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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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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Author/Novel Spotlight: David G. Johnson and Star Wolf

Today, I am spotlighting one of my favourite authors, David G. Johnson. I first read his Chadesh Chronicles commencing in 2014 and loved them. These are one of my favourite trilogies. There are two things that form the pillars of David as a novelist. Excellent world building and adherence to a biblical worldview. One has only to read the Prologue to Fool's Errand (Chadash Chronicles, Book 1) to see an example of this. This could almost be considered a short story on its own. Now I am pleased to say that David has continued this legacy in his latest novel, Star Wolf. This spotlight post delves into the background of this novel.

So sit back and let David discuss this new novel. But first a little about David himself: 

David G. Johnson is an author and teacher with a BA in Asian Studies and a MDiv in Biblical Languages who currently resides overseas with his family serving as teachers and living witnesses of their faith. David has been an avid Fantasy and Science Fiction fan for over thirty years and has turned his cross-cultural experience to the task of creating engaging stories blended smoothly with a Biblical worldview.

Now what is Star Wolf about and what does the cover look like? 

Molon Hawkins, a daring, free merc captain, earns his living navigating the dangerous borders between factions in the civil war that shattered humanity’s vast star empire. For the former scout captain and his veteran command crew aboard Star Wolf, most contracts are milk runs. Most… When a routine rescue mission goes awry, Molon finds his rescuee, Dr John Salzmann, inextricably tied into a web of intrigue that threatens to upset the balance of power in the galaxy. Can Molon and John follow the threads and discover the forces behind the plot? If so, what can a lone ship do to stop it? Star Wolf is the debut novel in the exciting new Shattered Galaxy setting by David G. Johnson, bestselling author of the award-winning Chadash Chronicles series.

From reading David's past novels, I found him to be an excellent world builder. Here are the crests of the many factions he mentioned in the book description above:

In this galaxy map below, David shows where these factions fit into Shattered Galaxy: 

I am always intrigued as to why an author writes a novel. David provides this background to why he wrote Star Wolf: 

I’ve always loved Sci-Fi but was never sure if I could write it as deeply as I write Fantasy. The main character for Star Wolf, a wolf-anthro named Molon Hawkins, came about as part of a collaboration I did with other authors in my Christian Authors Group, Iron Sharpening Iron. We each submitted a character and then wrote our own multiverse reinventions using all the characters from all of the authors. That series was call Realms of Our Own and the stories can be found on Amazon. Molon was my submission. The more I thought about the character, the more I felt driven to flesh out the “real” Molon, not as part of a multiverse, but in his own setting. I had an idea for a vast setting I planned for several different storylines, and where Molon fits right in. So I fleshed out the Shattered Galaxy setting and Star Wolf was born.

David always writes from a Biblical Worldview and his explanation below is no surprise in relation to Star Wolf:

The main ideas I wrestle with in Star Wolf are: 1) What if the Messiah tarries in His return? We have no idea when Jesus will come back, so what will faith look like several centuries in the future if we are still waiting? 2) What if we discover alien life? There are many theories, but there is nothing in Scripture that expressly says there are NOT other life forms out there. How do they fit into the fall? How do they fit into the coming judgment and redemption? I wrestle a bit with those topics in Star Wolf as well.

David is very proud of this novel and I am not surprised: 

I personally feel this book is my best yet. I am very proud of how Star Wolf turned out, and already from early reviews, it seems critics agree. I hope you enjoy reading Star Wolf as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The critics are those who have submitted a review on Amazon:  

ByGreen Fire on July 9, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoy Johnson's books and this one is no exception. What I like about Star Wolf is it's potential to be on the same level as a Star Trek and Star War and other sci-fi space opera adventures. I loved the political intrigue, the various alien races, and the adventure woven through the narrative. Interestingly enough, Johnson uses a different take on the concept of angels and demons as being another sort of race that God created as opposed to spiritual beings.

The characters each have their own life in the story, from major to minor so that you can relate to each one. There are some twists and turns in the story, especially toward the end that will blow your mind.

One thing that some readers may find a little cumbersome is keeping track of everything because there's a lot going on with factions, aliens, humans, political alliances, galactic terms, character call signs, procedures, factions, and etc so there's constant references to them so you may think it will slow you up. Never fear, there's a glossary at the end of the book which is most helpful.

