Mika Waltari
Publication date
Format info
420 pages

The Secret of the Kingdom

Valtakunnan salaisuus

A magnificent novel set in the 40 days after Jesus Christ rose from the dead

Set between Easter and Pentecost, The Secret of the Kingdom follows the story of Marcus Mezentius Manilianus, an ancient Roman citizen who arrives in Jerusalem on the day of Jesus’s crucifixion. As Marcus enters the city he is introduced to Pontius Pilate, who explains that Jesus of Nazareth is the leader of a religious sect suspected of sedition.

After Jesus’s crucifixion, Marcus becomes convinced that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. He embarks upon a mission to find out everything he can about Jesus, which leads him to meet Mary Magdalene, Lazarus of Bethany and Simon of Cyrene.

The more Marcus learns, the more he wants to join Jesus’s disciples and become a member of the Kingdom. But although the disciples are willing to accept Marcus’s financial assistance, they are unwilling to let him enter their inner circle. What follows is an account of how Marcus tries to win over their acceptance and how, ultimately, he must reconcile himself to his own unique place in the birth of Protestantism.

Mika Waltari (1908-1979) is the most popular 20th century Finnish writer who is best known for his magnus opus The Egyptian. Over a career that spanned five decades, Waltari published well over 100 works, of which 200 translations have been made. His works include at least 30 novels, 20 plays and 15 novellas, as well as short stories, poems, screenplays and essays. In 1957 he was appointed to the Academy of Finland, having previously won the state literature award five times. Waltari’s works have been translated into over 40 languages.


The Secret of the Kingdom, 1959
The Roman, 1964


Finnish PDF
English synopsis

Rights sold

Arabic (Hilmi Murad 1956)
Bulgarian (Ednorog 2004), rights reverted
Croatian (A3DATA 1997)
Czech (Vysehrad 1990 / Cesky Klub 2006 / Albatros 2018)
Czech, audio (OneHotBook 2021)
Danish (Sesam 1983)
Dutch (Van Holkema & Warendorf 1960)
English (G. P. Putnam’s Sons 1959)
Estonian (Orto 1965, Varrak 2015)
Farsi (Zorrin 1994)
French (Olivier Orban 1983 / Le Jardin des Livres 2004), rights reverted
German (Kuebler Verlag 2012)
Greek (Cactus 1989), rights reverted
Hebrew (Bitan 1988)
Hungarian (Europa 1996), rights reverted
Italian (RCS 2001), rights reverted
Korean (Pauline 2009)
Lithuanian (Tyto Alba 2007), rights reverted
Norwegian (Aschehoug 1963)
Polish (Wydawnictwo 1984 / Ksiaznica 2014)
Romanian (Polirom 2005)
Slovakian (Tatran 1991 / Petrus 2019)
Slovenian (A3DATA 1997)
Spanish (Edhasa 2016)
Swedish (Wahlström & Widstrand 1994)
Ukrainian (Apriori)


“… [Waltari] is still the same old master of description and character. The drama on Calvary is well-handled; the Palestinian landscape is vivid. Such characters as Mary Magdalene and Pontius Pilate’s wife are excellently drawn.” – The New York Times

“… a distinguished and original book… it is a moving story” Kirkus Review