Friday 14 November 2014

Paryn's Gold: Chadash Chronicles Book 3 by David G Johnson

Paryn's Gold: Chadash Chronicles Book 3 by David G Johnson.

“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 Guru's Review:

I reckon there needs to be a new area of psychiatry that focuses on helping readers transition from the fictional world that they have become lost in and back to the reality of their real world. I know other readers will agree with me that there are withdrawal symptoms that one experiences every time one has to leave the fictional world and return to reality. These symptoms are the worst at the end of the book regardless whether standalone novel or trilogy/series. At least if you are in a trilogy or series there is always the next book to read so you can delay these inevitable withdrawal symptoms and remain in the blissful alternative world until it ends. And oh my, having to cope with waiting until that next instalment is released! Can this ever be achieved? I wonder if a reader could sue an author for pain and suffering and depression for creating believable, alternative worlds that the reader feels at one with, but is forced to leave because the author decides the book has to end?

Well, such is my mental state after reading this last instalment in the Chadash Chronicles! I must state though, that I could/would never sue Johnson or any other author for putting me in such a position! A desirable state of mental illness this is and I guess, I am glad it is a temporary one!

I was introduced to the world of Chadash when the first two books were already released so avoided the withdrawal symptoms and depression in transitioning from Fool's Errand back to reality and to wait for book 2, Mystic's Mayhem. But from this second book to Paryn's Gold, I have not been so fortunate. Both of these symptoms I had to live with! Knowing that this next instalment was on the near horizon, maybe I should have read the first two instalments before this one like author and fellow reviewer, David Bergsland, did! This might have helped me cope better! However, when Johnson put out a call for volunteers to read an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) of this book, my depression lifted, I no longer had withdrawal symptoms and life was worth living again!

Paryn's Gold flows nicely from the Mystic Mayhem's cliffhanger end. I loved the start where possibly the most hated and evil character in the entire series, Felonius, (next to Dadao) sets out to exact his revenge on Melizar and Thatcher for the death of his wife, Pernicious, that occurred in this cliffhanger. From there, the plot thickens as they say, and creates a life of its own. From this point on, I was well and truly at peace with life as I had settled back into my second home with those characters I have come to love and respect and admittedly, hate or despise! (Hmm, getting back to that lawsuit, can I sue the author for invoking such negative and destructive feelings in a reader such as myself?). The way Johnson has developed the depth of revenge really does encourage you to read further even if you don't like what Felonius has planned and what this xueshi (blood-grudge) entails. The fact that this is not fully explained at this point also encourages you to read on to find out!

As I continued on in the plot, I chuckled at the plight of the Heroes of Dragon Pass as they were plunged in the middle of a three pronged tug of war. On one hand, there was Felonius and his band of revenge seekers hunting for Melizar and Thatcher (who are with the rest of the Heroes), and on the other, there was Marcus and his cohorts seeking the Heroes because they believed the Heroes stole Paryn's Gold, and then there is Jacob who enlisted the Heroes help (through Gideon) to recover the Gold and use them to retrieve it for his own revenge against the Cyrians and hence, the Heroes sought to sort all this out! I reckon this is more than enough to keep the plot moving and the reader absorbed in the story. Worked for me! 

It is from this point on that the plot and action revs up and where Johnson introduces new characters, plot developments, and further develops the relationships established in books 1 and 2. It was pure joy to become lost in Chadash once again.

I can see why there have been comments made that this is Johnson's best out of the trilogy and that it can be read as a standalone. Yes, I would agree, but I feel to only read this novel is really selling the reader short as for any reader to get the full benefit and experience the richness and wonder of this masterfully created world, it would be prudent to read the prequel Saga of the Everking, and then books 1 and 2 first. 

