Friday, July 11, 2008

Oracles of Fire, Part 3: Last of the Nephilim

Title: Last of the Nephilim

Series: Oracles of Fire #3

Author: Bryan Davis

Genre: YA (10-14) Technological Fantasy

Excerpt from “Prologue” of Last of the Nephilim:

“Mardon, I know you don’t enjoy being dead, but you must come to grips with reality.”

From her seat on a flat rock, the lithe woman leaned over a stone table, the only furniture amid a collection of oddly shaped boulders draped by a black sky. Her movements troubled the red flame of a pewter-gray candle embedded in a hardened splash of wax on the table’s surface.

Laying her hands over the intertwined fingers of the man sitting opposite her, she spoke with a breathy and ominous voice. “If you try to follow your giants to Second Eden, you will be swept into the Lake of Fire where you will burn with your father forever. Dead souls such as yourself cannot survive outside of Hades.”

As the woman’s long hair fell over his hands, Mardon caressed the ends between his thumb and finger but kept his eyes focused on a rope to his left, both ends of which had been tied to iron stakes, separated by perhaps twenty feet. The golden rope shimmered, quavering as if gently plucked by an invisible finger. A soft hum emanated and drifted to his ears in a warbling vibrato. It was a song of victory. It had taken him centuries to pull the two worlds together, and now a rope te thickness of a broom handle kept them in place. A huge man, one of Mardon’s Nephilim, stood near one of the stakes, his muscular arms folded over his chest, one hand gripping an axe that rested on his shoulder.

“In order to carry out our plans, you must stay on Earth,” she continues. “Because of your successful merging of Earth and Hades, no one there will even realize that you’re dead.”

Corruptions threatens a second Eden, and the Oracles, humans, and former dragons must band together to fight it.

The Writing: Mr. Davis has turned in another solid performance with Last of the Nephilim. Each time I start to think that these stories cannot be any more imaginative, another plot twist or fascinating premise surfaces. And all the while, the delightful blend of modern technology and fantasy realms is carefully balanced.

These, along with the intricate plotting, comprises this book’s—indeed, the entire series’—greatest strengths, creating a memorable and thrilling adventure.

However, characters remain the short-fall. The points-of-view are well delineated, the switches clear, and the cast diverse. Nonetheless, there is still a slight disconnect from the characters. You cheer for them. You cringe when they make a mistake. But they fail to reach (at least for me) that deepest heart place where fear, agony, tears, and laughter spring from.

Also, Last of the Nephilim brings together almost the entire cast of the previous six books. I didn’t have any problem with this. However, if you aren’t well acquainted with each character and their basic history or if it’s been awhile since you’ve read the books, this large cast could be confusing and overwhelming.

Finally, I found all the secrecy about Bonnie and her wings a big distracting and annoying. But other than that, I only have one other problem: I have to wait another year before the final book releases! Ack.

The Story: A classic good-versus-evil tale, Last of the Nephilim has almost as many themes as characters. The surrender of gifts. Patient endurance. Forgiveness. The destructive nature of the smallest sin and the doors it opens for greater evil. Sacrifice. Mercy. Repentance. The gifts of God. The list could go on and on.

As for other side notes, know that violence, war, and even death thread in and out of the story, as is typical of most good-versus-evil stories. However, it is well-handled, with few graphic details to plague the memory.

Summary: A fast-past, sword-swinging adventure best describes Last of the Nephilim. It is flawless? No, but the virtues outweighs the vices, providing a good read for readers 10 and up.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Interested in the whole series? Check out the reviews for book one and two, as well as the sister series, Dragons in Our Midst.

To order, click here.

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