Rodney Coe. The Rise of the Prophet. Crosslink Publishing, 2016. See here to buy the book.
The Rise of the Prophet is set in the fictional land of Habareet. In the past, Habareet was prosperous and united. Then, the Barar, or chosen people, were driven out of the country, and the aftermath of that was division and scarcity. Institutional religion has become feel-good and perfunctory, rather than encouraging people to repent. The authorities try to keep the Barar from returning. Amidst this, Adonai, the God of the land, is at work. Revival is occurring, and people are repenting. God is calling prophets. There is a marine named Joel, who has remarkable physical strength. There is also Martin, who is dealing with his own emotional baggage, as he struggles to believe on account of the religious hypocrisy he has observed and the chaos that is around him.
The book has its positives. The world that it creates is intriguing. The religious divisions are noteworthy, as are the negative stereotypes that characters had of the Barar. The prose is simple, so the book is a quick read. Occasionally, the book offered good lessons. There is a passage in which a character is told that, just because people around him are immoral, that does not mean that he has to be immoral. One of the villains among the authorities is sincerely encouraged to repent. And Martin’s struggle to find God amidst chaos is somewhat realistic.
The book has its negatives, though. While the prose was simple, I often felt as if I was going through the book without much context. As a result, I did not understand the motivations of many of the characters. There was an attempt near the beginning of the book to provide context, through Joel’s flashback about the events that led him to that point, but that was overly terse. Ordinarily, when I read a novel, I become accustomed to the book’s world in the second fifty-pages, or so, but I had no such luck with this novel. I was exhorted by a couple passages here and there, and Joel and Martin stood out to me as particularly realistic characters, probably because the book went into more detail about their backgrounds. But, in terms of the larger plot, I had to scan passages that I had already read to understand what exactly was going on, and why.
Perhaps the book would have been better had it included fewer action scenes, and more religious and political discussions, including among the villains. Or the book could have provided an introduction that laid out the story, rather than throwing readers into a new world and expecting them to make sense of it. I think of a version of the movie Dune, which provided an illustrated introduction explaining the characters, the issues, and the larger motivations.
The book had potential, but it fell short.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Bookcrash. My review is honest.