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Chains of Prophecy: A Tale of Mythic Discovery (Samuel Buckland Chronicles Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 341 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
'Chains of Prophecy' was over all a great read, and although it may benefit some polishing, it kept me interested until the end.
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.
We follow the adventures of Samuel Buckland, a non-believing accountant who, after he is assigned to check out the tax returns of a gubernatorial candidate, ends up stumbling on a much larger secret: the supernatural is real! Imbued with new, magical powers to wield the Seals of Solomon–and thus control angel, demon, and genii alike with power directly from God–Sam Buckland must embark on an epic quest to save the angel Gabriel from her mysterious captors, who themselves have a wicked plan for the entire human race…
1) Lots of obscure, esoteric, and specialized information
The author has done a lot of research, that much is certain. We were continually thrilled at just how much he has crammed into these pages. The book does an excellent job of presenting this material, so that we don’t think anyone would have a problem understanding it–although, if like us you already know a bunch of this stuff, it’s even more interesting. Our favorite part about this material was how the author walked a fine line between giving his own spin on the magic, and actually remaining true to the original content.
2) the Keys of Solomon
This was an enormous part of the book, so we’ll spend some time explaining it: the Keys of Solomon is a magical textbook dating back from the Late Middle Ages / Early Renaissance. At the time when it was made, this book was considered actual, “real” magic. Because the Keys of Solomon has a lot of cool stuff in it, it appears in a lot of media today. In this particular story, the Keys of Solomon has been passed down through the descendants of Solomon’s family for millennia, and every so often one of those descendants is able to wield the magical seals inside. For this reason he/she is considered to be like God’s personal emissary on the Earth, with the seals having the power to control three forms of entities: demons, angels, and genii. So this hero is literally in “God mode,” roaming the earth and smiting baddies with the power from On High. How awesome is that?
3) The magical system, i.e. Christian Pokémon
This is a cool system of magic because the author takes pains so that it actually makes sense. We get a definite “feel” for the “magical laws” about halfway through the book, so that later in the story we are able to predict what will happen when Our Hero uses a particular spell. This is always a positive indicator that the magical system isn’t arbitrary; there are definite rules and we, the reader, can learn them along with the protagonist. Because the magic is from the Keys of Solomon, it often involves catching and controlling various supernatural beings, including Genii (from Islamic tradition), Angels, and even Demons. Our Hero can also send these beings out to fight other monsters. Like it’s Pokémon. Seriously. (We do admit it’s of much better quality than anime, however.) How awesome is this Samuel Buckland guy?
4) Demons that are scary as… Hell
When you first read the descriptions of these monsters in Hell, trust us, it’ll really make you shiver. If you happen to love horror like us, you’ll shiver in delight. The author does an excellent job of describing these freakshows, and we don’t want to give too many examples because that would literally be spoilers. After this Hell scene, we also finally see the actions of demons in people’s everyday lives. The main character can see the demons attached to living people, feeding off their insecurities and fears, fueling their wicked urges, corrupting their lives. But it wasn’t just the demons that were so artfully described… angels and genii also appear, rounding out the cast of the supernatural, and it was so much fun to encounter each of these beings in turn.
5) You never know what to expect
We could go on and on about the depth of the description, the writing, the characterization, and the concepts. But that would turn this review into a 10,000 novelette all by itself, so we’ll just content ourself by talking a bit about the plot. It was a very traditionalist plotting structure (beginning, middle, climax, end), but it did its job so unbelievably well. The story starts out slow, more of a mystery tale, leaving us with a lot of questions. But then it gradually gained momentum as it went along. By the end of the book, we were almost reading faster than our fingers could scroll. The best part about it was the tension. We never could quite predict what was going to happen next. Things just keep getting worse and worse for Our Hero. The ending even had a great twist thrown in for good measure.
6) Yay, humanity! Go Team People!
One of our favorite things about Christian fiction is that it is so often so classically humanist: human beings are to be praised, marveled over, and promoted as the most valuable entities in all creation. These are stories where humans face off against titans–angels, demons, and spirits which tower over us in sheer power, intelligence, and pretty much everything else–and we still win. In this book, there is a clear sense that God favors human beings above all other entities in this universe. We have stiff competition, too: there are giant angels with multiple arms, neat little sprites that blow fire and ice, and nasty demons that make us readers shiver with creepy delight. Yet human beings are still crowned as the “most important” of all of these, and–here’s the best part–are charged to overcome these monsters, big and small, with our own willpower. God may help the hero, but it’s only through granting him the power of the seals; how the hero chooses to use (or to not use) this power is up to him. It’s a very “rah-rah, go humanity, kick demon / angel / genii butt” and “make your own destiny” kind of message, and we adore it.
