pinterest-7bf66.html Reviews by Peter: The Witch and the Wise Men (Christian Fantasy Series Book 1) by Bryan M Powell

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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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Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Witch and the Wise Men (Christian Fantasy Series Book 1) by Bryan M Powell

The Witch and the Wise Men

An ancient medallion is discovered,

An evil spirit is awakened,

A witch’s curse is broken …

And the wise men of Bethlehem are called upon to face the ultimate evil.

When Mrs White and her daughter, Abby, moved to North Hamilton, a quiet town tucked away in the north Georgia mountains, little did the community suspect her real intentions. Then things began to happen … unexplainable things … dark things.

Sitting at a table illuminated by a single candle, Mrs White, who calls herself the White Witch, reads the inscription on an ancient medallion. Halfway around the world, a spirit awakens.

It had been summoned.

Thirsty for blood, it possesses the White Witch and makes its demands known. “Give me a child for the Dark Lord.”

After two thousand years, the wise men of Bethlehem are released from the Witch of Endor’s curse and find themselves in North Hamilton in the 21st century. Longing to return to their homes, they soon realize they can’t … not until they complete their mission … to save a Jewish child from the Dark Lord and destroy the Witch.

Once again, nine-time published contemporary Christian fiction author, Bryan M. Powell, masterfully crafts a spellbinding tale of love and redemption around spiritual warfare. As the battle between demonic forces and Heavenly hosts builds to a breathtaking crescendo, one truth becomes clear; the importance of the praying church.

On the order of Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, this novel will keep you reading all night … with the lights on.

The Guru's Review:

This is the first novel from Powell and I am very impressed! I will definitely be reading the sequel, The Lost Medallion, and his other fiction.

This is a great spiritual warfare novel. As described in above, it is in the style of Peretti, the originator of this style. And it is this that I love. Quite a compliment to Peretti when many authors have reproduced this style to show spiritual warfare. Even if this depiction is not entirely how it happens spiritually, it still serves to show that we fight not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm (see Ephesians 6:10). Just another example how Christian fiction can not only entertain, but equip those who have accepted Jesus' offer of salvation (regarded as saints in the Bible) for Christian living. In this novel, it is how to fight and overcome demonic forces listed above doing this in His strength and not our own.

This latter practice is highlighted by Powell through the Wise Men trying to fight the demonic forces of the Witch of Endor in their own strength and wisdom with the end result very limited success until God shows them that they need to do this in the strength of the Lord, as Balthazar declares,

"Men, this was why we failed a few hours ago. We were battling in our own strength and not in the strength of the Lord of Hosts. Now, with the power of these prayers, I feel it is time to act. Let's reassemble in the parking lot and get ready to go... it is to our shame and regret that we did not employ the mighty power of prayer before now my friends."
And Melchior nodded. '"And they call us Wise Men," he glanced in the direction of the Nativity scene. "Those are wise ones, those who humbled themselves before the mighty hand of God. I have never seen such a demonstration of power in my lifetime."
And it was through the prayers of the saints that God acted, instructing His angelic army to do battle with the god of this age (Satan, the son of perdition) and by His power, they were to defeat this foe in his latest endeavour to become the antichrist as prophesied. It was this revelation of the Wise Men that enabled them to act on their mistake, refocus on God and His power to fight the coven and the white witch.

Powell uses the name of God by the Wise Men in this instance as the Lord Sabaoth, or in the Hebrew, it is Yahweh Tsebaoth meaning, Lord of Hosts. I loved this inclusion as I feel authors need to include the names of God when they are describing the various attributes, titles or character traits of God. Ann Spangler, in her Praying the Names of God says about this name,

Yahweh Tsebaoth is a title of great power. It occurs more than 240 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, reminding us that all of creation, even in its fallen condition, is under God's rule and reign. At times Scripture speaks of the Lord of Hosts leading a great army. Cherubim and Seraphim; sun and moon; stars and sky; rivers and mountains; hail and snow: men and women; animals, wild and tame - all these worship the Lord and are at times called to fight on His behalf.
Just as we are to know who our enemy is, we are encouraged in the Word to always be on our guard against him, as 1 Peter 5:8 exhorts us to
Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour.
Powell illustrates what happens when we are not like this through two characters of North Hamilton Bible Church. When the white witch arrived in town, things began to happen which no one could explain. At first, no one noticed the change but as the evidence of demonic activity began to manifest itself, one man, Todd Huntley, became concerned. He called it vibes, or intuition, but his friend, Bill Koontz, dismissed it as high school pranks. Only Todd was not so sure. He had more than an inkling that this is something that needed addressing spiritually and had enough discernment to do something about it, the most relevant and spiritually appropriate action, and one God himself instructs us to do in everything, he prayed,
(pleading) the blood of Christ on behalf of his family, his church, his pastor, his nation.... for thirty minutes
and his son,
protect my son, his name is Ty, he wants to do right, but he has his weaknesses.
Yet, it is Bill who later is depicted as having a keen awareness of the presence of God and shows such spiritual discernment towards another member of the community who showed signs of being demonically deceived and he prayed fervently for her spiritual safety. I found this inconsistent and confusing with the depiction of this character. I am certain that this is not intentional by this author.

