Sunday 22 February 2015

The Fist of God (Agarthi Conspiracy Book 1) by M. E. Brines

The Fist of God (Agarthi Conspiracy Book 1)

What if the Second World War wasn't just the largest war in history, but a supernatural struggle between spiritual entities? 

It’s 1940 and the fires of war have set Europe ablaze, but America remains blissfully neutral. To please his parents, sceptical Stuart Mackenzie studies to become a minister. He has about as much concern for the outcome of the war as he does for South American sports scores. But his idealistic brother, a former bootlegger with ties to the Purple Gang, volunteers for the Royal Air Force. And when his Hurricane is shot down, Stuart abandons his studies to seek bloodthirsty revenge. 

But what he discovers unravels his world-view. Can a confirmed sceptic defeat a coven of Nazi sorcerers on their home ground? What chance will the mundane weapons of the Allied powers have against ancient magic and an artefact said to have slain the very Son of God?

The Guru's Review: 

This is my first book of Brines and it was the plot and genre that really attracted me to this. I had originally bought his short, The Spear of Destiny, which is a sub-plot of this novel, but when The Fist of God was reduced in price, it was too good to pass up. 

The first impression I received is that Brines writes extremely well and this novel is such a joy to read from that perspective. He is also very good at the first person narrative and this makes the main character Stuart Mackenzie one very three-dimensional character and very relational. Two strong pillars on which to build a very entertaining novel. 

Brines obviously has a passion for two main topics, WWII and the supernatural. Hardly surprising seeing he comes from a military background and has also grounded himself in the study of the occult and Christianity, being a Christian himself,
M.E. Brines spent the Cold War assembling atomic artillery shells and preparing to unleash the Apocalypse (and has a medal to prove it.) But when peace broke out, he turned his fevered, paranoid imagination to other pursuits. He spends his spare time scribbling another steampunk romance occult adventure novel, which despite certain rumors absolutely DOES NOT involve time-travelling Nazi vampires! A former member of the British Society for Psychical Research, he is a long-time student of the occult and a committed Christian who sees himself as a modern-day Professor Van Helsing equipping Believers for battle against the occult Principalities and Powers that rule a world in darkness. (Ephesians 6:12) The author of three dozen books, e-books, chapbooks and pamphlets on esoteric subjects such as alien abduction, alien hybrids, astrology, the Bible, biblical prophecy, Christian discipleship, conspiracies, esoteric Nazism, the Falun Gong, Knights Templar, magick, and UFOs, his work has also appeared in Challenge magazine, Weird Tales, The Outer Darkness, Tales of the Talisman, and Empirical magazine. 
Reading the Fist of God, it is easy to see that this passion and knowledge of the occult and the supernatural both from an occult and biblical point of view is very evident and makes for very absorbing reading. It is well known that Hitler was obsessed with the occult and the supernatural and amassed himself with an incredible hoard of religious artefacts. Brines uses this fact very well and it is one of the central themes of this novel that becomes more evident once the reader gets to the 60% mark. It is really at this point that this novel really takes off and the reader's interest deepens and becomes more of a "cannot put this book down" experience than the previous length of the novel up to that point. 

With Brines' writing style and well-developed first person narrative, his recreating of the WWII world, really does place the reader there. I felt as if I was an invisible character following Mackenzie and being part of what he experienced throughout his upbringing, the events that led to him joining the army, his quest for revenge and his subsequent many missions as a secret agent. All these events take up the majority of the novel and sets the stage for his most serious and risky mission, to steal the Spear of Destiny and thus deprive Hitler of the supernatural power that the Spear is believed to possess. It seems that these two plot lines are intertwined and despite the former aforementioned plot line taking up to 60% of the novel it does balance out the remaining 40% that deals with the attempt to steal the Spear. At first I was annoyed that this former length being this long but then realised that this story continues in Book 2, The Unholy Grail (available summer 2015), so it works out well. The ending is definitely open for this next instalment. 

