Saturday, January 5, 2013

John Edwards, David Weber and Claire Ashgrove

Fallen Masters
John Edward
Tor, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765332714

Astronomers locate the dark mass and determine that the cloud hurtles toward the Earth like an arrow targeting a bulls-eye. However scientists are bewildered as to what this phenomenon is and how to prevent a calamity. Religious leaders representing all denominations are also at a loss as to what can be done. NASA scientist Jason Chang informs the President of the United States that Dark Matter has appeared from apparently a location in the Abell 2744 galaxy cluster with a trajectory destination earth.

Internationally respected inspirational singer Charlene St John heads to Mexico for her last performance as she has terminal cancer and is hoping to gain an audience with the Lady of Guadalupe; whom many believe is the Virgin Mary. Psychic Mama G envisions evil in space that will make humanity extinct unless this malevolence can be stopped. Surgeon Tyler Michaels lost his wife and unborn child while he saved someone else. He and Nurse Rae bond as both feel the cloud traveling towards earth is evil coming to destroy mankind. The dark horde waits for their advanced party to complete the first mission including the assassination of the American President and the abduction of the First Son as destination earth has begun.

Fallen Masters is an entertaining good vs. evil thriller that focuses on mankind’s final days in which the last hope is the inherent goodness in most people. The storyline makes a plea for readers to allow their inner spiritual goodness to flow free in order to make a better place to live for everyone. Although the characters are stereotypical to the nth degree, John Edwards’ fans will enjoy the psychic's novelization of his spiritual message. Harriet Klausner

Midst Toil and Tribulation
David Weber
Tor, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765321558

In the Year of God 896, the island kingdom of Charis continues to openly defy the Church of God Awaiting. The hostilities have been at sea, on land and in the minds of people via insidious religious terrorist propaganda.

A new front opened when a schism split apart the affluent Republic of Siddermark. The Church of God Awaiting Grand Inquisitor Vicar Clytahn, a member of the ruling Group of Four vicars, plans to starve the people of Siddermark into obedience. The vicars publicly acclaim his courage but fear the backlash as Siddermark is a major source of funding. The Charis Empire leaders (King Cayleb, Queen Sharleyan, and warrior monk Merlin Arthawes) believe they must aid the besieged people of Siddermark. Cayleb understands the implications as he has led naval victories over the enemy since his kingdom rebelled a few years ago; but deploying land forces to battle the more powerful militia of the Church means sending soldiers to their death. At the same time Group of Four Captain General Vicar Allayn Maigwair forges a powerful army.

The latest Safehold thriller (see How Firm a Foundation, By Heresies Distressed and A Mighty Fortress) is a strong entry as the military focus is on strategically key Siddermark. The storyline continues the overarching deep theme of a dictatorial church using all means to oppress its followers and destroy “heretics” like those who formed the Kingdom and Church of Charis deploying any means necessary to achieve their aims. Though the cast is out of a Cecile B. Demille’s epic can be overwhelming; a who’s who glossary helps as Midst Toil and Tribulation is an insightful engaging look at a dogmatic dictatorial church killing any opponents with collateral damage acceptable. Harriet Klausner

Immortal Surrender
Claire Ashgrove
Tor, $7.99
ISBN: 9780765367594

In 1119, the archangels warned the nine Knights of the Templar not to dig beneath the Temple Mount. They ignored the archangels and excavated holy relics. Their punishment for their disobedience is to combat Azrael's demons until they convert into evil Knights of Azrael; as ironically each demon they slew places darkness on their soul until they are engulfed. By the twenty-first century, for those still loyal need to find the Seraphim before Azrael obtains the eight remaining holy relics needed to defeat the Almighty.

Knight Farran de Clare rejects the destined mate though he knows the ultimate cost is his soul. Archangel Gabriel assigns Farran to keep safe scientist Noelle Keane. When he meets the atheist, Farran curses Gabriel as she is his seraph. Farran vows to protect her, but pledges never surrender his soul to her as he prefers Azrael if forced to choose. However when Azrael’s demons threaten Noelle, Farran realizes his foolishness and he will die to keep his soul mate safe. She stuns him when she demands he give her his heart along with his soul.

The second Curse of the Templars (see Immortal Hope) romantic urban fantasy is a super tale starring a wonderful obstinate lead pair. The atheist brings freshness with her viewpoint re angels, knights and demons troupe, oh my; while her knight provides a unique perspective on salvation. Claire Ashgrove builds on her mythos with the Templar history enhancing the contemporary tale of a cynical knight and a devotee of the scientific method. Harriet Klausner

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