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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and Haunting
QUICK HIT: Deeply philosophical, yet compulsively readable. Inherently theological, yet pulse-pounding in its intensity. Ted Dekker's The Sanctuary is well worth waiting for. You'll want to wrestle with it, savor it, consider it, second-guess it, and, as it settles into its climax, simply hang on for the ride.

It's been seven years since Danny Hansen saw the...
Published on October 30, 2012 by Josh Olds of Life is Story

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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly violent, darkly depressing
I pre ordered The Sanctuary because I liked The Priest's Graveyard so much. I didn't read any reviews because I was so sure I'd like it. Well, the story itself was good. I connected with the characters and enjoyed the romance started in the first book. The characters seemed so real that I had to remind myself they were fictional. It was great untill it got to one very...
Published 24 months ago by Amazon Customer


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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and Haunting, October 30, 2012
This review is from: The Sanctuary (Kindle Edition)
QUICK HIT: Deeply philosophical, yet compulsively readable. Inherently theological, yet pulse-pounding in its intensity. Ted Dekker's The Sanctuary is well worth waiting for. You'll want to wrestle with it, savor it, consider it, second-guess it, and, as it settles into its climax, simply hang on for the ride.

It's been seven years since Danny Hansen saw the outside of a prison cell. Seven years since he willingly turned himself in and confessed to two high-profile murders. A deal with the DA meant no press and a fifty-year sentence. And during those seven years, Danny had done the only thing he could do...simply wait.

Renee Gilmore, on the other hand, has struggled to put her life back together--well, back together assumed it was once whole and Renee wasn't sure that was the case anymore. She had fallen into evil, been saved into an even darker evil, and then Danny came along and saved her truly. In the seven years since her husband had confessed, she's struggled to come to terms with the prison of her mind, to come to terms with the fact that Danny is all but lost to her and that she can't function without him.

Danny finds himself transferred to an experimental prison called Basal, a place where due process means nothing and the warden considers himself God, a place bent on getting deviants to recognize the depths of their evil and the need to conform to the law of God. At the same time, Renee receives a phone call threatening Danny's life. A gruesome delivery soon serves to give weight to that claim. Renee immediately mobilizes, forced into playing a sadistic game in order to save Danny's life. And all the while Danny is enduring the ultimate test of his will. He had killed bad men in order to avenge, but now he was committed to nonviolence. Basal is the type of place where that kind of commitment ends in death.

The Sanctuary marks the return of Danny Hansen and Renee Gilmore, two characters introduced in The Priest's Graveyard. While the novels are related--it's the events of TPG that put Danny into prison and align Renee's fate with his--neither one is essential to the other. Dekker gives readers just enough backstory to either jumpstart their memory or pique their curiosity. At the heart of the novel is the issue of punishment and rehabilitation. Along the way his characters come across several poignant philosophical, practical, and theological questions. Does the prison system actually work? Does punishment serve to reprimand or rehabilitate? How should one confront evil?

Continuing the same method of storytelling as TPG, the story is split into Danny's perspective and Renee's perspective. Danny's side of the story is written in third person, Renee's in first. The change helps set the difference in tone between the two storylines and serves as an excellent plot device. Danny's side of the story, short on action initially (he is a prison, after all), becomes the philosophical side, a battle of worldviews between the warden, who calls himself God, and Danny, who doesn't even want to call himself a priest. The action is psychological, mind-bending, and complex. Renee's story is a bit faster paced as she rushes around in her fervor to save Danny and balances out the story well.

Fair warning: pick this book up and begin reading and you'll likely not be able to put it down. I consumed it as it consumed me. Days later my brain still rattles with its conclusion and its themes whisper to me in the silence. How does one truly change at one's core? Where is the balance between loving one's enemies and stopping injustice? How can sinful men rightly judge and condemn other sinful men? The Sanctuary is the type of book that's going to haunt me for a while, both with its great storytelling and its powerful questions.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly violent, darkly depressing, November 2, 2012
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This review is from: The Sanctuary (Hardcover)
I pre ordered The Sanctuary because I liked The Priest's Graveyard so much. I didn't read any reviews because I was so sure I'd like it. Well, the story itself was good. I connected with the characters and enjoyed the romance started in the first book. The characters seemed so real that I had to remind myself they were fictional. It was great untill it got to one very violent part. I could not go on after that. I had to skip to the end to see if anyone made it out alive. I read crime and suspence novels because I like to see good triumph over evil. I did not get that feeling with this one. I like to stick with Christian authors because I don't like some of the things worldly authors write so I didn't think it would be that bad. Of course, if you don't mind picturing young men being raped and murdered, you might not think it was that bad. I know it is just fiction and I obviously take it too seriously but it left me with such a dark, depressing feeling. I'm glad my husband,who has been a corrections officer for over twenty years, has never seen anything that bad. I wish I could ask Mr. Dekker why he had to make it so violent. I hope "The Book Of Mortals" doesn't get like that because I really liked those ones too.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overly contrived; you know the bad guys are gonna lose eventually, April 18, 2013
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This review is from: The Sanctuary (Hardcover)
A murderous ex-priest who now clings to a nonviolence mantra is serving a 50 year sentence in prison for two murders, although he has killed more than that. He gets transferred to an experimental, strange new prison. Meanwhile, his murderous "wife" receives threatening calls and notes regarding the fate of the prisoner. And we are supposed to feel sorry for them? To sympathize with them?

