by Wayne Thomas Batson
The book begins like a stereotypical fantasy novel: with a character who is prophesied to find the “chosen one” figure of this universe. Only problem is, the prophesied finder of the chosen one is a drunkard and when all the other signs of the prophesy line up, he is unable to actually find the chosen one.
From there, we then proceed to the main plot of the story, involving a murderous hostile nation that is bent on destroying the main nations of the world. But make no mistake: this novel is largely not driven by plot. The gems of the book are found in the fascinating world that Batson slowly sets up over the course of this book and the different characters that dominate the main storyline.
It’s about a man who struggles against an addiction to drink, a sarcastic and virtuous maiden, an optimistic king who just wants to bring peace to the realm, and another determined king who always sticks hard and fast to obeying the commandments of the God of this fantasy world. In a book that largely serves as a prelude to the rest of Batson’s planned-seven-book series, it’s a book that is driven by characters but has an entertaining and twisting plot nonetheless.
As mentioned before, the strengths of this book lie in the characters. But perhaps the greatest strength lies in how Batson deals with this world’s version of Christianity through the characters. Without giving too much away, in this book, Batson presents some of the more nuanced and conflicted ‘Christian’ characters that I’ve seen in Christian fantasy. The man who loves God but whose legalism drives away potential seekers from him—the man who wants to follow God but can’t help but give into the temptations of this life—both of them are here and portrayed beautifully along with other complex and nuanced characters.
The amount of realism in how the different characters treat Christianity is fantastic, and while it was the world that initially drew me to this book, it’s Batson’s depiction of Christianity, along with his entertaining characters, that have kept me coming back to it to read again and again. With the first two books in the series out already, and the third coming this October, this is a great series to begin reading for readers of Christian fantasy.