CSFF Blog Tour: The First Principle

Vivica Wilkins lived at the top. Her mother was governor, and about to become the president of the United Regions of North America. She had straight As, a personal bodyguard, money, social status, and awesome hacking skills.

And then she got involved with a boy and lost all of it, except the hacking skills. This should be a lesson to all of us.

The First Principle, Marissa Shrock’s debut novel, is a YA dystopian. It struck me initially as verging toward sci-fi, but not because of technology or aliens. It seemed, rather, futuristic, and even if it was an undesirable future, it didn’t have the grimness and desperation I associate with dystopians. I saw no sign of the Apocalypse.

Now, on further consideration, I regard it more as a dystopian, and I think the impression of sci-fi came from two things. One, the distance between the characters and whatever catastrophe turned the United States of America into the United Regions of North America. Vivica is sixteen and, far from having any experience of the catastrophe, puts aside a history book because she’s not interested in the depressing details. Two – and this also relates back to character – Vivica is a member of the elite. Although the world she lives in is restrictive, and there are clear intimations of greater troubles just outside her circle of experience, her world hardly feels bleak.

The First Principle is more directly engaged with current issues than other dystopians I have read. No less for that, it still paints a credible and oppressive future, with growing tension between an outward calm and simmering unrest. The dystopian world was well-constructed, real-world elements blended nicely with futuristic elements.

The novel’s plot had its surprises; the common enemy was a well-added factor, layering the story. Drake was an entertaining character, and Vivica’s mother nicely complex. And I enjoyed the interplay between Melvin’s relationship with Vivica, his relationship with her mother, and his own ambitions.

I appreciated how strongly the author used the mother/daughter relationship in this novel. I don’t see that often in the speculative fiction I read, and I am glad when I do. The echo of Jesus’ words a daughter against her mother, a mother against her daughter was effectively played.

My one issue with the book is that it didn’t really sell me on the main character’s two major decisions. The author spent time developing both issues, and the final decisions were reasonable, but I hardly saw the character transitioning to them before, suddenly, she was there.

The First Principle is the first book in a series, and I liked how the author ended it. The essential conflict of the story was resolved, and at the same time there was room for the story to go on – and some clear glimpses that it would go on to greater things. Given the quality of this novel, and the fact that I have very rarely read a series where the first book was the best, I felt confident regarding the next novel.

The First Principle is a well-conceived dystopia with strong character relationships. Recommended.


In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Review: Last Stand at Lighthouse Point

Frank Denton knows that he’s unlucky. So when it becomes gradually obvious that he has made more powerful enemies than he quite realized, and he’s about to lose his job, and he’s running out of money again … it only makes sense to leave.

Drake Sanders knows he’s lucky. With a beautiful woman he’s ready to marry, with good work at good pay, he has all the happiness he needs. So when a mysterious informant draws his reporter’s eye to a long-ago crime, when enemies seen and unseen go to the farthest lengths to end him … the only thing to do is to stay and fight.

Tiffany Summersby hates to lose, whether the title of valedictorian or a beauty pageant. While investigating a bizarre murder at the Magnum Point Lighthouse, she becomes entangled in something far more sinister than she had ever guessed. And there’s no question but that she’s in it to the end. Whatever the end may be.

Last Stand at Lighthouse Point, written by George Duncan, is a spiritual thriller by way of a mystery. Much as Frank Peretti did in This Present Darkness, Duncan seeks to create a vision of the spiritual war that surrounds us, the battlefield – larger and more ancient than human life – on which human dramas play out. Both books glimpse behind the curtain, to the story behind the story.

Duncan employs a large, convincing cast of characters, in which women are surprisingly prominent. Male-dominated casts are more common, and while I don’t object, it was interesting to read something more female-oriented. Duncan reinforces his characters – and, indeed, the whole novel – with a wealth of detail.

All the detail creates a sense of realism, a strong present-day atmosphere. Yet I came to feel that some of it was extraneous. The novel would have benefited from a firm editor – to cull the unnecessary, perhaps condense certain scenes, and to correct the typos and other minor errors.

Last Stand at Lighthouse Point confronts the hardest question posed to Christianity: Why does God allow so much suffering? so much evil and cruelty? How does a just God permit such terrible injustice, or a loving God permit so much pain?

