Jennifer Ball. The Kingdom to Come, Book 1: A Great Light. Revelation Publishing, 2018. See here to buy the book.
I felt honored when Jennifer Ball asked me to review her newest Christian fantasy book, A Great Light. In 2015, I read and reviewed another book that she wrote, entitled Here. The version of Here that I read was in dire need of editing, yet it was a powerful book, which remains in my mind to this day. What especially stood out to me about Here was its detailed prose and its depth about the characters and religious topics.
A Great Light is a vast improvement from Here in terms of editing and organization. There are hardly any grammatical or typological mistakes in A Great Light, and its prose flowed very smoothly. At the same time, something that I enjoyed about Here was its tangents, how it went into detail about things that were not central to the story. Here was like the Brothers Karamazov in that respect: some of the best parts were its tangents! A Great Light did not have as many tangents, by contrast, as the vast majority of its parts were essential to the story; A Great Light was more focused, in short. A Great Light also was not as detailed as Here, but it still went into detail about the thoughts, feelings, and characteristics of the characters, demonstrating Ball’s care for them.
Another difference between Here and A Great Light was that Here shared more. After reading Here, there really was not more that I wanted to know or learn about the characters or the plot: Ball shared what was essential, and I felt as if I knew them. With A Great Light, however, I felt as if I was receiving a mere glimpse of a bigger picture, particularly when it came to the historical relationship between the countries of Merrhius and Trinicity. I wanted to know more about how the elite in Merrhius came to have such a dismal view of Trinicity, as they concealed their knowledge of Trinicity’s existence and regarded Trinicity as a Satanic kingdom. But Ball shared what she shared, and that actually added mystery and realism to the story. We often deal with situations in which there are several layers of background underneath.
The main character of A Great Light is Karhiad, the prince of Merrhius. Karhiad is popular because he has a common touch; in fact, to the dismay of his parents, he would prefer the wholesome life of the peasantry to his own royal life! His father, King Vilsig, is arrogant and desires to conquer more countries.
Karhiad meets a mysterious lady named Julia, who is from the country of Trinicity. Karhiad’s parents profess never to have heard of that country, and it is absent from all of the official maps. (I thought of Attack of the Clones: “Find Obi-wan’s missing planet we will!”) The flirtation and teasing between Karhiad and Julia dragged on and on, yet it did serve to establish some depth of relationship between them, which set the stage for what was to come. What was particularly interesting about their interactions was their comparisons of the sociology and culture of Merrhius and Trinicity.
Tragedy strikes. Karhiad keeps seeing an apparition, and he wonders if it is good or evil. People in his kingdom are aware of a sinister spiritual entity known as Abaddon, and Karhiad thinks that could be who is appearing to him. By chance, Karhiad stumbles onto an account of what the Merrhius elite truly thinks about Trinicity.
I look forward to reading the next book of the series. The brief Afterword indicates that what Karhiad experienced in this book was a cakewalk compared to what he will experience in the next one!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. My review is honest.