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ERETZEL: Book two of The Sword of Fire trilogy Paperback – Large Print, November 11, 2008
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From the Author
Most boys go through a stage where they want to take things apart to see how they work. Well, I never outgrew that stage and I think this shows up in my novels. How things work, whether they are weapons or politics or economic theories really interests me. If you enjoy learning how and why something works, I think you will like my novels.
From the Inside Flap
"So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life."
-The Book of Genesis 3:24
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Then I made the mistake of actually purchasing, with actual money, the second book (this one). I figured I'd get more of the same, and I was curious to see how the story would progress. I was wrong, and I regret spending the $2.99 or whatever it was. The actual plot makes up about a fourth of the book. The rest of the book is a combination of Hal Lindsey (anyone remember Late Great Planet Earth?) and a political lengthy exposition of, among other things, the horrors of (1)government-sponsored euthanasia, (2)public school teachers being brainwashed so that they can, in turn, brainwash our children, (3)nationalized health care, (4)the "nanny state," (5)moving away from the gold standard so that we can go to electronic transactions, which will, in turn, lead to the dreaded number of the beast, (6)women who don't conform to the traditional Biblical role laid out for them, (7)divorce and broken families,...I could go on...and on...and on... Certainly this author did.
Like I said, his political and religious stance is neither here nor there, although it did bother me that women were, with few exceptions, portrayed as "good wife," "virgin," "shrew," or slut." (He did not, of course, put it like that, but the female characters are almost all very much caricatures of those four types. For example, one woman, an inn-keeper, single-handedly (and literally) drives away her husband and several of her children because she is such a mean-spirited person--although the husband, who flees the woman, is derided as "Oath-breaker"--primarily because he deserts his children and leaves them with the terrible woman--he is treated somewhat sympathetically (after all, who would want to stay with a shrew?) This view is backed up by a verse in Proverbs about the misery a nagging woman brings to the household. Apparently she trapped him with her womanly wiles, and as soon as he married her, she transformed into the stereotypical shrew, victimizing the poor fool. It's all very silly and cliche. Another woman, who had been abused as a child, is put into power by the Big Bad Guy to serve his nefarious ends because she is politically and emotionally incompetent. God forbid she deal with her issues and emerge stronger because of them. When put into power, her hatred of all men promptly leads her to pass ridiculous laws like "all men must urinate sitting down" in a bizarre attempt to humiliate them. Of course, she becomes a laughingstock, and is later reduced by the Big Bad Guy into something like his love slave--although the process behind this transformation is never explained. One minute she's an incompetent and angry ruler, and the next time you see her, she's dressed in slut attire and washing the Bad Guy's feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. Weird. Rachel, the main love interest, exists only as a virginal, Godly, one-dimensional, ridiculously sweet helpmeet to the Hero. What truly bothered me is that the storyline is so thin as to be almost nonexistent, and it appears to exist only to bolster the political and religious opining of the author.
I bought this book because I wanted a good story, and instead I got a badly veiled version of Revelation mixed with Fox News political commentary. He didn't even bother changing the names towards the end, using terms like "Gog and Magog," "Philistines," and "Chaldean." Bible passages are quoted in their entirety, and the Temple cleansing ritual comes straight out of the Old Testament. His description of Hell was unapologetically cribbed from Dante's circles of Hell in "Dante's Inferno."
This book should have been marketed as "Christian Fantasy" or "My Opinion of How Revelation Will Play Out" or "What is Wrong With Our Politics Today and How it Will Lead to the Number of the Beast Being Tattooed on Every Hand or Forehead." It was NOT a fantasy story, and I can forgive everything but the fact that I wanted to be entertained, and instead I was lectured on politics and religion. Although I suppose it's a good thing the plot was so simple and thin, because otherwise I would have forgotten it amid the PAGES and PAGES of political and religious commentary.
He wants me to pay .99 for the next 43 pages or so in this installment. I would prefer to buy a small McDonald's coffee with that dollar--at least the coffee is unpretentious, and exactly what it claims to be, unlike the mess this book was.
...and after all the promise of the first chapter of the first book in this series...*sigh* What a waste of time and money.
The novel holds some interesting surprises and fascinating interpretations. Biblical references form an intriguing background while modern political explanation seems almost as deceptively alluring as the words of a false Messiah. Fascinating details of such wide-flung skills as sword-making and meat production add verisimilitude to a tale that would stand well next to Joseph Girzone's Joshua stories on a young adult's bookshelf. But without book three, the story's still incomplete. Readers should probably start with book one and plan to read the whole set.
Disclosure: I read this ebook in the science fiction section of DanPoynter's Global eBook Awards.