Here – I’m just going to be blunt – Last Stand at Lighthouse Point departs from orthodoxy. The novel’s answer is that God is not really in control, and on those grounds it holds Him blameless for the world’s suffering (not everyone would). As a rule, Last Stand is reverent towards the Bible, but in this it opposes the Bible’s clear vision of God’s sovereignty and power – not laid down as a doctrine, but arching over everything like the sky. It is foundational, flashing into words again and again. “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him”; “Surely the LORD’S arm is not too short to save”; “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

The belief in God’s absolute sovereignty is as universal among His people as the belief in His love and His justice; the resulting struggle to reconcile them is as old as the Bible. Job, the Psalmist, Habakkuk, Jeremiah – they all questioned what God did and allowed. The ultimate reconciliation has to lie with God; “You are Yourself the answer,” as C.S. Lewis said.

And all other answers – even the best ones, rational and sympathetic and tightly constructed – they do not, by themselves, entirely satisfy. The idea that God doesn’t permit innocent suffering because He can’t help it doesn’t satisfy. What kind of Creator loses control of His own creation, and is there really any comfort in the notion that rather than living under the power of God, we live under the power of a web of spiritual laws?

In all other respects, Last Stand at Lighthouse Point shows a charismatic theology. And the novel is other things, too: a story of spiritual warfare, a thriller that achieves genuinely effective moments, a southern mystery.

Review: James Madison – A Life Reconsidered

James Madison, more than a Founding Father, is the father of the Constitution – the author of that document, less dazzling but more solid, more worthwhile than the Declaration of Independence. In her new biography of our fourth president, Lynne Cheney asks us to consider again James Madison, his achievements and their meaning.

James Madison: A Life Reconsidered is a beautifully written book. Lynne Cheney acquits history of the old charge (made credible by many textbooks) of being dry. With an eye toward evocative details, with flowing prose, she artfully tells Madison’s story and captures, in him, the humanity that is the heart of history.

Cheney puts forth the theory that Madison suffered from complex partial seizures and builds a strong case for it – a substantial contribution to the study of James Madison. Future writers will do well to consider it, even though Cheney seems, at times, to make too much of Madison’s epilepsy. She gives it, without support, as the reason why Madison became an advocate for religious liberty. Also without support, she speculates that it was why Madison’s first love broke off their engagement and why Madison once rejected the idea of becoming president. Cheney even speculates that a rather involved criticism of Madison, comparing him to a peddler selling ineffectual medicines, was in fact a veiled attack on his epilepsy.

This is, indeed, one of the faults of the book: a little too much theorizing, a few too many unproven assertions. Doubtless Madison read this book, probably he thought this, and no doubt this is what happened. These phrases, put to good employment by Mrs. Cheney, show at least that she is sensitive that these are not proven facts. Yet they are so recurrent that one wishes she had more often left the silence of history undisturbed.

But the primary fault of James Madison is that it is a little too uncritical, a little too biased in favor of its subject. Mrs. Cheney never does justice to Madison’s opponents. She takes an irritated tone toward Patrick Henry, stabs at Alexander Hamilton, and criticizes James Monroe for entering a presidential race that Madison was already in. Even Thomas Jefferson, generally well-treated, is pointedly put down for Madison’s benefit.

And this hurts her book. Her account of the vital political struggle between Madison and Hamilton never cuts to the core because it can never see Hamilton’s point. One cannot fully capture the stakes and meaning of such a great debate when one will not credit the other side. Cheney’s treatment of the War of 1812 is likewise hobbled by her unwillingness to critically question Madison’s assumptions – that America had to choose between France and England, that it ought to choose France.

So James Madison: A Life Reconsidered does not go as deep as it could. But as far as it does go, it is first-class. A telling of Madison’s life, with heart and a certain artistic skill, it is recommended for anyone interested in the Founding Fathers or the beginning of America.

CSFF Blog Tour: Storm Siren

At the ripe young age of seventeen, Nym is already experienced in being bought and sold – fourteen times experienced. This is proof incontrovertible that her life has been hard. So – and not coincidentally – have been her owners’ lives. And what with the war, and prowling evil wizards, and decadent rulers, and crazy ones – it’s not getting any better. Not that Nym would have expected it to.