A wonderful story!

on July 29, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed this so much! So many times, I'd stop and think, "how did he even think that up?!" Admittedly, I'm a Star Trek/Star Wars gal, but I rarely read books of this genre; I watch the movies. Star Wolf took me to space in my mind, and David's descriptions are so well done, that I could "see" it all. Recommended for anyone, but as a homeschool mom, I'm always looking for things my kids can also read, and I HIGHLY recommend this especially for any Jr High or High School student looking for a fun read. You won't be disappointed.

on July 3, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition

We’ve been waiting for this one for a while, and it’s worth the wait. David just released a new book, & Star Wolf provides great entertainment and some spiritual truth. As you know, I regularly pan pure entertainment as a waste of time. But DGJ has definitely kicked it up a notch.

I can’t remember that last time I gave five stars. But then, it may just be all the non-Christian books I’ve been reading lately. The joy of Star Wolf is the presence of realistic believers, with many levels of belief and understanding. There’s no preaching, just the “living” witness of his constructed characters.

I liked the fact that the aliens were all considered part of Creation with a possibility of salvation—though that is never mentioned, really. I found the angels and demons as alien races to be a bit outside scripture, but it fits with the narrative and the suspension of unbelief comes easily. This is fiction, and David was obviously very careful to avoid anti-Biblical speculation.

Star Wolf provides great entertainment and some spiritual truth
I loved the writing. It reminds me of the wry humor found in the old Clancy or Asimov books—turns of phrase that had me annoying my wife with “listen to this one…”.

The scenarios are often outrageous, but always conceivable. The levels of tension rise and fall well. I found myself really caring for the characters—even the nasty ones. It takes real skill to give us compassion for the evil guys and gals.

It’s not hard science fiction, but quite believable. It’s certainly internally consistent, and that’s the basic need. The Shattered Galaxy is a bit over the top. But David’s worlds are always nearly overly detailed. But, I love the detail, though I know many are not so enthusiastic.

It’s just religious fiction, so far. No radically transformative salvations yet. But I expect that will be fixed in future books. It’s a wonderful world to explore and I can’t wait for book 2.

I was given a review copy with no strings. I can’t help it that I loved the book.

on July 29, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition

Star Wolf by David G. Johnson is clearly one of the most entertaining Christian sci-fi novels I have read. His sophonts (aliens) rank among the most clearly written and developed aliens I have read lately in sci-fi, Christian or secular.

Captain Molon Hawkins is a very well developed character, believable and real, and the interactions between him and his crew are engaging.

The book is not hard sci-fi, but the tech is both well reasoned and intriguing. As the characters interact with their environment, it is easy to picture the weaponry, medical equipment or enhancements. I enjoyed his description of travelling through voidspace. Although some characters tend to explain rather than show what they are feeling and thinking, the characters themselves are consistent and well rounded, and I have to say that David Johnson has nailed those action scenes! Space battles can be confusing, but I found the combat sequences both exciting and clearly drawn. (Very nicely done, sir!)

Sometimes, jargon in sci-fi and fantasy can be a tad ridiculous, but this definitely is not the case here. His characters utilize the slang, jargon and colloquialisms naturally, and adding a level of realism as they needle, encourage, or berate each other.

All in all, if you read Christian sci-fi, this is a good bet. Me? I'm looking forward to what happens to Molon and Twitch and the rest of the crew of the Star Wolf next.

Things I liked about this book:
I really liked that there was very little heat and no profanity. There was violence, but nothing gory or gratuitous. The world building was terrific- you could tell that the author had spent a lot of time on it. The plot was well executed -it had twists and turns that I did not expect.

Things I didn't like:
Occasionally the author spent time on world building that didn't seem plot related, and it slowed down the pace. The character Molon, who is pictured on the cover, is not the point of view character but is the hero. I thought that was a little awkward. There was a lot of fighting, and though I'm sure fans of military sci-fi will love that, I think I would have preferred a little more exploration of the interesting local cultures.

I would recommend this for age 15 and up due to violence.
Disclaimer- the author lent me a copy from his Kindle and asked for an unbiased review.

I need to make mention of David's previous trilogy, The Chadash Chronicles. These can be bought individually or in the Omnibus Edition (pictured left and this has a special bonus, the prequel novella, Saga of the Everking, where you can get a sneak peek at one of our heroes, Goldain, set eight years before the events of the Chadash Chronicles trilogy.)