Powell is very good at interweaving plot arcs, characterization and the spiritual warfare aspects to produce one suspenseful, thriller type reading experience.To use a few cliches, you hit the ground running from page one. You cannot put this novel down. The pace does not let up as the plot unfolds. Powell starts this right from the Prologue and that sets the stage effectively for the rest of the novel.

In any novel, the reader needs to be able to relate to the characters and these need to be relational and well developed. Powell succeeds here. These characters have flaws in various forms and he shows their brokenness that can result from this. You feel for Ty as he is set up to fail in protecting Samm but wins through at the end. You feel for Samm as she acts on her feelings of alienation from her parents and makes some devasting choices in the process, the worst being to provide a baby for demonic sacrifice to herald in the son of perdition and so fulfil prophecy. You feel the despair and desperation of Angela who wants a baby but cannot and understand how this could (and does in real life) motive such a person to consider kidnapping a baby. You feel for Scott and his disillusionment in being a puppet Pastor and being less than his Godly calling with the bitterness and resentment that follows. I especially identified with the Myers being estranged from their daughter, Samm. Being a parent, I wondered how devastating this would be, not that I wish it to be so but it happens more and more in today's world.

I found it encouraging that the spiritual warfare going on around them, contributed to bringing their brokenness to a head, so at the end of the novel, all characters were brought to the realisation of the one thing that they needed: the redemptive power of Christ. For those who were Christian such as Scott, Angela and the Deacon Committee, they needed to return to their first love of Christ and be restored to Him in righteousness through forgiveness. Ty needed to realise what true love really means no matter what the other had done and forgiveness was the door for him to experience this with Samm. For the Myers family, Cindy, Jacob and Samm need to accept Christ for who He is.

I loved how the Gospel was presented to Cindy and Jacob Myers. Powell has presented in a brief and concise way the specific issues concerning witnessing to those of Jewish faith and I was impressed by his dealing with this. I love Isaiah 53. With this plot arc, some would see as being preachy, but I cannot see how this could be any other way in this story. Sometimes it just has to be. Why should an author hold back the Gospel just because readers might be offended? This is how the Gospel ministers to people and meets their needs, but only if they allow themselves to be open to it and respond.

Powell is on a winner with having this whole novel centred around the Wise Men. They were a unifying force of all the events and characters. Listening to an interview about this novel, he explains that he wondered what happened to the Wise Men after the Biblical account. Yes, they were .instructed to not to return to Jerusalem and to leave another way after worshipping the Christ child. But what happened to them after this? It is here that Powell raises the speculative question of "What if?" and this novel is his imaginative account of this. I feel it is very successful and engaging.
I especially loved Balthazar ministering to the Myers. That was powerful and memorable. What was also memorable was the relationship between the three of them. What some of the characters perceived as an unhealthy banter between them, is really one based on what it would be like to know someone on a platonic level for more than 2 thousand years! 

As Balthazar explains to Colt, 
You must understand my young friend, we have known each other over two millennium. We have traveled across the vast desert from our homeland to the great cities of the east only to be reduced to three clay figurines. And then bartered and traded for trinkets or tobacco and left to rot in a smelly barn. Now that we have been brought back to life, we have alot of catching up to do. 
And Melchior continues, 
"what my lord is trying to say is, we care alot for each other, and well, it's good to be alive.....again"
The banter between Balthazar and Gaspar is really quite funny. I loved Gaspar's whining and speaking before he thinks and his impulsiveness with Balthazar being the one to bring him back in line. Melchior seems to be the one more balanced but quieter one in the middle of them. 

I cannot continue this review without mention of Colt, the quiet achiever and the Wise Men's confidant and assistant. This adolescent seemed unaffected by any of the events of this spiritual warfare going on in his town and affecting his family and church. He showed no fear but courage and conviction to do what is right. Quite a neutral character compared to the other characters, but an effective one. I would say he is one of the heroes of this novel. I am glad to see him in the next one where he seems to come into his own more judging by the novel's description. 

Powell has not glorified the demonic in this novel. He has depicted it to show what the demonic is like and how deceptive it is. While readers may be horrified at human sacrifice, especially involving babies, this is not poetic licence on Powell's part. Human sacrifice is one of the main tenets of the occult. Another realism is occult followers reacting violently whenever the name of Jesus is mentioned or anything associated with Him. Even Samm experienced similar when Ty took her to church.

I have not investigated all occult practices but the depiction of how Satan was "conjured" and almost arrived in spiritual form was very compelling. I have read it like this in a few other Christian novels and the occasional TV show so they may be some elements of truth here. And I cannot discount the fact that Powell most likely has researched this. It would add credibility to the novel and himself as an author to have done so.

I am so glad I came across Powell in a Facebook group. I have been very blessed with this novel and I have no doubt that the sequel to this novel is going to be just as uplifting and equipping in spiritual warfare as this one. 

Strongly 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 

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

A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that The Witch and the Wise Men 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!



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