Customer Reviews: Between Two Kingdoms
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on March 15, 2010
Joe Boyd's fairytale, Between Two Kingdoms, begins with the words of Chesterton, promising, by proxy, an adventure of truth, danger, and perhaps even a dragon waiting to be vanquished. What follows is a delightful tale of childhood faith, broken people restored, and, yes, a dragon of sorts, set within an imaginary realm that somehow contains two very different kingdoms.

Joe Boyd has been on quite the adventure himself over the past thirteen years. During that time he helped to plant a large "church-within-a-church" in Las Vegas in 1997, then transition that into APEX, a decentralized house church network in 2000 (Joe's story was recounted in the 2005 book Emerging Churches by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger). Boyd is now the Teaching Pastor at the Cincinnati Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and working to integrate his passions for the Kingdom in a new city.

One of those passions is creative expression (Boyd is also a professional actor), and Between Two Kingdoms is his take on a Kingdom of God fantasy, complete with a King, good and evil Princes, a magical doorway between two realms, and an atmosphere of both innocence and tragedy. Throughout the tale, we follow our reluctant hero, Tommy, as he endeavors to follow his hero the Prince of the Upper Kingdom. Together they seek to rescue wayward subjects in the Lower Kingdom. Along the way we discover a little something about what it means to to have faith, be a friend, recognize true danger, and, perhaps most importantly remember what needs remembering and forget what we need never hold on to.

There is much more in this densely packed fable. There are swords, rescue missions, perilous confrontations and mysterious creatures. And, as you might suspect, Between Two Kingdoms is, more than anything, a re-telling of the redemption story. However, Boyd manages to work in some surprises through his deceptively simple characters; surprises that may reveal more about ourselves and what we truly believe than we realize going into it. And that, of course, is what good fiction is really all about - telling the truth. Overall, Between Two Kingdoms is a delightful read, perfect for sharing with children who love fantasy, or adults who haven't forgotten what it means to be children.
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on October 31, 2011
Joe Boyd is an author whom I've just encountered. "Between Two Kingdoms" is a riveting tale of two vastly different places. Boyd's writing style is simplistic yet also profound. As other reviewers have so eloquently stated, he has a God-given gift for conveying difficult concepts in an easy-to-comprehend style.

The Upper Kingdom is a beautiful land governed by a benevolent king and prince who rule with strength and love. The people of the Upper Kingdom are eternally seven years old. Imagine the luxury of eating warm, chewy chocolate-chip cookies for breakfast each and every morning! Tommy is often sent on missions by the prince to the Lower Kingdom, a land of darkness ruled by a malevolent Dark Prince. Those who enter the Lower Kingdom must face the horrors of lost innocence and rapid growth. Can Tommy rescue his friend, Bobby, from the Lower Kingdom before it is too late?

I was thoroughly mesmerized by the spiritual truths contained within this beautiful story. Mr. Boyd is never preachy, and the best part of this book is the excellent characterization. Tommy is steadfast, yet his vulnerability is superbly portrayed. The Prince is valiant yet also loving and gentle. The other characters are equally well drawn.

My favorite aspect of the novel is the way in which children from the Upper Kingdom help those in the Lower Kingdom to build tree houses. These structures give the subjects under the Dark Prince's spell a glimpse of the Upper Kingdom. Although the bespelled subjects often spend their time arguing over the composition and look of the tree houses, (thus missing the valuable point of why the houses were built), there are those who grasp the reasons the structures are constructed. This truth was beautifully conveyed and very moving.

I implore everyone to read this phenomenal fairy tale. You will gain insight into eternal truths, and, just as important, you will embark upon a fantastic and fun journey never to be forgotten.

Please, whoever reads these reviews and knows how to do this, consider putting "Between Two Kingdoms" on audio. As a blind individual, I can assure you that this book needs to be in that format.

God bless you all and happy reading.
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on March 15, 2010
Joe Boyd has written a page-turner in this fast-paced fantasy of a Dark Prince's shadowy rule over a land where the True King is slowly being forgotten and usurped. With masterful storytelling and deft cliffhangers closing each chapter, readers are easily drawn into this sharply-imagined novel. A clever plot device poses the inhabitants of the real Prince's Upper Kingdom as eternally seven-years old, making their risky life-and-death mission into the Lower Kingdom a more powerful allegory. Lovers of fantasies from C. S. Lewis to J. K. Rowling rejoice: a new author has delivered the goods! And with a parable that will rattle your view of "real" life.
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on March 10, 2010
It is hard to know how to cast Joe Boyd's book. I think the category of allegory is correct, however, at times I think that parable might be the better word. Rather, a string of parables woven into one longer story. What makes this nice is that you can read the book one chapter at a time, as a sort of devotional, or just plop down on the sofa and get lost in it for a whole night. I'd like to reread it with a group. It is that sort of book that you would want to read with friends and discuss.