Here are some Amazon reviews of this Omnibus Edition: 

ByPeter Younghusband on December 3, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

The hook that baited me in reading this series and its prequel was the Prologue in Fool's Errand. I was very impressed with this on its own and it could be read and considered a standalone short story. This forms the basis of the world building that Johnson is well known for. Throughout the Chadash Chronicles, Johnson takes us back to these roots in the various plots twists and turns and this forms a solid anchor from which the entire series is secured. The same can be said for Saga of the Everking. This is a great standalone novella and there are traces of this story scattered throughout the Chadash Chronicles which further builds upon this world building and supports and enhances that which is outlined in the Prologue.

Even in each of the three books of The Chadash Chronicles, Johnston builds upon the previous instalment's worldbuilding so as the reader progresses in each story, they are being treated to a richness of this world that just gets deeper and more layered.

The same can be said for his plot structure and characterization. This series is one where you become extremely lost in both these structures and find it hard to return to the reality of life. Johnson's plot developments, twists and turns not only keep you reading, but are constructed to provide a very detailed storyline. This together with his characterisations forms a closely knitted fabric throughout the entire series. You become so endeared to the characters that you feel you are with them, you laugh with them and at their antics, you experience their joy, their pain, their disappointments, their despair, you are fighting alongside them, you might even feel a bruise or two! But above all, there are many characters that you learn to love, respect, admire, tolerate, hate even, so relational are the characters of Chadash. One of them even has a cult type following!

The spiritual elements are very powerful and based on those of Bible and Johnson's own personal experience before and after he became a Christian. His testimony at the end of each book of the trilogy is powerful and shows the depth of his commitment to represent the God of the Bible and the God of his life. It also shows his author's heart for a great story and his passion for creating the same. However, if there is one thing that Johnson shines in and is an expert in, is the integration of the foundational Bible tenets into his story creating without it being obvious and again forms the basis of a deep and rich spiritual world building. Many readers who are not Christian or have any religious upbringing have stated in their reviews or in correspondence to the author that they loved the spiritual themes, did not feel they were being preached to, or bible bashed.

Although Johnson ends the series well, I was left with the feeling that there should be or could be more in the future. It is comforting to know that the author is planning more. I am looking forward to this.

All in all, one memorable and cleverly constructed fantasy world. If a reader was new to fantasy, this would be more than a good introduction to this genre; this would one of the best introductions and one to keep you searching for more like this.

Highly Recommended.

on December 5, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
I loved this series! I can't say enough about how fantastic it is or the crystal clarity Johnson writes with, to introduce us to a world so different from our own. Upon entering this series for the first time, I was instantly captivated by the characters, the story and the very IDEA of what he wanted to accomplish within the plot. Needless to say, he managed it and drew me into a world that I never wanted to leave. The characters of the Chadash Chronicles are so real, so clear and relatable that I feel like I've found new friends that I can revisit again and again. The world - so different to our own and with creatures I could not have thought possible - becomes logical, real and mystifying for the very fact that I can see it all so clearly in my mind, thanks to Johnson's writing. There's only one word to sum up this series - Magic!

on November 6, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
This is fantasy the way we like it. An engrossing story, well told, on a very strange [but well-developed] world, involving wonderfully complex and interesting characters—good and bad: what more could you ask for? This is a great first series from an author sure to be a force in our industry. You are very fortunate to get everything in one package. My only problem with these books was the waiting necessary for the release of the next book in the series.

These can be bought individually as well. Here are the prequel novella and the Chadash Chronicles novels and their descriptions:

Rauno Velondar, Everking of the Qarahni, was blessed. He had a richly adorned hall, the love of his people, and a beautiful queen to rule by his side. Rauno had everything…except an heir. Desperate for a legacy that could rule the Qarahni nation, the ageing Everking turns to forbidden kashaph magic to produce an heir. A deal with a sorceress, the price for the future. Rauno gets more than he bargained for, before realizing how truly high that cost would be. The future of the Qarahni now teeters between three contenders for the throne: a female best-suited but forbidden to rule, a magic-twisted shaman unable to hold the nation united, and the king's pride, a son with a far more subtle affliction. Can the prospective successors find peace and keep the disparate clans a single, mighty nation, or will civil war erupt upon the death of the Everking? Find out in this novella introducing the world of the Chadash Chronicles by best-selling author David G. Johnson.

