The 13th Tribe – Robert Liparulo

The 13th Tribe Robert Liparulo
The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo
Series: The Immortal Files #1
Published by Thomas Nelson on April 2, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Speculative, Thriller
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When a group of immortal vigilantes threatens millions, only one man is brave enough to stand in their way.

Their story didn’t start this year…or even this millennium.

It began when Moses was on Mt. Sinai. Tired of waiting on the One True God, the twelve tribes of Israel began worshipping a golden calf through pagan revelry. Many received immediate death for their idolatry, but 40 were handed a far worse punishment—endless life on earth with no chance to see the face of God.

This group of immortals became the 13th Tribe, and they’ve been trying to earn their way into heaven ever since—by killing sinners. Though their logic is twisted, their brilliance is undeniable. Their wrath is unstoppable. And the technology they possess is beyond anything mere humans have ever seen.

Jagger Baird knows nothing about the Tribe when he’s hired as head of security for an archaeological dig on Mt. Sinai. The former Army Ranger is still reeling from an accident that claimed the life of his best friend, his arm, and his faith in God.

The Tribe is poised to execute their most ambitious attack ever and the lives of millions hang in the balance. When Jagger’s wife and son are caught in the crossfire, he’ll stop at nothing to save them. But how can one man stand against an entire tribe of immortals?

“Blindly we dream of overcoming death through immortality, when all the time immortality is the most horrific of possible fates.” -Jean Baudrillard

Every death is penance, every mission an attempt at absolution, a plea for the forgiveness of a sin that has haunted them for 3500 years. It began at the foot of Sinai, the mountain where the One True God met with Moses and handed down his edicts and decrees. But the Israelites grew impatient and turned their backs on the God who had called them out of Egypt and redeemed them as his children. Instead they worshipped a golden calf and engaged in all the perversions of its worship. Many were killed for their idolatry but forty were given a worse punishment—endless life on earth.

Immortality isn’t the blessing it would at first seem. 3500 of brokenness, 3500 years of seeking God, 3500 years of trying to deserve death in order to be reconciled to God. The 13th Tribe has used their immortality to their benefit, trying to earn their way into heaven by bringing the hand of judgment upon sinners. They have unbelievable resources and technology, they have millennia of experience, and they’re planning on unleashing destruction of…well…biblical proportions.

Jagger Baird is the hired head of security for an archaeological dig near Sinai. It’s good for him to get out of the States, to start over after the car accident that killed his best friend and amputated his faith and his arm. Now with wife, son, and what he terms RoboHand, he’s trying to rebuild the pieces of his life. But after his family unwittingly gets involved with the Tribe’s plot, Jagger finds that what little he has left is being ripped from him. It’s one man against a tribe of Immortals, and by the time the dust settles, nothing will be the same.

In The 13th Tribe, Robert Liparulo dives into Biblical history, raises tough questions about the nature and goodness of God, adds in his trademark dash of futuristic technology, and does it all in the context of a pulse-pounding, page-turning story. Surprises and twists lie waiting around every corner—both for Jagger and the reader—and Liparulo takes his readers deeply into the minds of characters on both sides to reveal their innermost thoughts and pains.

The Tribe doesn’t see themselves as the bad guys. They are God’s avengers attempting to earn their path to heaven and true immortality through the blood of sinners. Liparulo handles this concept well, dealing with the difficulty of God’s violence throughout the Old Testament in a satisfactory way that doesn’t distract from the story. He also applies such salvation by works into modern times, asking the question of whether most Christians don’t also seek to earn their salvation, albeit by less drastic measures. The Tribe we are introduced to is seen as human, broken, and conflicted.

Jagger is a wonderfully unique protagonist with a conflicted and jumbled past of his own. His RoboHand and his unflagging determination to save his family make him an unforgettable character. Liparulo throws in a few twists I never saw coming, tying together tendrils and wrapping things into a nice, cohesive whole. But don’t think that things get too neat and tidy. Being a vigilante or trying to stop one involves a fair amount of violence. Liparulo handles himself well, describing evil and suffering as he sees it but without reveling in it for the sake of gratuity.

The 13th Tribe is a book of action and emotion, affecting both the head and the heart. You’ll ponder the questions it raises, feel the rawness of the characters’ emotions, and be wowed by the unexpected twists. Liparulo’s pacing is superb and his balance between action and theme extraordinary. It’s been three years since Liparulo last released a thriller but it was well worth the wait. The 13th Tribe is Liparulo’s best novel to date—and considering his past releases, that’s quite the accomplishment.



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