Julius Buchanan. Sunlight: Acts of the United Sceptres, Book One. Julius Buchanan, 2015. See here to purchase the book.
The back cover of this book says that Julius Buchanan “writes fantasy novels that drill into the deep questions of life and faith.” It goes on to say that Buchanan “doesn’t just want to entertain you” but “aims to leave you relishing life and finding your purpose for waking up tomorrow.”
Overall, that accurately characterizes this book. Sunlight explores spiritual territory and offers constructive advice. One character continually focuses on what she cannot do and what is impossible, and she is exhorted to look for the possibilities. Another character was abused and unwanted when he was younger and still deals with the effects of that rejection; he is encouraged to forgive in order to find his destiny. Different characters in this book fight a spiritual, not just a physical, battle. They are challenging Marduk, a demonic entity who has taken over their country and has obscured sunlight, and yet a significant part of this battle is their war with their own inner demons.
Three of the characters need to undergo tests before they can use their gifts in battle. One of them learns that failure and humility is a way to pass the test. There is also the issue of weaponry: the heroes refuse to use the weapons of the enemy, for those weapons are evil, and how one fights is just as important as winning.
All of these are edifying themes, which can provide readers with a constructive outlook when they wake up in the morning. They also enhance the story, in that they allow readers to know and identify with the characters.
There are aspects of the book’s world that are enchanting, or intriguing. There are giant birds, who have a story in their own right. The book also includes biblical-like accounts of the world’s past. Perhaps the book could have been less obvious about this, as opposed to, say, using the name “Najo” for “Jonah.” Still, its presentation of the land’s mysterious past added intrigue.
The book’s plot was dry and plodding, however, and there was a lot of focus on technical details. The book also should have reiterated more often what the mission of the gifted children was, in case some readers did not pick up on that the first time. Aspects of the book could have been better integrated into the plot. The book did well to highlight some of the weapons that the heroes refuse to use, for example, but what weapons were they to use instead, and how were they effective? The children had their gifts, but one of the heroes still used a sword.
In short, the homiletical parts of the book were the parts that I understood the best and enjoyed the most. The fantasy plot, not so much. The book edified me somewhat, but it did not entertain. It had potential, though!
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through Bookcrash, in exchange for an honest review.