From the Back Cover
Close your eyes, Ela of Parne. Close your eyes and you will see.
Ela Roeh of Parne doesn’t understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She’s undignified, bad tempered, and only seventeen–not to mention that no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as the elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite’s prophet, Ela knows she will die young.
Istgard has turned their back on me. See the evil they do.
Yet after experiencing His presence, she can’t imagine living without Him. Determined to follow the Infinite’s voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite’s word to a nation torn apart by war. Here she meets Kien, a young Traceland ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela must surrender to her destiny…and determine how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.
Will you accept the branch and speak my will? Will you be my prophet?
So, I’ve finally finished this book! I started it during Hurricane Irma and reading little snippets here and there is what really got me through the storm, in more ways than one. I’m so glad to be able to bring you this review. I want to touch on every aspect of the book so lets go!
ELA OF PARNE
Our MC is Ela of Parne, a young 17 yr. old girl, who by all accounts is just your basic everyday girl. Nothing special, no frills, and definitely no Mary Sue. She is quick tempered and headstrong. She complains a lot, and is double minded on a lot of things. This warms my heart, and I am immediately drawn to her because of this. Normally, when we read Christian novels (by the way this is a Christian fantasy book) the characters are so boring and definitely goody two shoes. Ela, is refreshingly different. She is, in a word, human. And I can appreciate that.
Ela is approached by her Creator, the Infinite, to become his prophet. He gives her, her first vision of a massacre in Ytar, where the people have become enslaved by the people of Istgard. The vision is powerful and knocks her out cold. Its then that she awakens and finds her sister Tzana running to the tomb of Parne’s former prophet Eshtmoh and the Infinite gives her the sacred vinewood staff. From there, her journey begins.
Ela sets off to Istgard with her sister Tzana and first goes through her wilderness period. This is when she learns from the Infinite and communes with HIM alone so she can be prepared to undertake her task.
When she finally arrives in Istgard, Ela is faced with so many obstacles in her quest to change King Tek An’s heart back to the Infinite. She survived many near death experiences and lived to be feared by the people of Istgard and their King. Many even condemn her as a witch.
Another of our primary supporting characters is Ela’s little sister Tzana. This little dear suffers from Progeria, which is a disease that causes premature aging in children. She is about ten years old when the story begins, though she appears to be an old woman, leading many to call her the “Unfortunate” much to the ire of Ela, who often reacts violently.
Tzana is feisty, and takes no prisoners. She is sweet and wise beyond her years and is incredibly astute. She notices things others do not and she acts as an emotional anchor for her sister.
Kien is the next major character in this book. He starts off as being this arrogant and yet childish character. He is stubborn and this causes him more trouble than it saves him. Kien is thrown in jail by Tek An primarily because he is a distant relative that poses a threat to his crown and because Kien insulted him by not revealing the secrets to the Traceland’s (where Kien is from) new crystal ore.
Kien is immediately drawn to Ela, observing her and saving her life on too many occasions. He tempers her and she forces him to grow up and see life more wisely. Kien is described as having piercing gray eyes and an charmingly infectious smile. He also becomes a major foil for Ela.
By far my favorite character in the book, Pet is an Istgardian destroyer (in other words a giant warhorse). He is ferocious and well bred, ready to lay his life down for his master. That is until he met Ela of Parne. The war horse was going to trample Ela, but backed by their Creator, the Infinite, he is quickly tempered and pledges himself to Ela.
Pet is by far the most animated character in the book. He made me laugh out loud several times with his antagonistic, love/hate relationship with Kien. They share a hilarious rivalry over Ela’s affections and it was fun to watch it play out.
I really, really, really liked to the depiction of God in this book. The Infinite was so surprisingly present and intimately involved in every aspect of Ela’s life. He was her constant guardian, provider, healer, spiritual father and comforter as well as her friend. He was everything to Ela. And made sure to assure her of his love. He was her strength, even when she was afraid. He scolded her when she did wrong and was always willingly to forgive her quickly when she asked.
