The Awakened (The Lazarus Chronicles Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 362 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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"The Awakened grabbed my attention from the first page and kept me reading when I needed to be doing other things. This novelist has honed his writing skills to a fine point in every way--premise, story, characters. And then there's the spiritual aspect, which drew me back to the Bible. I cannot wait to read the next in this amazing series!"
Hannah Alexander, author of the Hallowed Halls series
"From the surprising opening to the satisfying conclusion, Richard Spillman's, The Awakened, is a captivating read. Spillman's concepts are thought-provoking, and the story riveting, as forces of good and evil continue an age-old dance for victory. The memory of the story lasts long after the last page is turned."
Nancy J. Farrier, author of Bandolero and The Ranchero's Love
"The Awakened is a unique and imaginative supernatural thriller that combines history and scripture in a fascinating way. This entertaining page-turner will appeal to readers of Robert Liparulo and Eric Wilson. I loved it!"
Jill Williamson, Christy Award-winning author of the Kinsman Chronicles and the Blood of Kings trilogy--This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B07GCT3DV4
- File size : 6507 KB
- Publication date : October 1, 2018
- Publisher : Mountain Brook Ink (October 1, 2018)
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 362 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Best Sellers Rank: #748,709 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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As director of SOAR Lazarus now leads the Awakened in ongoing warfare against the demons who seek to destroy mankind. With offices around the world, they work with agencies such as the NSA and Mossad. An incident in 1938 had caused Lazarus to remove himself from field work and even question his ability to lead, but when he meets Ricki, a Natural (normal human), things begin to change. He is drawn to her in ways he can’t explain. Is she the possible key to understanding not only himself, but the purpose for SOAR hidden in Lazarus’s journal?
This is a story of international intrigue and the battle against terrorism that kept me turning pages. Spillman’s knowledge of various cities around the world came through in his vivid descriptions as agents of SOAR seek to stop a terrorist attack. In addition to the main story line, each chapter begins with an excerpt from AIM (the Awakened Incident Manual). These provide necessary information for those who have been revived.
A third element to the book is excerpts from Lazarus’s journal. Personal, and moving, his account of Jesus helps us understand his relationship to the Lord from a human perspective. Though I do not make a habit of reading Bible retellings because I feel they can twist reality with details that we can’t know, Spillman has done an excellent job presenting how the story might have gone for Lazarus.
In general, I found this book to be an engaging read and would recommend it to anyone interested in clean, fast-paced action/adventure/suspense novels with a hint of speculative fiction. The Christianity that runs through the book was woven into the story so well that it wasn’t preachy, just part of the reality of the world Spillman created.
These books have nail biting adventure, spiritual and political warfare, and frightening supernatural aspects, with a brilliant take on the concept of Lazarus and many others living until Christ returns.
The most tender touching moments were when Lazarus spoke of his conversations and private moments with Jesus; and, the most terrifying were when someone came into contact with an undead. I came to care about the good characters and hated to see the story end.
These were the first books I've read by Richard Spillman, but they definitely won't be my last! I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out!
This is an amazing story of how God's forgiveness and love can overcome the darkest evil. This story has so many layers. On the surface story layer, it is a suspenseful thriller that keeps you hooked. A little deeper is a story of people who want to but are struggling to move forward from the past. The characters are realistic and relatable. Then deeper this story flawlessly interweaves messages about spiritual issues like forgiveness, man being made in God's image, lies, and fear. The story truly teaches about God without ever feeling like It is a lesson. On the deepest level the story teaches God's heart. The way Spillman writes about Jesus is deep, personal, and eye opening. He gives a perspective that follows the Bible and yet fills in more color to the picture.
The whole book was great. I give it 5 stars because I think anyone can enjoy this book, and I do recommend it to everyone.
The character development was great as was the writing.
Thanks Ian for liking a review on this book. It brought it to my attention.
Top reviews from other countries
Covering a host of characters from the Middle East to Europe and the U.S. the narrative gradually tightens to the search for a terrorist and the puzzle of an ancient message hidden within a memoir.
The heart of the book, however, is the much more personal healing of Lazarus and the bitterly disappointed Ricki, reading as an apology for the concept of forgiveness. That the author manages to touch on such poignancy whilst delivering a wider thriller is a testament to the power of his writing.
My only quibble was that I wanted more of a final reveal, having waited a long time for it, but that's probably kept for book 2.
A solid 4 stars.
After reading this novel by Richard Spillman, I can say that he has applied the speculative element to create a wonderful story that is intriguing, engrossing, keeps you guessing. For a debut novelist, you would never know it! The speculative element he has used for the foundation of this novel is very clever. Those familiar with the Biblical account of Lazarus know that he was resurrected by Jesus (John 11:1-55). Here is where Spillman's speculative application comes into play. In the book of Hebrews 9:27 we learn that,
"And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment."
Spillman has expounded on this verse by proposing that because he had died (once) as this verse states, he could not die again. This would make him immortal. And Spillman has Jesus telling him so,
"....He told me that it is appointed to man to die once and since I had already died, he brought me back in a body that will never die again."
Then Jesus tells Lazarus that there will be more like him and that He has ordained this for a specific purpose. They then called themselves the Awakened.
From this plot arc and foundation, Spillman creates a multilayered world.
Lazarus creates an organisation called SOAR to fulfil Jesus' specific purpose. The Awakened are to serve humanity by helping them soar, or bringing out the best in them. The name is an acronym for the Society of the Awakened and Restored. Humans can become Awakened but only by another Awakened who would pray over them once dead if they believed or felt this was God's will.
