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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Review: The Vadelah Chronicles - Book 5 - The Defender

Science fiction is not a realm of literature that is often seen as being open to Christian interpretation. What with the debates on the origin of life, abortion, and space exploration being what they are, it would seem that Christian authors would stick to the fantasy genre. But C.S. Lewis used science fiction in his Space Trilogy, and now a Washington lady by the name of Julie Rollins is doing the same thing.

Julie Rollins is a homeschooling mom who is also a personal acquaintance of mine, going to my co-op where she sells her books, most of which she has self published. These books, The Vadelah Chronicles, record the exploits of David Decker, who, after encountering a marooned space alien named Gyra, shares the gospel with the avian creature. Learning that Gyra's people have an Old Testament understanding of God, David winds up as a missionary to alien races, backed by the phantera, Gyra's species.

The Defender is the fifth book in this series. It tells of David's adventures, the missionary now being married and living on Arana, Gyra's home world, with his friend Todd and his family. David soars across the galaxy, taking on savage aliens and fierce beasts, and trying to sort out what the various phantera prophecies mean.

This book, in light of the previous four, was quite honestly disappointing. Most of what was good about the previous four books is here, but one key element is colored differently; the plot. The first four books had straightforward plots, coupled with excellent prose and interesting characters. This book has the latter two, but plot wise, it just feels off. It's like three or four different stories were jammed together into a cannon and then shot out all at once. There's the Heltor story, the mel-hanor invasion story, the wild beast story, the Space Lice story, and the Phantera prophecy story, only the last of which has much of a connection to the title at all. Granted, David is probably going to be all over the place when he starts doing things, but two or three of these plot lines put together could easily have been their own individual books. I will give the book credit for espousing an uplifting, Christian worldview, but it honestly wasn't as good as the previous four.

Of the previous books, my favorite is the second, Vashua's Messenger, and my second favorite is the fourth, When Dreams Die. I mainly liked the second because it shows how David goes forth to interact with the various alien species, sharing the gospel with them, and I liked the fourth because it further develops the character of Shektul, reintroducing him in a satisfying fashion.

All in all, this book had potential, but the concept was poorly executed, resulting in a resoundingly average book. It pretty much negated the whole phantera feather shield thing via deus ex machina, and introduced a new set of plot devices to take its place. Here's hoping that the next book, Echoes of Darkness, does a better job. I just hope that I can get it, because it's only available online.

RATING: 7/10

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