“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 Blue Mystic is on the loose and the heroes are on the lam.” As angelic powers continue their celestial struggle for control of Chadash, the unlikely heroes have broken the blockade of Dragon Pass only to find themselves fugitives and falsely accused of assault against the Cyrian royal family. Their investigations have discovered that a powerful magician called The Blue Mystic was the mastermind behind the blockade. Still remaining is the mystery of the Blue Mystic’s identity and reasons for jeopardizing the peace between Parynland and Cyria. As the elusive Mystic remains determined to cause conflict in the region, the heroes must unmask the villain and see the enigmatic mage brought to justice while clearing their own names. Come along as the heroes seek to untangle the web of intrigue in The Chadash Chronicles Book Two: Mystic’s Mayhem.

“The Blue Mystic’s reign of terror is over. Peace and order have been restored to the northwestern nations and all is as it should be…or is it?” After decades of estrangement, the sibling-monarchs, Paryn and Cyrus, have begun deepening the bond of brotherly love and peace between their kingdoms. Unfortunately, someone hijacked the gold Paryn promised to send for relief to Cyrus’s impoverished kingdom. The skills and experience of the Heroes of Dragon Pass are once again needed to help find the missing gold. Can they succeed? Our intrepid adventurers encounter traitors, pirates, bounty hunters, and foes from their past bent on revenge. Can the heroes fight off the myriad of evil forces opposing them? Can they restore the stolen gold to the desperately needy kingdom of Cyria? Will the breach of the promised aid return Cyria and Parynland to war? Discover the answers as you ride along with our heroes in the thrilling conclusion to the Chadash Chronicles in Book Three: Paryn’s Gold.

The Chadash Chronicles won the Reality Calling 2015 Redemptive Fiction Award 

If this post has whetted your appetite for more about David and his novels, please click on the links below for his social media outlets: 

Star Wolf can be purchased and/or previewed by clicking on the BUY/PREVIEW icons below: 

and The Chadash Chronicles can be purchased at Amazon by clicking on the links below: 

Readers and reviews are an author's best asset, so I encourage any reader who likes reading in the genres of Christian science fiction and fantasy, to consider reading The Chadash Chronicles, Saga of the Everking and Star Wolf and submit a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (or any other social media you subscribe to).

Friday, 6 October 2017

A New Beginning by Nate Allen

A new beginning? With the Credit Chip, anything is possible! Buried in debt? Erase it! Terrible credit score? Start over! In trouble with the law, now weighed down by a felony charge? POOF! There it goes… 

Ken Cardiff only wants to see his older brother get better. He can only hope the Credit Chip can help, but he can’t escape the chill settling on his spine. Since his brother got the Chip two days before, something in him has changed. 

Kyle Cardiff is lured in by the promise of a new beginning but he doesn’t know the cost. Only twenty-two years old and already more than familiar with the inside of a jail cell, he will do anything for just one more chance.

Rosy Matthews knows what the Credit Chip is. Trying to convince Ken, her Ken, that it’s the mark of the beast has brought more scoffs than anything else. She hopes it isn’t too late for Kyle, but she knows that it already is. 

When President Francis Abraham Pummel was only six years old, he should have died. But, the day he should have died was the day he lived. Now forty-two years old and approaching his second year in office, he has a plan to bring real change to anyone who will listen.

The Guru's Review:

I received this as a pre-release copy for review. It is also the first introduction to this author's writing. I must I am impressed. He writes well and definitely, knows how to engage his readers. 

I highlighted this novella in a recent Author/Novel Spotlight so was very pleased to receive this as an advanced reader's copy for review.

It is very refreshing to read a story in this genre, eschatological fiction, where the author has a different take on end times and notably the mark of the beast. It is a breath of fresh air from the popular but controversial series, Left Behind by LaHaye and Jenkins. It is more conceivable that receiving the mark as in this short story, microchip and tattoo has more connected to it than just the presence of these two physical manifestations. This can be the first difference to the Left Behind series. But I am not going to compare the latter to this new series by Allen. 

I read a few months ago another novel where the mark of the beast had something else attached to it that would make the recipient bound spiritually to the Antichrist and the spirit behind this, just as there is in this novella. The only difference is that in A New Beginning, it is a spiritual possession whereas, in the other novel, The Third Strand, another strand of DNA is added that not only rids the body of disease but enhances human performance thus changes the way we were created therefore God cannot claim us as His and we are therefore spiritually and physically bond to Satan.

