This month, CFRB is proud to present Eretzel by William R. McGrath as our featured novel. Eretzel is the second book in The Sword of Fire series, a continuation of the tale begun in Asulon. The story revolves around Prince Daniel of Asulon and those who travel with him. In the first book, Daniel escaped his enemies after they assassinated his father, heading for his grandfather's court in Logres. Woe upon woe, just as the ship arrives in the port at Logres, his grandfather Anak, last of the earthbound angels of old, is also assassinated by the Antichrist figure Antiochus. The remaining sons of Anak rush to escape total destruction of their household and join the travelers from Asulon, stealing away as quickly as possible to regroup in safety. The ship heads for Eretzel, home of the Abramim (read Jewish) Rachel who is traveling with them.Eretzel sits at the crossroads of the earth, between the merchants of the West, the warriors of the North, the vast and hungry populations of the East and the gold-rich lands of the South. Antiochus desires to rule the world and his path to conquest runs through Eretzel.
The Anakim, or sons of Anak, play a major role in Eretzel. As sons of an angel, these men are powerful giants with life spans and strengths far beyond those of ordinary men. For them, the first priority is revenge for the death of their father and loss of their kingdom, and so their time in Eretzel is spent mainly in carefully plotting a course of action. Everyone is afraid of them, but they begin to win the hearts of many by going out to the villages and helping those in need.
Prince Daniel, meanwhile, is hopelessly in love with Rachel and seeks to win the approval of her kin so that they may marry. With him is his spiritual advisor, Simon the old priest, and his weapons master and physical trainer, Moor the Etruscan. Moor has great wisdom and skill in warfare but does not share Daniel's faith in Yeshua. Each of the characters matures in one area or another during the sojourn in Eretzel, Daniel in the most incredible manner.
In Eretzel the residents are constantly at odds with the neighbors who wish to destroy them, and so live in ever-vigilant wariness. There are plots and subplots, numerous skirmishes and full blown battles. Overshadowing everything else is the ever increasing malevolence of Antiochus, self-proclaimed emperor of Unicornia, a man totally controlled by evil spirits. He is the Antichrist, bent upon destroying the chosen ones of God and ruling the entire world. With his machinations set in place at last, it looks like nothing and no one can stop him.
This is a fantasy that could probably be described as alternate history, setting the final days of Revelation in a setting where the cultures of the world are basically still like they were a couple of thousand years ago. Bill McGrath has made some interesting choices for his place names and names of people groups, choices that are often based in antiquity. Logres in a name for Briton that I had come across while reading the Arthurian legend. Abramim is an obvious reference to Abraham. Russia is called Magog, as it is in the Bible. I don't know where he got the names Asulon and Eretzel, but McGrath pulls from an amazing storehouse of knowledge to fill this story with allusions to Scripture, political tendencies around the world, historic and modern day events, and various mythologies and religious beliefs from the present as well as the past. The fictionalization is often a very thin veil for McGrath's own stance on any number of matters, including the Illuminati and the Jewish-Muslim conflicts. I'll spend more time discussing these matters in a blog on Thursday.
When I reviewed Asulon, I suggested that it would be a good read for teen guys as well as adults. Eretzel is not quite as accessible for the average teen, I think, but it is rich in material for those who enjoy delving into cultural conflicts, the end times, social commentary, philosophy and history. Bill McGrath, the martial arts instructor and practitioner, is also a deep thinker. His thoughts are what make Eretzel stand apart from the average fantasy/end times novel. This one is sure to stir discussions as well as entertain.
Eretzel: The Sword of Fire--Book Two
by William R. McGrath
Publisher PTIPress.com (2009)
Paperback; 448 pages
Visit William's website, The Sword of Fire.
Buy Eretzel at:
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