1) Weird references to other books
Scattered throughout this book are only a few small mentions of other works of fiction. For example, JRR Tolkien is referenced in the first few chapters. At another point, Stephen King is mentioned, but only by his surname (i.e., the phrase, “it was like a King novel”). There are a couple other examples in the text, no more than half a dozen. Now, these little references are not common, and for that reason they seem a little off-putting. The author is kind of just… name-dropping. (“Oh, by the way, have you read Tolkien?”) We get that the author is kind of trying to say that these works of fiction have been inspired by real-life magic, as depicted in this story (or maybe we’re over-thinking this?), but it still feels forced.
2) Angels need to come up with better goodbyes
We get that they’re angels and they’re going to say “God bless” as their farewell. When they say it ten times, at about the ninth time, we find ourselves wondering if they don’t have another thing to say. Can we hear “God smile upon you,” or “God have mercy on you” instead? Just once? Just to break up the rhythm a bit?
1) “Deus Vult”
This was the cry of the Crusaders, and it makes an appearance in the story as the catchphrase for a particular character. We’re history buffs so we liked it.
2) Mentions of the Qur’an
We thought this was odd, as most Christian-based stories either do not include Islam or only mention it in a negative light, but in this book Islam is mentioned with surprising positivity. It doesn’t come up often, just a sentence or two, but when it does it is mentioned alongside Judaism and Christianity as if it is equally valid. That being said, the book also treats the Crucifixion as if the Christian version (i.e., Jesus, Son of God, died on the cross) was more true than the Islamic version (i.e., Judas was killed in Jesus’ place). Because of this we thought that the book’s use of Islam in the pages was strange yet intriguing. It doesn’t dwell on the subject, instead preferring to use that time and space to advance the plot, but we wish that there had been a little more explanation of how this coexistence was possible. It might be that Islam was there just to explain the presence of genii in the story (since genii or djinn are from Islamic tradition). Or maybe the author had another intriguing reason? We just wish that we knew.
3) And the devil is…
This book has a seriously unusual interpretation of the devil and Satan. We literally cannot tell you more because MAJOR SPOILERS. We can just say that this interpretation was so unusual, we don’t think that we’ve ever heard it before.
…AND THE VERDICT:
This book is GOOD.
We seriously hope that this is a series. Although it ended with an actual ending, we were left craving more. The problem, of course, is not knowing where the story could continue from here: after all, this plot deals with the potential destruction of the world, and those are big shoes to fill for any sequel. This book would be adored by fans of monster hunting and magical worlds. If you like CW’s “Supernatural,” Dean Koontz’s “Odd Thomas” series, or Larry Correia’s “Monster Hunters International,” then this is a sure bet. Our Hero controls supernatural entities (like they’re Pokémon!) so that he can fight other monsters and save the day. All in all, we expect big things from this author in the future. If this is his debut novel, which it appears to be, we can only expect that he will get even better. We can only hope that we will visit this world again someday: seriously, when’s the sequel coming out?
The writing is smooth and very easy to read, making the pages fly by fast. The story is also fast-paced, moving the plot along quickly. I think fans of action stories would enjoy this book.
Critically, I think this book would primarily appeal to people of Christian faith who would like to see their beliefs embodied in an fast-paced, battle-heavy story (where the protagonist fights evil with the help of archangels). The protagonist, Sam, is an atheist at the beginning of the story, but he is forced to accept the existence of God when he discovers he's inherited a position as an agent of God. There are many, many readers who will enjoy such a story. However, as an atheist, I found the religious elements of the story too heavy for my own liking. For this reason, this book wasn't a great fit for me as a reader (and I think potential readers who aren't Christian should be aware that this story presumes the existence of a Judeo-Christian God), but I know there are many readers for whom this book comports with their beliefs. For those people, I highly recommend the book to them, because it is fast-paced, action-packed, and easy to read. It's a unique story with a modern feel. (I also enjoyed the setting, which is the southern California desert where I grew up. I must say, that isolated desert is the perfect place for the devil to show up. :))
I would have rated it three stars, even so, because the book was, at times, very well described and plotted, but the many editing errors took me out of the story, and made me think this book could benefit from a few intense editing sessions. Specifically, the online file format is not quite right. It is hard to self format; I know that firsthand, but it could be frustrating to readers paying money for a title full of little flaws.
I would encourage people to give the book a try, but be aware of these many little hangups. I believe hard work needs to be applauded, but a I just did not find myself blown away or overly amused by this piece of fiction.
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The Chains of Prophecy, by Jason P.Read more
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