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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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Monday, 7 July 2014

Fool's Errand (Chadash Chronicles Book 1) by David G Johnson

Fool's Errand (Chadash Chronicles Book 1)

"Welcome to Chadash; where the lives and adventures of mortals are the weapons wielded by angels in a war for the souls of men." What was to be a simple job for the unlikely team of a teenage thief, a holy warrior, a barbarian prince, a priest and an outcast necromancer soon transforms into a much greater adventure.  These mismatched heroes find themselves caught up in a struggle threatening three decades of peace. The fate of nations is inseparably intertwined with the fate of this motley band of adventurers.  Yet even greater forces are afoot as unbeknownst to the heroes they are pawns in a celestial struggle between two factions of angels on a new world the One Lord has created at the end of the universe.  Come along to the world of Chadash where angels struggle for the souls of men in The Chadash Chronicles Book One: Fool's Errand.

The Guru's Review: 

I am glad I did three things before getting into this novel, the first, reading the short story, Saga of the Everking, which is the prequel to this series, the second, being the Foreword by the author, and third, the Prologue. All are interconnected and for the serious Christian fantasy buff or Christian who can only read fantasy based on a Christian worldview, this prequel and series will be one of great pleasure and reward. Don't get the impression I am in the latter category entirely! I do like my reading to be from a Christian worldview and applaud any Christian author who bases their work on such, but I am always open to the poetic licence that a Christian author takes to expound a "What if...." scenario that adds missing info (and not deliberately omitted, I believe, by God) in a bible story, theme or account without detracting or misleading the reader from the truth of the Word or from who God is. 

Johnson has done great justice to himself and to this series by including his Foreword. This gives a valuable insight into him as an author and why this series exists. Reading this showed me this author has great depth in his imagination and a great passion to bridge the void between those who love fantasy and Bible-believing Christians, 
Often, I found, not only during my own spiritual journey but during my time the last several years as a Christian and a minister, that a chasm existed between these two groups. Often, fantasy fans are not Christians, and their encounters with Christians were generally judgemental and negative experiences. The love of the fantasy genre is often misunderstood or condemned  by mainstream Christianity without taking the time to understand it or to get to know the people who love it....
.......Whatever other success comes from this work, if it can serve as a bridge of understanding and outreach between those who love fantasy fiction and those who love Christ, then in my mind, the book will an overwhelming success. If even one person finds an encounter with God....if even one Christian takes an honest look at themself.....and it changes their view and drive and approach to outreach to others, then this work will have served its purpose. 
The entire Foreword impresses me greatly but, I was taken by what Johnson says about where his worldview comes from and he is more than qualified to state this,
While I certainly openly present this work from a Christian worldview and perspective, I also incorporate aspects of various encounters I have had both as an unbeliever on a spiritual journey and now as a Christian, whose life focuses on outreach. I hope in this series to present, through the believing characters in the book, a perspective and encounter for fantasy genre fans with what a Christian should be like toward to those who do not believe. This life-witness is as important, or should say even more important, than anything we can say about our faith to those who don not believe. The Bible tells us that our actions need to match our  words, and I hope to portray in this series that while Christians have their own flaws and failings, overall, the experience of encountering a Christian should be a positive one. 
When I read this, my initial thought was that Johnson has integrity and a deep faith, a man after God's own heart and this should be reflected in this series. It should therefore be one that has a solid structure, detailed characters, as well as a detailed mythology and spirituality. And reading this novel, it definitely has this and more. However, Johnson is aware of this depth and the effect it might have on readers who just want to be entertained only and gives the option that they don't have to get involved with this if they don't want to, 
Should you choose not to engage with the particularly Christian back story upon which the fantasy-world setting rests, then skipping the prologue and moving straight into the story will not result in you losing any of the enjoyment or understanding of the overall storyline.
After reading this, I totally agree with him, and this shows how carefully constructed his novel is. If you wish to get the most  out of this novel, then you will need to pay attention to all the details in the prologue, and also while reading the rest of the details described about the characters, who they are, where they fit in with the different races and the relationship between these, their culture and how this ties back into the background outlined in the prologue. I found the Glossary/Table of Names at the back of the book invaluable and I bookmarked these pages in my Kindle for easy access. I also highlighted some passages that gave background to characters, events and physical locations to increase my understanding of this fantasy world. While this may sound like a distraction or detraction from the plot and its continuity, those readers who find all these details and depth of characters, plot, mythology and spirituality essential to fully appreciating a fantasy world of this depth and character and all it has to offer and the richness of the author's imagination will be in their element and very well rewarded. I found this to be true and worth all the highlighting and annotating I saved to my e-reader. 