My parents lived through WWII and I remember my mother saying that from the evilness that the Nazis perpetrated, she believed it was more of a spiritual war than a physical one. Brines is more than convinced of this. In the last 40% of his novel, he introduces the background to the evilness and spiritual aspects of this novel. He starts by having Mackenzie witness the satanic rituals performed by the Nazi sorcerers and their quest for more power from other deities. This provides proof to him that if these deities exist, then God exists and he has his faith in God restored and becomes a spiritual warrior quested to defeat them and destroy their attempts to win this war and extend their power worldwide. From this basis, it leads the plot into the next book. I felt Brines has depicted this satanic ritual really well and this supports what is known of Hitler being obsessed with religious artefacts and being involved in the occult. Brines' knowledge and study of the occult really shines here. He also shines when Mackenzie meets members of a resistance group (The White Rose) and one member, Sophie, presents the Christian world-view in this war very succinctly that stimulates Mackenzie's faith further and also exposes the behaviour and lies of Hitler and the Nazi theology back to the fall of Lucifer. Again, Brines' grasp of the occult here is accurate and true to the biblical account of the fall of Lucifer. The following account from Sophie (Christian resistance group) connects Hitler's motives to the occult and to Lucifer,
Every word that comes out of Hitler's mouth is a lie. If he says peace, he means war. If he, in his outrageous way, uses the name of the Almighty...what he means is the source of evil, the fallen angel, Lucifer. They are not just a political party wanting to introduce a few reforms. The Nazis are a totalitarian cult seeking to impose itself upon everything and everyone. This war is not a war for land, to move a notional border a few kilometres one way or another. It is a war for the soul of humanity. If the Nazis win, once they have crushed all opposition, a new Dark Age will begin, a Dark Age protracted by an incestuous alliance between ancient evil and modern technology.
I love Brines depiction of Sophie as one totally focussed and determined spiritual warrior, a real terrier who won't compromise her convictions as she shows how well grounded in God and the Bible she really is,
If you want to make a difference in this world, you can't do it just prattling good intentions from a sofa or a church pew. You have to go out onto the battlefield and do your part, no matter how small, because in this world, in the struggle against wickedness, we are the hands of God. 
And this leads to the book getting its title, The Fist of God, when Mackenzie states, 
Yeah?....well, little girly, in this world right now, what God really needs is a fist. 
And the rest of the novel shows Mackenzie becoming just that, The Fist of God, and continuing as such in the two future novels that will complete this  trilogy.  

I loved Sophie continuing to show her spiritual warrior nature as she continues her narrative of the Christian world-view and I found this compelling, 
We can take a stand against evil. That's more than our politicians ever did, more than the army generals, more than most in the church. There have been a few: .....Bonhoffer, Niemuller... but most of them have been arrested, so now it's up to us to continue the struggle until the victory. 
(Mackenzie): Or until you've arrested, too
(Mackenzie): You don't seem very concerned. 
What's the worst the can do? Kill me? So I will miss out on a few short years on this Earth, and get to Heaven earlier. Should I love this life so strongly that I would betray both my country and myself and refuse the very calling of God? I think not. One cannot remain neutral. You must choose a side, for in not choosing to oppose evil you choose to embrace it. Did not Christ himself says, whoever is not for me is against me? Well, Herr Hitler has done the same. Whether you truly agree with him or not, your tax money goes to fund his world conquest anyway. Our children are conscripted into his armies. The produce of our farms and factories go to support his regime of evil. 
The Nazis go slowly now, on tiptoe, retreating from opposition. When they first began executing those in nursing homes and asylums, the outcry forced them to stop. Now, they continue as before, but secretly. Even with their control of newspapers and radio, they try to conceal the mass murders of the Jews and the atrocities on the Russian front. But the truth gets out. Still they continue, more and more boldly as they gain strength, and as active opposition fades or disappears completely into the night and fog never to be heard from again. Eventually, when they have crushed all opposition, their true nature will emerge from the shadows and be revealed for the Satanic cult that it is. By then it will be too late.  
Brines develops the spiritual theme further towards the end when Churchill has a confidential talk with Mackenzie. I found Churchill's narrative compelling and a great account from this novel,
Mackenzie: Sir, I've seen things you would not believe. I've seen supernatural powers at work. I've seen Nazi sorcerers and their pagan rituals. They have power. The Dark Gods favor them. Nobody believes me, but they'll listen to you. You've got to do something. 
 Further on Churchill states to Mackenzie
 I am not a what is considered a religious person.....come Judgement Day, I will have a lot to account for. But what I have done as Prime Minister will weigh heavily on the other end of the scale. I grew up in the Church, and I've read the Bible, and I know this: by invoking supernatural forces to slaughter the Jews, the Nazis have sealed their own doom. This war is no longer merely a struggle between the very gods themselves. God will not allow the Nazis' supernatural assistance to go unchallenged. 
Their compact with the evil gods has sealed their fate.....the Nazis have ensured their defeat and a terrible punishment to be metered out upon the German people: destruction of their cities, plundering by enemy armies, starvation and death on a Biblical scale. Their satanic rituals have not summoned the spirits of victory, but the Wrath of God and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In the end God will triumph.....
But until then, we must do our part. He demands from us nothing more than blood, toil, tears and sweat. The war will be long and terrible. This is not the beginning of the end, only the end of the beginning......go back to your regiment and do your best for King and Country. You believe in the power of the evil gods. Can you not trust in the power of the good? 
When the reader finishes this novel and discovers Brines' A Concise Timeline of World War II, the author asks the reader a question, 
Did the Nazis have supernatural assistance in World War II? Did the outcome of the war turn on the attempted genocide of the Jews? Watch the events and decide for yourself. 
Well, I did read the events as he outlined them in this Timeline and it clearly shows that when the Nazis started exterminating the Jewish people the events from then on, turned against the Nazis. So from this, I can see where Brines has based the account from Churchill and developed a very clever plot line. 

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel and it has whetted my appetite for the remaining two instalments. Despite having not read any of his previous non- fiction and fiction works, for any new reader new to this author, The Fist of God would be an excellent place to start. I am glad I started here. 

Highly Recommended. 

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