The official blurb…
An Ancient Island Holds an Ancient Secret . . .
Nick Hennessy, a young Texas journalist yearning for his big break, finds himself in Europe–his assignment, to investigate the alarming disappearance of invaluable Grecian antiquities. Nick has the credentials–and cover ID–to unearth the truth. And he knows just the researcher to help him…
Carey Mathers, fresh from her studies in forensic archeology, has accepted a job with the prestigious Athens Institute for Antiquities–a dream come true, really, particularly when the Greek isle of Patmos, where the Apostle John received his vision of the Apocalypse, was a particular focus of her research.
Dimitri Rubinos, for whom the Greek islands represent his life, holds on by his fingernails to the family charter boat business. But his country’s economic chaos isn’t the only thing that has turned his world on its head…
Here we have a high quality example demonstrating my main concern about traditionally published Christian fiction.
The story is more than competently done. Davis Bunn is one of the true professionals in our industry. He knows all the nuts and bolts using them to craft an excellent story. The problem with the tale is the lack of spiritual power. It’s not a Christian story.
English: The Port (Skala) of Patmos Island, Greece (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It has all the pieces. It takes place on the Isle of Patmos. The historical explanations as well as the current culture are very interesting. The characters are very well described with depth. The relationships are compelling and intriguing. Some of the characters are obviously believers. But there is nothing of true spiritual power, merely religious emotion. God is not made real, because He is not really part of the story. This is about religion, not relationship.
The tale is told cleanly and up to Christian Bookseller standards. But it is all so boring—because the Lord never shows up and the Holy Spirit never reveals His presence in any way. I guess I need to coin a possibly new phrase. Instead of PC for politically correct, this book is RC for religiously correct–designed to offend no denomination. It reduces the story to pablum and I grew up into a need for meat and substance a long time ago. Baby food no longer satisfies. Solid food is all self-published these days because of RC realities.
As a result, the story is mere entertainment—very well-done entertainment. But by next week, I will have probably forgotten this pretty trifle. Because there’s really nothing here other than momentary diversion. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it could have been so much more.
I was given a review copy by Bethany in exchange for an honest review.
I’m sad. I’ve read all the books I was anticipating. I saved Paryn’s Gold to the last, and it was worth it. This is yet another great book on Chadash.
But now I’ve got nothing on my iPad which I am excited about. That’s not a good thing.
Is this the best of the four so far?
That’s very hard to say. To prepare for book three I reread the first three: Saga of the Everking (a lil’bitty thing), Fool’s Errand #1, and Mystic’s Mayhem #2. They were as good as I remember. In fact, they were even better the second time through. However, they made Paryn’s Gold seem a little sparse. I’d still have to give Fool’s Errand the nod as the best so far. By the way, don’t let my slight gritching about Paryn’s Gold put you off. This is a wonderful book.
Fool’s Errand is a masterful entry into a new world built by Mr. Johnson. The descriptions are rich and lush—depicting this extremely complex world in all its glory. It well may be that Paryn’s Gold is just the extension of the tale moving through a world in which I’m already comfortable. As a result, many of the gadgets have already been described in earlier books. Having just reread the earlier books a couple weeks ago, this book seems a bit lacking in description. I suspect this might even be a problem if you read the first two more than a year ago. On the other hand, I remember feeling the same way about The Fellowship of the Ring. Two Towers was a let down for me. I suspect that the real issue is that I really love being introduced to a completely new world: culture, political structure, religion, spirituality, economics, clothing, tools, and so on. Once that excitement has passed, the rest of the books are slightly dull in comparison. That is almost certainly what is happening here on Chadash also.
The characters keep getting better
Several new characters are introduced in this book. The good guys and gals are as marvelous as the original heroes, and very well developed. This is where David really shines (although as a world-builder he is also exceptional). As in all the books, the evil characters are lacking a bit—probably because of an attempt to avoid offending the sensibilities of traditional Christian readers. That’s a little sad—sad that so many Christians demand insulation from reality. On the other hand, immersion in sin is certainly not edifying. It’s a fine balance and David has handled it masterfully—erring (if at all) on the side of caution.
