3 out of 4 stars
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I find adequately reviewing A Kingdom Forgotten by Charles W. McDonald, Jr. to be a significant challenge. The level of complexity is astounding. Frankly, I didn’t feel that I knew what was going on for greater than a third of the novel. By the time I did figure out what was going on, I found a compelling story with a plot so different from any others I have read before, that I remained intrigued until the end. The style of storytelling is so radically different that I am undecided as to whether it is brilliant or insane. The setting includes many worlds, many time periods on the various worlds, and a wealth of characters. Actually, it is nearly impossible to keep all of the characters straight at first. The storyline does not proceed in a chronological manner, neither is it fully consistent with “present day” story intermingled with “flashbacks.” Rather, the author jumps from past to future to present and between worlds quickly. Several sections are long enough to provide continuity in storyline, but some of the snippets are very short, almost disjointed. As I said, I didn’t start to grasp the story until I was more than a third of the way through the book.
One main character, Damon, appears to be a thoroughly evil character who has wrought much destruction in past centuries. Currently, Damon is furiously working on some “agenda” that he will share with no one, even while he manipulates people and circumstances in order to ensure his plans are not ruined. Damon’s powers are seemingly endless, and he has many enemies as well as allies. Another main character, Radin, is convinced that he is “the one” that the prophecies have foretold; however, a famed Lamean (magic person), Talemar, covets the title of “the one.” Even though Radin is a relatively new player in the worlds, he manages to gather friends from differing worlds, including a navy seal from earth.
Armageddon—the end of the world—is the underlying plot that holds all of the worlds and characters together like moons rotating around a planet. The “first seal” has been found. Prophecy has long told that “the one” would open the first seal and bring forth destruction as has never before been seen. Alliances are quickly formed and armies gather, preparing for the last battle in anticipation of the seal being opened.
A basic theme of good and evil is conspicuously absent. Characters are not easily defined as “bad” or “good.” Most are merely acting in their own interests, regardless of how this may help or hurt others. Additional themes include second chances, search for personal identity, and enduring relationships. Main characters are developed adequately for the scope and size of the novel, while other characters are somewhat more veiled in mystery. More than one character goes through a transformation. I enjoyed the overall plot and felt the characters were very realistic, especially considering the fantasy/sci-fi genre; however, I was not entirely comfortable with some of the parallels to various Scripture passages.
Finally, it is difficult to describe the pace of the book. I am tempted to say that the pace was slow, since it took me so long to understand the storyline. However, each individual section was paced nicely and so well-written, that to say the pace is slow would do the book a severe injustice. Additionally, once the individual story threads begin to converge in a coherent manner, the pace is action-packed.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I definitely have a mixed range of opinions about A Kingdom Forgotten. The plot itself is near genius. The way the author kept track of all the characters, worlds and time periods is incredible. I would give it the full 4 stars, except that it was so difficult to grasp for the first section of the book. I would not recommend this book to a young audience, due to some sultry scenes and the overall complexity.
A Kingdom Forgotten
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