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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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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Author/Novel Spotlight: Michael Hill

A few weeks ago, I received a request via this blog from author, Michael Hill, to review his debut novel, A Soldier of the Word (Brotherhood of the Word) (Volume 1). I was unable to at this present time but would be able in a few weeks so, in the meantime, I offered him an Author/Novel Spotlight post or Guest Blogger post. He chose the former.

Classified as fantasy by Amazon, it contains themes of spiritual warfare, angels and demons, the ministry of angels, demonology but its main theme is "What is the true nature of Mankind?".


Just to whet your appetite, here is the book description:

What is the true nature of Mankind? That is the one question that the mighty Archangel Michael cannot understand until he is given an opportunity by the creator to find out for himself. Growing up Michael Stuart finds life in a small town of South Georgia to be hard. As a Teenager, a chance encounter with a witch in the Okefenokee Swamps marks him for sacrifice and plunges him headlong into a race to escape the demonic forces sent to kill him. Nathaniel; a member of the mysterious Brotherhood of the Word, offers him a slim chance for freedom. But first they must find an ancient talisman called the Basar. Can he find this talisman in time to save himself from the certain death ordered by the Angel of Darkness; Gadreel the Deceiver? or does God have something else in mind for him?

So sit back and let Michael Hill tell you about himself, his debut novel, its background and even read an excerpt that highlights what a Soldier of the Word is capable of.

Hi there! My name is Michael Hill. I was born and raised in Athens, a small town in northern Alabama where I still live with my wife of 30+ years. I have two grown sons, Jon, and Ben.

As a young child, I hated the whole idea of reading, but I still remember like it was yesterday that first Saturday morning my father carried me down to a local drug store where he bought me my very first comic book. That started my lifelong love affair with heroic fiction. I would spend blissful hours ravenously poring over my treasured comics. The combination of some of the world’s best artwork coupled with story lines that were designed specifically to ignite the flames of imagination was pure heaven for a boy of eight.

A couple of years later I began to read short novels. E.R. Burroughs’s Tarzan was a favorite. By the time I was in high school I had discovered Tolkien and R.E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. It was also this time that I began writing. Mainly short stories and even a few poems, thankfully few have survived.

I became a Christian the summer of 1993, and immediately got involved in
 several ministries at my home church. I drove a bus route for children for 20+ years as well as ministering to the elderly at a local health facility where I still serve. I’ve also worked for several years as a reserve Police officer and served as the department Chaplain. But my passion is still telling stories both to my grandchildren as well as teaching the children at my local church.

Now Michael explains a little of the background behind A Soldier of the Word (Brotherhood of the Word) (Volume 1)

In all honesty, I don’t think I ever made a conscious choice to sit down and write a Christian Fiction novel but rather I just decided one afternoon to sit down and write what was already in my mind and that’s what came of it. I just started writing. But not very far into the book I realized that I wanted my novel to tell more than just a simple story of Fiction. I wanted this story to speak to someone.

So I decided to structure the entire story around a central theme. What is the true nature of Mankind? It is also my hope that before the series has ended I can explain why I think this to be one of the most important questions mankind can ask.

I already had been enamored by the idea suggested in 1 Peter 1:6. What if an angel really could find out what it was like to be a man? But then rather than God telling him about it, what if God chose to show him? I think if it were possible this angel would see that life on this little world is not all a bed of roses. Life is hard.

In my story, I specifically chose to make the first few chapters depicting the life of my character Michael Stuart to be specifically sad and dismal.

I also had been intrigued for many years by a question I had sought to answer through careful study of the Scriptures but have not been able to find any adequate answers for. So I decided to invent a fictional answer to my question.

There were many men in the Bible who were not what I would call your quintessential “Man of God.” The wise men at the birth of Jesus were not even Hebrew, yet they knew all about the signs and seemed to know what to expect. They obviously followed the one and only true God, but far from what I thought was mainstream Judaism. The further I looked back the more men I could find, about whom were not at all what I expected. Enigmatic men like Balaam. He went wrong but still there can be no doubt that at one time he had been in close communion with the true God of the universe. Melchizedec was another completely inexplicable character. And still many more.

It almost seemed that the more I studied the more men I could point to that defied everything I thought I knew about what it was like to be a man of God. There are even men in the Bible that are referred to as being Lion-like. With a wry smile I shudder to think of the fictional possibilities this opens.