Those of you who know me realize I dislike romances. However, I like them as they grow in a book like this. Book #1 seems pregnant with possibilities. Book #3 didn’t fulfill any of them, though at least three relationships have hints tossed out. The book left many things hanging, even though the basic story of the three books is satisfactorily concluded. I can easily see three or four more trilogies coming from Chadash. I hope that happens. It’s a wonderful place in which to escape.
Spiritually, fully evangelical
David’s roots as a missionary shine through well. The Holy Spirit is definitely missing from the action so it’s not Full Gospel at all. However, the working of the Lord is strongly present‚ much more than in most evangelical books. It’s wonderful to read a book like this about believers and how they relate within the real world. It is really well done and still very rare in publishing—especially in fantasy and science fiction.
I was given a free pre-release version for review purposes in exchange for an honest unbiased review.
A three-book Kindle collection: a traditionally published, CBA-style (Christian Booksellers Ass.) ebook set by Zondervan.
I reviewed Thunder in the Morning Calm a while back. This is certainly not a technothriller from Dale Brown, but it’s a nice book. It’s more of a ministry advert for North Korean Christian rescue. We have little idea how bad it is over there.
Fire of the Raging Dragon I read just before I started reviewing. In fact, it was one of the reasons I started. I was so appalled with traditionally published Christian books and their lack of spiritual content. I enjoyed the story a whole lot more this time around. China starts a war with Taiwan beginning with an attack on one of the multitudinous tiny Spratly Islands (claimed by both) in the vast, often shallow sea surrounded by Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines, dragging the USA into it. Toss in crimes against humanity, the president’s daughter, and we have a tale to be told.
Storming of the Black Ice was new to me. It was fun and the most Christian of the three. There were three romantic relationships of the action/military kind. One was more pure lust, but we are left with the belief that marriage is in the works. Vast oil fields are discovered under Antarctica. Britain/Chile battle Argentina/Venezuela over the right to drill for it.
The military portions of these books are exciting and believable. Fire and Storming both have compelling war startups. The action is fierce, but not too graphic. Lieutenant Commander Brown knows the Navy.
The people are interesting, both good guys and bad. They are nice stories. Not as bad as Minnesota nice which is a synonym for bland, non-adventuresome, and publicly politically correct. But there’s no real tenseness. All threes are pretty predictable.
Spiritual level: mainline with evidence of true regeneration
The spiritual level surprised me. Usually traditionally published Christian books are a real dud. This is better than that. It’s well done, realistic, no preaching. Some questionable stuff, but nothing seriously out of place.
Nevertheless, they are good reads, entertaining. You can do far worse than these three books.
Official blurb: Six years ago, the government took control of the church. Only re-translated Bibles are legal, and a specialized agency called the Constabulary enforces this and other regulations. Marcus Brenner, a new Christian, will do anything to protect his church family from imprisonment–including risk his own freedom to gain the trust of a government agent.
Aubrey Weston recanted her faith when the Constabulary threatened her baby. Now released, she just wants to provide for her son and avoid government notice. But she’s targeted again, and this time, her baby is taken into custody. If only she’d never denied Him, maybe God would hear her pleas for help.
When Aubrey and Marcus’s lives collide, they are forced to confront the lies they believe about themselves. And God is about to grab hold of Marcus’s life in a way he’d never expect, turning a loner into a leader.
I really tried to like it
But it was so painful! All the self-inflicted agony really got to me. Amanda really gets into the characters. They are well developed. But I just wanted to smack them upside the head. They so badly needed good teaching and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is obviously supposed to be a Christian book, but the Lord in this book has no real power. The characters are so determined to be in pain. Of course, they succeed. The Lord will never override your will.
