|“||It's a real book; as if the author saw everything with his own eyes. Uncompromising. Harsh, even cruel. Smart, subtle, poetic. Bold, breaking patterns. I read and I couldn't stop, eat or sleep. Today it's my favourite novel from the entire Universe.||„|
— Dmitry Glukhovsky
The Roots of Heaven (Italian: Le radici del cielo) is a novel that is part of the Universe of Metro 2033, a long-running series of short stories, novellas and novels written by different authors, all set in the world of Metro. The Roots of Heaven, written by Italian author Tullio Avoledo, was originally published in November of 2011. In fashion with the previous publications within the Universe series, the book was also released in Russia in March of 2012 (translated into Russian by Izabella Levina and Yevgeniya Litvin). There is currently no English version, but The Roots of Heaven has been translated into a number of other European languages. The novel was translated into Polish by Piotr Drzymała, whilst Balázs Matolcsi worked on the Hungarian translation.
In many ways this book stands out from most other works of the series, as it is set outside of Russia and was created by an Italian writer. The Roots of Heaven has been advertised as an uncompromising, tough, even cruel tale - yet also intelligent, delicate and poetic. It approaches the canon boldly and has often been described by Dmitry Glukhovsky as his favourite novel in the Universe of Metro 2033 series. It was the first piece of Metro written fiction to mention a nuclear winter. Another thing that makes it even more unusual for the series is the first-person narrative writing style, as well as an overwhelming amount of spiritual and psychological themes.
The novel has a direct sequel titled "La crociata dei bambini" (The Children's Crusade), released only in Italy and Russia thus far.
Set in post-apocalyptic Italy, the action of the story begins in the Catacombs of Callixtus, one of the Catacombs of Rome, where the remnants of Catholic authority are led by the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, the last surviving member of the College of Cardinals. From this "New Vatican" an expedition sets off to find the Patriarch of Venice, who seems to be the only known candidate for the next papacy. According to rumours, he is imprisoned in the north of Italy and the path eventually leads to Venice. The priest entrusted with seeking out the Patriarch, an American man called John Daniels, is placed under the protection of seven soldiers of the Pontifical Swiss Guard.
The deadly surface of the planet makes his mission a perilous one. The way to Venice is blood-stained, full of pain and madness. The ambiguous behaviour of Father Daniels' escort makes him feel uncertain about the true objective of the expedition, whilst the horrors he experiences along the way make him doubt the point of the Church's mission. The dreadful scenes described in The Roots of Heaven belong to some of (if not the) most cruel and gruesome stories of the entire Metro Series. On this turbulent path, John Daniels begins to question his companions, his church, his faith and himself. In addition to renowned cities like Rome and Venice, the story also features other places: Urbino, Rimini, Santarcangelo di Romagna, Torrita Tiberina and Ravenna.