Author Ted Dekker tries too hard to make his bad guys bad and his good guys... well, there really aren't any good guys.

Oh hum.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed premise and little character development, October 19, 2013
This review is from: The Sanctuary (Hardcover)
As a lawyer I kept asking myself as I read this: once they had some evidence of the prisoner's maltreatment why didn't they just find a non-corrupt judge, likely one in the county where the prison is located, and file for that state's equivalent of a writ of habeas corpus (you have the body - let us see it) and then have law enforcement enforce the writ be descending on the prison en masse - but then there would be little story, and thus the flawed premise.

As I read this I was reminded of Sue Grafton's popular books, which in turn reminded me of her rather good character delineation and description. Here there is delineation, but no description to speak of. Thus these characters are wooden, and thus this isn't literature. No one wants or expects Dickensian character development in this kind of book but most popular authors do better than these two-dimensional characters.

Lastly, given the difficulties the American prison system has in many places keeping even a modicum of control, the premise of this prison is inherently unbelievable, maybe suited to some asteroid in a lawless galactic empire.

All of that being said, it was a mostly engrossing read, especially the psychological games played at the prison, but the disappointment began to creep in as the book progressed (or declined?) towards its comic book ending.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sequel fails to deliver. Characters are vanilla, too much repitition, January 22, 2013
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Bill Garrison (Oklahoma City, OK USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Sanctuary (Hardcover)
THE SANCTUARY is Ted Dekker's follow-up to the fascinating THE PRIEST'S GRAVEYARD. In that first novel, Danny Hansen is struggling to make sense of a childhood marred by rape of his mom and sister, violence and war. Renee Gilmore is dealing with her own depravity. Through events in that novel, Danny becomes her savior and they fall in love. That book was filled with numerous twists and turns, and great characters that changed from the beginning of the story to the end.

Because of events in the first book, Danny is now in prison, and Renee is living alone in a condo complex. She's still in love and talks with Danny every week. Danny is transferred to Basal, a new type of prison where new methods and ideas about rehabilitation are given a try. In reality, Basal is a sanctuary where the sadistic warden can play god. Renee gets a message from a stranger that someone is going to kill Danny. She enlists the help of Keith, an ex-cop, to try and save Danny and find out exactly what is going on at Basal.

Unfortunately, this novel fails on almost every level. This novel didn't work for me because Danny and Renee are the exact same character from beginning to end. We get scene after scene of Danny being supplicant to those wanting to harm him and swearing off the violence of the past. We get numerous scenes of Renee showing her undying devotion and love for Danny. For a brief moment, I thought there might be some sparks, or some sort of relationship, between Renee and Keith, but that fizzles out Keith just becomes another character with no depth. I get that Renee is completely devoted, and Danny has incredible self-control and can take a vow of non-violence. This doesn't need to be repeated every chapter.

I understand that Dekker is using the novel to weave in larger themes of love and grace and how we all have fallen short. The themes in this book were also somewhat confusing. As Dekker spent page after page ruminating on facets of human nature and punishment, I became lost in the threads he tried to tackle. The novel also at times tries to comment on prisons in America, and I found Dekker's points to be educational, but they are dropped as the story progresses. Also, the plot, when you explore it, is really quite simple, with scene after scene leading to one twist at the end. Other novels Dekker has written have combined complex plot with a moral twist amazingly well, but THE SACTUARY presents stale characters and a meandering plot that in the end fails to deliver an entertaining novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not one of his best, January 26, 2013
This review is from: The Sanctuary (Hardcover)
I've been a Ted Dekker fan for a long time, but this in my opinion is not one of his best. First, I had the plot and "bad" guy figured out 20 pages into the book. Not a good sign. Secondly, I wonder how much of this book he actually wrote. There seems to be quite a bit of filler. And at times it didn't even seem that I was reading the same book. The characters are not quite believable and didn't draw me into their world the way he has in some of his other books. I still say his best series is the "Heavens Wager" Amazing read. Others will I'm sure dissagree with me and that is fine, but in my unlearned opinion he's written better.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker, April 18, 2013
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This review is from: The Sanctuary (Kindle Edition)
This book was very morbid with a lot of torture and innocent lives lost. Not something I would think a Christian writer to create. I have read many Dekker books which were great, but this one I would rate as one of his worse creations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars on first reading, July 25, 2013
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This review is from: The Sanctuary (Kindle Edition)
it had me on the edge of my seat, i couldn't put it down and i was shocked at the ending (in a good way). but after the suspense was gone, when i read it again, it wasn't as good. still an excellent read, just not my favorite.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, October 30, 2013
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This review is from: The Sanctuary (Kindle Edition)
Fantastic story teller! Keeps you going with twists and turns until the very end. Recommend reading this and all of his other books as well
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrosing!, September 30, 2013
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This review is from: The Sanctuary (Kindle Edition)
Ted Dekkers books are great, easy to read with a great underlining story. This one had me guessing till the end! Well worth the read
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The Sanctuary
The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker (Hardcover - October 30, 2012)
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