2 out of 4 stars
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A Fire In The West by Harry James Fox and Lucia Mudgway is the third installment in the Stonegate series but does read well by itself. The book is described as a dystopian Christian narrative that happens a hundred years after the United States collapse. Honestly, though, I didn't see much of dystopian elements in the storyline, and I would define it as medieval Christian fantasy.
The main protagonist in this series is Donald of Fisher who is a renown fighter and commander in the war against the False Prophet. Along with his wife, Rachel, and others, Donald pushed back the depraved leader to the west and gave the east peace and security. Now twenty years later, the community of Stonegate, where Donald lives, is a thriving town with only memories of their troubled history. Donald's son Robbie finds himself in love with a girl named Ari who is his cousin. Distressed that they can't be together, the two try to suppress their feelings. Soon though, Raiders, mercenaries of the False Prophet, are seen sneaking around, spreading panic and fear in the residents of the east. The False Prophet decides he has waited long enough to take what he believes is his. Robbie sets out alone to track the Raiders and then goes missing. What happened to Robbie? Also, can the citizens of the east defeat the ignoble ruler once and for all?
Rachel, Ari, and Carla (Ari's mother) are all strong female characters who take up arms to defend themselves. They were my favorite characters in the book. Carla's exploits are told in a poem, and she is lauded for her marksmanship with the bow. Ari, along with other young women, train in archery to fight in the war. Rachel is quick thinking and brave, even amidst adversity. There are, also, a few scenes where the ladies get in on the action and help their comrades. Although not as impressive as the ladies, Donald was a likable character as well with his solid leadership skills and care for the people.
There have been a few books in my life where I stopped reading after a couple of chapters because of its long-windedness. This would have been one of them if I didn't have to review it. To make this book a stand-alone, the authors give a considerable amount of background information. Then came drawn-out preparations and strategizing for combat. The story became bogged down in the details and made the pace sluggish. After the halfway mark, the action finally takes place and then we race off to the finish line where the ending was wrapped up cleanly with everyone living happily ever after. The wording sometimes appeared awkward and too proper for a real person to speak. For example: "Mother and Father are resting in the shade out the back. I am sure they would be delighted to see you and offer you their hospitality. Mother will certainly insist you stay with us for a few days to recover from such a long journey." There were twists and turns in the plot, but they were predictable. Furthermore, I couldn't get on board with thinking The False Prophet was evil incarnate. The authors try to depict him as a maniacal, bloodthirsty monarch, but in reality, he appears merely as a mean, dithering old man. I also thought it was strange that even though this was Christian fiction, I found a few swear words scattered throughout.
There were over ten mistakes with missing quotation marks and periods to add to the myriad of issues. So with that in mind, I give A Fire In The West 2 out of 4 stars. Because this is Christian fiction, each chapter starts with quoted scriptures, no gory battle scenes, and the authors keep the love scenarios to a minimum. The sentence structure is simplistic making this book a good fit for teens and anyone interested in Christian and fantasy themes.
A Fire in the West
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