Review- Haunt of Jackals, by Eric Wilson

This month’s CSFFBT book is Haunt of Jackals, by Eric Wilson.  It’s part two in the “Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy”.

I’ll start by saying that the book was fun, but please read this whole review if you’re taking my word for it.  Even though I’m not into the “undead” sort of thing, I enjoyed much of the book.  Younger kids may find the elements a bit to scary or creepy though.  The characters were great, the flow of the story was pretty good, and the settings had the perfect amount of description.  The inclusion of cultural characters was entertaining, and after a while I had a great time trying to figure out who was writing the journal entries scattered through the book.  I was taken in about a quarter of the way through the novel, and the only thing that brought me back out was my concern over Biblical issues. 

The cover art is nice.

The first thing I noticed as I began reading Haunt of Jackals was the fact that there were four different sections to read BEFORE coming to chapter one.  Add to that the fact that I’m starting in the middle of the series, and you have a book that’s hard to jump into uninitiated.  One of the opening sections to read is supposed to catch you up from book one (Field of Blood), but of course there’s no real way to do this without reading the first book.

Since I’ve already mentioned the fact that this is part two, I’ll deal with how the book stands on its own… I don’t think it does.  Now that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book, but at no point did I feel like I was at the beginning or the end of a tale.  It felt abruptly cut off on both ends.  I would not suggest reading this book without reading the first book first.  You may be disappointed if you don’t have the third book (Valley of Bones) ready when your done with Haunt of Jackals.  Again, this is not to say the book itself is disappointing… I only mean to say that it shouldn’t be looked at as its own work.  It should be considered the middle of one larger novel.  I haven’t read the other two books, so I cannot say anything about them.

For the reader who truly knows their Bible well, this book wouldn’t likely be a problem spiritually.  However, it touches on elements that could easily plant false information about the Bible in the mind of even a moderate Bible reader.  It brings in fads of false doctrine that may cause one to focus on things that are not only untrue, but irrelevant to life period.  The Nephilim being angel/human hybrids is just one example.  While it was creative the way Eric worked it all in overall, I don’t think that necessarily makes it worth the risk, as is.

I’m not sure how I feel about how Eric used the blood of Christ in the book.  It seems like the point was to really honor the Blood, and maybe it did… I’m just not sure.

These Scriptural problems could have been alleviated by having a forward that warns the reader about each element.  With the story being set in our world, it just comes too close to reality for the unaware reader to differentiate between Bible truths and fictional elements.  A reader needs to know where to go in the Bible to read about the elements contained in “Haunt of Jackals”, so they can see what’s what.

So I would not recommend this book to those who’ve not read “Field of Blood” (book one).  I definitely would say “DO NOT READ” to those who are not very familiar with all parts of the Bible.  If the author is able to put in a warning at the beginning of the book it may not be a problem (though adding to the long list of “pre-reads” is not desireable).  I also would not recommend this book to a young audience.

I would recommend this book to those who are studious about their Bible, and who still enjoy fiction dealing with undead elements.  I’d be interested in reading a novel of Eric Wilson’s that doesn’t deal with the undead.  I enjoy his writing style a lot, and want to see what he can do in another arena.

There’s a section of suggested elements to discuss at the end of the book.  If you have a group of readers who fit the recommended readers I’ve suggested, then they may enjoy going through those questions together.

For more information, check out…

Haunt of Jackals http://www.amazon.com/exec/ class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=””>obidos/ASIN/1595544593

Eric Wilson’s Web site – http://www.wilsonwriter.com/
The Undead Trilogy Web site  – http://www.jerusalemsundead.com/

And to read what other blog tour members thought, visit the sites listed below…
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Amy Browning
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Nissa
John W. Otte
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher

I’m officially a published author!

Hey all, I just wanted to tell you that my short story “Death of Man” has been published with the ezine “The Cross and the Cosmos”.

Please check out the free launch issue.  You can find it by clicking the vertical banner on the right side of the screen here

http://crossandcosmos.com/

Book Review: Sir Dalton & The Shadow Heart- By Chuck Black

BookI was invited to review “Sir Dalton And The Shadow Heart”.  It’s book three of Chuck Black’s series “The Knights of Arrethrae”.  I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, or any of Chuck’s other books, so I can’t speak to how it fits in the series.  However, I do have some thoughts on this work.

