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Chasing Shadows: Back to Barterra Kindle Edition
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(In no particular order):
-Fundamentalist Christians (note how Pentecostal Holiness Bible College is used of God, despite being a mixed bag)
-Liberal Christians (note how De Long is used of God, despite being a mixed bag)
-Eastern Orthodox monks & priests (note how Brother Nicholas is used... not of God)
-Transhumanist secular scientists (I'm looking at you, Kurzweil)
-Dungeons and Dragons geeks (note the Dragon Lord)
-C. S. Lewis & Charles Williams lovers (note the Doctrine of Substituted Love)
-Plato nerds (note the chapter titles in relation to the Books of the Republic)
Yes, there is something for everyone.
At least, everyone in these sets: If you are none of the above, uh, you might be more puzzled than delighted.
I am a member of quite a few of those sets (though not all--who could be?) and so I have learned a lot, laughed out loud, and at points been touched by moments of surpassing beauty.
The writing is occasionally overly simple, or unclear, or sporadic. But it smooths itself out as the story progresses.
The most interesting feature, I think, is the simultaneous presence of opposites. Herein many genres and many seemingly incompatible literary elements dance together in a sort of riotous and jovial cavalcade. Here (burning in tension) arise together elements of realistic romance (as in realistically cheesy), wild fantasy, sober historical fiction, Platonic dialogue, sincere theological reflection, and personal memoir. The author takes imagination, prayer, rationality, and science incredibly seriously. The author takes himself incredibly lightly. I was amazed by the array -- I was amazed that I eventually acclimated to the mythopoetic kaleidoscope. In the end, I was both pleased and instructed.
So what's it about? A bit of summary:
This is the adventure of Peter Alexis, lowly philosophy professor in Rochester New York. Peter is single, pathetically lovable (think Jon Arbunkle as a Platonist) and turns out to have a secret identity not even he remembers. His chilling dreams of the death of the last Czar of Russia turn out to be not only historically accurate but (in a strange sense) prophetic. He has no time for depression when his life takes an exciting if dangerous upturn. He and his friends (and his high school girlfriend) must stop an intrusion from another world (a world of myth become fact) before an evil lord ascends to global power.
The evil lord seeks to reincarnate an old Russian tyrant (guess who?) in order to use that tyrant's charisma to wreak havoc on the human race. But that is not the only reincarnation -- heaven has sent the youngest daughter (Anastasia) of the last Czar back to earth to help Peter's friends and to clean up some of the mess her family left behind.
Whether the lost memories of Peter Alexis (and the revived soul of Anastasia Romanov) are enough to redeem Russia and save the world, you'll have to read to find out.
Look, I've read many books from Philip Roth to Iris Murdoch with fictional prefaces and epilogues. These are modern, or rather skilled post-modern writers employing a now slightly cliched aspect of craft. Mark Reynolds is not in that camp. He's not even much of a writer, which is why I really, really want to know the truth about what he says in the preface and epilogue. What of this story is true?
Now, while he isn't much of a writer, the story is still a great one that kept me riveted. Or was I riveted because of what he tells us in the preface? Both, I guess. I am not a materialist. I believe in God and the Devil and therefore I believe anything can happen and anything can be forgotten. Do I believe the truly sci-fi fantasy stuff in this novel actually happened? No. But if Mark Reynolds is telling the truth in the preface, then certainly something impossible seems to have actually happened. What was it?
If you have any insights on these questions, please comment.
Most recent customer reviews
I will admit that I was skeptical of the premise of Chasing Shadows: Back to Barterra, but Dr.Read more