Storm Siren is the debut novel of Mary Weber. The book is pure fantasy, with imaginary creatures (generally monstrous), new lands and peoples, and characters wielding otherworldly powers. Although published by Thomas Nelson, the Christian content is minimal. There are a few stray references to “the creator”, but nothing the story could not ultimately have done without.

The most striking element of this book is the style. It was quite well-written, and I knew it from the first page. Storm Siren is one of those books that impress me with the author’s skill from the beginning; I know I am in good hands.

After an intense opening sequence, Storm Siren settled into a long, relatively quiet interval that built up the characters and their world, with all its dangers. The shift surprised me, but it didn’t dismay me. I’m not as hyped for action as some readers are; I like the building and the exploring. I like introspection, I love characters, and more to the point, I liked Mary Weber’s characters.

And yet I reached a point, reading this novel, where I was just waiting for something to change. Although I liked the focus on the characters, and the level of action suited me fine, the angst and the romance were too much for my taste. I get tired of hearing how darned attractive people are; I want only so much depressing background. And when, by a Dark Secret that involves too much coincidence, the story dives into angsty romance …

This interval is book-ended by two sequences, the second much longer than the first, that are filled with danger and action, and are both a bit too grim for me. The end was simply too dark.

I see fully the virtues of the too-grim ending: the effectively-written action, the sudden turns in the story, the genuine emotion. And I was always conscious of how vividly this story is created, how skillfully it is written. So I had an odd sense, finishing this book, that my enjoyment was beneath the level of its craftsmanship.

I appreciated the author’s inclusion of a brother/sister relationship, and an important platonic friendship between a young man and a young woman; the first is unusual in fiction, the second difficult. I also give her credit for bringing the modern issue of cutting into her fantasy world without it appearing forced or dissonant.

Storm Siren is an imaginative fantasy, beautifully written and giving life to strange things, both wonderful and sinister. Many people will enjoy it, especially those with a taste for romance.


In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Review: Dawn of Destiny

Scott Remington is sure that he was meant to fight in the Alien War, to stand in the front lines against the mysterious invaders whose sudden strikes plague the cities of Earth. And fight he will, at the forefront of the war, but it will take him places he never imagined, to a destiny he has not yet perceived.

Dawn of Destiny is the first book of Epic, a series written by Lee Stephen. The novel is strongly sci-fi, taking place on a future Earth. Peace on Earth was finally achieved, only to be followed by war from space, brought by three alien species. Stephen gave these aliens a sense of foreignness, and he made their pets, the necrilids, effectively ghastly. Even better, he made them intriguing, and the mystery surrounding the aliens was one of my favorite elements in the book.

As much as Dawn of Destiny is sci-fi, it struck me as even more a military thriller. All of the characters but one are in the military, and the book is very much centered in that world: the commanding officers, the bunk rooms, the enforced companionship, the battles. There is a fair amount of cursing, though relatively mild (no four-letter words), a few graphic moments.

The style is sparse, fitting the novel’s military-thriller feel. That being given, it still seemed rough at times – perhaps first-book rockiness. (No author avoids it entirely.)

This novel is filled with hints of untold stories – not only the aliens, but also the Nightmen and high political intrigues and a score of secondary characters who definitely have complex pasts, although we never really hear them. The star of the prologue was prominent for a few chapters and then completely dropped. I wished the author had selected a few of these stories and developed them more fully, though I don’t doubt that some will be more deeply explored later in the series.

Dawn of Destiny has a definite religious element, including one vivid moment when new-minted soldiers struggle with the reality of death, but in general it is not as strong as what is labeled Christian fiction. Dawn of Destiny is, above all, a sci-fi military thriller, appealing to devotees of action-adventure and all serious sci-fi fans.


I received a review copy from the author.


The Dawn of Destiny audiobook project is a full adaptation of the first book in the Epic series. It’s not your typical “audiobook,” even though technically that’s what it is. When people hear “audiobook,” there’s a certain type of thing that usually comes to mind. Most likely it’s the thought of someone reading a book to them, occasionally with music playing in the background. This isn’t that.

What you’re going to hear in this project, is more of an audio “experience,” the audio equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. Over thirty voice actors played a role in this. This is ear-splitting sound effects, bombastic music, and characters shouting back and forth in the middle of a war zone. This is unlike anything you’ve ever heard.


