The Judgment Stone – Robert Liparulo

The Judgment Stone Robert Liparulo
by Robert Liparulo
Series: The Immortal Files #1
Published by Thomas Nelson on May 21, 2013
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Speculative, Thriller
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four-stars

What if praying became a curse instead of a blessing?

Former Army Ranger Jagger Baird thought he had his hands full with the Tribe—the band of immortal vigilantes fighting to regain God’s grace by killing those opposed to Him. But that was before he encountered the ruthless group of immortals called the Clan. The Clan is after a prize that would give them unimaginable power—a piece of the Ten Commandments known as the Judgment Stone.

Those who touch the Stone can see into the spiritual world: angelic warriors, treacherous demons, and the blue threads of light that signal the presence of believers in communion with God.

By following the blue beam radiating from those closest to God, the Clan plans to locate His most passionate followers and destroy them.

Jagger quickly realizes his high-tech gadgetry and training are no match for these merciless immortals. But how can he defeat an enemy who hunts believers through their prayers . . . and won’t stop until they’ve annihilated all those close to Him?

In this high-action thriller, best-selling author Robert Liparulo examines the raging battle between good and evil on earth . . . and beyond.

(Warning: Contains spoilers for The 13th Tribe: Book 1 in The Immortal Files)

It all began 3,500 years ago when a group of Israelites were cursed with immortality due to their idolatry. Death would only come when they reconciled themselves to God. At first, immortality was a blessing, but the years drug on and no one aged and no one could die. And the Tribe soon sought to be worthy of death, to be worthy of reconciliation with God. They turned to the Law to guide them, using their wealth and influence gained through millennia to exact God’s vengeance on the earth. Through the events of The 13th Tribe and the influences of Jagger Baird, they are in some disarray and no longer a threat. Jagger believes he can finally rest and allow the revelation that he’d forgotten—that he was once one of them—to sink in.

But there will be no such luck. Instead, he finds himself in battle against the Clan, a group of Immortals who, instead of seeking God, have dedicated their immortality to destroying his followers. The Clan is after a chunk of rock known as The Judgment Stone. Originally part of the stone tablet that the Law was written on, the stone has supernatural capabilities that allow any who touch it to see into the spiritual realm. Angels, demons, and the connection of an individual with God all become visible. The stone would lead The Clan right to God’s most ardent followers and make them an easy kill.

Jagger—with the help of Owen (aka John the Baptist)—track down The Clan, seeking to take the Judgment Stone from them and stop the carnage. It all winds down to an epic battle between good and evil that extends into the invisible realm of angels and demons. Along the way, Liparulo adds in his trademark dash of futuristic tech and page-turning action, all while raising some poignant questions about the angelic realm.

Liparulo’s depiction of the unseen realm is unique and captivating. Usually, most depictions of spiritual warfare are either too ethereal to make sense or too physical and seems forced. Liparulo captures the middle ground well, accurately conveying the concepts of “spiritual” and “warfare.” It’s a difficult task that adds a lot to the novel almost imperceptibly. It works well, so you don’t think about it, but if it had been poorly written or poorly interpreted, it would have been glaringly evident. It also raises questions about the nature of spiritual warfare and the extent of angelic activity in day-to-day human lives.

The Clan is an intriguing group of antagonists that serve as an antithesis to the Tribe in The 13th Tribe. While the Tribe is just misguided, the Clan is outright evil. How Jagger deals with them, then, must be different. The subplot involving the Tribe was also a great addition. Nevaeh’s storyline was greatly furthered as she becomes quite a sympathetic character. The 13th Tribe showed mainly her ferocity and intensity, but The Judgment Stone shows a bit of the vulnerability beneath and provides insight into her motivations.

I was a bit curious as to how Liparulo would continue The Immortal Files. The main storyline of The 13th Tribe involved dealing with the Tribe and their immortality, and I felt like a series that simply went “repeat the same until done”—like some detective/crime thrillers take—simply wouldn’t work here. The addition of a new group with an ancient biblical relic allowed Liparulo to add a layer of complexity to the overall story that made it fun, exciting, and new. The Judgment Stone could actually be read as a standalone (but be prepared for major spoilers from The 13th Tribe).

Fast paced and filled with action, The Judgment Stone combines top-notch writing and excellent characterization with thought-provoking questions and a unique premise that has me hooked…that’s has and not had. I may have closed the final pages on The Judgment Stone, but that doesn’t mean the story has gone away. It’s continued in my head as I’ve tried to figure out what I think will happen next. But I suppose I’ll just have to wait and anticipate…just as I did after The 13th Tribe…which means I’m sure the wait will be worth it.

four-stars

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