Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Seraph Seal By Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner

The newly published fiction  novel, The Seraph Seal By Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner is a timely unique hybrid of a detective story, history, science fiction fantasy and inspirational tale in one story. This ambitious and well detailed book is among the new genre of quasi-religious prophetic fiction. This piece of work is one among many popular end times themed movies/ books such as "Knowing", "Deep Impact", "2012" and the "Left Behind" Series.

The author goes into extensive detail describing a fictitious, yet well woven quasi-scientific theory of the end times, weaving together ancient Mayan fables with Catholic traditions and new age theories. In fact, the same readers that actually believed Dan Brown's intricate tales of church intrigue and conspiracy theroies in the fictional novel, The Davinci Code, may be the very same gullible readers who may believe that Sweet and Wagners's end times theatrics are in fact real. 

Christianity is reduced to superticious and at best antiquated, yet quaint ideas.  Catholic church traditions, such as the priest hood and, religious orders,  private mystical revelations, the mass and eucharist are elevated and attributed as a  legitimate authority on par with the bible.  In fact, the hero of the book, Paul, comes to faith, and for lack of a better description- is rborn again.  Nevertheless the priest performs a Catholic style baptism- where he is sprinkled with water from a fountain, rather than imemersed.  To point out this detail, may be seen as inconsequntial, but it is indicitive of the Catholic slant of this novel which leaves me to question as to the intended readership of this book. Icons such as the Celtic cross, and private revelations of the Saints, supersticious, ancient works of art are considered to be inspired and endowed with a supernatural power of prophecy.  Ancient pagan  Mayan and Jewish rituals and theories are given an equal voice as well.  In fact, this novel is a potluck mixture of ancient and mystical beliefs of various cultures woven  into one novel. 

This novel is reminiscent of an end- times supernatural scavenger hunt where prophecy and clues may be found in any time, culture or religion.  Thomas Nelson publishers, in large part, produces biblical based books that are not aligned with a specific demonination.  Nevertheless this book clearly has Catholic undertones which will draw in Catholic readers as well as secular readers, but may serve to alienate bible based Christian believers.  Perhaps this book is an attempt at an outreach towards Catholic and secular readers?  It is true, nevertheless, that the ancient Catholic Church with its antique traditions, deep rooted history and elaborate rituals has served as a good back-drop setting for many works of horror, fiction, drama pieces and thillers in movies and novels.

Apparently the main characters, coincidently, are one of the select few, endowed with the special gifts holding the balance of mankind in their power. This is somewhat like Calvanism, where the belief is that mankind is predestined for salvation or damnation.  These characters I feel are given too much liberty  to intervene in  events in order to change history. This  raises some interesting questions about the arbitrary significance of these characters to control only what God has the power to do  of events and how even little actions or choices of arbitrary people may have a ripple effect for future generations. At the same time, the implication made by the authors, when the characters knowingly  use their arbitrary gifted powers intervene to control events to thwart future suffering, seems to undermine the idea of God's unique role in providence as an all-knowing, omnificient, all powerful being. In essence, the heros of the story become "god"-like in the fact that they have so much power to intervene to make amends or change the future. They are like supernatural super sleuths or detectives whereas the rest of the unspecting world are merely pawns in  the darkness of oblivian and ignorance.  Nevertheless, science fiction fans  will enjoy the vivid depictions of the sites, sounds and technologies in the future as well as the travels to variouscultures that the characters travel  to.  Food, clothing, artwork, buildings and other historical details are authentically described.  

The classic battle between good and evil is integrated into the story- whereas the lurking danger of an ancient antagonistic presence is always there trying to obstruct goodness.   It was well written with much detail, and is sure to appeal to a varied audience. The pseudo-scientific ideas presented as well as references to ancient traditions and extra- canonical works, writings and mystic visions make this almost plausible for those readers who have not studied the bible truths .  A troubling fact as a reader for me was that rather than seeking wisdom and information about the end times from the bible as the sole source, authority and enlightenment are indescriminately found in the most unexpected and remote religions, cultures and traditions of the past  .As a blogger for booksneeze.com, I recieved a free copy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson publishers. I was not required to write a positive review and the ideas expressed are my own.

1 comment:

  1. When I started this book, it seemed pretty boring. Taking place 37 years in the future, I had a hard time adapting to this sci-fi earth. However, the further I got into this book, the more interesting and suspenseful it became. It got to a point where I loved the book, then suddenly, it left me off at a rather disappointing ending. One that was so different that it made me question what the authors hoped to accomplish with this.