Series: The Lost Books #2
Published by Thomas Nelson on January 2008
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Fantasy
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After being stretched to their limits, the four heroic young Forest Guard recruits Johnis, Silvie, Billos, and Darsal face new dangers on their mission to secure the seven lost Books of History.
Celebrated as a hero, Johnis's world is shattered when he learns that his mother may not be dead as presumed but could be living as a slave to the Horde. Throwing caution to the wind, he rushes to her rescue.
But this is precisely what the Horde has planned. Now he will face a choice between Silvie, whom he is quickly falling for, and his sworn duty to protect the Forest Dwellers. How can he save those he loves without betraying his own people?
In the end, one will be revealed as the Infidel. And nothing will be the same for the remaining Chosen."
No sooner than the four young heroes return home, having saved the Forests and accomplished their secret mission, that they are again hurtled on another adventure. Johnis’ mother, thought to be killed by the Horde just a few weeks prior is discovered to be alive, a Horde prisoner turned Horde herself. The impetuous Johnis decides to risk everything—even that which is not his—to get his mother back.
But this is precisely what the Horde General Martyn and Supreme Commander Qurong have expected. Lure Johnis with his mother; lure Thomas Hunter with Johnis. More than any other time in their short history, the Horde are beginning to strategize, and even have a Forest Guard traitor in their midst.
Johnis’ journey takes him and Silvie into the middle of Horde City into the very Temple of Teeleh himself where the Dark Priest known as Witch also seeks the Books of History. Dekker builds on the story began in Chosen, this time more deftly layering on symbolism and characterization. Johnis’ brash decisions have some realistic and sobering consequences that cause him to learn how to think with his heart, yet think rationally. The Shataiki are portrayed incredibly well as they operate outside the Black Forests in the realms of humans. Dekker’s portrayal of the demonic is both vivid and chilling.
Billos’ character also takes a turn for the interesting. The four decide to use the power of the Books—blood dropped on the cover of the books allows a person to see a vision of another world—to find Johnis’ mother, and Billos is soon addicted to the power. At first apathetic about their quest, his interest in the books soon works its way deeper than just fulfilling their duty.
The book’s highlight comes with a theme that Dekker has written over and over, yet always in a fresh, new, and exciting way. Johnis has his perceptions of the Horde shattered when he goes into their city and begins to see them as humans with a disease rather than monsters meant to be killed. Then he meets the sweet 9 year old daughter of the Dark Priest, Karas, who actually aids him in his quest to free his mother. So powerful and so compelling, the paradigm shifts in the lives of both Johnis and Karas make Infidel more than just a follow up to Chosen and the second chapter in a series. Instead, it gets to the heart of Dekker’s portrayal of redemptive history.
Infidel is more than just a solid YA novel. Dekker seems to have found his stride here, smoothing out pacing, deepening characterization, and throwing in some very interesting twists. Add onto that a clear-cut theme and a killer cliffhanger ending, and you’ve got a must-read novel. Admittedly, compared to Dekker’s other work, I was underwhelmed by Chosen, but it only served to set the pieces for the story that I loved so much in Infidel. Given that The Lost Books run around half the length of Dekker’s general releases and that Chosen and Infidel were released simultaneously, I picture the two novels as one story. But however you look at it, one thing is clear: Dekker amps up the story with a page-turning plot and ends it with a shocker that’ll have you scrambling to get to the next book.
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