The biggest thing I got out of the book was the authors concept of the upper kingdom. As I first read the book I was trying to figure out if the upper kingdom represented heaven or the church. Then I realized that there is no real distinction between the two. The upper kingdom is the "church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity" (CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters). I understood this concept, that the church is God's attempt to bring his kingdom into the world. However, when I finally made the connection in the book it was a shock to my system just how much I had separated the two in my real life. It is perhaps a little sad that I have not thought of the church the way it is presented in this book.

The title of my review is perhaps a bit lofty. It would be hard for me to place any book in the company of Lewis, Sayers, Tolkein, or Williams. Of the group only Lewis is really comparable, as none of the others wrote allegory. While "B2K" might not rank with the best of Lewis' work it is at least as good as if not better than his lesser works (such as Pilgrims Regress). The reason for the title is that the author is clearly influenced by these authors in the same way that Lewis was influenced by MacDonald and Chesterton. He is a good student of these masters. So, if you like Lewis' allegory, "Hinds' Feet on High Places", by Hanna Hurnard, or "Phantastes" by George MacDonald; then you should add this book to your reading list.
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on March 14, 2010
Call it allegory, fiction, a parable, or a doesn't matter. This book is skillfully written and expertly delivered. The metaphorical tale of the delivered and the Deliverer takes you from the bright, heavenly Upper Kingdom to the dark, earthly Lower Kingdom and back again. It's a tale of trust, temptation, and perseverence that highlights the chance of redemption for even the lowest of the low.

Full of both inspiration and challenge, "Between Two Kingdoms" is a must-read for Believer and Non-Believer alike.

Like me, you will want to put a bumper sticker on your car that reads, "Eternally Seven"...and it wouldn't hurt to have cookies and milk for breakfast, either.
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on June 8, 2010
This book was so good because of how creatively it was written. It is easy to understand, yet creative enough to draw the kids into the story. Heck, I enjoyed it a bunch too. The kids would even ask me to read it when it wasn't bedtime, and then they'd always beg for one more chapter... Great read, highly recommend!
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on May 20, 2010
This was a beautifully written, endearing story. Tommy, along with his friends, all live in the Upper Kingdom with the Great King and the Good Prince. They are eternally 7 years old, and it shows through their adorable innocence. And yet, because they are eternally 7, they also have life experience which allows the reader to relate to them as if they are adults. And when they go into the Lower Kingdom, that is what they become.

The Lower Kingdom is populated by miserably, unhappy people who don't believe in the Upper Kindgom, most of whom need saving of some sort. They are headed by an evil king who has come up with an even more evil plot to retain control over all of his citizens and to never have to fear losing them to the joy and beauty and hope of the Upper Kingdom.

It is a very obvious allegory for heaven and hell and the eternal fight between Good and Evil, God and the Devil, and that's what it's supposed to be. Still, when Tommy and his friends are sent by the Great King into the Lower Kingdom to help build treehouses and open people's eyes to the magnificence of the Upper Kingdom, the reader will find themselvses drawn in despite themselves. For Christians and Non-Christians alike, it is impossible not to enjoy the adorable, action-filled story that follows. Most people will be able to relate in some way to the trials faced by Tommy and his friends as they battle their way through the non-believers to the castle and the king in the lower kingdom.

This story is told with such simple brilliance that, while reading, I had somewhat the feeling of sitting by a campfire, chewing sugar cane, and listening to my grandfather tell one of his crazy stories. Because more than anything, that's what this is, a story, a tale to be passed down through the ages, and Boyd communicates it to the reader in such a way to keep them curious, engaged, and turning page after page, wanting more.

My favorite thing about this book, though, was that it questioned. Each of the characters, after an extended period of time in the Lower Kingdom, was forced to question their faith and their belief in the Upper Kingdom and the Great King. They did not just blindly follow and blindly believe (well, one of the characters did), and their reasons for questioning were all valid things that I am sure are faced my most Christians. As such, in a way, if you are Christian, this book WILL make you question your faith, and it will also help you make decisions about your life and yoru faith accordingly. As someone who is a firm believer in constantly questioning everything (and then CHOOSING to believe, as opposed to just BELIEVING - I mean, heck, I believe in unicorns!), I think that this book was fabulous.

