3 out of 4 stars
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The Wizard of Nod is the second installment 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 installment. 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, installment of The Bloodline Chronicles.
The Wizard of Nod
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