If you like emotionally devastated people struggling without much hope, this book is for you
The characters are well done. You get into their heads. They could be likable and sometimes succeed. Most of the reviews are five star with comments like, the characters are so real! I’d agree with that assessment, but they are a non-biblically justified mess. Most of the time I just wanted to grab them, shake them, and tell them to get a grip. The rest of the time, I wanted to tell them how simple it would be to find peace. Salvation and healing is available to them, but it never arrives. I still haven’t recovered from this one, even though I finished it three days ago. It’s a lot of pain, realistic, but unnecessary. Not entertaining.
The official blurb: In possession of elitist information, Roger Converse—a key player in special ops intelligence—begins to struggle with the claims of Christianity, while a tangled web of coincidence usually reserved only for conspiracy theory becomes rational policy. His life depends on where he places his trust as he sees a darker side to the proposed utopian peace about to be introduced to the world.
It’s hardly “rational” policy, but be that as it may
This is Christian Brad Thor or Vince Flynn—a no-holds-barred black ops fight by a loner hero against a massive global conspiracy. There’s not much more than a few endtimes hints, but the book ends with a lot of the story still untold. The spiritual side of things is only hinted at. But Roger Converse makes an excellent black ops hero. There’s even a bit of romance.
This is a very enjoyable book. My only quibble is at the spiritual level. It’s somewhere between mainline and evangelical. The believers don’t have any regular communication with the Lord and the Spirit’s works are far too well hidden. The Bible is virtually a magic book in that it has power, when we know that the power which backs up the book is from the Holy Spirit. I know the heathen don’t see the working of the Holy Spirit, but the believers should be able to. AND the Lord talks with His people on a normal and continual basis. But those are minor quibbles.
This is a fun read
I recommend it on a purely entertainment level. It’s good, clean fun.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Yvonne believes this is the best book she’s written so far. I’m not sure I agree. But that’s probably because of two reasons—strictly personal. First, I loved the first three books. Second, I really want to read book five, which she says is not coming. I pray the Lord changes her mind.
This planet will challenge you
This series depicts a society on a distant planet which is focused on the Lord with strict discipline and radical obedience. Those two concepts are nearly anathema to modern day Americans. Is it completely Biblical? No, it’s fiction. Several of the interactions go far beyond what my wife and I practice in our marriage.
But then that’s true for many issues because my wife is called to be a pastor and I’m not. I’m head of the household. She’s head of the church. No problem, right? Well you cannot imagine the problems with the reactions of many so-called Christians. On my better days, I simply tell them to read Galatians 3:28 and move on.
This series will challenge more than that—in a good way. Yes, Yvonne takes headship/submission and the rearing of children to its limit. But she doesn’t cross the line into the anti-Biblical or non-Christian. The love and spiritual truth of the relationships cannot be avoided. It’s a compelling book. Not so much as a guide to how we should live, but as reminder of how creative the Lord is and can be with His people and their relationships. If this society existed on Earth, I’d move there in a heartbeat. But it couldn’t exist here.
It’s uniquely Gannahan, and that’s a good thing. It needs the remoteness of a backwater planet in almost complete isolation. And then there’s the fact that this planet can kill you in a heartbeat with plants and animals which are a delight, though often very dangerous. The animals can communicate with humans and have entered a covenant with them. But only Gannahans have the gland which enables that—and distant communication with each other.
The people are wonderful
These are people I wish I knew. Actually, because I feel like I do know them, this book four is quite sad for me. People move on, move out, finish their work, and bring this Gateway series to a close. But there are so many hints of the future, potential conflicts, budding romances, galactic evangelism, growth, excitement, joy, and I want more. The principle characters are men, and women of wisdom, compassion, and love. They have compelling children. The secondary people are just as intriguing. We simply do not get the opportunity to know them so well. The enemies are evil, yet often come to salvation. You really need to read this whole series.
I certainly do not want to spoil it for you. But READ IT!