pinterest-7bf66.html Reviews by Peter: The Halls of the Fallen King (Beating Back The Darkness, Book Two) by Tiger Hebert

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Halls of the Fallen King (Beating Back The Darkness, Book Two) by Tiger Hebert

The Halls of the Fallen King. 

The Black Dragon's War is over, but the world has more trouble awaiting just below the surface. As the people of Aurion celebrate the defeat of the black dragon, magical energy continues to emanate from the dwarven ruins at Duroc's Refuge. 

Orc Chieftain Theros is tormented by the loss of his brother, but his concern for his people pushes him to action. The mighty warrior is joined by four other brave warriors who descend into the depths of the mountain keep to stop the catastrophic buildup of energy. 

Their dark journey has already uncovered centuries-old secrets, and the deeper they penetrate the ruins, the more perilous the journey becomes. Their world – and others – will be changed forever…,

The Guru's Review: 

Just a little way into this novel, my first impression was WOW! To add a reviewing cliche, you hit the road running with this novel! And there is no let-up! Maybe that is a good thing as this novel is long (622 pages, paperback version) compared to its predecessor. I thought I would struggle to get this read by the weekend so I could address this review, but this was not a problem due to the action and adventure, the in-depth world building and the further development of the characters we grew to love from Dragon's Fire.

Another reason I found myself saying WOW, was the superb world building that Hebert has proven to be a master of. Within the first chapter, Hebert lays the foundation for the quest for the Elder Stones, their background etched in the foundation of God's Seraphim Order and His Creation and how these power Stones corrupted these four Seraphim and from here on in, your intrigue and wonder is totally engaged with an intense desire to know what is going to happen next. Hebert then follows this with snippets of journal accounts at the beginning of each chapter of Duroc in his spiritual quest to provide protection for his people, involving him in the demonic dark arts of the Qarim, and that of the fallen Seraphim, narrated by Jazren of the Seraphim Order, and their quest to master the Elder Stones and overthrow the Ancient One, provide an ongoing but believable, solid background to the present quest of Theros, Dominar, Sharka, Kiriana and Nal'drin. These five search for the reason of the goblin incursion that was such a suspicious event during the battle to rid Aurion of Slavrin, the black dragon, in the previous novel. And it here that they find the connection of the Elder Stones to this goblin incursion and Duroc's Refuge.

It is here in Duroc's Refuge, that Hebert shows off more of his world building finesse. It is so precise that I could imagine it in my mind and I wondered in awe at how wonderfully this would translate to the silver screen. The current CGI technology would bring this to life and do it great justice, just as it did with the Lonely Mountain subterranean mining city of the Dwarves in Tolkien's The Hobbit. And I say this as a compliment to Hebert. He does, after all, state that Tolkien had an influence on his worldbuilding. Hebert's description of Duroc's Refuge is possibly more extensive than the Lonely Mountain city as in Duroc's Refuge, we had a whole city, not just the mining aspect of it as was the case with the Dwarves subterranean city in The Hobbit.

This subterranean city provides an ideal setting for the suspense, action and adventure, mystery and suspense that befall the 5 characters from Dragon's Fire. I suffer from claustrophobia to a degree and I wondered if I would get tense and panicky reading the large majority of this novel being underground. But this was not the case. The fast-paced flow of the plot with one action-packed event after another did not give me time to consider that yes, I was transported to an extensive and intimidating underground "bunker" that had a dark and sinister history. However, this shows not just the author's successful worldbuilding finesse of a physical setting, but also one of the interwoven plot arcs providing further challenges for our adventurous 5 and for the reader experiences it as well. 

The spiritual aspects of this novel are not subtle but obvious and explained in some detail that reflect's the author's attitude toward his faith and relationship with God. In an interview I had with him, he states this as the background spiritual motive of writing this series, 
My first intention was to create a wild and exciting story that would honor God. I wanted it to be a story that Christians would feel comfortable reading, without feeling that they are compromising their faith. It was also really important that a person of a different faith, or no faith at all, could pick up the book and enjoy it. With that being said, I really wanted to write a thought-provoking story that would edify and encourage all people. I wanted to write such a story that prompted an internal dialogue for the reader. I would love for people to have a God encounter while reading this novel. With that being said, if it simply challenged them to re-examine life and things like salvation, forgiveness, and true love, then I have succeeded.
For the people that are un-churched or uncomfortable with “religion”, I hope that they are uplifted when they walk away from these books. I hope that they realize that there is always hope, that nothing is impossible, and that amazing things can happen with just a little faith. 
I also hope they walk away with a new idea of what a hero looks like. I hope they see champions like the mighty Theros Hammerfist and fiery, kick-butt women like Kiriana and Sharka, and appreciate their heroism—but at the end of the day, they realize that Aneri'On is the real deal. He loved, He forgave, and He sacrificed everything for those who hated Him. That is what a real hero looks like.
For those that are Christians, the easy answer is that Jesus of Nazareth was and is still the Christ, our risen Lord. He is the God that loves his children so much, that He chose to taste the bitterness of persecution, betrayal, and death, simply to be with us. And that because of His unrelenting, undying love for us, that we are free to do just that.
Now having read all three of his works (Dragon's Fire, The Chronicles of Aurion and The Halls of the Fallen King), Hebert has adhered to this standard. I loved the depiction of Jesus as Aneri'On in Dragon's Fire (aka Ynu in this current novel) that had me in tears. Hebert is not afraid to depict Him as He is from the Bible and how he has experienced Jesus in his personal life. And that adds an uplifting and faith strengthening aspect to the overall enjoyment of this series. 