Their other purpose is a supernatural one and that is to eliminate or "dust" the Undead, the UD, whose goal is to continue the work commenced by Satan in fostering rebellion against God and to take as many Naturals (humans who have not died) to hell as they can. These UDs are those humans who, upon death, are reanimated and demon possessed by other UD. These are Satan's army/slaves. "Dust"ing them means that they are turned to dust when an Awakened touches them and they are then returned to Hell. The Awakened call these the UnDead but they call themselves UnVeilers, UV, as they view their job as unveiling the evil within mankind.
Herein lies another layer. The UD are involved in international terrorism in order to cause worldwide panic, chaos and then dominate the human population, the Naturals. They have leaders, other UD/UVs who are in charge of these activities and who are awaiting the arrival of The UD, their ultimate leader who can only be dusted by Jesus. Here, Spillman creates a military-style special ops and technological expertise arm of SOAR, that has Awakened operatives worldwide. SOAR also have a role with the NSA and all other government organisations worldwide. And it is here that we meet all of the other Awakened characters. All understand their Awakened status and role, all have a love for Jesus and support each other. They could be considered the ultimate special ops team on the physical, technological and supernatural levels.
One plot arc that I feel will appeal to most readers is Lazarus' journal. This acts to support, and develop the experiences of Lazarus since his Awakening (resurrection by Jesus) and show some of the battle histories between the UD and Awakened. It also reveals in a touching and empathic way, the relationship he had with Jesus and his longing to be reunited with Him. I found Spillman's writing here captured Lazarus' feelings and what he went through to be very convincing. It reads as if it actually happened. It also endears the reader to Lazarus. We see him not only as the leader of SOAR, military and special ops commander but as a vulnerable but strong spiritual leader who has flaws. I was especially taken with Spillman's depiction of how Lazarus experienced Jesus. That really did tug at my heartstrings and desire to know Him better! I teared up on a few occasions when Lazarus described this to Ricki. Spillman has depicted Jesus very respectfully and as for who He is. This read in my mind as if it was a movie segment, so real and poignant it was.
This shows some of Spillman's own relationship with God. I know that in crafting a novel, an author will inject some of themselves into the characters and other parts of the novel's construction and this definitely shows here in relation to Lazarus as well as in other parts of the novel. This definitely adds strength to the novel's overall impact on the reader. Novels can either be character driven or plot driven predominantly. To me, there is a healthy mixture of both in this novel. That just makes it all the more enjoyable.
Another layer of Spillman's worldbuilding is a mystery, a secret. Embedded in this journal is a secret that Jesus had included. Both Lazarus and the UD seek to reveal this secret. In this novel, the first part of the secret is revealed and it lays the foundation for the remainder to be revealed in subsequent novels. It is in this plot arc that we are introduced to Ricki Spenser who becomes an integral part of SOAR and in Lazarus seeking to find the journal secret. Here Spillman introduces a touch of romance between these two that I presume will be further developed in the remaining two novels.
It is through this plot arc relating to these two that Spillman introduces his spiritual theme of forgiveness, of ourselves for our sin but also from what others have done to us. This is explored and depicted well between Ricki and Lazarus and I found this to be tender and relational. In doing so, Ricki also finds peace, closure, her need for God and to become free from the abuse of her upbringing. I could so relate to this on a personal level as I see this in myself and in others on a day to day basis. I love Spillman's snippets of what forgiveness means as seen between Lazarus encouraging Ricki,
"Love abounds where forgiveness is practiced.
It doesn't take strength (to forgive), it takes love. Love for yourself more than anything.Unforgiveness allows the sin of others to change us. We become defined by their transgressions. It leaves us stuck in a perpetual cycle of pain.
The enemy uses our unforgiveness to create confusion, hate, bitterness and defeat.
We may rage against evil forged in the fire of injustice, but in the process, we are consumed by it as well.
Either we begin to believe we're unworthy and deserve the pain, or we become embittered and closed off by the injustice.
Sin wounds and heals. Forgiveness heals and restores. We are freed from our hurt."
Another layer to Spillman's worldbuilding is a very clever feature called AIM, Awakened Incident Manual. Snippets of this manual head each chapter. These snippets add further information to the nature of the Awakened, the UD, the battle between them, how the Awakened are to act and other relevant info. This is effective as it does not interrupt the main plot arcs and pace, as they would if included therein, making these two elements disjointed and fragmented. Seeing this has become part of the structure of this novel, I pray Spillman continues this in the series. I have come to enjoy this feature.
In many novels, names are either created to sound good, fit the character, place or event but have no meaning to these elements. Not so in this novel. Spillman has used names that are appropriate to the role of the character. What this does is add depth and purpose to these characters and strengthens the plot. An example here is the mysterious character, Renaud Christian Yount,
"Renaud was his current name, but his birth name was Melech Sroel Abraham...... he selected names that meant something special. His birth name, Melech, meant "king." His current name meant "counsel"....... Merikh means "death"
My only concern is in regard to a character, Damijana. She is extracted physically from the terrorist organisation she belongs to by Ariella (Awakened operative) and the reasons were given for this extraction but Spillman has not taken this to its implied conclusion. What becomes of her once she is now in the Awakened camp? The role of SOAR is to bring out the best in humanity, and this was their aim in extracting or kidnapping her from the terrorist group, but this subplot relating to this character is left unfinished. I can only hope that this is addressed in the next novel. I just feel that this derailed the plot somewhat.
I also recommend downloading the short story on Spillman's website called, "Dusted" that gives a more detailed account of how the Awakened eliminate the UnDead.
The Discussion Questions at the end of the novel are worth investigating and reflecting upon if only for your own sake.
The Sneak Peak at Ascension, Book Two whets the appetite for this series continuation. We will have to wait until August 2019 for this one.
All in all, I am very impressed with this novel. Spillman has crafted a strong base with excellent worldbuilding, characters who are relational and endearing, intriguing speculative elements and one spiritually uplifting and entertaining ride.