Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Sword by Bryan M. Litfin

book cover

The Sword
by Bryan M. Litfin

Trade Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Crossway Books
Released: April 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, my take:
Hundreds of years in the future, after a super-virus and global nuclear war destroys human civilization, all current world religions have been forgotten by the population of the kingdom of Chiveis. But some of that population is beginning to reject the four cruel gods whose priests and priestesses use fear and greed to control them.

When a beautiful peasant girl is kidnapped by Outsiders, a frontier guardsman defies his commander and goes into the dreaded Beyond to save her. While there, they find an ancient holy book--a Bible with a New Testament too damaged to read--and are drawn to the god described in it. When they return, they share this new god with their family and close friends. But the evil gods of Chiveis warn the high priestess about this new god's coming. She does everything in her considerable power to stop the new god's followers and to convince the kingdom to reject this new god before they get curious and want to learn more about him. Will the followers of God withstand this persecution and bring the knowledge of him to the people?

The Sword was an entertaining Christian fantasy set in our future after modern civilization has fallen. The target audience appeared to be Christian adults (both women and men), but some teens might like it.

The characters were varied, complex, and interesting, and I was curious about what would happen to them. The story was fast-paced and exciting, with the action rarely slowing. The suspense was created by the physical danger to the characters and the attraction between the two main characters even though they were divided in their beliefs. (And I thought the resolution of this difference was handled in a nice and convincing manner.)

The story was frequently unrealistic and inconsistent, and the characters acted in illogical ways. For example, two characters have a letter they desperately need to get to the prince and they know they can't get to him, yet they don't give it to a character that can and will see the prince. In the prologue, the author has a super-virus that--following his parameters and taking into account only the mail system--would have killed everyone in the world who received mail in less than four weeks, but he has it last for decades. And then he adds in a worldwide, nuclear war. Yet the world, several hundred years later, looks remarkably like a pagan medieval Europe with healthy humans and every pre-war plant and animal.

Also, taking into consideration the only religions they knew, it seemed like the characters were a little quick to follow this new god and trust that he was good. While the reader can see God working behind the scenes, the characters had very little evidence that he even existed. And their knowledge of him was based solely on the first few chapters of Genesis, some Psalms, and Ruth. When they asked God to do a miracle at a critical moment and he didn't, I find it hard to believe that any of the followers were willing to remain faithful in the face of immediate death. Granted, most of the followers did publicly deny their new god, but they still intended to secretly follow him.

The characters frequently prayed, sang hymns, and read Scripture, and this was done primarily in a "they prayed" way. There was no bad language. There were several seduction scenes, but the sex was implied rather than explicit. There were a couple explicit torture scenes, but they weren't gory, just violent. Overall, I'd still recommend this novel as entertaining, clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt from Chapter One

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