This instalment is very consistent with the previous two as far as action, plot, character development is concerned, but I feel in this one, there is an increase in the spiritual aspects. Here is where Johnson shines. He has a way of presenting the Gospel that suit the plot or character interaction and  it is not preachy and there is a gentleness and strength to this. Two instances are where Thatcher talks to Gideon about witnessing to Goldain and Gideon's counsel is wise but truthful and Gideon encouraging Melizar about the truth of the One Lord. For me, this is where I believe the Spirit uses Johnson's experiences as a missionary and his heart after God to minister to the reader who is seeking God or the Christian who may be having trouble with their faith. I must confess, I teared up reading both of these accounts especially the latter with Melizar. One highlight of this novel for me was the conversion of Melizar to faith in the One Lord. I jumped for joy, figuratively speaking and physically. I had a feeling this would happen as there were subtle hints planted in book 2, just like there were for Thatcher as well. Another highlight was the prophecy that Duncan was given by Hadaram, patron Malakim of the Durgak. What a valuable lesson Johnson has portrayed in Duncan fulfilling this prophecy and paving the way for Melizar to finally consider the One Lord as the only one to follow. It was very beautifully depicted Duncan laying down his life for Melizar and this act being the catalyst for Melizar to consider the reality of the One Lord.

As with the previous two novels, it is the Prologue that forms the backbone to each novel and gives information about the continuing battle by the Ayabim and Malakim for the lives of humans that is outlined in the first Prologue of Fool's Errand. I am still stunned as to the depth of imagination and writing that exists in this very first Prologue. I remember well reading this on a crowded train, my only thought was, "Wow!, This is just fantastic!" and nearly missing my destination train stop! I have often thought that maybe this first Prologue should be included in each instalment to refresh the reader's memory of how creative and well constructed this world of Chadash is and why it exists. Johnson is one very talented master world builder! One has only to read the Glossary at the end of this novel to discover the depth of this world. Even the detailed map of Ya-Erets supports this and is a necessary inclusion. There is so much in these novels that I feel it would be worth making the best of the e-book technology to enhance the reader's enjoyment and reading experience by making the various specific words, names and locations clickable to take the reader to the Glossary if they needed to refresh their memory or increase their understanding. I had the Glossary and map of Ya-Erets bookmarked on my Kindle so I could refer to this quickly and easily for this purpose.

I have said this before that if any reader who does not know what this author is about, they only have to read each Foreword and Afterword and will be introduced to the transparency of Johnson in his faith and love of God and how he openly states what his aims and motivation is for this trilogy are, (from the Forword), form a bridge between secular fans of fantasy and science-fiction literature and mainstream Christian readers.
and Afterword,
.....I hope that the books in the Chadash Chroicles series can be a bridge and a learning point for both Christians and secular readers alike. For Christians, there are deeper elements of understanding Hebrew tradition, culture and language that can be gleaned from within the story...There is also, hopefully, modeled in the pages examples of Christian character by one of the protagonists, Gideon, who hopefully exemplifies a human, flawed buy 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 with the personality of Gideon.
For the secular is my hope in the pages of these books that by seeing the interaction the believer characters have with unbelievers, one might see a more biblical model of what should happen when Christians meet and interact with others of differing worldviews.
And very successfully does Johnson achieve this. It is this that forms the richness and depth to this wonderful world of Chadash. I mentioned in my review of book 1 or 2 that I could relate to Gideon very well.

My only negative in this instalment, is that I felt the ending was a bit rushed and ended too quickly. I also felt that there was one character Felonius and the plot line concerning him was not tied up satisfactorily, but after speaking to Johnson via Facebook about this, he told me,

Yeah, let me just say this is not the last we will see of our Mitsar assassin. He and a few others (...Jeslyn, Al-Kali, Xiao Hong, and the bounty hunters) will all be making a prominent appearance in the Wizards War trilogy...with a few surprises. Tink will be back too, and so will Malandyr.
So from this we have clues to the next series, the Wizards War trilogy. I can hardly wait! It is so good to know that Paryn's Gold is not the end of this wonderful world of Chadash, and all these wonderful characters that I have now considered family.

Highly Recommended.

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