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I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading new author's novels or author's who have not had many reviews or exposure and giving them much needed encouragement where appropriate.   
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Friday, 9 May 2014

Bruecke To Heaven: Children of the Light by Timothy Tron

Bruecke to Heaven: Children of the Light

When two of Jesus' seventy disciples are sent into the wilderness, they find themselves in a remote Alpine valley delivering the Word of God to an ancient people. A miraculous event occurs and they realize they are not only to give them the Word, but the abilities and gifts that go with it; one of which becomes memorization. Centuries later, when the people of the valley are asked to leave their homelands because of their known gift, their memorization of the entire Bible, a journey and adventure like none other begins. They quickly learn they had been imbued with more than just one ability, and soon, their bridge to Heaven becomes a race for their lives.

The Guru's Review:

I knew when I read the description for this book that I would be blessed and that this book is unique and special. This book has not let me down. I finished this speechless due to being in awe of everything related to it. Truly, this book is inspired by God and many times, I could feel His presence with me. I have had that with only a few books. I will never forget this book. It really does have a profound effect on how you see God and how you have experienced Him. It has made me want more of Him and a desire to increase my faith and always be in His will.

This is the first book I have read from Timothy Tron and it won't be the last, if of course, he choses to write more after the coming sequel, which is in the works at the moment. His writing style, command of the English language and imagination transport you to the 1100s AD, set in both the alpine area of France and also in Lyon. You are more than a spectator in this novel, you are there with all the characters as if you are part of the plot. I found it difficult coming back to reality every time I stopped reading. His characters are all very relational and three dimensional, well developed and believable whether they are protagonists or antagonists.

Tron has created some very admirable and loveable characters in the protagonists,  Arktos, elder of the Vaudois people, Jakob his grandson, Peter Waldo (real name Augustus Pizan but uses the name of Peter Waldo who existed years before him), Marik and Steffan who seek out the Apostle Speakers (the Vaudoisians who have been imbued with the gift of memorization of the entire Scriptures), Gabriel (Waldo's right hand man and whom you are forever thinking is he really the angel Gabriel or not?), Jean Paul, Jakob's older brother, Julia, Jakob and Jean Paul's mother. There is an emotional investment in these characters as you read. Everything they go through you feel it with them, joy, grief, horror, sadness, stubborn faith, righteous indignation, victorious elation.

The same goes for the antagonists, the main two being General Lucier and Pope Lucias III. These two embody the evilness and corruptness of the Roman Catholic Church, both are power hungry, corrupt, manipulative and deceitful and deluded into thinking that they are doing the will of God by persecuting and eradicating anyone who defies the teachings of the Catholic Church. Both have no issue with murder, torture or persecution to achieve their aims: recant your faith and convert to Catholicism or die. You feel their hatred towards the Vaudosians, you recoil in horror at their persecution of those who defy them, and the methods of killing they employ, you can feel the evil oppression they exude, yet you feel pity for them for them when you see this evilness taking them over and blinding them from the Truth that is so ever before them.

Here is what Lucias considers of himself:
......for I am the embodiment of heaven on earth, and if it is my will, it shall be done!
He sees and hates the Vaudoisians and their gift as a threat to his papacy: 
Yet, there it was: the fact that they had preserved the Word of God of their own accord-a Word not compiled by mankind, but that was given to them reportedly from the sources themselves. What would it do to the power of the papacy should it become known? or worse yet, what if the unknown Word produced an entirely different view of the hereafter or the road to perdition?.....
Then there was the other, more-distressing side note: the fact that the books these people quoted were exactly as they had received them, unfiltered and encompassing all of the writing and teachings that followed the ministry of Jesus and his disciples. This Word they possessed gave a power that bound them to one ruler, but a ruler who was not of this earth. That in of itself sent a shiver of terror down the papal spine, causing him to shudder at the thought.
Tron's research into this era, Vaudois people, the aforementioned corruptness of the Catholic Church and their politics add depth and credibility to the story. It is hard to believe that this is a novel and not the account of actual events as they happened, including the supernatural intervention of God in various ways as described that is just not commonplace in today's world.

I can see Tron's passion throughout as it is loosely based on his family genealogy from his paternal side. When I read this on his author page on Amazon, I was further intrigued, and contacted him about this. He sent me an account of his discovery and it is very captivating.

Here it is, in part:
In 1995, my late Aunt June Tron gave us a one-of-a-kind housewarming gift; a genealogy binder including information about the town in Germany from whence we came along with our pedigree, all the way back to the founding father's of the little town, Walldorf Germany.

In 1998, we decided to take a trip to Germany.........We pulled up in front of the Heimat Museum........That was the next phase of my research as I began drinking from the proverbial fire hydrant of knowledge. I found that Tron's had existed as part of the Waldensians from the beginning and I then began to learn what it meant to be Waldensian. The people from the valleys had migrated to Germany in 1699 and built Walldorf from scratch. Two of the original families were my direct ancestors. The rest of the link and how they go back in time genealogically can be explained at a later time; suffice it to say, its a long, long tale.

