Also by this author: The Promise, The Drummer Boy, Sinner, Green, The Dream Traveler's Quest, Into the Book of Light, The Curse of Shadownman, The Garden and the Serpent, The Final Judgment, Millie Maven and the Bronze Medallion
Series: The Lost Books #1
Published by Thomas Nelson on January 2008
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Fantasy, Suspense
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The land of the Forest Dwellers has been decimated by the Horde under the watchful eye of the vilest of all creatures, Teeleh. Thomas Hunter, supreme commander of the Forest Guard, is forced to lower the recruitment age of his army from 18 to 16. From among thousands, four new recruits are chosen to lead--and perhaps die--for the greater good.
The chosen four are sent on a quest to prove their character, but their mission takes a dramatic turn when they are intercepted, sworn to secrecy, and redirected to a different endgame. Now they must find the seven lost Books of History. Books that have power over the past, present, and future. Books whose words are alive. Books sought by the Dark One that control not only the destiny of their world...but that of ours as well.
In the three years following the release of the Circle Trilogy, nearly everything Ted Dekker wrote had some connection to the world of the Circle but Dekker—despite the clamoring of fans—taken the plunge back into Other Earth. The trilogy was a specific thing: a retelling of redemptive history where every major element was steeped in allegory and metaphor. Returning to that world without that structure would be no easy task. Nevertheless, partially because the fans willed it, partially because publishers always want more of a hit series, partially to hit a new readership demographic, and partially to extend the lore of the Books of History, Dekker returned to Other Earth in a six-book young adult series called The Lost Books.
Chosen, the first book in the series, takes place thirteen years into the fifteen-year time interval between Black and Red. If you haven’t read those books first, Dekker does a great job of bringing readers up to speed but, yeah, go read the trilogy—or at least Black, if you want to read it strictly chronologically.
It’s been thirteen years since Tanis drank of Teeleh’s water, releasing the murderous Shataiki from the Black Forest to ravage the land. Now one hundred thousand followers of Elyon must bathe daily in the waters of Elyon lest they contract the dreadful disease that will turn them into the Horde—their mortal enemies.
Chosen throws the reader into a world where the Forest Dwellers are outnumbered by the Horde ten to one and the Horde are closing in for the kill. Thomas of Hunter is forced to lower his recruitment age for his army—the Forest Guard—from 18 to 16. Among all of the new young recruits, four are chosen to go on a quest to prove their character and bravery. There’s Billos, the strongest, largest, and most stereotypical warrior among them; Darsal, a girl with more gristle and skill than any other woman her age; Silvie, a warrior with a chip on her shoulder and something to prove; and…Johnis, the one who would rather be reading than fighting, who only became one of the Guard because Thomas Hunter insisted.
Their simple mission soon becomes a struggle to stay alive when they are ambushed by Horde fighters. They then discover a Horde plan that could annihilate the Forest Dwellers. But even greater than this is when two Roush name Gabil and Michal appear to Johnis and give him a new mission. But Johnis will have a hard time convincing his three warrior companions that fuzzy white bats—thought to be the stuff of legend—have bequeathed to them an important quest. The fate of the worlds lie in their hands and they must not only believe it, but begin to work together as a team to face an enemy so great he is thought to only be legend. It all hurtles to an explosive conclusion that in reality is only the commencement.
Dekker’s foray into YA fiction is not without its flaws. Dialogue is sometimes clunky and character development is jumpy at times. The character of Johnis, the main protagonist, mutates much too quickly from scared little boy to warrior leader. I also question the timeframe in which Roush have become considered legendary. It’s been thirteen years. Their parents would have spent most of their lives in the pre-fall world. Sidelining Thomas Hunter is probably a good thing. Making him the hero, or even a recurring character, would have been tricky and perhaps interfered with the Trilogy too much. But Thomas’s disbelief/indifference/whole personality seems to be off from what we see in the Trilogy. He just doesn’t feel like the Thomas Hunter from the main books.
Chosen also suffers from pretty much every single YA trope, whether it’s the obvious Chosen One motif, the stereotypical Quest to Find the Macguffin, or even just the Sports Game with Major Consequences. It’s all a bit generic, despite drawing on the richness that is the world of the Circle. It’s probably an average YA novel, but in light of its source material, it doesn’t live up to the standard set by the Trilogy.
Despite all of that, The Lost Books are a fun foray into Other Earth and deeply expand the Circle mythos in important ways as the story continues. Chosen is a bit of a slow start, but things begin to take off with the next book, Infidel. And as the books released in tandem, maybe that’s how the story should be evaluated.
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