Allen has created a fast-paced, engaging and enthralling story. Centred around two families and the President of the United States, these three plots arcs run together and intersect over this mark of the beast technology and the spiritual bondage that is behind it orchestrated by Satan who is manipulating and deceiving mankind through President Pummel.

Intertwined through this is the spiritual background of the two families, the Cardiffs and the Matthews. The Cardiffs are atheist while the Matthews are Christian. A love triangle between Rosy Matthews and Ken and Kyle Cardiff ends in jealousy and bitterness between Ken and Kyle. Kyle is bitter and angry about being compared unfavourably to younger brother Ken by his parents and this is even further compounded when Rosy rejects him over Ken. This leads to drug abuse and a jail sentence after falling in with the wrong crowd. Kyle is given the tattoo and microchip as promised from this new technology to erase his past mistakes and record. Kyle then begins to experience demon possession after the insertion of this microchip.

Allen then develops the plot arcs showing how the witness and prayer from Rosy concerning Ken and this technology influences Ken to consider the spiritual implications as outlined in Revelation and that the Bible is true as well as Jesus' claims as Saviour. Allen shows how the effects of demon possession/oppression lead Kyle to murder and further spiritual bondage all due to the microchip and the demonic power attached to it.

Allen is very good at the spiritual aspects. I loved the way he showed the different stages of growth and spiritual gifts the Matthews sisters of Rosy, Lily and Willow have with Jesus. Intertwined in this is how their mother, Melissa has struggled to cope with the grief of her deceased husband years before and how this has affected the relationship with her daughters and the spiritual effect this has had on them. With the murder of Rosy, Allen shows how Jesus is our Healer, Comforter, Restorer, appearing and speaking truth and encouragement to Willow, Lily and Mellisa in their grief over Rosy's death. Although Allen did not depict Jesus appearing to Ken, he did show how the veracity of the Word of God (Bible) is alive to those who seek Him and the seeds of faith are being watered and cultivated by His Word. 

Allen depicts the demonic aspects well. While the instances are not as prolific as other novels in this genre, Allen has depicted them mainly through the gift of spiritual sight that Lily has where she is able to see the spiritual entities/demons having their effect on the characters or he shows them affecting the character such as with President Pummel where his demonic oppression leading to possession starts from age 6 when he sustained a life-threatening accident but survived due to the influence of these spirits.  

I could not put this short story down and read it in one sitting over a few hours. Very enjoyable and impressive start to this series. I am hooked and look forward to this series unfolding. Allen describes this series as 
Think of TV seasons. Each tells a singular story, provides a climax, and sets up the arcs to come. I will be releasing A New Beginning in parts or "seasons". Once the story is done, I will release the entirety as a book. I wouldn't do this for any other story but no other story I am working on is as timely or spiritually relevant as this.
Allen is successful in living up to his claims here of this short story being timely and relevant as he states. It is daily accounts in the news of the move towards one world government, one world religion, attacks on Christians and Christianity, eradicating this from levels of society, a cashless society and implantable microchips for financial transactions and control. So based on this, it is easy to see why Allen considers it timely and spiritually relevant to show the spiritual and biblical worldview that is behind these events and to alert both Christians and non-Christians alike of the dangers of the anti-God sentiment and spiritual deception that is behind all this.  

The progression of President Pummel to being demonically oppressed to total possession and deceived into believing he is a god is well done and with the inclusion of the Revelation 13:1-3 account of this Antichrist suffering a fatal wound and then being resurrected adds to the credibility of Allen's plot arc and then deceiving the masses into believing that God has returned to them. 

Allen leaves the reader with a few major plot arcs unresolved and on the proverbial cliffhanger. The anticipation is high at this stage for the next instalment. It had better come fast, that is all I can say!

I consider that Allen is on a winner with this series. It is not only entertaining but uplifting to one's faith. It also gives some important insights into eschatology and the spiritual deception that is upon us now and that is only to get worse as Jesus' return is very close.

Highly Recommended. 