Born and raised in Cajun country, Lee Stephen spent his childhood paddling pirogues through the marshes of South Louisiana. When he wasn’t catching bullfrogs or playing with alligators in the bathtub (both true), he was escaping to the world of the imagination, creating worlds in his mind filled with strange creatures and epic journeys. This hasn’t stopped.

Now a resident of Luling, Louisiana, Lee spends time every day delving into the world of Epic, the science-fiction series that has come to define him as a writer and producer. Alongside his wife, Lindsey, their son, Levi, and their dog, Jake, Lee has made it a mission to create a series that is unique in its genre—one unafraid to address the human condition while staying grounded in elements of faith.

In addition to writing, Lee works full-time for the Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness. He has also spent time as a church deacon, guitar hobbyist, and New Orleans Saints season ticket holder. He is a graduate of Louisiana College in Pineville.

Connect with Lee: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Where to buy the book:

Amazon

Barnes & Nobles


Tour Schedule for Dawn of Destiny


Epic Giveaway

CSFF Blog Tour: The Fatal Tree

The universe, they say, is constantly expanding. If it ever stops expanding, it will then begin to contract. Once it begins to contract, it will eventually collapse, and that will be the End of Everything. Everything is a lot, especially in the multiverse.

In The Fatal Tree, the conclusion of Stephen Lawhead’s five-part Bright Empires saga, our heroes face the greatest calamity of all. They must find a way to save the multiverse – to travel back, by way of the fatal tree, to that place where everything was undone.

The Fatal Tree, with its doppelgangers and space observatory chapters, probably has the strongest flavor of sci-fi of any Bright Empires novel. The historical element, by contrast, fades a bit into the background; it maintains a presence, most crucially in the confounding of times and eras, but there is no in-depth plunge to compare with the explorations of The Skin Map.

The first half of the book is less urgent in confronting the End of Everything than I would have expected. Lawhead spends a couple chapters wrapping up storylines from the previous books, and he also pursues another storyline whose importance to the ultimate resolution is not immediately obvious. The people who are trying to avert the catastrophe don’t get very far, or go around in circles, or mostly make scientific measurements of the coming end.

The conclusion of the book was far more focused and urgent than the opening. Still, in one important respect I would have changed it. [By the way: SPOILERS!] I would have had Arthur Flinders-Petrie choose not to save his wife, rather than simply be prevented from doing so. It would have been more satisfying, and more emotional; it would even have made the protagonists’ victory more definite. I also felt that, in a way, Lawhead owed it to Arthur, as an important and good (as in, heroic) character, to give him that moment. I even felt Lawhead owed that moment to us as readers: Weren’t we invested in Arthur and his story? [SPOILERS OFF]

Finally – I’m just going to park all my complaints about the story right here – I was unpleasantly surprised by the sudden cursing in this book. It was a little odd to have a main protagonist start cursing at the end of a five-book series, though I would rather have him curse only in the last book than in all of them.

Yet and all, I enjoyed The Fatal Tree. I enjoyed it more than The Shadow Lamp, and probably even The Spirit Well. One reason for that is, I’ll admit straight off, the sidelining of the Zetetic Society, who had in earlier books contributed pages and pages of vague yet disagreeable philosophizing. I was always suspicious of them and now, at the end of the series, when they have still done nothing wrong … I’m still suspicious.

More importantly, I admired what Lawhead did with Burleigh, his villain. I always enjoyed Burleigh as a villain, and the journey Lawhead charted for him was marvelous. I have rarely seen an author who could, with so much credibility, draw so much out of one character.

I also liked the confusion of times and even of the multiverse; it was very interesting and appropriately sinister. As a sci-fi fan, I liked the ‘cosmic loop’ as well.

Now, having criticized one element of the ending, I must praise the whole. It was magnificent, brilliantly imagined and shot through with powerful emotions. Kit’s vision of God had a sense of mystery and of awe, and so a certain glory. I appreciated, too, the happy endings, so well-painted, and the nod to the first book at the very end of the last book.

At the end of this series, I commend The Fatal Tree – and the entire Bright Empires series – as a work of complex characters, fascinating concepts, rich historical milieus, masterful writing, and fantastic imagination.


In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Review: Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle Earth

If you are curious to know how Bard is like the Apostle Paul, or how Pippin is like the Apostle Peter, or Galadriel like Solomon – then I have the book for you.

