Review of The Sword by Bryan M. Litfin

I just finished listening to The Sword  by Bryan M. Litfin, which happens to be Christianaudio.com’s free book of the month.
The Sword is book one in the Chiveis trilogy. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic world. There are few technologies left from the ancients (the world ended in 2042). Knowledge and literacy are scarce; Christianity is being suppressed by the powers that be.
These elements create an interesting thought experiment about what it might be like to have the OT rediscovered–as if for the first time all over again (the second novel in the trilogy details the discovery of the NT). The novel centers on the relationship between two main characters, Anastasia the peasant and  Captain Teofil, both who are larger than life. They are drawn to each other instantly, but the romance does little to move the plot forward. This is one example of how the book isn’t gimmicky; nevertheless, it still often feels like it moves too fast. Around every corner there is a brand new obstacle to overcome, and sometimes it seems as if everything in the world has conspired against our heroes. Some how this works for the book: like a non-stop Indiana Jones movie or the book Constantin von Tischendorf wrote about his discovery of the Codex Sinaiticus.

I was especially drawn to the unique way weapons are re-imagined in this novel, specifically the ax that the main character wields. It holds steel balls in the handle which can be flung at adversaries with deadly power. Although I find it hard to imagine the mechanics of how this would work, this ax captured my imagination!

Some of my negative reactions to the book include:

  • It felt like the main characters are too impressive, to the point that they become unbelievable. This is compounded by the way they are romantically challenged. The romance doesn’t take off until the second book in the trilogy, where they finally discuss their relationship explicitly, and let it fester in the background. This contrast was stronger because of the other trilogy I have been reading this summer, The Book of Mortals, by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee. This book has obvious parallels to The Sword because it is post-apocalyptic, and the true religion has also been suppressed. However, I feel like Dekker and Tosca have more skill developing their characters than Litfin does.
  • Although this review is specifically about the first book in the trilogy, I can’t review it without mentioning that the second book should be X-rated. One of the villains is a necrophiliac, and the nudity could make a weak mind stumble (even if it is designed to show the corruption a culture slides into without God, a la Romans chapter 1).

Overall, I would recommend listening to The Sword. The second book, The Gift, is also worth your time since it has a very clever ending (just remember that it should be rated mature).

The final book in the trilogy, The Kingdom, comes out shortly and both the second and third are on sale for about 5 bucks from Christianaudio.com for the month of July. If you want a great adventure story that reads like an Indianna Jones movie, make sure to pick this one up for your next road trip.

Full Disclaimer: I received this book as part of the Christianaudio.com reviewers’ program, which gives away free books in exchange for reviews, however I am not required to give a positive review.
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