Hebert has interwoven the themes of faith, hope and trust in both novels but more so in this current novel. I was struck by the account of Dominar standing firm in his faith and in his belief that once you believe in Aneri'On you do not compromise this for anything or anyone. I loved how Hebert showed this in Dominar's chastisement of the other four, especially of Theros, as they welcomed sorcery and the dark arts as their weapon to fight against the demonic onslaught of the goblin army instead of relying on Aneri'On for this. Dominar acted on one level as a Barnabas level character on one level, more of a Paul level on another, but overall as a Pastor/Elder. 

Out of the five of them, Dominar is the most spiritually sensitive and discerning. This part of his character serves to keep the others spiritually on track with Aneri'On and His commands on how to fight the evil they are confronted with. It aided in convicting them of this sin of dabbling in the occult that Aneri'On advises them against, but due to their faltering faith and being overwhelmed with the spiritual and physical battle on all levels, they welcomed sorcery as a tangible means to fight this evil. What a lasting effect this conviction had on Theros, the next spiritually sensitive one of their group! Theros' conviction by Dominar led him to see the deception of this sorcery when he read in the book, Keeper of the Flame, concerning the difference between being empowered by faith in Aneri'On and that of being dominated by the occultic bondage of the Qarim/Qarii. Dominar's chastisement also had the effect in leading Duroc to see he had placed his life and faith in the wrong deity. He was almost repentant in this. I am looking forward to more of his spiritual journey in subsequent novels. Will he come to experience the saving grace of Aneri'On? I pray so. 

Dominar's chastisement to his companions served to remind them whom they serve. It is a powerful account and I would love to include it here but it would add much length to this review which is long enough as it is! But again, it shows great spiritual truth and warning for the Christian reader to not compromise their faith for anything or anyone and to trust that Aneri'On is a Sovereign God who knows what He is doing and will never leave nor forsake those who have a righteous relationship with Him. It also shows how deceptive and destructive practising in occultic arts can be. 

Dominar's faith also served him when he was plunged off the bridge to his supposed death and in his darkest hour, chose to place himself and his predicament in the hands of Aneri'On and thus his faith was rewarded by Aneri'On's audible voice encouraging him and guiding him back to this companions for the final battle with the goblins and their summoning of the dark lords. 

The theme of trust was portrayed well. Theros learn to trust Aneri'On once he realised where victory over this evil laid; in Aneri'On. His revelation that he had been placing his trust in his own power and ability and came to the end of himself, he realised he had only one choice left; to let go of his fear of trusting and further loss (he lost his brother Ogron, and Swift his wolf companion, since the destruction of Slayvin, the Dark Dragon in Dragon's Fire) and let Aneri'On fight this battle. It was this that reactivated the power of Aneri'On's gift to him as Keeper of the Storm in the final battle between the goblin army and dark lord. 

I have stated in previous reviews concerning romance in novels that I love it when it is a subplot (I am not taken to the genre of romance, Christian or not!) and I love it when a male Christian author provides his perspective on it. Hebert does a good job here of the depicting two budding romances in Theros' company. It does lighten and breaks up the action scenes and suspense. And like any other romance between people in dire circumstances, it is fraught with obstacles and testing times. I was saddened and frustrated with Theros' attitude that due to the tradition associated with his role of leader, he could not pursue his relationship any further, while in the other relationship, the other female's character (and the whole group) had to confront and deal with the worst case scenario. This sets up an interesting plot arc for the next novel. 

This is one well-crafted novel that avoids the sequel slump that some authors fall into and readers hate with disillusionment and disappointment. But this is not the case with this novel or with this author. I am sure that the anticipation readers felt after Dragon's Fire for this new novel will be more so in anticipating the third novel. For any author, that is a rewarding and welcoming sign that they have succeeded in transporting their readers into the novel's world and want to live there until the next one is complete. 

Highly Recommended. 

The three ratings below are based on my discernment:

World Building 5/5

Characters 5/5

Story 5/5

The two classifications below are based on the booklet, A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland: 

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

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