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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 debut author's novels or those author's who have not had many reviews thus providing them much needed encouragement 
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Friday, 23 May 2014

Seal Of The King by Ralph Smith

Seal of the King


The battle between dark and light rages and the world is on the cusp of a tipping point. Will an age of darkness befall mankind or will the light prevail? 

David and Aurora have seen visions of each other their entire lives but never met, until now. Aurora a fearsome warrior and David a simple farmer are thrust into the heart of the battle. An ancient prophecy foretells of their final showdown with the Dark One. Will their faith be strong enough for them to prevail? 
Join them as they embark on their journey to the lair of the beast knowing they may never return.


Review: 


I "bought" Seal of the King as a free offering from Amazon. The description grabbed me as it falls in the genre of Christian fantasy, a supernatural thriller, spiritual warfare, all genres that I love. 

Without any warning or foreknowledge on my part or the author's, I received an email from him on the same day I downloaded this book from Amazon. He had googled, Christian fiction review, and my blog name came up in the search results. 

The first thing I noticed is that you hit the ground running. Smith wastes no time setting the stage for what is to come, introducing you to David and his world and Aurora and hers, the latter hundreds of years in the past. What ties these two descriptions together is the account of them having grown up with each others childhood and adolescence as visions of each other. They both grow up knowing, liking and ultimately loving each other even before they met in real life. 

You have just gotten used to this when their worlds collide and they meet in David's world. Here the plot really revs up and so does the action. We experience further development of David and Aurora's relationship now they are in the same reality, and the background to the war they are in and what brought them together. Aurora understands more of her side of things while poor David gets the raw end of the stick by being thrown in the deep end and has to catch on fast. And fast he does. 

Smith's two protagonists are central to everything and around which every revolves. David very quickly is transformed from a simple farmer to one very strong, chivalrous warrior and this is enhanced by this love for Aurora. Since their meeting in his world, and him learning how their worlds are connected and intertwined, his warrior traits seem to have been awakened as if previously dormant. They are further developed once he has a supernatural encounter with God and is imbued with special abilities that will aid him on his quest.  

Aurora has been a one man band forced to survive on her own, she learnt to suppress her vulnerabilities until she meets David. In one sense, she has had to put her femininity on hold, there is no room for this in the fight to survive, fight against the dark forces that are invading her land and want her dead at all costs. No man has ever been able to get close to her and it is this hardened exterior that most men have not been able to penetrate or as others have stated "tame". Only in David, has she met her match, as described by her friend, Matilda. We also find from Aurora herself that once she realises that David does love her, that she is willing to let go of this hard exterior and be vulnerable and feminine to herself and David. However, she is able at a moments notice put on her warrior exterior when the time requires.

Smith has developed these two as believable and relational people. Both strong personalities, both determined in their different ways, both committed to God, both have vulnerabilities towards each other and strengths that complement each other. In an interview with David Bergsland (author),  Smith stated, 

I wanted David and Aurora to be regular people with fears and doubts, but because, in spite of their tragedies, they remained faithful they were blessed with gifts.They aren’t seeking glory or authority and don’t really want the responsibility they were given. But because they are faithful and obedient, the Lord blessed them. They are humbled that he has chosen them and recognize that they are servants of the light not lords over it.It is because of their compassion for others, even those who were seduced by the dark, that they succeed.

This is one of many strengths of this novel. This shines through  in its entirety and is very refreshing and encouraging. Smith seems to be encouraging us that this is how we should be living our Christian walk, being faithful and obedient to the Lord despite our circumstances and our personal feelings.  


While reading this novel, I felt uplifted and encouraged. Smith's style and passion for God are clearly evident and forms a backbone to the world he had deposited you in. Again, in the Bergsland interview he states, 
One of the main reasons I wrote the book was to show people who struggle with their faith that a Godly relationship is full of passion. That love that comes from God is pure, loyal and faithful, a small reflection of the love He has for us. 