World Building 5/5

Characterisation 5/5

Story 5/5

Spiritual Level 5/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 4/5 

Overall Rating 4.8/5 Stars

A New Beginning can be purchased on Smashwords and Amazon (below). 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

The Last Magi (Christian Fantasy Series Book 3) by Bryan M. Powell

The Last Magi (Christian Fantasy Series Book 3) 

Israel has signed the Peace Accord.

The Third Temple is under construction.

The world holds its breath as the Ark of the Covenant is rediscovered,

And then stolen.

Having destroyed the witch’s medallion, Gasper and Colt prepare to return home when their world is turned upside down.

Led by Jacque de Molay St. John, the UN ambassador from France, Israel signs a Peace Accord with the PLO and the world is thrown into chaos. With the construction of the Fourth Temple underway, all eyes turn Israel.

But other forces are at work. A sinister organization discovered the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant and stole it. When the Institute in Antiquities is set on fire as a decoy, Colt and Gasper get separated. Colt, along with Israel’s sacred treasure, is taken deep into the Gaza Strip. Finding him becomes Gasper’s top priority, but in the process, he must find the Ark of the Covenant first. Little does he know there is a spiritual battle raging between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. Follow Gasper on a wild quest to save his young charge and stop the biblical clock from ticking.

Using biblical prophecy, top-selling author Bryan M. Powell masterfully weaves a captivating tale in his Epic Christian Fantasy Series. His spiritual warfare has been said to rival that of Frank Peretti as he tugs back the curtain to give his readers a peek at the unseen angelic forces all around us.  

This novel is to be released mid-October, 2017. 

The Guru's Review: 

This new novel by Powell is in a very unique position. It is better than the previous two making it the best of this trilogy. It is the shiniest jewel in the crown that is this series. 

It is different than the previous two in that those dealt with the curse from the Witch of Endor, this takes an entirely different plot twist that has nothing to do with the previous but does follow on with the Three Wise Men and Colt still being in Jerusalem from The Lost Medallion.

I love eschatological fiction and spiritual warfare. Powell ties these in together extremely well. I actually feel that he has applied the spiritual warfare aspects of the angelic better in this one than the previous. However, there is not as much demonic in this novel mainly towards the end and it is more descriptive than the previous two. This is not a criticism, just an observation and it is not a deficit either.

It has been good to see from this novel more of what Powell's talent and versatility are like in depicting storylines outside of the Witch of Endor plot of the previous two. I say this as I have only read those two novels so have not experienced his talent outside of this. I am looking forward to reading the other series he has, The Chase Newton and The Jared Russel Series. 

In this novel, Powell shows much diversity in plot development and showcases his knowledge of eschatology, specifically the events leading up to the Tribulation period. He has quite an extensive knowledge of this. It seems to me that he has used this novel to encourage readers to embrace what is encouraged in the Word about being discerning and not to be deceived. He has Pastor Wyatt encouraging his congregation to 

be ready, be watching and be witnessing
I feel this is part of the message that Powell wants to instil in the reader in this novel. The take home message if you will. It is always a risk when an author includes some type of teaching of a Biblical issue. It will either turn the reader off and have them skimming over that section or it will engage them and be successful in supporting the plot as well as educating the reader about the nature of the issue. Powell is successful in the latter here. He is very discerning about the issues relating to the Pre-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation and Post-Tribulation. His account of Pastor Wyatt's sermon at the end of the novel that espouses the above warning (quoted above) is well described, powerful and convincing. 

It there is one issue that will divide Christians is whether the Rapture will occur before, during or after the Tribulation (Pre, Mid or Post Tribulation). Powell seems to provide enough support biblically to suggest that he believes it will be Pre-Tribulation. He is very competent at dissecting the Word of God to show its meaning and applying this to today's debate on this issue. 

Powell has excelled himself in this third instalment. The pace and flow of are faster than the previous and much more involved, but this is due to the seriousness of the subject matter, that of the Peace Accord between Israel and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization).  The characters come into their own more so than in the previous. I am talking about Gaspar and Colt. Both these characters shine here. My respect for both of these has grown exponentially in this novel. If Gaspar felt that the Brotherhood of Wise Men was on the way out, he need not be concerned as Colt has shown the tenacity, motivation and vision to keep it going. I would love to see a fourth instalment with these two at the helm if just for one last adventure.

