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 Circle Series #2
Published by Thomas Nelson on June 2004
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Fantasy, Suspense
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From New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, experience the epic series that first invited readers to dive deep.
“We have stepped off the cliff and are falling into madness.”
The mind-bending pace of Black accelerates in Red, book two of the Circle Series. Less than a month ago, Thomas Hunter was a failed writer selling coffee at the Java Hut in Denver. Now he finds himself in a desperate quest to rescue two worlds from collapse. In one world, he's a battle-scarred general commanding an army of primitive warriors. In the other, he's racing to outwit sadistic terrorists intent on creating global chaos through an unstoppable virus.
Two worlds on the brink of destruction. One unthinkable solution.
Enter an adrenaline-laced epic where dreams and reality collide. Nothing is as it seems, as Black turns to Red.
Black leaves the reader with one world torn apart by Shataiki. Paradise is lost on Other Earth while this earth begins to suffer the effects of the Raison Strain. Red wastes little time plunging the reader back into both worlds, beginning with the disastrous effects of Tanis drinking the water of Teeleh. The midpoint of Dekker’s epic trilogy serves to be more than just a bridge between introduction and conclusion, but rather provides redemption from the past and looks forward to the hope of the future.
In Other Earth, several years have passed since the Shataiki ravaged the earth and brought sin into the world. Through the providence of Elyon, green pools had been set up throughout the world to assuage the scabbing disease that came to all men as a result of Evil. Red pits brother against brother as those who refuse to bathe in Elyon’s water and accept the scabbing disease form a people group known as Horde, while those who have drowned in Elyon’s lakes call themselves Forest Dwellers. And for all these years, Thomas Hunter has eaten the rhambutan fruit and he has not dreamed. Not until things turn desperate in battle does he look to the other reality to save them.
While years pass in Other Earth, it has only been hours in this one. The world learns of the virus and Thomas Hunter and, all of a sudden, the man with whom no one would discuss the Raison Strain now has international leaders clamoring for his advice and help. Monique has been kidnapped and must be rescued. Svenson must be stopped. An antivirus must be found. Things are quickly hurtling out of control and when Thomas awakens the last thing anyone wants to do is teach him to make black powder in order to defeat the Horde.
In the passing years, the Horde and the Forest Dwellers have become mortal enemies. The Horde greatly outnumber the Forest Dwellers and war against them constantly in an attempt to eradicate them from the earth. The Forest Dwellers also continue the Great Romance of Elyon in the best way they know how, constructing a religion based around the bathing ritual. Ciphus, high priest of Elyon leads the faithful in an exacting, legalistic tradition that ensures the remnant will remain pure.
But the one who calls himself Justin threatens both Thomas and Ciphus, both the military and religion, and speaks of forming peace with the Horde. If Black tells the story of the birth of evil, Red tells the story of mankind’s redemption from it through blood. Dekker’s allegory, symbolism, and metaphor are again intricate and flawless. His portrayal of the character Justin is so well-done that many who have read it at first missed—as did Thomas Hunter—what should have been obvious. Red is the heartbeat of redemption, the song of salvation, the Story of all stories retold in a fresh new way.
But at the end, the worlds still hang in the balance. All has been changed, but this had things only more difficult. The Raison Strain has infected most of the known world; Other Earth has been rocked with the heresy of Justin. The ultimate fate of history—and the future—lies in the hands of Thomas Hunter…a man who has already died twice.
Like in Black, the story of this reality takes a back seat to the epic fantasy of Other Earth. Dekker seems to realize this, allowing the worlds to bleed together a bit. Thomas has over a decade of military leadership when he awakens in real earth and his personality shows an appropriate change. As a result, he’s able to quickly gain the respect of Special Forces operatives sent in with him to save Monique. We also find that those who have knowledge of the other reality can, in some fashion, cross over when it contact with Thomas’s blood. They aren’t the same person in each reality, like Thomas is, but Monique, Kara, and even Carlos the assassin have some connection to Other Earth.
That may be the one crack in Dekker’s mythos. It doesn’t have a real explanation nor does Dekker really try to explain it. Does this mean that everyone has an OE doppelganger? Mite fortuitous that all the major players in RE are also major players in OE. For Dekker, it’s a bit like the characters are awakening to a new and deeper reality, but in story terms there’s so much left unexplained. However, Dekker utilizes it well and its ability to draw the two worlds together drives the RE storyline.
And then, let’s talk about Justin. Even if you’ve kind of moved away from penal substitutionary atonement as The Only Theory of Atonement™, it has to be acknowledged that the death of Jesus Christ was gruesome and bloody. Dekker captures all of that in a way that is faithful to history but contextualized within the fantasy world. Throughout the book, I wanted more from Justin but I think Dekker was right to leave him mostly an enigma. Shrouding him in mystery both kept the tension and kept Dekker from making a caricature out of a Christ-figure. It’s a beautiful balance and I’ll weep every time I read Red’s conclusion. You can’t take Red out of the trilogy—the novels are one story told in three novels. You can’t evaluate them separately. But if you could, this one would be the best.