I also wanted to show through the story how trusting in Him, even when we can’t see where He is taking us, means we always have hope. That if we open our hearts to his will and follow it he will always be with us.
I think for many people today reconciling how God works in our lives is difficult. With all the secular information overload today, it is a very confusing time. I felt that using a fantasy story to capture peoples imaginations that through the story and how the characters act, not so much what they say, God willing, I might help some people to see what how and why we do what we do is just as important as what we do.
Just as our characters are in a battle between good and evil so are we. We are battling for the hearts and minds of our youth who are being overwhelmed with information, books, songs, music, tv, movies etc.

We are David in that battle against Goliath and hope to find the rock God has laid there. 
Another area that impressed me very much and again was very refreshing concerned the area of sexual integrity and purity. Smith has portrayed the relationship between David and Aurora based on Agape love that is God based and God designed and inspired. This does not ignore their sinful nature or their desire for each other even before they are married. I would say that all physical desire that they exhibit towards one another flows not from the lust that is promoted in the media and societal standards or dictated by their fallen nature, but from their faithfulness and obedience to God. They want to honour God in all they do. They want to experience their sexuality as God intended in the area of marriage where God has placed it. There are so many times where their desire for each, as an expression of their love for one another, became intense and could have led to sexual sin, but they reminded each other of their commitment to God and to each other in regards to this. I asked Smith about this via Skype and this is what he had to say, 
I believe that a love that comes from God is more passionate than just a sexual encounter and too often in movies and TV there is an idea promoted that forbidden lust is somehow more exciting.......

Paul tells husbands and wives not to deny each other so the idea of a Godly relationship being passionate is not counter to our faith I don't think..... I have had several readers tell me how the story helped them with their faith and that is the best compliment I could ever hope for....when I wrote it my target audience was young adult to 20 and 30 year olds hoping I could use the fantasy element to give them some insights into how reconcile being a Christian in today's society. Somehow I seem to have achieved a broader appeal based on the feedback.  
Smith's account of Aurora and David's wedding night comes close to eroticism, but no lines are crossed, it is tastefully written, no smut and again Smith has done this to show that the sexual relationship between a married couple with a righteous relationship with God is not one based on erotic love, lust or just a sexual act, but on Agape love that comes from God. 

All through the novel, Smith shines with his depiction of romance. If he ever branches out and writes in the Christian romance genre, I will follow him. Again, it is refreshing to have a Christian male author show romance from a male point of view. It is very much based on placing the other more important than himself and being a servant to the other, but not servant as we interpret it in today's society. It is very chivalrous, without being condescending and honours the integrity and dignity of the other as a person and their gender as well as honour himself and the male gender and show what a Godly man can be compared to what we see in today's society.

I pray that Ralph's depiction of romance and sexuality will encourage the 20-30 age group and even those older to consider that romance, sexuality and relationships are worth doing it God's way and not man's way. 

The supernatural aspects of this novel are very compelling and engaging as well, both from those visitations and interactions between God and His angels and those of the Dark One, his minions and its evil consequences. The account of David and Aurora travelling to Tartaros to deal with the Dark One, their torture, and spiritual mind games in order to have them submit and worship him is very oppressive, dark and creepy. I loved the twist where David double crossed the Dark One. The spiritual warfare aspect of being obedient and faithful to God and letting God fight this battle is very biblical and a further encouragement to live by faith and not by sight or in our strength. 


When I spoke to Ralph via Skype he asked me how I found the novel. I replied,
Ralph, it is just a wonderful tale, positive, uplifting, sobering, entertaining, educating, honors God and His word, true spiritual warfare.
I like what David Bergsland said in his review and I totally agree with him, 
This one was just fun. I enjoyed it so much I’m still rereading parts because it’s hard to let them go.
This book stays with you after you finish it and it is hard leaving David's and Aurora's world. 

I look forward immensely to the next books in the series. 

Highly Recommended

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