Sunday 27 July 2014

Mystic's Mayhem (Chadesh Chronicles Book 2) by David G Johnson

Mystic's Mayhem (Chadesh Chronicles Book 2) 

"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 Chadash Chronicles Book Two: Mystic's Mayhem.

The Guru's Review: 

After reading other reviews of this book, I agree with those who state that readers of Book 1, Fools Errand, need to have Book 2 to immediately read once they have finished Book 1. Fool's Errand leaves you hanging off the proverbial cliff. I immediately started Mystic's Mayhem as I desperately needed to have this saga continue to see what was going to happen next and loose ends tied up. Johnson does not disappoint here as the beginning of this second book is an immediate continuation from the first, and the transition is very smooth. 

Once this happens, the feeling is that it is so good to be back with the heroes of Dragons Pass, as they are called, and in their world. Feels like coming home. In this instalment, the plot is further developed and so are the all familiar characters; even the new ones. The pace is the same as in the first book and in places a bit faster. I would say that this second book is better than the first and it is great to see that this does not suffer from the traditional reputation that some second books have in that they are not as good as or better than the first and then let the first book down, and having read two novels and one short story of Johnson's, I cannot see that he could do that. His standard is very consistent in all his writing from character development, plot structure and pace. And that standard is a very high one and one that he does not have any trouble delivering. 

Part of this standard is to be thorough. Johnson is very comprehensive in all the elements and structure of his novels. He includes background information to his characters, their language, race, culture, spirituality, doctrines and beliefs, the same for the different geographical areas of Ya-Erets. This provision occurs as the scene or event happens or when something is specifically mentioned about a character, so you are in the know straight away. The result is a richness and depth to all these elements and the reader becomes endeared to the characters either affectionately or with disdain. Read the reviews on Amazon and you will see my point here, those mentioned are Melizar and Thatcher being well liked, and respect and admiration for Gideon. One does not need to go through 2 novels to get to this stage where the reader falls in either camp for the characters. The same happens in this novel with the introduction of new characters. In some other novels, the same timing of this information ends up being a distraction and disjointedness to the plot and pace and annoys the reader immensely, but in both the Chronicles, this actually unites the characters and plot while adding to the aforementioned depth and richness of the created world Johnson so masterfully creates. 

I loved this novel so much, I had trouble returning to the reality of life. When I sent David a message saying that I had this review half finished he was eager to know what I thought. I stated, 
I am in withdrawal now as I have to accept that I have to come back to the real world. I was so happy and at peace in the world of Chadash and Ya-Erets! You have to get Book 3 completed!
There are many reasons to why this was for me. Overall, I believe it is the richness and depth I have already mentioned. Next, it is those characters that are believers in the One Lord, they are all relational, they have depth, they have integrity, and as Johnson says, 
The believers in the story are not some ideal, story book impossibly perfect cardboard cutouts. They have flaws, they have prejudices, they have times when their words are grounded in the flesh rather than in the Spirit, but overall, their heart is in the right place, and when they are reminded of what they should be or where they have fallen short, the response is a humble heart and a repentant spirit, which should be the earmarks of a follower of Christ. 
Even some of other characters who follow the Ayabim, have many redeemable features. Good examples here (and there are more) are Thatcher, Melizar, Arreya, Jeslyn, and it is very easy to find yourself liking these characters despite knowing they worship the demonic angelic powers while others on this same side, such as those who are in cohorts with the Blue Mystic, are definitely not for any redeemable future, at least not any that is in shown in this instalment and of course, the reader finds they have a disdain, contempt and dislike for them and the evilness they exude and exact on the other characters especially the Heroes of Dragon's Pass.  

This is what I love about Johnson and his writing. His characters are real, you identify with them, you feel you know them, that they become part of your extended circle of friends. I can fully relate to their flaws. Is this because I have the same/similar shortcomings? Absolutely! Are they created by Johnson because of his past experience as a Pastor? I believe so and I also feel it is due to his love for the One Lord and how much the heart of God is infused in his and has transformed him as the Spirit seeks to do in all of us.  Some might consider I am laying on the praise to him here, but I am not first and foremost, just pointing out that his motive for writing is out of his passion for the things of God and having a heart after God. This shows in his writing. I did not feel I was getting only from Johnson's talent and creativity but rather what is primarily from the heart of God as I read this novel. I felt His presence in this novel, and I know Johnson has been used mightily by God in this. I feel he would agree that this is so. 

To me, this is another example of where and how God uses Christian authors, and Christian fiction to uplift, educate, entertain and challenge the believer  as well as the non-believer. This is one reason I read specifically Christian fiction.

Again, Johnson shares this same feeling, 
It is my deepest hope that the bridge of understanding created for readers of this work will result in better communication and interaction between believers and those who do not understand things the same way. I pray that this will foster more open communication and fellowship and show that just because someone does not understand things in the same way you do, it is not automatically a cause for strife and animosity. Ultimately, I hope that these books will help unbelievers better understand the motivation genuine Christians have when they reach out to you and share with you the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not a motivation of superiority, of judgement, or of oppressively forcing their beliefs onto you, but it is a motivation of love and concern. If Christians truly believe what we claim to believe, we cannot truly love others while keeping what we believe to be the truth and answer to eternal life from them. 
Many reviewers and others have compared these Chronicles and Johnson's writing to that of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. It would be an injustice to Johnson to say that he has modeled his writing and fantasy on this author in a copy cat style, but it most likely has definitely been a minor influence. However, where Johnson proves he has his own style and motive apart from this Lewis influence is in his Foreward. In my review of Fool's Errand, I outlined and showed examples from that book's Foreward where Johnson's motives, passion and creatively comes from. Here the reader sees exactly what makes this author tick, where his inspiration and creativity lie and his single motivation for writing Christian based fantasy. The same proof lies in the Foreword for this second Chronicle. I was impressed with this first Forward and I am again impressed with this second. I feel that any reader is selling themselves short if they do not read this Foreword. This trilogy flows well from what is revealed about Johnson in these Forewords.

Knowing where an author gets his inspiration from, why he writes, what he attempts to achieve, and in most cases does achieve, only enhances the reader's experience and appreciation of the unique world created by an author and also appreciate the author for who he is and his commitment to his craft. This is very evident in both Forewords that Johnson has so sincerely and genuinely written, showing some of the inner soul of this man who loves fantasy, loves his Lord and loves engaging his readers in his world that he feels needs to be shared with us. If his Forewords could be viewed as an author pouring out his soul as a writer, then Johnson shows this vulnerability as a strength as a person and author. I would love to see other authors do this where it would enhance the reader's experience and the story and world created by that author. 

There is so much more I could say about Mystic's Mayhem, but this review is long enough. I left the world of Chadash and Ya-Erets with sadness and miss my friends there, but there is much hope now that the third instalment is on the near horizon and the news that this series will continue beyond this third book!

Highly Recommended.

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