I reviewed this novel on 20/03/20 in a previous blog, now defunct.
What if a group of people existed who were blood relatives of the people Jesus healed?
What if these people possessed special powers as a result of a DNA change the occurred as a result of the healing?
What if those people survived the many attempts to wipe them out through the centuries, possessing many of the historical artefacts that would prove that God and the Christian faith was real and relevant?
What if this group were poised to release all of these archaeological and written proofs of God and Jesus, exposing the world to all that they had saved and protected down through the centuries?
Come with us as we travel the world with Lindey Batchelor, and witness the results when the world hears the message of God evidenced in artefacts like the Ark of the Covenant, the Cross Nails, the lost book of Josephus, the journals of Pilate and Constantine. Experience the brave men and women who attempt to offer these archaeological and historical truths to the world, opposed by those who work to wipe out the SOTH and their message. Experience the history, mystery, intrigue and spiritual battles as ordinary people overcome extraordinary odds to bring the truth to the world.
The SOTH series is an action-packed combination of fiction, history, truth, and mystery, following the lives of the people affected by Jesus’ healing touch. This group call the SOTH (Sect Of The Healed) plans to release every major historical artefact and written relic which are relevant to the proof of Jesus’s claims while he was on earth. The Cleansing Group has plans to wipe the SOTH out before they can release the archaeological finds to the world. Came with Lindey Batchelor as he is pulled into the hunt travelling to historical places across the world to meet the SOTH, finding his own healing along the way.
Perspective by Peter:
I was contacted by the author to review this novel before its release. What persuaded me to accept? The description! This is such a unique concept and very speculative. What if there were supernatural gifts that were a side effect of being healed by Jesus? My imagination was instantly provoked and went into hyperdrive at the possibilities. I started to think of a new form of superhero!
However, reading this novel brought me down to earth! No superheroes but I was not disappointed! Brior has the best take on this speculative question. I was rapt. And if this was true, I would quite easily see this as how it would be or very close to it.
This concept of a DNA change from being healed by Jesus and given special talents and abilities directly related to what the affliction, disease or disability the biblical character was healed from is very clever. When the reader is introduced to another SOTH member and their special talent is revealed, Brior appropriately details the Biblical character from whom they are descended and the condition they were healed from. This adds some very interesting layers to the characterisation of its characters. I would love to see an Appendix or similar at the beginning or end of the novel that lists these characters, who their Biblical character they are descended from and what they were healed from and the Biblical reference to this account and what the special abilities and talents are. This would encourage Christians to revisit this Biblical account if they were not familiar with it and for any reader who does not know Christ or has not a relationship with Him would benefit from this list and the Biblical account. It could either sow a seed of faith in this reader or water an existing planted one.
As I was in thinking how clever this DNA change was, it raised in me my own speculative fiction question: What if this DNA change was a restoration to how we were when God created us, before sin changed our perfectly created state to one that is flawed and imperfect? So to my mind, this was no longer just a clever concept by this author. Maybe there is an element of truth to this? Is God telling us something in this novel? Don't you just love speculative fiction? :)
I loved how the descendants of these healed biblical characters have a love, devotion and obedience to God and Jesus. They are sold out to Him. This was such an encouraging and uplifting reading experience. My spirit was soaring in seeing how these SOTH members live and behave. They are very much Spirit-filled and Spirit-led. They are depicted as living out their faith as we are encouraged to do in James 1:22:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Many of them have dreams where the Spirit reveals many things to them, warns them of the danger approaching from the Cleansing Group and the CIA and even revelation about the spiritual status of those characters brought to them by God. One touching and memorable instance is when one of the leading characters of the Cleansing Group is confronted with the truth about her hatred, bitterness, anger and quest for revenge of the alleged killing of her family by The SOTH. This is one hardened individual blinded and controlled by these emotions and the Muslim indoctrination that it is powerful to see these strongholds broken down and this character's heart becomes softened to the Gospel of Christ and accepting of His Truth and salvation. And what a transformation that takes place in this individual! There is one other as well.