This is one action-packed adventure that has all the elements of a great read:  mystery, supernatural, good versus evil, edgy speculative themes, imaginative plot, redemptive themes, the love and mercy of God and it definitely lives up to its subtitle on the cover as Epic Thriller while the author espouses issues that Christians are expecting to see in the near future, relating to the end times or eschatology. This has become one of my favourite novels. There is so much in this novel that maybe even a second reading would be of great value.

As in the previous two novels, Powell does not hold back in showing the redemptive nature of God and his account here is powerful and tailored to suit the person being witnessed to. This is what I love about these accounts from Powell in all three novels. He knows how to tailor the Gospel to the recipient's situation. In the last instalment, Powell tailored the Gospel to witness to Simon Levi as a devout Jew and it was beautiful. In this novel, he has it tailored to Rabbi Musselmen and it appropriate to him being a Rabbi and not just a devout Jew. In another instance, it is just as appropriate with the conversion of Saul Mueller. I loved the supernatural dream that he had where God gave him a second chance and then the vision of Jesus talking to him from the Cross and about him to God. The follow-up from Colt upon his conversion was also appropriate and his challenge to Saul to confess to someone that he has just accepted Jesus is very biblical. Having Saul confront Jacques 
De Molay St John as the demon possession self-appointed world leader and tell him that he forgives him for what he did to his family just shows how the power of the Gospel and Jesus' death on the Cross can turn around one from pure hate and seeking vengeance to embracing and living forgiveness. Not an easy feat without the power of the Gospel. How many times do we see this in real life where someone who has been wronged so deeply is unable to forgive until they come to the saving power of this Gospel? We have all seen this where this bitterness, unforgiveness and vengeance-seeking takes over the person and changes them in such a destructive manner. 

Looking at how Powell has dealt with these conversions from all three novels, it seems to me that there are lessons here on how to witness to where the recipient is and in the situation they are in. No dumping of the Gospel on the person and leaving it at that. It reminds me of Jesus where He met people where they were at and His conversation was appropriate to who they were and what they were doing, such as the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus leads the way here on this issue and Powell has taken up this mantle to show us how to do this. It is all about being relational and building a relationship.

This is just an example how Christian fiction can not just entertain but uplift, educate and show the power of the Gospel unto salvation

There may not be as much demonic activity in this novel compared to the previous two but what Powell has included is more involved and descriptive than previous. Here we have Jacque de Molay St. John heavily influenced in the occult who takes it to full submission and becomes demon possessed. Powell has not portrayed the details of his possession to glorify the demonic but to show the evil nature of it and its destructive nature and deceptiveness. In doing so, it cannot be denied that it is entertaining but a very sobering entertainment at that. Again, this is not Powell's main motive here.

What I like about Powell's novels in relation to spiritual warfare is that he does not show the demonic being more powerful than the angelic or the saints (Christians) of God. I am reassured by this as this is the reality we live in when we accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We live and believe from a point of victory. God has won the battle over sin and death, and over Satan and any power he has. This is so successfully portrayed in this novel with the confrontation of the demonic forces of Jacques' army and those of Gaspar's and the various members of the host of Heaven.

I loved a quote from Powell in relation to this confrontation. Gaspar asks Prince Azrael (angel of the Host of Heaven) if he was afraid when confronting the demon that controlled Jacques De Molay St. John, 

Prince Azrael shook his head, "Satan's forces are defeated foes. We battle from a position of victory. He was never a real threat to you or your young charge"
A simple, short but empowering quote that is in my arsenal of spiritual truth. My prayer is that every Christian would live this out in their lives. It is just one of the many truths that are a given when we believe and accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. We do not need to be living a life of defeat or being afraid of Satan and the demonic or living in fear of any threat to us from them. They only have power over us if we give it to them and abandon this truth that is such powerful defence against him. 

Fans of Powell's novels will love this new instalment. I am very impressed with this one. I am very glad to have discovered this author. He is one who writes from the heart with a passion to see God glorified and for God to use his talent to equip readers in being ready for the spiritual battle we are involved as soon as we are redeemed and to show this reality to those who do not have a relationship with Christ yet. 

Highly Recommended. 

World Building 5/5

Characterisation 5/5

Story 5/5

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 4/5 

Overall Rating 4.6/5 Stars 


Spiritually, based on my review and on the following reference booklet,

A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that The Last Magi contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Redemptive Fiction outlined in this booklet, I award Bryan Powell with

The Reality Calling 
Redemptive Fiction Award

Congratulations, Bryan!