Between Two Kingdoms is a great story with a great message delivered by a brilliant writer. It is filled with well-developed, developing, likable characters, exciting plot twists, and a boatload of creativity. And, since it's such a quick, easy read, I feel like I can recommend it to everyone. Adults, young adults, Christians, and non-Christians alike will all find something to be gained from this book.
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on April 9, 2010
What a neat book! This book went directly from my hands to my son's desk with the instructions to read it. (For those of you with kids, my son is 11. I think this would be a great read for him yet I enjoyed it a lot also!)

This adventure starts with Tommy, who is a child of the Great King and a friend of the Good Prince, the son of the King. If you're a Christian, you can see where this is going. Tommy must go to the lower kingdom, and there he helps to rescue a friend of his. The friend himself had to make the choice. (As we all do.)

Then Tommy, Mary, Bobby, and Pops have to go on this adventure to save the people of the Lower Kingdom from the "prince" of the Lower Kingdom. There is action, there is adventure, and there is undying faith. The correlation between God the father, Jesus, and Satan is present throughout the book, but written in a way both younger kids and adults will find easy to understand. I just thought it was such a cool way to tell the story. It kind of reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia, not in how it is written but how one thing symbolizes another.

I think it was just the neatest book. As Charles Schierbeck above me here on Amazon said:
It is hard to know how to cast Joe Boyd's book. I think the category of allegory is correct, however, at times I think that parable might be the better word. Rather, a string of parables woven into one longer story. What makes this nice is that you can read the book one chapter at a time, as a sort of devotional, or just plop down on the sofa and get lost in it for a whole night.

I completely agree with him, it does belong in allegory, but it feels like a parable. I think this book would be so wonderful to pick up at night and read a chapter to your kids. Now that I gave myself the idea, I think I will do that. We call that "buddy reading" at our house.

I will be on the lookout for more books from Joe Boyd because Between Two Kingdoms was absolutely fabulous. It's really nice to find a wholesome book that I feel is appropriate for my whole family.
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on April 23, 2010
This book was such a unique read for me that I can't recall reading anything of this nature, with the one exception of The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, which is also allegorical in nature. The story in Between Two Kingdoms is told as a story that I think young children could appreciate just as well as adults because of the simplistic nature of the text. What intrigued me about this book was trying to figure out what each element of the story represented in reference to the Bible. Some things were obvious, such as the King being God, the Good Prince being Jesus Christ, and the River being the Holy Spirit. The interpretation of many elements though are biased according to how the author, Joe Boyd, interprets Bibical scripture, such as making the River female in nature, which would indicate Boyd's interpretation that the Holy Spirit is also female, which I do not agree with. Another interpretation that I found questionable was the Dark Prince and his true name, Adam. I could be wrong, but that tells me that the author interprets the origin of the Devil as the first man, Adam. I was completely baffled by the language that the Phantom Messengers spoke and what it was supposed to represent.
Many elements of the story were quite imaginative and fascinating, such as the behavior of the River, which was as playful and joyous as it could be peaceful and comforting. I love how the children could use such a simple thing as mirrors to destroy the Phantom Messengers by showing them their true selves. The Long Night was rife with metaphor, and I love good metaphors.
On the whole, I think this story is a great conversation piece for anyone interested in puzzling out the meanings behind the allegory.
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VINE VOICEon June 9, 2010
I often enjoy reading young adult novels. Some of the best books that I have read are listed as young adult. This book sounded interesting, so I thought I would give it a shot. The book grabbed my attention pretty quickly through the description of this odd universe where everyone is eternally 7 years old except for the King and Prince. Of course, around this time my adult brain kept interrupting. Would you really want to be 7 your entire life? Would you be happy at 7 years old? Are they not allowed to fall in love...and if they do, they are 7....that could lead to some very wrong things happening. Whoa! At this point I told myself that this is sort of a fairytale...just go with it. So, that is what I did.

Then, around page 40-45 the book started to feel like not much had happened and I started to loose interest. However, I stayed with it and I am glad that I did. Between Two Kingdoms is essentially a Good vs. Evil fight. You have the good and holy King in the Upper Kingdom and the Evil, Twisted Dark Prince in the Lower Kingdom. This book ended up being pretty good. I particularly liked how Boyd described the river as though she was a person. The river would sing to you if she liked you and you believed. She would also toss you into the air and carry or guide you to where you wanted. I also really liked how a character in the book that was trying to deceive Tommy turned into a monster. Boyd does an excellent job of describing scenes and creating an atmosphere in your mind. I am actually hoping that there will be another book because of the way it ends.

I would recommend this book for early teens, but it would also be enjoyed by some adults.
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