One fictitious yet plausible explanation could be that they had been called to be something more than a typical Christian. What if God utilized men what had been specially trained and gifted to fight Satan and his minions on their turf? They don’t play fair, you know. Even the very gates of Hell could not prevail against them. This group would be called the Brotherhood of the Word. And the character Nathaniel is a soldier in that army who tries to help Michael Stuart to understand that he is also called by God to be a soldier. A Soldier of the Word.

If this has further whetted your appetite for this novel, Michael has
provided an excerpt. He explains, 
This excerpt from A Soldier of the Word is a favorite section of mine. Here I needed to show the reader the kinds of dangers a member of the Brotherhood would face as well as the spiritual knowledge and abilities God has gifted him with to combat those dangers. Also, note that the words Nathaniel uses as words of power are actual words from the Hebrew language. – Mike Hill

Hours later, Nathaniel quietly stood up from his chair grasping his cane in one hand as the other hand reached to adjust his gentlemen's cap on his head, and in a hushed whisper said, “He’s here.”

Apparently Nathaniel had not gone to sleep at all but had stayed sitting in the old wooden chair all night, silently keeping watch over his charge. The candle that Nathaniel had lit earlier in the night was now burnt low and gave off an uncertain light as the flame flickered and danced even though the night air was deathly still. Suddenly woke from a shallow sleep, Michael blinked for just a moment to clear the cobwebs from his mind, looked down at his watch to see that the time was 4:08 am then looked back to Nathaniel. Struck with fear at the sudden realization that he may have no other choice but to look upon this demon from the netherworld again, or that he might have to turn and flee again as he had done the night before. After all, what could mortal man do against such a creature as this? What chance did he or anyone else for that matter have to stand against something that was not from this world? He had held out hope that the demon would give up, that perhaps the distance they had traveled or the rain would wash away his scent or something would hinder this creature of evil from finding him again. Apparently it did not. The night sky outside was still and dark with lingering clouds, left over from a storm that had rumbled through just after midnight. The moist humid air hung heavy and still like the feel of death. His legs still unsteady after so quickly standing to his feet, Michael stood shivering in the cool of the morning. He quickly reached over beside the couch and grabbed the shotgun that was there.

“It’s always darkest just before the dawn,” Nathaniel said.

“How…How do you know he’s here?” Michael’s voice quivered.

“I feel him, I feel his hatred, I feel his madness. He is there,” pointing towards the back wall. “He’s just about a hundred feet behind the trailer, hiding in the woods. I think he’s waiting, trying to decide if he will have time to kill you before the sun comes up when his strength will be weakened. He also knows I’m here and he is hesitant to attack.”

Unconsciously Michael took a couple of steps away from the back wall and quietly turned his ear in that direction, hoping to be able to hear any sort of movement or noise. He heard nothing. Meanwhile Nathaniel had closed his eyes, all expression left his face. He looked for all the world as if he were perfectly at ease as if nothing at all was wrong. As if he were praying or meditating, or perhaps preparing himself for something.

Turning back to face Nathaniel, Michael noticed for the first time that the head of the cane that Nathaniel carried was beginning to put off a warm glow of some kind. The head piece had always looked to be a black piece of stone perhaps obsidian or some type of dark smooth marble, but now it had begun glowing with its own inner light. Nathaniel opened his eyes that were now clear and bright, in fact, his whole face seemed to shine with an almost inner awareness. Gone was the age in his eyes, gone was the weight of his years. He still looked to be the same person, but with greater vitality that wasn’t there earlier, he stood taller as if he had gone back some years in age. Surprised by the change that had taken place in Nathaniel’s countenance, Michael’s eyes widened with surprise. With a clear and deeper voice and an odd sort of smile on his face Nathaniel said “Further up and further In.”

With that, he turned toward the door and in a firm voice ordered “Stay here. Do not leave this place.”

Without any comment, Michael slowly shook his head, yes.

Nathaniel turned from Michael, and opening the door, stepped through onto the small wooden porch. Seemingly effortless, as he turned back to face Michael, he jumped straight up into the air to land on the metal roof of the trailer with a loud thud, his cane still glowing in the darkness. Stepping to the high center of the roof, he turned to face the direction of the demon, held his cane out in front of him, which was now shining brighter than ever. In the night's darkness, its murky depths pulsed and throbbed, curious smoky waves of changing color passed over its smooth surface. Like a judge pronouncing doom he called with a loud voice of command, “Messenger of Death, show yourself.”

The night went instantly silent, even the wind seemed to hold its breath in anticipation of the event. No movement was detected, no sound was heard.

Inside the trailer, Michael cautiously pushed aside the curtains of the rear window to peek through the slits in the blinds, as the curious light lit the area behind the building.

