THE SWORD OF GOLIATH
Review by jacnthabox Augest 21, 2016
Online Book Club . ORG REVIEW 3 out of 4 STARS
The Sword of Goliath focuses itself primarily on a man named Jacob (or Jake) Stanton, who is spending his days in San Quentin Penitentiary for a crime he did not commit. Jake was wrongly accused, unfairly tried, and unreasonably sentenced for the murder of his wife, and he’s just lost his final appeal. As Jake begins to mentally prepare for life inside the walls of San Quentin, he’s assigned a new cell-mate, Stephen Stross. Stross befriends Jake and, in earning Jake’s trust, convinces him that he is a member of the Shaddai. The Shaddai, descendants of the Biblical Nephilim through the bloodline of Seth, are on the hunt for twelve artifacts that will help them to win the final battle over the demonic Grigori; they believe the key to finding one of these powerful artifacts, the sword of Goliath, rests inside the mind of Jake Stanton. After engineering a successful escape from San Quentin, Jake and Stephen begin the quest for the legendary lost sword, but it will not be an easy effort. As escaped convicts, they are on the run from the law; as Shaddai, they are the targets of the Grigori and its
For Christians and non-Christians alike, The Holy Bible is a tome full of mystery, riddles, and speculation. As such, the stories contained therein have spawned an entire genre of fictitious tales seeking to explain the unanswered questions of the Christian holy book. Whether it be the story of creation, the location of the Garden of Eden, the final resting place of Noah’s Ark, or the healing power of the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper, countless authors have found success speculating The Bible’s timeless lore. The Sword of Goliath, the first book of The Bloodline Chronicles by Anthony Jones, is no different. Drawing on the controversy surrounding the Nephilim, half-angel half-human beings who are briefly mentioned in the sixth chapter of the Book of Genesis, Mr. Jones has crafted a tale that assumes the bloodline of the Nephilim still exists. Although they are unaware, these powerful beings walk the earth as regular humans until being “awakened” by another member of the bloodline. Some are righteous; some are demonic. All are called to be soldiers in the ultimate battle between good and evil.underlord Zoltar. Jake is going to need every resource imaginable, from skeptical law enforcement agent Sam Jericho; to prophets of the Old Testament; to the hand of God Himself. The Final Battle has begun, not only in this world, but in other unseen dimensions; and Jake Stanton may be the catalyst for victory or the harbinger of doom.
For those who enjoy stories spun out of Biblical speculation, there is much to love about The Sword of Goliath. Foremost is the fact that the cornerstone of this novel is based around a true mystery of the Bible, the fate of the Nephilim. Whereas Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Knox’s The Genesis Secret rely on heavily debunked assertions to support fallacious premises, Anthony Jones contrives this tale around a piece of scripture that, across millennia, has yet to be fully explained or understood. However improbable, the nature of this book still lies within the realm of “possible,” and that alone lends a huge amount of credibility to the author. Also to Mr. Jones’s credit is his ability to extrapolate the ideas of angels and demons, as well as Divine Intervention, through the use of interdimensional worlds. One such world is The Crossing, a Purgatory-like land eerily similar to Dekker’s Other Earth in the Circle series. It is in The Crossing that the Shaddai can communicate with deceased loved ones, Shaddai ancestry (including the prophet Samuel), and even Jesus of Nazareth; The Crossing, as well as other dimensions, serve to both simplify and enhance such Christian ideals as human suffering, unconditional love, and the nature of sin, using both imagery and appropriate narrative. Regarding appropriate narrative, Mr. Jones does the reader a third and final favor: He writes for the appeal of a wide audience. A glaring problem in the Christian Fiction genre is that the characters are often too faithful to be flawed; conversely, secular fiction finds characters so flawed that even a dynamic revelation or redemptive event can’t bring them closer to God. The Sword of Goliath makes no assumptions about the religious background of the reader and instead seeks to tell a good story steeped in the Christian faith while allowing its characters to struggle under the weight of their own humanity.
The Sword of Goliath is a solid story with a great foundation; however, there are a few elements that I found disagreeable, and they all seem to center on the novel’s two most prominent minor characters, Sam Jericho and Dr. Ruth Springer. These two develop a close relationship as the novel progresses, but their conversations are almost as awkward as two shy seventh graders on a bad blind date. Their verbal communication is always clunky and feels completely forced. Also, Dr. Springer knows way more than she should about the Shaddai and the Grigori. As much of a mystery as the bloodline of the Nephilim is, Springer seems to literally know everything about the two opposing forces, from the hierarchy of each to the fabled twelve instruments, including Goliath’s sword. She dispenses this information at the slightest nudge, and at no point does she stop to question the legitimacy or validity of anything she is saying. What’s worse, though, is that neither does Inspector Jericho. He simply accepts the premise that there are immortal descendants of angels fighting for supreme control of the earth without batting an eyelash. I like Sam Jericho as a character, but when paired with Dr. Springer, the team moves the plot forward in an extremely forced and unfashionable way. That being stated, they are only minor characters, and the majority of the novel is superb and very worthwhile.
