Official Review: Beyond the Fire by Dewayne A. Jackson

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Jkhorner
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Official Review: Beyond the Fire by Dewayne A. Jackson

Post by Jkhorner » 06 May 2018, 21:12

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Beyond the Fire" by Dewayne A. Jackson.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Beyond the Fire by Dewayne A Jackson is a fictional tale of Christians living in far off Amity, about fifty years prior to present day. The tale is a trilogy totaling about 750 pages, and is told via a framing device in present day Amity. Book One, “A World in Conflict: Sparks in the Tinderbox,” describes growing threats to the peace that has surrounded Amity for generations. In this section Jackson introduces the Stafford family and Bill Cotton and his family (the main protagonists), as well as characters who have sparked this new unrest.

In the second book, “Facing the Defiler: Enduring the Flames,” Amity goes to war to protect its borders from the invaders of Endor. Due to the war we get to explore the lands surrounding Amity, learn some of their histories and meet many new people, friend and foe alike. Both sides experience devastating losses physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. The main protagonists face trials both in their personal lives and in securing the fate of their country. The spiritual warfare in this second book is extremely intense; several lives hang in the balance between succumbing to evil and continuing on the difficult road of following the Holy Writings.

The final book, “Restoration: Beyond the Fire,” is not as calm a denouement as the title suggests. Warriors returning to Amity from Endor find their homes in disarray, and they must now fight a war on the homefront that they’ve labored so hard to protect.

I thoroughly enjoyed Beyond the Fire, but it is worth noting that a facet of this book will draw some readers in while alienating others: the story goes beyond having merely a religious tone to being outright Christian fiction. While Amity seems to be a nonexistent place, the Holy Writings and the work of Jesus Christ on the cross are identical to the Bible and its gospel. The characters who are Christians live out every part of their lives within this belief, and you can tell the author cares deeply about his spiritual walk. As a Christian myself, I do not mind the author utilizing his belief so thoroughly, but you should be aware before delving into it that Christianity is not a mere add-on to this book: it is its core.

In further regard to the characters, you’ll notice I did not name many in the summary. This is not because there are too few, but rather there is a huge cast of characters. No individual is clearly set as the protagonist, because there are several members of the Stafford family, and Bill Cotton who narrates the book is of less importance than the Staffords. Each character has both good qualities and flaws: the people with whom you’re supposed to sympathize are often easily deceived or let anger get the best of them. This does make every character feel human, yet most of the Christians seem like the exact same human. The evil characters all have the same temperaments and motivations; so while there is variety in characterization, there is not nearly enough to make me actually attached to the myriad of characters in the book.

Beyond the Fire is Dewayne Jackson’s first book, and you can tell he is just starting to develop his writing style. It is excellently edited: I found fewer than 10 mistakes across the 750 pages, most of which were simple typos. Jackson certainly has a handle on what makes for good writing. At the same time, the tone is quite casual for the apparent time period; I would have expected a little older style given the setting, and occasionally a modern-day American idiom slipped past the editing room into the finished work. Nonetheless, all of the writing, including the dialogue, was believable and easy to read, if a little plain.

The final point to discuss is the plot. Each of the books is very exciting and realistic about the difficulties of civil and foreign war. The overarching plot is simple enough, but the author does include various subplots and dream sequences that are confusing and do not substantially add to the main storyline. It’s as if the author wanted to build an entire new and epic world in just one book, but he could not choose which stories to include. For example, the subplot of a character named Seagood was entirely unrelated to the outcome of Amity’s war, and it took up valuable space. I would rather see his story as a separate book so we could get to know Seagood on a more intimate level.

Even though this book is Christian fiction, I think the author uses characters’ conversions to Christianity and the power of prayer as cheap contrivances to move the plot forward rather than as character development, which is how prayer and conversion function in real life. Characters experience instant and complete changes of heart rather than letting their new beliefs grow and gradually change them over time. I’m left with questions about how certain battles were won, beyond, “we prayed and the Lord gave us the victory.” But in all, the decent pacing and good use of plot devices made for an action-packed as well as introspective read.

As much as I enjoyed Beyond the Fire, I cannot give it a perfect rating due to its somewhat awkwardly implemented religious themes and a storyline that is a little rough around the edges. I rate it 3 out of 4 stars, and recommend it to anyone who wants a whole easy-to-read epic in one book, and especially to younger readers and Christians. It may not be for avid readers, but of all the books I have read for Onlinebookclub.org, this one is certainly my favorite.

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Beyond the Fire
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Post by SABRADLEY » 07 May 2018, 21:07

Thank you for your insightful and honest review. I get frustrated with too many characters, especially if it feels like they are cookie cutter. I have no problems with Christian fiction, but wonder if I might find this a bit cliche in some regards.