Throughout this novel, Brior has interspersed the differences between various faiths and that of Christianity.
As he states,
I compare and contrast religions over relationship all through the book as people of Muslim, Catholic, Hindu and other religious faiths come in contact with people living out a real relationship with God. I also show how the world views religion, and why the cleansing group is so committed to wiping out the relatives of the people Jesus healed. There are mysteries, miracles, chase scenes, murder, healing, and biblical truth woven through an intricate plot that takes the reader back in time to experience Jesus and His message of forgiveness, hope, grace, and relationship.
This contrast is not preachy but provides necessary and essential back history to the plot and what motivates the Cleansing Group and other faiths together with the CIA in their quest to eradicate the SOTH. He has also portrayed through one individual, the destructive attitude and behaviour of a hardened heart towards anything spiritual but total reliance on the attaining of power, knowledge, and the supremacy of being human. Brior shows here how destructive this is. I can see this being further developed in this character in Book 2.
If an author makes statements such as what he quoted above, it is a huge bonus for the reader when they see that they have succeeded in achieving this. Not just the author's words but their words becoming part of the reality of the novel.
While reading this novel, I was reminded of the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. There are parallels in this novel to this parable. The SOTH could be seen as the characters in the parable who used their given talents to reap more (in this case for God's glory, the promotion of His Gospel and proof of existence) and receive their reward,
20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
while the character mentioned in the previous paragraph is likened to the character who hid or did not use his talent. In this parable, he incurred the wrath of his master for ill use of the talent, and received his appropriate reward,
26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
Even the end of the parable can be applied to this novel,
29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The SOTH used their talents for the glory of God. They are the good and faithful servants, while the character mentioned above (and the Cleansing Group) with their hardened hearts and being deceived are cast into outer darkness. Upon their death, this is likened to Hell.
My only concern about this novel some editing flaws. With different plot arcs running side by side, there needs to be either a larger gap between the ending of one and the start of the other or a line or symbol that denotes this. Also, there are some dream sequences that follow on from the narrative stating that such and such began to dream but with this sequence continues on in the next paragraph without a break it becomes hard to realise that this new event is the dream sequence. Providing a line space between the paragraph and the dream sequence would fix this and having this dream sequence in italics as well would specifically define it as such. I also thought the same for the accounts where Brior recounts the Biblical story of that character and his/her healing of their affliction. Also, in the first half of the novel, there is no heading stating that the next plot arc is in a certain part of the world, so you have to remember where the character or event was in the last time it was mentioned. However, in the second half of the novel, the author has listed these headings.
Grammatically, it needs an edit. There are minor spelling mistakes, such as "if" where it should be "it" or "is" and similar. To me, it looks like these were not corrected as they were typed. I have the same issue with myself when writing these reviews and use the Grammarly software (grammarly.com) that corrects me when I misspell or type incorrectly.
All these are not huge to derail you from the plot where you have to skip back pages to re-orientate yourself to this plot arc and realising what these small grammatical or spelling issues should be. All teething problems of a debut author. I am positive that Brior will address these issues in subsequent novels.
While on this topic of the dynamics of novel construction and composure, Brior does write well. It makes for an easy read of his plot and characters. The pace is not fast and furious but enough to keep you coming back for more and remaining engaged, curious to see what happens next and where Brior is going with these plot arcs.
He finishes this novel on a cliffhanger and this will have readers eager to read Book 2. I am glad to hear that this second novel will most likely be released later this year.
For a debut novel, Brior has constructed an engaging, thrilling, entertaining and uplifting novel that depicts "...biblical truth woven through an intricate plot that takes the reader back in time to experience Jesus and His message of forgiveness, hope, grace, and relationship."
He is one promising author whose passion for story and Christian fiction will see more of him in the future.
The three ratings below are based on my discernment:
World Building 5/5
The two classifications below are based on the booklet, A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland:
Spiritual Level 5/5
Enemy Spiritual Level 3/5
Overall Rating: 4.6/5