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-Earth is a devotional for teens written by Jill Richardson. Each chapter begins with a brief profile of one of Tolkien’s characters, including quotations from The Lord of the Rings, and then turns to a biblical personage (or, a handful of times, a biblical principle). Richardson draws parallels and lessons, and then leaves her young audience with discussion questions and words of practical application.

This devotional is written in down-to-earth language and often leavened with humor; I always enjoyed the ‘Vital Stats’ section of each chapter. The parallels between the Bible and The Lord of the Rings were interesting, and I found Beorn’s and Smaug’s particularly illuminating.

To her credit, Richardson goes beyond the standard biblical stories to the story of King Manasseh and to Ecclesiastes, one book of the Bible not often quoted to adolescents. I appreciated that there were several paragraphs of Scripture in each chapter, and not merely a handful of verses. Occasionally there were “author’s paraphrases” of Scripture, and I would have preferred if those had been actual quotations. It’s always better to let the Bible stand without abridgment, even when it is complex or difficult.

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World of Middle-Earth is a devotional, and naturally it doesn’t have the ‘meat’ of a theology book. But it is an insightful and easy read, successfully combining a fun look at Lord of the Rings with a profitable look at Scripture. Recommended for anyone, but especially any teen, who enjoys fantasy and is interested in the Bible.


I received a review copy of this book from the author.

Review: Outpost

Christopher Hill spent a lot of time in the world’s hotspots – Kosovo, Bosnia, North Korea, post-surge Iraq. If you have never heard of him, I’m not surprised. Diplomats are rarely household names.

Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy is Christopher Hill’s memoir. He had many consequential jobs: working on the negotiations that ended the Balkan wars, leading diplomat in the Bush administration’s talks with North Korea, ambassador to Iraq. And yet he remained outside the nexus of power that fascinates the media and public alike: the president, the vice president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, even national security advisor.

This is a different sort of memoir, America’s foreign policy from a viewpoint I had never fully seen before. I found it very informative. I learned a great deal about the North Korean negotiations and America’s involvement in the Balkans, though I wish Ambassador Hill had dealt with Kosovo and Bosnia in even greater depth. He never explained why, exactly, America was invested in those conflicts to the point of bombing campaigns. If it was a matter of violence, or human rights violations – well, there’s a lot of that in the world, and the Serbs were hardly the leading villains. Saddam Hussein, to take one not-so-random example, certainly had them beat. And if it was a matter of American interests – I can’t think of any American interests, nor does the book provide any, except that our involvement was good for our “transatlantic relationships”.

In fact, reading Hill’s account, one is left with the impression that our military-level involvement just sort of happened. America was trying to negotiate an end to the war, and the Europeans had peacekeepers in blue helmets and white tanks there, and it was all very difficult, and since America would have to intervene militarily to help extract the Europeans, it might as well intervene militarily to enforce peace, and so we bombed the Serbs. And maybe it really was no more deliberate than that.

The Iraq section was informative, too, providing a closer and somewhat dreary look at Iraq. Hill portrays attitudes in Washington toward Iraq that ultimately contributed to the present debacle: disinterest, neglect, a hurry to get out with little attention paid to the consequences.

I learned lighter things from this book, things from the world of diplomacy. I learned, for example, that ambassadors may judge you on how many lunch options you need for a visit to their country. I learned that calling Macedonia “Macedonia” can be a minor act of rebellion. I learned that diplomats will not only lie in the course of duty, they will openly admit it in their memoirs.

Unfortunately, Ambassador Hill cheaply caricatures the “neocons” as warlike, aggressive, and imperialistic. The book’s only justifications for these insults are that neoconservatives opposed Hill’s negotiations with North Korea (oh, the aggression!) and urged the Iraq war. Hill also mentions “liberal war hawks”, though how he distinguishes them from the warlike neocons is entirely unexplained.

Along with its accounts of vital negotiations and ambassadorships in nations such as Poland and Macedonia, Outpost paints some very human portraits and some poignant moments. Recommended to anyone who is interested in diplomacy, history, or the controversies and conflicts of the past twenty years.

CSFF Blog Tour: Rebels

At the ripe old age of forty, all the citizens of the Safe Lands are “liberated”, sent by their government into Bliss. No one is certain what, exactly, that means, but Omar and Mason are about to find out. “Find pleasure in Bliss,” the liberator says, but it won’t be easy.