Holding the cane even higher, Nathaniel said with authority in his voice, “Demon, I command you to come forth.”

Suddenly there was a howl, deep and low, and full of anger. The creature slowly ambled out from under the shadowed branches of a large oak tree, to stand in the light given off by the cane, as it shown a brilliant white now that lit up the entire area.

The creature was huge with thick corded muscles, the whole of its body was covered in thin wiry black hairs. The head was similar to human but with disturbing distortions and malformations. The pig-like eyes were yellow and bloodshot, filled with the glare of madness. Its nose was flat with great flaring nostrils. Its lips writhed back to reveal huge yellow fangs, like the teeth of a dog.

Once again the demon lifted his head and howled low and mournful like a tortured animal.

“Leave you, foul creature, you have no business here.”

The creature was hunched over with its back arched unnaturally while constantly twisting and turning to hide its eyes from the revealing light, its hands aimlessly beating the ground or pawing at the grass with its thick calloused fingers. With vocal cords that were never created to voice words and in a guttural scrapping sound, all the while moving its head back and forth in a sickening gyration the creature spoke. “My master requires the life of the yeled.”

“You cannot have him. He is under my protection.” Nathaniel answered.

The demon cried out, “Then I will take him and eat your flesh as well dog.” With no more warning than a striking cobra, he sprang forth with a burst of blinding speed to cover the short distance.

Michael watching from inside the trailer, out of instinct and fear tore away from the window with a cry of horror, dropping the shotgun to the floor as he moved.
Mere steps before the demon would have crashed headlong into the side of the dwelling, he jumped high into the air to come crashing down on the top of the trailer where Nathaniel had stood scant moments before, the weight of the creature nearly crashing through the roof altogether. The defenders instinctive recoil barely saved his life as he sidestepped the massive arms that swung down. Twisting low Nathaniel using the handle of his cane as a weapon, slashed upward to catch the creature just below the ribs with the glowing and pulsating jeweled head.

A bitter cry of pain escaped from the lips of the demon as the instrument left a burned and charred impression in his flesh. Slashing down again with its massive claws, Nathaniel was barely able to once again dodge the swing by ducking low and avoiding the stroke. However, the demon was left off balance and his front section open to an attack. Nathaniel hit the creature full in the face with his weapon. The cane exploded with brilliant light that blew the demon backward off the roof. He fell to the ground with a deep thud. In a moment Nathaniel was off the roof, with his cane held high above him, he braced to deliver the final stroke to return this creature of the netherworld back to the hell that had spawned it. But before he could strike the demon slashed with his taloned claw to tear the flesh of Nathaniel’s left thigh. Instantly in tremendous pain he fell to the ground with a rolling motion that left several feet between him and the fallen demon before he once again rolled up on one knee to face the creature, with his cane held out in front of him in his left hand, his right hand grasping the torn jagged flesh of his leg in a futile attempt to stem the flow of blood.

In desperation, Nathaniel knew he didn’t have time for a prolonged battle with this demon. Pointing his glowing cane at the creature he screamed at the top of his voice “Maveth Shuwb Sheol.”

Instantly the light erupted from the crystal head of the instrument to bathe the beast in its revealing glow. With a scream of rage and demonic anger, the creature rose to his feet and launched himself through the air at the one who was causing his pain, desperate to choke the life from his tormentor, and destroy the light, that revealed his pollution of this world. But before the leap could be completed the light completely engulfed the creature of darkness with an eruption of blinding light so brilliant that the entire scene was bathed in its intensity. Moments later the glow faded once more and the demon was gone, returned again to the eternal darkness from which it was spawned.

Nathaniel knelt down, his left thigh and leg was covered in his own blood. He sat there exhausted for several moments, his chest heaving with the exertion of trying to catch his breath. Gone now was the glow of his face, gone now was the vitality and stamina he mysteriously possessed during the battle. He fought off a wave of nausea that threatened to cause him to wretch. He knew he needed to get inside before he completely lost consciousness from blood loss and shock. As he struggled to stand the searing waves of intense pain from his wounded leg forced him to give up his struggle to gain the shelter of the trailer. As he fell forward in the wet grass he was momentarily aware of someone by his side calling his name before he lost consciousness. 

If you have come this far and want to purchase A Soldier of the Word (Brotherhood of the Word) (Volume 1), it can be purchased in print or e-book format from Amazon: 



Michael can be contacted at these social media platforms: 

Facebook: Facwww.Facebook.com/ASoldieroftheWord

Twitter: http://twitter.com/soldiertheword 

and email:

MikeH@asoldieroftheword.com

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