The story and the tale of which you are reading are closely intertwined, but what made me begin writing the book was the conflict of how they received their iconic name versus how they actually became who they were; meaning, Peter Waldo did not cause Waldensians to exist, rather, he became famous because of who the Waldnesian people already were; thus, the impetus for starting to tell our side of the story. The more I thought about it, the more I questioned, "Why would these people struggle for over 600 years, fight in over 30 wars and face extinction of their kind all because of what they believed." Then I realized I had to tell the story from the perspective of "BEING" Waldensian. There had been many books written about Waldensians and their struggles, but none had been written from the point of view of what it was to be Waldensian and how that fact formulated who you were and how you faced adversity.

What Timothy means about "Being" Waldensian is very aptly described and forms one of the main backbones of this novel. Peter Waldo, actually existed and the term Waldensian is based on his name.



I wondered about the name of the novel, what did Bruecke mean (bridge) and why have a German word in an English title? It was this strange looking title that drew me to this book in the first place. Timothy explains again:
In time, the meaning of some of what I have put down becomes clear; and so it was with the title, "Bruecke to Heaven". Initially, my timeline was going to extend through their migration to Germany, thus I decided to include that influence in the title. But later, when it became apparent that my 600 year timeline would only progress only about a year and a half in the first book, I questioned if I really should keep that working title. I felt compelled to keep the title foreign in language, but didn't know why. Recently, I was driving to work and was listening to a song on the radio when it hit me why the title fits. People who are not Christians, come into Christianity not knowing anything about it and with time, learn how and what it is to become a Christian. Then, like the obscure title, they realize the meaning and eventually accept Christ into their life, and as such, the title becomes clear.
I also questioned Timothy about the surname of Arktos, the main character, which was LeTron. Was this the original surname of his ancestry? Timothy had this covered too:
Like the title, I didn't realize why I felt compelled to use a form of my family name for the characters in the book either, but something said to me that it was important to do so. Last year, while attending a Waldensian Festival in Valdese NC., I learned from a young man who was from the Alpine valleys where the Waldnesians came, was there doing research and he explained to me what my name actually meant in the ancient language of the valleys; Tron meant "One with Strength" and that they often gave their warriors this title. Needless to say, I was once again blown away. Even though my book was already in print by then, I felt good about keeping the form of the name intact and that indeed it was an important part of the actual history.
Interestingly, Tron has portrayed the LeTron family (Julia, Mary, Arktos, Jakob, Jean Paul, Rebecca and Angela) as a very strong family by nature and by faith without knowing what his name meant. 

Faith is a strong feature in this novel. How I now long to have the faith of Arktos and Jakob! The author portrays the Vaudoisians living the Word so vividly and naturally, it is literally their first nature. And in this novel, these two and the Vaudoisians know no different as their ancestors have lived this way since two of the seventy disciples (Olympas and Herodian) delivered the Word of God to them. At this delivery, God imbues them with the ability to remember and quote the entire Word/Bible. So for generations over the centuries, until the time of the Crusades where this story is set, this closely knit community, almost cut off from the secular world, live and act out the Word; for them it is a tangible experience, the Word being literally alive. Tron even mentions this in his Introduction: Author's Notes:

It had been memorized word for word and passed down from one generation to the next, preserving not only the mere lines of Scripture but the ultimate spiritual power it possessed in its infancy. Regarding this "Word," the Bible reads in John 1:1-5,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.
 Yet in truth, there were some who did not recognize the Word and the light, and this is their story.
The spiritual warfare aspects of this novel are very unique and different from any I have read in other biblical supernatural thrillers. In all the instances portrayed in the novel we see the power of the Word manifested though either chanting or singing Scripture: Arktos and his elders chanting Scripture as the papal army invade their village of Rora and the papal army is destroyed and at the end of the novel, Arktos chants Scripture when the papal army is about to capture them, defeating them. Jakob discovers that when he sings Scripture, the same happens; when he plays the lira the power of God either defeats their enemy or confuses them, in one instances him playing this lira disguises their compound as empty as the papal army invades and search it even when Arktos, Jacob, Peter, Gabriel and their staff are still present in the compound, another where the group he was in passes by in a mist, unheard of by the papal army, as they moved close by them on their journey homeward bound. I know these occurrences are due to the other gifts imbued by God when He delivered the Word via the disciples, but it does make me consider how it would be if Christians were able to do the same in the reality of our world in this 21st century?

All in all, this is one very memorable novel that has had a profound affect on me. It is has encouraged and strengthened my faith and relationship with Christ, witness to my family and community, inspired and challenged me to stand up for the Gospel and have a ready defense for the same just as 1 Peter 3:15 says:

....but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.

It is one book that needs to be read again (and most likely again!).

Highly recommended.

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