A review of:
The Book of Names, by D. Barkley Briggs (NavPress, 2008 )
From the Legends of Karac Tor…
The book started off slow. Honestly I found it hard to keep reading. But after a few chapters I found I was beginning to enjoy the story.
I started to remember what it was like to be a boy in a rural Michigan town, intrigued by the mysteries of Native American culture. We would get all excited when we found arrowheads in the fields. But what these boys encounter is something that would have blown my mind as a kid.
The book makes a good transition as it gets further into the story. I didn’t feel like any of the elements were forced upon me, they seemed to flow as they should have. And as with any good book I read, I was inspired over and over again to imagine new things that I could write about.
The villains in the story were set up pretty good. A few things that were said made me question who the real villains might be, keeping me on edge until the last.
The allies were well thought out as well. Very believable.
Overall I really enjoyed the book. I’m looking forward to reading the next novel in the Legends of Karac Tor series.
A couple of things did bother me though. The first, which I will keep in this paragraph, may be a bit of a spoiler. Go ahead and skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to read it. The way that Briggs mixes Christianity with other religions in our reality really didn’t set well with me. I understand that these other worlds are fantasy worlds. But taking their mystical elements and combining them with the world we live in and yet trying to hold the Christian world view… there’s a line that’s crossed there. It’s good to open people’s eyes to the realities of Christianity which we do not normally recognise. It’s another thing to add actual magical elements to a truth that rejects those very things. I’m hoping that Briggs has something planned out in future novels to rectify this problem. Though he writes well, I will truly be surprised if he finds a good way to pull it off (I don’t think there is one).
The other thing that bothered me was the use of cussing at the end of the book. The problem I listed in the last paragraph is one that Briggs may have an ace up his sleeve to rectify in another volume (though I doubt it’s a direction he’s even considering). But this cussing thing, there is no ace for that. One representing a Christian view has no excuse for using that language anywhere. It’s something that Christ had to die to forgive. The need to represent the world the way it is… that’s no valid excuse for sin (there is no valid excuse for sin). The world has been far better portrayed by the Lord Himself in the Bible than by any other writer, and that without a single cuss. We owe the Lord better than this relying on the world.
These two problems and the slow start aside, I found that I really enjoyed the book. Don’t let the size of the paragraphs that I complained in deceive you. I just don’t want to accidentally spoil the experience of the read. The story was very enjoyable, well written, and seems to be very well thought out. Briggs created a world with great depth, and I’m eager to see the rest of it.
I would caution against suggesting this book to non-Christians, unless non-Christians are informed of what the Bible says about these two problems. For any Christians who struggle with mysticism, paganism, wicca or magic… I would advise against reading this book. For those who look to justify foul language, this book (though only in one part near the very end) will place a stumbling block before their feet. For any other familiar with the truth of the Lord, as long as they are conscious of and reject the offerings of these issues, I don’t think they’ll have a problem reading this book. And if they are fantasy fans, I’m guessing they’ll really enjoy it!
Thank you Briggs for your creation. I’m looking forward to seeing more of what you have to offer.
Featured book, The Book of Names – http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/160006227X
D. Barkley Briggs’s Web site – http://hiddenlands.net/index.php?Itemid=49&id=19&option=com_content&task=view
D. Barkley Briggs’s blog – http://hiddenlands.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=23&Itemid=79
For more reviews of this book, check out the following blogs:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Alice M. Roelke
Rachel Starr Thomson