The Infinite was also surprisingly hilarious! At least I thought so. The way he constantly referred to Ela as “Child of Dust,” call me weird but I thought it was hilarious. The Infinite was personal and capable of laughter. I enjoyed God’s depiction in this book. He was not some aloof character that barked marching orders expecting to be obeyed. In fact, when he first approached Ela to be his prophet, he actually asked her instead of impressing upon her to do it. He allowed her the choice. It was revealed early on in the story that the Infinite had actually approached Ela’s mother to be His prophet and she turned him down. The Infinite held no grudge against her, nor tried to smite her in any way. He was gracious and forgiving to her.
The Infinite was fiercely protective of Ela. So much so that should anyone strike Ela, he offered the option of mercy first, but should they reject it, they were cut off. Ela wept bitterly for them, for the Infinite had shown her what it would be like to live without his presence, sustaining them.
R.J. Larson is a master at prose. The woman really knows how to paint a picture in your mind. When the book began:
Tarnished snow sifted through the air, clinging to Ela Roeh’s skin the instant she stepped outside. Warm snow?
I was hooked. Any one who knows me, knows that if a book does not catch my interest within the first page (I’ve gotten better, it used to be from the first paragraph) I am not going to read it. I know, I know. I am a book snob. Bite me. R.J. hooked me from the first sentence because I immediately wanted to know what this tarnished snow was. The entire book is filled with fascinating descriptions. She really gives you a clear image in your mind and allows your imagination to run wild.
The book moves at a nice pace, and I really like how she tied in classic Bible tales with a fresh retelling; such as Samuel’s first prophecy to Eli and the retelling of Jezebel.
I loved watching Ela navigate past her fears and develop strong ties with Kien. Their relationship was sweet.
Even though the story moved at a nice pace. There were times when I put it down and didn’t pick it back up for days. It wasn’t so much that the story was bad, cause clearly I finished it so it was worth reading, but sometimes I felt the action was a bit repetitive. Especially in the Istgard arc.
King Tek An and his heir were annoying. I wished R.J. would have developed those characters more. In order for this book to be more substantial and feel real, I feel like she could have explored his reasoning for staying so hard hearted. Was he mad at the Infinite? Suffered some sort of hurt? I almost felt like the villains in this book were some sort of caricatures rather than actual people.
The Istgard arc, I felt was flat. It could have been so much more colorful than it was, but I felt R.J. decidedly made it less nuanced. For what reason, I do not know. I was also greatly disappointed by the great battle the author was building up to for a good portion of the book. I understand the need to keep the contents PG since it is geared toward a Christian skew, but come on! At least a dazzling sword play would have been nice!!!
ELA AND KIEN’S RELATIONSHIP
Sigh. I was grossly underwhelmed and greatly disappointed by this. This had all the right ingredients. All the right chemistry. All the impossible circumstances. Difficult to terrain. And then…what did R.J. do? She forced them together.
There was no courtship. No heartache. No yearning between the characters that made your heart rend. Nothing. One page Kien is casually observing her and the next he professing his love. C’MON!!! I was so greatly disappointed by this, you have no idea. And then, the author tries to salvage the situation by having Ela reject his affections, even after declaring her undying love. VOMIT. I dunno. Call me a relationship snob, but this read so untrue to me. SIGH.
I was intensely confused by this arc. I was all like…oh…ok…another mini adventure? After we spent all this time in Istgard? Oh. Ok? It almost felt as if the author just tacked on this little arc upon realizing she didn’t have enough material in Istgard and her manuscript was too short to label an actual novel. Siphra felt forced. And again, the villains, the king and queen, were mere caricatures, which I did not enjoy.
Kien is still love sick and Ela passes out a lot. Irritating, but tolerable when considering the entirety of the work.
All in all, Prophet, gets a solid nod and a “mehh…” I’m willing to go easy on her considering its her first foray into fiction and she turned out a pretty solid piece. She has a natural knack for prose, but her dialogue is a little spotty and needs some cleaning up and she needs to develop her characters more. I don’t want to see more caricatures. Her sophomore novel, Judge, is out and I’m willing to pick it up. In fact, its in my kindle library at the moment. The previews expect to be promising so, we’ll see. I’ll surely review that one too.
I give Prophet a solid:
Its a solid introduction to Christian fantasy and I loved that it wasn’t preachy! Have you read Prophet? What were your thoughts? Drop me a line below. Considering reading it? Pick it up here: Click Here