Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CSFF Tour: The Begotten

Title: The Begotten

Series: The Gifted #1

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Genre: Adult Supernatural Suspense/Historical

Excerpt from Chapter One of The Begotten:

The Year of Our Lord 1339

In his six years as a knight of the Church, they had burned at the stake scores of sinners. As each died, Gianni de Capezzana could not determine whether any were any less saint than he. This one was different.

For the first time, Gianni longed to immediately put his adversary to death, to drown the chill emanating from the Sorcerer in the heat of flame. This one was coldly sinful, delighting in the dark power—Gianni could feel the force of it surrounding, threatening. He glanced backward, over his shoulder, to make sure his men were right behind him. As they passed, the men filled and lit occasional oil lamps among the loculi to show them their way out.

The lamps did little to dispel the dark shadows from the passageway of the ancient catacombs before them, but now was not the time for torches or even any more small lamps. If they did not surprise this group ahead…Surprise was their principal ally. They would simply have to risk the dark.

Cold sweat rolled down his neck and down between his shoulder blades. The death hallways were cool enough to ease the heat of his armor, but fear—a feeling rare to him—made him hot as fever. “It is only the stories, the foolish stories of the villagers,” he muttered, as if mentoring a squire instead of himself. But his mouth was dry, making him want to pause, cough. He forced himself to take another step and then another, knowing if he stopped, he’d turn around and retreat.

A wealthy lady of the 1300’s discovers a gift of supernatural healing, attracting the attention of similarly gifted people, the Italian Church, and evil.

The Writing: The Begotten carries no outstanding flaws or virtues in its writing. The characters are three-dimensional, the plot well-paced (outside a somewhat slower beginning), the details/historical settings never cumbersome, and the climax satisfying. Nothing dominates in my mind, positive or negative.

Yet, perhaps that’s the highest praise any writer can achieve. The story is so well-written, so intriguing, so real that I, the reader, ceased to be aware of the words, style, and craft at all. The only thing that existed in my mind was the story itself.

The Story: The Begotten’s historical setting provides the set-up for more obvious Christian elements than seen in most books of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. So this book isn’t targeted for seekers, even though it’s not preachy. Rather, it seems clearly written (at least from my perspective) for other Christians.

One point of concern that some Christians will have is the premise based on an uncannonized letter of Paul. However, Ms. Bergren explains very carefully the historical basis of Paul’s missing letters, and why this doesn’t threaten the balance of Scripture is covered multiple times through the book.

Likewise, the whole supernatural element is exceptionally handled, showing how these things fall within the realm of Scripture’s instructions and example. For instance, none of the Gifted (the supernaturally gifted humans) cannot control their gifting on demand: the healer may be able to heal one person but not another. (For a biblical example of this, compare Acts 14:8-10 with Philippians 2:25-27.)

As for the other elements of concern, there is a battle scene near the end of the book, some scenes of promiscuity in the middle, and the topic of lust threaded throughout. None are overdone, but very present nonetheless.

Summary: In case I’ve not sufficiently conveyed it, my first thought upon finishing The Begotten was, “Wow.” And even after analysis, that first impression is unchanged. This is an amazing book, both in content and craft, and it should have wide appeal to readers of suspense, historical, and fantastic alike.

However, because of the sexual and violence aspects of this book, I recommend that no one under 16 read it.

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Check out book two's review, as well as book three's, or to order, click here.

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