My minor plot and character concerns notwithstanding, I can easily rate The Sword of Goliath 3 out of 4 Stars. As soon as I read the final page, I immediately scoured the internet in an attempt to find information on the next installment of The Bloodline Chronicles (alas, I came away empty-handed). The story is fresh, the writing is smooth on the whole, and the main characters are likeable and sympathetic heroes. Anthony Jones has included in this novel everything essential to beginning a traditional high-fantasy saga, albeit with a contemporary, faith-based twist. There’s a little cussing, and the story gets ever-so-slightly steamy at times; but adult fans of Frank Peretti’s Darkness duology, Ted Dekker’s Circle series, and Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles will enjoy what Mr. Jones has brought to the table.
THE WIZARD OF NOD
"THE WIZARD OF NOD" OFFICIAL REVIEW IS IN
Below is the full text of the review by onlinebookclub.org
"The Wizard of Nod" by Anthony Jones.]
3 out of 4 stars
Review by jacnthabox February 8, 2017
The Wizard of Nod is the second instalment in Anthony Jones’s Bloodline Chronicles. I had the pleasure of reviewing the first book in the series, The Sword of Goliath, and I was extremely excited when I received this opportunity. It is a given that most follow-up novels fall short of the expectation placed upon them; sequels are, in large part, segues into a final instalment. However, The Wizard of Nod did not give that impression; I believe it was the better of the two books in The Bloodline Chronicles. I will reference this feeling throughout the review as I believe it is the deciding factor for my rating. I was impressed by the level of improvement in craft almost as much as I was the thickening of the plot and abject lack of fluff.
The Wizard of Nod picks up some months after the conclusion of The Sword of Goliath, and Jake and Stephen, the Shaddai Paladins, find themselves back in San Quentin prison. Before they can get comfortable, however, they are tasked with recovering another of the twelve holy weapons used by the angels to fight the armies of darkness. The minions of Lucifer, the Grigori, have discovered the resting place of the Staff of Moses and will stop at nothing to obtain it. Jake and Stephen, along with their Shaddai brethren, embark on this quest unaware that a new evil is rapidly growing and threatening to tip the scales of power. Mordred, the most powerful wizard in the wicked realm of Nod, the son of Melchizedek, is ready to wage war with the Host of God, and even the raw might of Moses’s staff may not be enough to stop him. Even the immortal and deadly Paladins of the Shaddai cannot stop Armageddon…
Like The Sword of Goliath before it, The Wizard of Nod is a story crafted around famous biblical characters and events. Although the author takes many more liberties this time around with the historical accounts of the Book of Genesis, he still displays a keen sense of reverence for Holy Scripture and does not rely on debunked speculation or mythos. Mr. Jones’s story lies just behind the veil of mystery that causes us to wonder at the unexplained passages of holy Christian and Jewish text. He even weaves a bit of Arthurian legend into the tale, just for fun. I was highly impressed by the level of detail that went into aligning legends from different time periods and peoples, and I found myself smiling at the amount of A-Ha! moments as one legend was used to explain the other. Anyone interested in speculative religious fiction will have a blast with this book.
As sequels go, The Wizard of Nod is a good read. One of my biggest rules of thumb, though, is how well a series novel can stand on its own. Having read the first book, I knew what pertinent information to look for in judging whether or not a reader could follow the entire story without first purchasing The Sword of Goliath. Mr. Jones did an excellent job, through conversation and flashbacks, of bringing new readers up to speed without boring those already in the know. So, as novels go, The Wizard of Nod is an excellent read. Although I would strongly advise reading the series in order, it is not necessary to do so in order to understand the plot and relevant occurrences from the first book. Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, the writing is better by leaps and bounds. The Sword of Goliath is far from bad, but The Wizard of Nod just propels Anthony Jones to a new level of storytelling.
The only strike against this novel is that the editing is not as crisp as it was in Jones’s first book. Given the quality of his first book, it almost seems as though this one was rushed through the publishing process without a critical read-through. There wasn’t enough wrong to detract or distract from the story, but I really thought it could have been better. Little things like a character’s misspelled name or improper capitalization shows me that no one has set down with the intention of seriously poring over this book for potential errors.