I was very impressed with the Prologue. Reading this, I was stunned at the depth of imagination, detail and the imagery that Johnson has created. It is a very believable world you are transported to. It is a great piece of writing and could almost be a short story in itself. It makes a great backdrop that the rest of the novel is plotted against and is the backbone of the rest of the Chronicles. This is based on the rebellion of satan and his fallen angels against God and the challenge that God gives Mutazz, and Azadriel, both fallen angels, the former who is defiant and unrepentant in his rebellion against God and the latter who is repentant and desires to be forgiven and restored to his former relationship with God, 
Mutazz, if you and your forces, espousing greed, lust, hatred, and rebellion prove to be more alluring than the forces of good, then I will allow you nine to escape the Lake of Fire. You and your Malakim followers instead will live out your eternity in exile in the darkness of the Pit, cut off from Me forever. Mutazz will take over as ruler of the Pit as Abaddon is cast into the Lake of Fire.
Azadriel, if you and the other repentant ones truly show that your hearts have turned and remember the virtues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control and can use these alone to win the hearts of men and then not take their allegiance to yourselves but point them only to Me, then you will have shown the fruits of your repentance. If you remain fiathful but do not gather the majority of souls to me from the world of Chadash, you will be spared the Lake of Fire but will join Mutazz and the others in exile. Should you prove the superiority of goodness over evil and stay faithful while bringing the majority of men and the children of men of Chadash to Me, then your transgression will be forgiven, and you shall be restored to my service in heaven.  
You will each be given a created race without souls to govern and serve you on Chadash You have one week to bring to me the characteristics you would desire in your races. I will create the race of men. Men will be cross-fertile with each other of your races so that there is hope for the offspring of your races to be found through the union with men. Men and the sons and daughters of men both purebloods and half bloods will have freedom of will, and they will be given souls. It is for their souls that you will contend. You will each have greater powers than I have allowed you to wield on earth in order to carry out your struggle.  
It is against this that the rest of the novel unfolds. The characters are rich, believable, relational, three dimensional, and you find yourself stacking your chips against certain characters on both sides, those of races governed by Azadriel and his Malakim (Messengers) and those governed by Mutazz and his Ayabim (hostile ones). This novel has the richness and depth similar to the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit saga and this is another of its strengths. Johnson has included the background to the characters, their motivation for the attitude and behaviour and if necessary where this is part of the culture of their race.  I have not read many fantasies but this is the only one with such diverse creatures and who are of mixed breeds but when one reads the Glossary/Table of Names, one discovers why this is so and it is tied into the challenge that God has given Azadriel and Mutazz. To me this is another area where this novel is well constructed and has great depth. 

The two maps of Ya-Erets is another invaluable source while reading this novel and picturing the world that Johnson has created and also tracking the progress of group as progress in the various stages of their mission. Maps like this are essential in most fantasies, this being no exception. 

One last part of my review is to mention the Afterword. Here Johnson shows more of his motive for writing this series, 
For Christians, there are deeper elements of understanding Hebrew tradition, culture and language that can be gleaned from withing the story just as one might learn some truth about the French Revolution from reading a Tale of Two Cities. There is also, hopefully, modeled in the pages examples of Christian character by on of the protagonistes, Gideon, who hopefully exempliflies a human, flawed but deeply faithful Christian. I did not wish to write this character as flawless, but as a model of what a biblical Christian could be in hopes that believing readers may look to see more of themselves and how they interact with others within the personality of Gideon. 
Having traversed through the land of Ya-Erets on this mission with Gideon and Co, I believe Johnson has achieved this. I loved Gideon and could identity with his Christian character, attitude and behaviour. 

The rest of the Afterword is targeted at the secular reader, the main thrust is his testimony and how he went from a very successful career man and one very wealthy one to a man of faith fully realising his sin and need for a Saviour. I believe this testimony is written with a heart felt passion for those who are still where he was and his love for them, 
Know that I love and respect my readers whatever your worldview, and will always do my best to write stories that are interesting, enjoyable and not "preachy". In the Afterword, however, I feel the Lord has laid upon my heart to share my testimony of how I came to faith and to share the plan of salvation for any readers who may feel God has prepared your heart and drawn you to seek a deeper understanding of who He is and what faith in Him looks like. 
There is so much in this novel and in the fantasy world Johnson has created. It is very comprehensive, born of an inspired imagination and creativity gifted to him by his Creator and what a joy to read such and see him honour his Lord in these Chronicles.

I am glad Johnson contacted me with his request to review this novel. I have been very blessed, challenged and encouraged in my walk with God by reading this novel. I thank David Johnson for this. 


Highly Recommended. 

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