For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Chuck Black provides a Q&A section at the back that teaches outright the spiritual lessons he tries to bring out in his story.  Each chapter has a set of questions that ask the reader to reflect upon their own life and upon the truth of God.  It felt to me like it would be best used by a group doing lessons together over a period of time.

That’s not a very exciting setup for a book.  And when I first started reading Sir Dalton’s tale, I really wasn’t into it.  It seemed like a generic story forced into the form of a lesson.  But with the shortness of the book, and feeling that the author was really trying to do something good here, I read on.

And to my surprise, I found that I was slowly drawn in.  Even though simply reading straight through may have been more entertaining, I stayed faithful to checking the questions after every chapter.  I wanted to experience the book as the author intended.  It’s a good thing too, because at the end of the book I found I really appreciated it as a whole.

I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but the book seemed to really take on life later on.  The characters seemed more alive, I was experiencing the world in a deeper way, and the story became more engaging.  And while many of the book’s elements have been overused by other writers over the years, there were some refreshingly new elements.  Well, we know there’s nothing new underneath the sun, but they were new to me.

As long as one can take the book for what it is, I think it will be enjoyed and appreciated.  I haven’t read anything Chuck himself says about the book, but I have a feeling he didn’t intend for the readers to take it as just a story.  He probably wanted them to use it as an entertaining and engaging way to go deeper in their faith.  Whether he wanted that or not, it’s how I’m going to recommend the book.  Use it with fans of fantasy, who are open to both direct and indirect study.  Go through it, and then lead a group in a study.  If you lead a devoted youth group then I think you could use this book with them.  I imagine it would be great for parents to go through with their younger children.

There’s a need to consider the doctrine of the book, since the author outright declares some things as truths.  Overall, I really appreciate what Chuck wanted to get across.  There are lessons in there that are sorely needed.  I don’t agree with everything he had to say.  I’d encourage readers to look EVERYTHING up in the Bible.  Don’t just take his word for it, and don’t just take my word for it either.  There are a few things he has assumed, which may or may not be right, but make sure you look to what God says in the Bible and have that as your only foundation for truth.

As long as one is willing to trust COMPLETELY in the Bible, this is a good book for them.  If they aren’t, then it’s possible that it may encourage them to reconsider.  Again, just as a work of fiction I don’t think it’s anything grand.  And as just a lesson it’s valuable but not necessarily a “life changing experience”.  But putting it all together it sure seems to me to be worth while and useful.  I’m very glad I finished the book.

Thanks, Chuck Black!

 

Information from the publisher, Multnomah Books…

Summary:

Sir Dalton, a knight in training, seems to have everything going for him. Young, well-liked, and a natural leader, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow knights, and especially the beautiful Lady Brynn.

But something is amiss at the training camp. Their new trainer is popular but lacks the passion to inspire them to true service to the King and the Prince. Besides this, the knights are too busy enjoying a season of good times to be concerned with a disturbing report that many of their fellow Knights have mysteriously vanished.

When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he encounters strange attacks, especially when he is alone. As his commitment wanes, the attacks grow in intensity until he is captured by Lord Drox, a massive Shadow Warrior. Bruised and beaten, Dalton refuses to submit to evil and initiates a daring escape with only one of two outcomes—life or death. But what will become of the hundreds of knights he’ll leave behind? In a kingdom of peril, Dalton thinks he is on his own, but two faithful friends have not abandoned him, and neither has a strange old hermit who seems to know much about the Prince. But can Dalton face the evil Shadow Warrior again and survive?

Young adults will be inspired to strengthen their faith along with Sir Dalton, as they follow his exciting and action-packed journey to overcome his doubts and renew his commitment to the King and the Prince in this third installment of Chuck Black’s popular Knights of Arrethtrae series.

Author bio.:

authorChuck Black traveled with the Air Force as a communications engineer and F-16 fighter pilot and began a career as a product design engineer. Chuck and his wife, Andrea, homeschool their six children and have a family music ministry that travels throughout the region. He is the author of nine novels, has been published in The Old Schoolhouse e-zine, and has received praise from parents across the country for his unique approach to telling biblical truths. Chuck and his family live in Williston, North Dakota.