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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Book Review: The Wrath Of Angels

In, The Wrath of Angels, the third novel in a series of angelic adventures written from a Christian world view, Theodore Beale has given us a fine piece of fiction.

At the core of this story is the spirit-realm throne of Albion, the ancient name for Britain, and those Fallen who would rule from it. The over-arching, pressing danger is that Diavelina, the treacherous daughter of Moloch, would come to reign upon that coveted throne. Moloch or Baal, as he is also known, is a Cannanite god who is always associated with fire and child sacrifice as he was worshiped by followers who passed their children through fire to appease him. According to Wrath mythology, it was Moloch who orchestrated Hitler's rise to power and then stoked his passion for incinerating Jews. Diavelina desires another such fiery winnowing across Europe.

What is not explained is why Diavelina would need Albion to accomplish such mortal destruction. One would think she'd be making a play for the principality of Germany, for example. A clue might be found in Prince Lucere, also called Gog Sheklah. A Shadow Sarim like Moloch, Gog is the biblical name for Russia, but is also found in ancient literature as one of two giants who protect the city of London. The giants, Gog and Magog, are Twice-Fallen. They are the offspring of Alba, the wicked daughter of a Roman emperor from which Albion is named and fallen angels. Perhaps the holocaust Diavelina desires is directed specifically at the children of London.

Whatever her reasons, Diavelina's intention is to war against the current ruler of Albion, a twisted and degenerate creature known as the Mad One, or Maomoondagh, and ascend to the throne in victory. But a winsome Fallen by the name of Robin Goodfellow, also known as Puck, conspires to dash Diavelina's plans by reinstating Oberon, King of the Fae, long deposed and imprisoned, upon his rightful throne assuming that the only divinity Diavelina would fear to oppose would be the newly regenerated and at once beloved Oberon.

In Puck, The Wrath of Angels, unfolds. It is primarily his story, his effort and machinations we follow as he travels across the Atlantic searching out swords, Mortals, Fallen and Divine, enlisting their aid to restore Oberon to his throne. And it isn't until the very end that Puck's stunning motivation for restoring Oberon's throne is revealed.

Theodore Beale describes himself as a writer of Christian Fantasy, and certainly The Wrath of Angels can fit into that category. I think that if you do not consider the Bible to be absolute truth then you will enjoy this tale as fantasy. But any student of God's word will immediately recognize within the characters and story a comprehensive theology through which the doctrines of angels, sin and forgiveness are illuminated, fleshed out, and animated. And as such, The Wrath of Angels,is more Christianity-Imaginatively-Expressed than Christian Fantasy.

In one telling scene, Christopher and Holli - adorable, teen, mortal protagonists - witness angelic beings during a church service. Christopher is overwhelmed by "the great web of divine light that bound together the people of God throughout all time and place. Man and angel, rock and beast; everything in creation that had freely chosen to submit its will to that of the Most High was linked together in a glorious and unbreakable chain of power." Indeed, Beale sees the Fallen world linked with a similar unbreakable chain of power. All myths, all gods, all places, religions, and objects that oppose Heaven's Most High are categorized and classified under the great canopy of Shadow World and Eternity in, The Wrath Of Angels. It is when and where those two great, warring webs of Divine and Fallen light intersect that I find this tale most delightfully thought provoking.

In Puck, fallen-Tho-He-Be, Beale manages to create a surprisingly comfortable and familiar protagonist. And he does so without erring towards blasphemy or common disrespect. I think it is his fresh and brilliant perspective that keeps him from that trap; that maybe, just maybe, we fallen mortals are more like fallen angels than not.

According to Beale, God is not in control on Earth in the way that, or how, many Christians assume. His understanding allows angels to act according to their own judgment based upon the desires of the Most High and is what brings the mortals, Fallen and Divine together to work towards a common goal. In one pivotal scene, Khasar the guardian angel explains to Holli the angel-whisperer, "We're God's hands, my dear. And do you know what else? Most of the time, He leaves us free to do as we think best. Some angels are serious about their responsibilities, some aren't. That's why you'll be judging us one day."

I enjoy Beale's wonderfully descriptive style. His narrative is like the fluff of beautiful imagery sandwiched between hard slices of fast-paced action scenes. He has an impressive and thoroughly enjoyable vocabulary and brandishes words as deftly as The Lord Of Chaos does his sword. Thankfully, missing from his style are the ubiquitous fragmented sentences just to make a point, and the one sentence paragraphs as though every statement were a profundity, and the italicized sentences to reveal the mind of the charatcter that litter so many pages in contemporary fiction. Out of the midst of the many references from sources as varied as archaic literature to contemporary rock bands, along with the thoughtful, observant unfolding of his tale, emerges a unique and strong voice.

Finally, Beale, an entertainer at heart, does not finish his tale with the perfunctory, "The End", but with "Closing Time". To which I reply, "Good show."

I can not mention this book without mentioning K & B Booksellers, the only place on Earth to purchase a copy of The Wrath of Angels for yourself.

"K&B Booksellers deals in used books. We carry the odd, the eclectic, and the unintentionally humorous. Being somewhat odd, eclectic, and at times unintentionally humorous ourselves, we stock what is perhaps an inordinate amount of science fiction, but are by no means limited to that genre. A good book is a good book, and when we find something interesting, unusual, and (this is important) in good condition, we will cheerfully make it available to you."

I was extremely impressed with the attention and service "k" gave to my order. I purchased my book on December 23rd and received it on the 24th. I almost fell over when I found it on my door step. I had written it off until after the New Year. She must have mailed off my book seconds after getting my order. I'm certain she'll show you the same thoughtful, professional attention.

K & B Booksellers.com can be found at The Ranting Room along with many wonderful insights, engaging conversations, fun contests and some really fine, sharp writing.

C. C. Kurzeja
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