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Post by kandscreeley » 08 May 2018, 12:30

Interesting. This sounds like Pilgrim's Progress or something similar of that nature. I've read a few books like that, and I probably would read this one as well. Thanks for the lovely review.
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Post by Jkhorner » 08 May 2018, 13:51

SABRADLEY wrote:
07 May 2018, 21:07
Thank you for your insightful and honest review. I get frustrated with too many characters, especially if it feels like they are cookie cutter. I have no problems with Christian fiction, but wonder if I might find this a bit cliche in some regards.
Thank you for sticking with my many thoughts :) I think the aspect that was hardest to grasp was the lack of context for Christian jargon. Readers are supposed to just understand what the terms are without any real explanation.

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Post by Jkhorner » 08 May 2018, 13:54

kandscreeley wrote:
08 May 2018, 12:30
Interesting. This sounds like Pilgrim's Progress or something similar of that nature. I've read a few books like that, and I probably would read this one as well. Thanks for the lovely review.
Thank you for stopping by! I do love allegories like Pilgrim's Progress and this certainly has similar elements. I almost wish the author had chosen a more allegorical approach!

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Post by crediblereading2 » 15 May 2018, 12:52

A story of great inspiration where the characters are synonymous with those of real life. Thank you for your detailed review.

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Post by NL Hartje » 20 May 2018, 15:40

If you don't mind my asking, where did you get your information regarding the first two books? Had you read them, was it provided in this third book, or did you have to seek out the information? I am just wondering at the ability to read this third book as a stand-alone; is it possible?
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Post by isa3030 » 21 May 2018, 06:25

Frankly,i detest reading book of many stories in one volume but not the case of Beyond the fire written by Dawayne A Jackson,an interesting fiction mixture story of 750 pages.The book told us about christains who live at Almity years ago.Another story was A World in Conflicts, a growing threat of peace that has surroundered Almity for generation,the author introduced Staford's famiy and Cotton and his family as well as characters who couse the new unrest."Facing the Defiler:Enduring the flames"Almity want to war to protect their border from Edor,due to this war we found land surrounding Almity, learnt their history,met friends,enemies and alike,both sides record heavy losses physically,mentally and emotionally.I appreciate my colleaque who review this book rating it 3-4star noticing minor errors while recommending it to people with christain background and readers who like easy read epic books.The author proved his pen's action worthy of demonstrating his imagines thinking,a serious work of the indeed

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Post by sanctuary99 » 21 May 2018, 11:27

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.
John Green , The Fault in Our Stars

I'm awesomely impressed about the natural ethic I learned from this book, thanks for reviewing it here.

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Post by Jkhorner » 03 Jun 2018, 14:14

NL Hartje wrote:
20 May 2018, 15:40
If you don't mind my asking, where did you get your information regarding the first two books? Had you read them, was it provided in this third book, or did you have to seek out the information? I am just wondering at the ability to read this third book as a stand-alone; is it possible?
Thanks for asking! All three books are included in the single volume, so I read all three for this review. It really would not be possible to read them as separate books; the divisions are more like section changes than a shifting of one book to another, so none of them are a full story in and of themselves.

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Post by Jkhorner » 03 Jun 2018, 14:16

isa3030 wrote:
21 May 2018, 06:25
Frankly,i detest reading book of many stories in one volume but not the case of Beyond the fire written by Dawayne A Jackson,an interesting fiction mixture story of 750 pages.The book told us about christains who live at Almity years ago.Another story was A World in Conflicts, a growing threat of peace that has surroundered Almity for generation,the author introduced Staford's famiy and Cotton and his family as well as characters who couse the new unrest."Facing the Defiler:Enduring the flames"Almity want to war to protect their border from Edor,due to this war we found land surrounding Almity, learnt their history,met friends,enemies and alike,both sides record heavy losses physically,mentally and emotionally.I appreciate my colleaque who review this book rating it 3-4star noticing minor errors while recommending it to people with christain background and readers who like easy read epic books.The author proved his pen's action worthy of demonstrating his imagines thinking,a serious work of the indeed
Thanks for stopping by and reading my review :) I agree, it is usually a little cumbersome to read multiple books in one volume, but in this case I was glad to not seek out the other books in order to know the full story!

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Post by gali » 25 Jul 2018, 07:17

A fictional tale of Christians living in Amity sounds like a good read for fans of the genre. Using a framing device to tell the tale of Stafford family in the present and Christians in the past sounds like a good technique. Too bad about the awkwardly implemented religious themes and the rough edges. I don't liked a religious themed books, so will pass. I am glad you enjoyed it, though. Thank you for the review!
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Post by Dabuddhababe » 25 Jul 2018, 07:25

The first thing I read in the sample was a bible verse. I'm glad you pointed out that this is heavely based on Christian beliefs. I found the plot a bit boring, and I'm not a religious person. This is a no go for me. Thank you for the review.

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Post by desantismt_17 » 25 Jul 2018, 07:32

This one's not for me. I don't really enjoy Christian fiction, and the story sounds a little too rough for my taste. Thanks for your thorough review!
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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Post by DustinPBrown » 25 Jul 2018, 07:37

I have nothing against Christian/religious fiction, but it's definitely not for me. I like the concept of it and the idea of a country run exclusively by Christians, especially one that exists 50 years before now (how did they relate to the USSR?), but I don't know if I could get over overt religious tones. Thanks for sharing!

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