Meanwhile, in the Safe Lands, the subversion of the Glenrock exiles and the separatist Kindred continues.

Rebels is the final book of the Safe Lands Trilogy, written by Jill Williamson. This dystopian series, set fifty years and more into the future, is intended for teens but suited for older audiences, though not necessarily younger ones. Williamson deals with heavy themes, such as addiction, temptation, and promiscuity.

As the last book in its series, Rebels delivers on the promises of the preceding books, unveiling long-maintained mysteries and bringing character arcs to realistic and satisfying conclusions. I thought Williamson showed very good judgment about what, in the story, needed to be solved or answered, and what could be left open. Not everything was absolutely concluded, but the story ended with a sense of completion. It’s a fine line for an author between a story that feels unresolved and a story that feels like it goes on after the book is closed, but Williamson managed to walk it.

There were some twists in this book. I liked the surprise role of Luella Flynn, and the idea of the truth as the “lynchpin”. The truth is dangerous to a society built on lies.

However – and I need to turn on my SPOILER ALERT here – I thought it strange that such a controlling government did so little to keep the truth from coming out. Could no one think to cut the power to the ColorCast? I also think Rebels would have done a better job of selling the downfall of the Safe Lands government if it had evoked more powerfully a sense of chaos in the city. It mentioned riots – but only briefly, and only after the climax was over. If our heroes had confronted the Ancients while the city was engulfed in riots, it would have made the rulers’ capitulation more believable, and the story itself more exciting.

Now, SPOILER ALERT OFF.

The level of typos in this book was, for a professionally produced book, high; I don’t know if the publisher had a too-tight deadline or a shortage of copyeditors, but I suspect the problem goes beyond this particular novel. I noticed errors in the last book I read by this publisher, though notably fewer.

Rebels is a strong conclusion to the Safe Lands Trilogy, bringing the characters to complex, realistic fates and completing the Safe Lands as a convincing, chilling dystopia. Recommended, with its preceding books, to readers of sci-fi and dystopian.


In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Review: Unbound

There are two things Elijah Goldsmith does not lack. The first is money. The second is ambition. It is not enough, in one year, to graduate high school and begin college at Princeton. He mixes in one more thing: Becoming a spy.

Only he doesn’t know, when he goes to Washington in the cold beginning of the year, what it really means to be a spy – what they do, what they want from him. He doesn’t know who the beautiful, talented girl training beside him really is. And he certainly doesn’t know what’s coming on Easter Day. 2066 is an appropriate year for the world to end.

Unbound is the first book of J.B. Simmons’ Omega Trilogy. It’s part spy drama , part sci-fi, and mostly End Times. I don’t often read End Times novels, and for two reasons. One, they can get depressing (the good guys lose and lose and lose, and then the world ends). Two, they can get predictable. I’ve read Revelation. I know the inevitable plot points.

Still, I have read End Times novels I liked, such as C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle (yes, it truly is) and the Swipe series by Evan Angler. And now Unbound.

Unbound operates outside the box of mainstream End Times theology, freshening and shaking up the narrative. Nor does it start out with apocalypse, but with a world running along, and which gives every indication that it will go on running.

I enjoyed the story’s setting; the futuristic aspect was well-done – hints of enormous changes in the world, and technology that felt both new and realistic. I particularly liked the small detail of the White House having been converted to a museum (and nobody knows anymore where the president lives). It’s the sort of thing that lets you know, without stopping the story to explain, that you’re in a different country.

The characters were quickly and vividly defined in the story. I was a little surprised at how fast a few characters were inserted into the story and then eliminated from it, but it’s hard to say it was wrong. And I’m not sure where to put this, so I’ll just tack it on here: There was one fleeting moment with “Jezebel” that was more than I liked.

I liked the balance struck by Elijah’s visions – neither too ordinary nor too exotic. His vision of the man had particular depth, and promised a greater spirituality in the books to come.

Unbound is a fascinating take on the End Times, a compelling mix of Revelation prophecy, sci-fi, and spy drama.


Unbound will be released September 13. Until that date, J.B. Simmons is running a giveaway of the book on Goodreads. I received a review copy of this book from the author.