This is the first book I have read in the Christian Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre and I would have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. I prefer to read books based on historical fact, not fantastical imaginings. However, the author did a wonderful job creating a believable world and relatable characters. I found it easy to fall in love with each character, but especially with the heroine, Ela of Parne and her unlikely friend, Kien Lantec.
The author did a great job creating a fantasy world that was still believable. The events in the story are very similar to events during the time of the prophets in Israel in the Old Testament. R.J. Larson's goal in this story was to make the Old Testament prophets come to life in a fantasy-like world. I liked the parallelism between Old Testament events and this story.
I think my favorite part of this story was how often Ela prayed/talked to her Creator. Though "God" is never mentioned (He is referred to as the Infinite or Creator), I loved how close of a relationship and communion Ela had. She is constantly conversing with her Creator in her thoughts. She brings up more than just her worries and concerns, but her conversations are about little details of her life as well. This story was inspiring and humbling for me, realizing I do not talk to my Savior nearly as much as I should if I really want to KNOW Him. I find myself aspiring to have a better relationship, and this book helped me to see that.
Another aspect of this book that I really liked was what drove Ela to bring people to repentance. She experienced what life would be like if God withdrew His presence from her life. God grants us each breath, it is because of Him that we exist. In the story, Ela is allowed to briefly experience life without Him...it is agonizing and terrible; an idea of what eternal separation from God is like. This drives Ela to share her Creator's love. How often do we forget that God is our reason for living? We get so prideful and confident in our own abilities that we forget we are nothing without God. How many times do I take the credit for the things happening in my life? In fact, God deserves the glory for it all, not me and my "abilities" which are God-given anyways.We need Him; we are His created in need of our Creator. And yet, He gave us free will to choose to love Him, we were not forced to love Him. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. This message was also displayed loud and clear in this story.
The only thing I would have to critique about this book is that, in my opinion, the author uses "visions" excessively throughout the story. I think they are a neat element, but a bit unrealistic. Yet, in the story, the Infinite does not always answer her questions, or grant her a full and complete vision. He knows what she is capable of handling and doesn't give her every detail.... partly to build trust and partly to protect her. I feel as though the visions were overused, and would have liked to have had less of them in the story.
In summary, I really did enjoy this book. I would encourage fans of Christian Sci-Fi/Fantasy and history guru's to read this series. I was very surprised and glad I expanded my horizons a bit to encompass this story. I look forward to Book Two of this series, and hoping that the author refines her storytelling even more.
I received this book from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Prophet is such an interesting read. On one hand, the author has created this awesome world that springs to life with great characters from Ela's little sister Tzana to Kien to the destroyer called Pet. Think a knight's horse with a temperament & character attributes of a fiercely loyal dog who could kill you or love you to death. Then on the other hand, we have the Old Testament parallelisms.
I had a mixed reaction to the story. I LOVED aspects of it and then disliked other aspects, more specifically the OT parallelisms. I love allegory, but the similarities to the events in the Bible took me out of the story a bit.
That aside, the book was amazing. Right from the beginning with the snow of ashes, it drew me in and I wanted to know more. Very good, tight writing. The characters' dilemmas and possible future endeavors had us debating on what the author might have meant regarding a certain "prophecy" and us looking for some loop holes. ;-)
That said, I look forward to reading the rest of the series, once I'm mentally prepared for:
I absolutely love Biblical fiction, but I never know if I'm going to connect with the story__that was NOT a problem with Prophet! By the first chapter I was hooked! Not only is Ela's relationship with the Infinite fascinating and precious, but I truly wanted to see her story unfold. I was nervous the whole time about her life span, but I was also truly amazed by her obedience knowing she'd have to make difficult choices and sacrifices the whole time.
Ela is only 17 when she must make the decision to become the Infinite's prophet and immediately she must leave home and go into training. She is only able to bring enough food and water for training and EVERY step taken she must solely rely on the Infinite's voice and protection. The story begins with a vision that knocks Ela down in its intensity. She receives more visions, but that is the only one that is detailed and the Infinite knows how much these visions drain her so He is lessens the visions after that first one.