Errors considered, I rate The Wizard of Nod 3 out of 4 Stars. I absolutely loved it. A better editing job would have garnered the book 4 Stars without a doubt. Adult fans of Rick Riordan or Kate O’Hearn should have no problem finding themselves utterly engrossed in the world of the Shaddai. Likewise, those who enjoy Dan Brown or even (dare I say) Cassandra Clare should walk away satisfied. I am eagerly awaiting the third, but hopefully not final, instalment of The Bloodline Chronicles.
ACTS OF THE SHADDAI
Review by jacnthabox June 2020 from onlinebookclub.org
Acts of the Shaddai: The Final Testament, by Anthony Jones, is the third and final installment in the Bloodlines Chronicles, which began with The Sword of Goliath and continued in The Wizard of Nod. I reviewed the two previous books in the series as they were released, so I was excited to take up the challenge of reviewing not only Acts of the Shaddai but the series in its entirety. The trilogy is reminiscent of Ted Dekker’s Circle series, with the bravado of Indiana Jones sprinkled in for good measure. Fans of Dekker, Frank Peretti, or perhaps even Dan Brown, are sure to enjoy the Bloodlines Chronicles for its speculative take on ancient prophecies being fulfilled in the present day. As a cautionary measure, I will say that, although Mr. Jones does a wonderful job bring the reader up to speed on the events of the first two books before beginning Acts of the Shaddai, both he and I wholly recommend reading The Sword of Goliath and The Wizard of Nod before partaking of this third volume.
The story begins with the protagonist, Jake Stanton, once again in prison; Jake has been incarcerated on and off since the beginning of the series for crimes he did not commit. However, this time is different. As a Shaddai, a holy warrior, Jake can send his consciousness to The Crossing, an otherworldly realm that lies between Sion (Heaven) and Nod (Hell); it is at The Crossing that Jake learns the ways of the Shaddai and gets direction for his mission upon Earth. Something, though, has cut Jake off from The Crossing, and he is unable to visit with his Shaddai companions; likewise, he’s stopped receiving visits from his mortal helper, Detective Sam Jericho. Elsewhere, the battle between the Shaddai and the evil Grigori rages on, and this time an unseen force is attempting to subvert both camps. Someone or something is attempting to upend the prophecies of the Last Days, which would in turn prove God wrong and undo all of Creation. Jake Stanton is the prophesied linchpin that holds the stories of the Last Days together, and the Shaddai must figure out a way to rescue him and stop whatever force that is threatening to unravel the very fabric of history. Time is not on their side, and the race to save Creation is on.
I truly enjoyed this final installment of the Bloodlines Chronicles. While being a Christian is not a prerequisite to follow Jake Stanton’s path through the trilogy, it does help in understanding allusions made throughout, particularly to the twelve enchanted instruments of war and such minor characters as Samuel, Lilith, and Melchizedek. The series is also heavily intertwined with Arthurian legend, which makes it all the more interesting. In Acts of the Shaddai, the reader even gets to spend a decent amount of time in the lost colony of Roanoke. When history, legend, and religion are intermingled correctly, great tales can be produced, and I count Acts of the Shaddai, and the Bloodlines Chronicles in general, as one of these tales. Anthony Jones has done his research on all three fronts.
I did notice some things that distracted me from my reading. First and foremost, there are several tense shifts; this is one of my compulsory pet peeves, so it was noticeable to me as I read. We speak about the present in the present and the past in the past; telling a story that took place in the past, then shifting to a present-day narration, then back to the past, is a glaring error in any novel. The chapters are also numbered incorrectly, going from XVI, to XVIII, to IVX (which is not a Roman numeral), and back to XV. In addition, there are a few misspellings and typos littered throughout the novel, mostly toward the end, but the book does seem like it was edited to an extent. My final grievance is more subjective; the book seems like it was written in two very distinct chunks. The first portion of the novel seems hurried, with short, choppy sentences and frantic movement from one scene to the next. In contrast, the second part of the book contains longer chapters, more complex sentence structures, and a more fluid movement through the plot. As Mr. Jones states in his final thoughts on the novel, he was dealing with a terrible crisis during the writing of Acts of the Shaddai, and that probably plays a role in the changing styles; it is not a make-or-break issue for me as much as it is something I noticed while reading.
Acts of the Shaddai: The Final Testament receives 3 out of 4 stars from me. It could use another combing over to pick out the aforementioned errors, but the story itself is amazing, and the errors did not interfere with the purposeful narration of the novel. The ending blew me away; I have not felt such a sense of joy from a story’s finish in a very long time. That in and of itself deserves strong kudos to the author. I feel very fortunate to have taken the full journey through all three books of the Bloodlines Chronicles; it was time well spent. I congratulate Anthony Jones on his achievement and look forward to more of his work in the future.