorter version of The Quest was published in paperback in 1975. In 2013, I rewrote The Quest and doubled its length, making it, I hope, a far better story than the original, without deviating from the elements that made the story so powerful and compelling when I first wrote it. In other words, what made The Quest worth rewriting remains, and whatever is changed is for the better.
I was happy and excited to have this opportunity to rewrite and republish what I consider my first "big" novel, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I first wrote it.
A sweeping adventure that's equal parts thriller and love story, Nelson DeMille's newest novel takes the reader from the war torn jungles of Ethiopia to the magical city of Rome.
While the Ethiopian Civil War rages, a Catholic priest languishes in prison. Forty years have passed since he last saw daylight. His crime? Claiming to know the true location of Christ's cup from the Last Supper. Then the miraculous happens - a mortar strikes the prison and he is free!
Old, frail, and injured, he escapes to the jungle, where he encounters two Western journalists and a beautiful freelance photographer taking refuge from the carnage. As they tend to his wounds, he relates his incredible story.
Motivated by the sensational tale and their desire to find the location of the holiest of relics, the trio agrees to search for the Grail.
Thus begins an impossible quest that will pit them against murderous tribes, deadly assassins, fanatical monks, and the passions of their own hearts.
THE QUEST is suspenseful, romantic, and filled with heart-pounding action. Nelson DeMille is at the top of his game as he masterfully interprets one of history's greatest mysteries.

Author Notes

Nelson DeMille was born in New York City on August 23, 1943. He attended Hofstra University for three years, then joined the Army and went to Officer Candidate School. He was commissioned a First Lieutenant and served in Vietnam as an infantry platoon leader with the First Calvary Division. He received the Air Medal, Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry while in the service. He eventually returned to Hofstra University and received a degree in political science and history.

His first writings were NYPD detective novels, but his first major novel, By the Rivers of Babylon, was published in 1978. His other works include Cathedral, The Talbot Odyssey, Word of Honor, The Gold Coast, The General's Daughter, Spencerville, Plum Island, The Lion's Game, Up Country, Night Fall, Wild Fire, and The Quest. His New York Times bestsellers include Radient Angel and The Cuban Affair.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

War-torn Ethiopia remains the backdrop to DeMille's (The Panther) re-imagining of this intense thriller, originally published in 1975 and set during the country's brutal revolution. Two journalists, Frank Purcell and Henry Mercado, and photographer Vivian chase the struggle outside the relative safety of Addis Ababa and share a harrowing night in the jungle where they meet a dying Italian priest. A captive for 40 years, the escapee confirms the existence of the fabled Holy Grail, the vessel used at the Last Supper, and a secret guarded by Coptic monks deep in the bush. Narrowly escaping court martial and probable torture by sadistic General Getachu of the revolutionary forces, the three are booted from Ethiopia before they can investigate with orders never to return. Despite an interlude in Rome, the mystique of the grail compels the intrigued journalists and their knowledgeable companion Colonel Gunn to sneak back to Africa for a story "good enough to pursue to the end." Divergent motives-faith, fatalism, and skepticism-and a brewing love triangle drive the often disturbing pilgrimage founded on hearsay and instinct. The explorers never earn the credibility of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon; the location of the Holy Grail in Ethiopia, despite all the tales and legend, never gains enough momentum to work as a thrilling probability. Still, DeMille creates excitement and dread through his elaborate descriptions of the jungle. Ethiopia looms at the novel's heart as the "the most blessed and most cursed land." Agent: Jennifer Joel, International Creative Management Partners. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

DeMille (The Panther, 2012, etc.) dispatches three knights errant in search of the Holy Grail in this major revamping of his first novel. Freelance journalist Frank Purcell once spent time in a Khmer Rouge prison. Brit writer Henry Mercado was captured in World War II Europe and sent to Stalin's gulag. Vivian Smith's a mysterious young Swiss photographer. It's 1975. The three adrenalin junkies meet in Addis Ababa. Smith and Mercado ask Purcell to join a foray to cover fighting between rebels and Haile Selassie loyalists. As the trio journeys toward the front lines, they camp overnight at an abandoned colonial-era spa. There, the quest for a scoop detours. Mortally wounded Father Giuseppe Armando stumbles in from the jungle. While serving during the 1930s Italian invasion, the young Sicilian priest discovered an odd Coptic monastery. There, Armando found the Holy Grail. To prevent revelation of the secret, Coptic Christians kept him imprisoned for decades. After Father Armando dies, the journalists are captured by the psychopathic rebel Getachu, but they manage a derring-do escape. DeMille's adept enough with this age-old theme, but he stumbles with a long Rome-based middle section where the three retreat to plan anew. Some of DeMille's secondary characters, including mercenary Col. Sir Edmund Gann and Ethiopian Jewish princess Miriam, outshine the protagonists, but DeMille adds a mnage love story, with a last-night-on-earth sex scene between Purcell and Smith. That means Smith betrays her lover, Mercado. Considering Smith's and Mercado's religious fervor, Smith rotating between beds seems off-kilter, but no more so than the trio's casual disregard of the Ark of Covenant, said to be secreted in an Ethiopian Jewish village. DeMille also poses threats that never materialize, like the fierce Galla tribe roaming about. Despite some rollicking good action, particularly aboard Mia, an ancient Navion aircraft, DeMille's quest's conclusion may leave readers thinking, "Is that all there is?" However, Vivian Smith finally does make up her mind.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Here's something you don't see all that often: a successful writer hauling out one of his old books and rewriting it. The Quest, originally published as a mass-market paperback in 1975, was DeMille's first novel. In some ways, it anticipated the current spate of thrillers whose plots involve a historical mystery, frequently with a religious component: a trio of journalists, covering the Ethiopian civil war, stumble onto what could be the key to one of history's greatest puzzles, the location of the fabled Holy Grail. What's especially interesting here is that the author has rewritten the book, apparently rather extensively (the original paperback edition ran to 255 pages, while the new galley circulated for review clocks in at nearly 460), but he hasn't updated it. It's still set in the mid-1970s, and it still feels like a book written at that time, although fans of the author's recent work will note DeMille's familiar deft characterizations and lively dialogue. A full-fledged new DeMille novel or a historical curiosity? You be the judge.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist