Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
For the month of July 2012 The Sword can be downloaded free from christianaudio.com.
Boredom is a major roadblock to my getting done what needs to be done, especially the repetitive, mindless tasks like clearing my desk. Don’t tell me. I already know that’s not supposed to be repetitive, but what can I say?
Enter audiobooks. My smartphone becomes a distraction–I mean that in a good way. Following a good story keeps my mind off the pain of boredom. So I hardly realize I’m completing a dreaded, long-procrastinated job.
And yes, it’s stories that keep me going. I seem to need print in front of me to follow a non-fiction line of thought. But a good story helps me escape–I mean that in a good way. So I jumped at the opportunity to download and review The Sword, by Bryan M. Litfin, from christianaudio.
Whenever I read an author who’s new to me, I start cautiously, not knowing what to expect. But when the writing is good, I soon slip out of the role of observer and into the story. That didn’t take long in The Sword, especially because Ray Porter, the narrator, is amazingly good with individual, different voices for each character. Each voice remains consistent throughout the book, and goes a long way in portraying the personality of each person in the story.
I’m stumped trying to name the type of literature, the genre. Fantasy? Sort of, but it’s “real” people in our own world. Science fiction? Sort of, but only in that it’s set hundreds of years in the future. There is no science or technology. Allegory? Not really.
So I’ll just call it historical fiction set in the distant future. The setting is several hundred years from now after a raging virus and the resulting anarchy and war have wiped out most of humanity and our arts, accomplishments, and Christianity. The descendants of the survivors live in a world similar perhaps to the world of the Roman Empire, in the sense that there is an island of civilization surrounded by unknown wilderness peopled by scattered “outsiders” comparable to the barbarians in the lands surrounding the Romans.
In the book’s setting and heroism and drama, I felt a little like I was hearing the Stephen Lawhead I used to read to our boys, like the books in the Dragon King Trilogy (which are also available for download from christianaudio: In the Hall of the Dragon King and The Warlords of Nin and The Sword and the Flame).
The heart of the story is the reactions to the Old Testament that’s been discovered. The ones who are drawn to it recognize that this scripture is the way to know the true God who had been lost to them. So as we read/listen, we see them piecing together who he is–creator, sustainer, savior–and trying to figure out what that means in their lives. They know there’s some great significance to the ancient cross symbol, but with only the Old Testament, it’s still a mystery to them.
It seemed to me that reading about the experiences of these new followers of the true God might be a way of understanding better some of the dilemmas and fears of Christians in the unwelcoming world of the synagogue and the Roman Empire.
One small stumbling block to me was the accounts of the gatherings of believers and seekers. I thought the tone, language, agenda and format sounded too much like one of our contemporary churches or home groups.
But that anachronism was well-overbalanced by the stark realism when Elijah’s challenge to Baal is reenacted in a face-off with the evil “god.” I hardly knew whether or not I wanted God to show up in a fiery blast. I don’t want to give it away, but I was left, like the characters, wondering what his purposes are. That’s a good story. A good story that leaves the protagonists with no choice but launching out across glaciers into the unknown.
The end — of The Sword, anyway.
This download was provided for review by christianaudio.com.
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