I was utterly humbled reading this story and many Bible stories came up in my mind as I read this. I thought of Jonah since he also a prophet; Mary being told she would give birth to the world's Savior and her humbleness is accepting this destiny knowing she would be shunned and judged for it; and Noah because he also had to warn society of their wickedness and to repent before it was too late, no one believed him either. Even though the Infinite (Creator) is the only name God is referred to as in this story I considered all His other names and was appreciative: Prince of Peace, El Shaddai, Lord, Redeemer, Mighty One, Lion of Judah, King of Kings, Emmanuel, etc.
One of my favorite characters in the story is the horse, "Pet." His personality, loyalty, temperament, and strength shines throughout and it enhanced the story that much more with him there.
I was surprised at the harshness of the Infinite responding to Ela's protests with certain evil characters, it seemed like she was more compassionate than He was (which is impossible but the Infinite is just). The thought of ANYONE perishing in eternity without the Infinite to be there horrified Ela with EACH person that died. She understood what would happen if bullies in the story beat her or mocked her and no matter what cruelties she endured, she was always more concerned about her persecutors than she ever was about her fate. In the midst of her showing this compassion, I understood how much the Infinite loved her and that even though the Infinite didn't desire anyone to suffer the consequences of hell, He knew that some characters would reject Him no matter what proof was shown to them. He also assured Ela that there was always hope, even to the last possible minute redemption was available to even the worst of rulers.
Most of this story is from Ela's perspective, but it also shows other's perspectives which helps the reader understand what Ela is going through as she gets discernment and wisdom. She experiences fear, reluctance, questions, feelings of hysteria, physical pain more than once, frustration, rejection, despair, protectiveness, servitude, missing her family/nostalgic for home, peace, unworthiness, and even resignation. Even though she understands the honorable calling she has received, she is still human and it was a treat to see her personality and growth in the story. I was amazed at her cooperation, contrite heart, courage, faith, and willing attitude never knowing for certain what would happen next.
This book is an incredible page-turner, intense, somewhat violent and it illustrates what a holy, loving, just, and unpredictable God we serve. The signs, wonders, miracles, and impossible things that happen in this story are accurate, tangible, humorous (love that Pet) and even romantic. The Infinite does not promise an easy journey for Ela, but He does make it clear to her that He is with her the whole time and even though she has many enemies He comes through for her like the Prince he is. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, supernatural occurrences (there are angels and even a little demonic manifestation in the journey), and a feisty young woman with courage beyond her expectations who is determined to carry out all tasks instructed by the Infinite to show His glory. To read how much this girl loves God was utterly precious to me, so inspiring and it really blessed me. I sooo look forward to reading Judge next!
I'll admit it; I read this story for the cover. Isn't it gorgeous?! I'm really glad I gave it a chance though. It's a really neat Christian story in fantasy form.
Truly, the "Infinite" of Ela of Parne is the Lord I love and serve as well. I found some of the parallels and words of wisdom presented in a way that touched my spirit and really spoke to my heart.
I thought this story was well thought out, believable and yet still held that fantasy element to it that drew me in. I can't wait to pick up book two!
About the Story:
Ela of Parne has been chosen by the Infinite to be His Prophet to the people. I kind of got a clearer picture of how Elijah or Moses may have felt as I read this. They were His prophet but still human. I'm sure they really dreaded the delivery of some messages.
Ela leaves Parne with her younger sister, Tzana--a young girl plagued by a degenerative aging condition and travels to distant lands to deliver the Infinite's message. I thought this was interesting as it showed that God can use any of us if we will be his willing vessel. I also found myself worrying over her throughout the story which just shows how I fell in love with the characters.
From Parne, Ela finds herself in a kingdom that has turned away from the Infinite and it is her job to warn them. While she is there she is taken prisoner but she still delivers her message and does the will of the Infinite--even if the means losing her life. The determination and love that Ela holds for her creator serves as a firm reminder of how we should live our life for Him.
"I know the Infinite's voice because He tells me everything I don't want to hear, sends me where I don't want to go, and asks me to fulfill tasks I consider impossible. Above all, He is forever right."
During her time in prison, Ela meets Kien and though she tries not to--eventually she falls in love. I really wanted them together but I honestly can't see how it's going to work. So...in the end--I guess I'm going to have to pick up the next book just to find out!!!
Overall, I thought this book was really good. I struggled knowing how to rate it but decided on a 4 star solely because it seemed to drag for a little while in mid-story. Things picked up towards the end though and it was well worth the push to get through to end! This book definitely makes it to my bookshelf as a keeper!