The White Rose, Alas, Babylon, and War and Grace

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The White Rose By Glen Cook

About 4/5’s of the way through this book, I grew suddenly tired of it. I don’t think this is the authors fault and I still rated the book pretty high on GoodReads, but the style of book doesn’t lend to strong emotional connections, per se. It’s written in a very military straight forward matter with the lead characters being hardened marines. Also, I was reading several more ’emotional’ books at the time.

But, when I finally jumped back in to finish it, I was rewarded with plenty of feelings of loss and the end of something great.

I loved the more fantastical elements of this book as the Black Company hides in the desert: whales that swim the sky and rocks that move and talk! I loved the pulling together of the villains and heroes. I loved that the Lady had just enough light to left in her to want to do what was right.

Yes, the style is a bit dry, but if you enjoy historical narratives and military history, this style will be comfortable to you. You will be able to bring the emotion to the story. Again, I spent a large part of this story chanting something about Raven being alive or being rescued, and with that, I joined Darling in her love and hate of him which is just brilliant writing.

I will always have a special place in my heart for the Black Company and am glad I got to join their adventures.

Rated R: Violence, War, Adult Situations

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Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

What a fun, politically incorrect book! Granted, I haven’t read many post apocalypse books that actually include the apocalypse, but this book gave me chills. When the bombs fell on The Day, the sense of incomprehensible horror and suddenly being cut off from the world felt real. Pat Frank did an excellent job realistically capturing what would happen to a community of survivors, their needs, and how life would break down. He shows how some of us would deny what had happened, some of us would die off quickly, and some of us would band together and keep going.

This book is a bit hard to qualify. It reminds me of an adventure story, plus a bit of horror, and obviously, parts of it read like historical fiction. Either way, this book is close to, if not, the father of the post-apocalyptic genre and a must read!

This would be a great book to read if you were in the middle of studying the Cold War just to get a sense of what the world feared. It does say in the preface that it is a great adventure book for an 11 year old, but a few adult subjects come up and some fairly violent situations, so I’d probably go for someone just a bit older, like 14.

Rate PG-13: Adult subjects, survival of the fittest, end of the world, loss, death.

 

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This book was far too short. When I got to the end I just wanted to start it over again. Can you think of better praise? Price bought it for me for Christmas and in just a few weeks I devoured it.

War and Grace covers a handful of men and women who were either saved before, during, or after WW1 or WW2 and how the war and their salvation interacted. From pastors who helped save soldiers and Jews, to the chaplain for the Nazis during the Numberg trials, the book is filled with bravery, courage, and salvation.

Don Stephens is, I believe, and Orthodox Presbyterian. Because of this, he isn’t interested in feel good stories, but in genuine salvation. He is careful with his wording, seeks out true professions of faith, and makes sure a health, wealth, and prosperity gospel is nowhere to be found in the men and women he featured. This made the stories all that more encouraging. They aren’t ‘feel good’ stories, but tales of saints living out their lives. I’ll admit, the Numberg trials story brought me to tears. God saves sinners, some of the greatest sinners, humanly speaking, of all time. Mr. Stephens corresponded with the subjects of the book and their families. He also suggest further reading at the end of each biography making my reading list just get longer.

This book could easily be read aloud to children, used in the classroom, or for personal devotions. I can’t recommend this book enough and I know I’ll be reading it again soon. It would also make great Christmas gifts for any history buff or man in your family . . . or wife too. 🙂

Rated PG: war

 

(If you follow the links above they will take you to Amazon where you can purchase these books which will gives me a small tip. Thank you in advance!)

 

 

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Theology and The Black Company

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The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More Than a Memory
By Richard C. Barcellos

In this book you will find a comprehensive study of the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace and encouragement to view it with a past, present, and future perspective. (Though I tend to want to yell “The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future” every time I think about this. My problem, not yours.)
While this book was a fairly quick read, I think large portions of it went over my head especially in the middle. Even with that it was a valuable and encouraging read. I have felt convicted for a while now about my lack of understanding of the Lord’s Supper and the practical chapters at the end were very helpful to me. I plan on re-reading this book again in the future and recommend it even for the layman. If you are struggling to understand the Lord’s Supper, or the means of grace, you need to add this to your list.

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The Black Company

By Glen Cook

I’ve read this book twice and absolutely loved it both times. I love the writing style, though you should be warned, it takes some getting used to. I tend to get into an author’s cadence pretty quickly, but even the second time through, it took me almost half the book to feel in the flow. Cook writes with a very clipped vocabulary which does turn some people off of the story.
The Black Company is basically a military book in a fantasy setting. It’s gritty, bloody, rough, ragged, and wonderful all at the same time. The characters are fun and interesting. The world is well developed. I really enjoyed this story. I loved seeing the hardened men softened by a little girl. I love how the mercenaries try to find the lines of right and wrong. I love how Cook breaks so many of the fantasy rules, even rules I love, to make a very down to earth story.
I think this is one of my favorites in the fantasy genre. I would put it next to Starship Troopers as far as military fantasy goes.
Rated R: war, adult situations, language

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Shadows Linger

By Glen Cook

This is one of those books I read in one day… granted I was sick and had nothing better to do. Cook’s voice seemed to change quite a bit from book 1 to book 2. All the force of the story was there, but the clipped nature of his writing seems to have mellowed. Many who struggled through book 1 will enjoy book 2 more.
I really like how the pace didn’t slow down from one book to the next even though the events are very different.
I spent most of the book screaming about Raven and his lack of life or death. He’s my favorite character.
Ultimately this is a redemption story and I enjoy that element of it quite a bit. It wasn’t a “Christian” redemption, but a very human redemption which I always view as a shadow of what God did even when an unbeliever expresses it. Even they can’t escape this beautiful element of story telling. I really enjoyed the villain in this story. It was very creepy and unique. (I’m being vague for spoilers sake.) And I enjoyed the violent, redemptive, resentful end as well, though I was sad for all that happened to the Black Company.
I did feel like this book was a bit earthier than the last one, still very good.

Last, the cover is just so bad. They really really need to re-design it. Please don’t judge this book by it’s horrible cover art.
Rated R: violence, language, earthiness.

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Living in the Hope of Glory: A New Translation of a Spiritual Classic
By Adolph Monod

I think out of all the books I’ve read this year, this one is my favorite. Mike Gaydosh over at Solid Ground Publishing suggested it at our church’s conference this fall and I knew I wanted to read it right away. It is a collection of sermons preached by Monod a few months before he passed away. Every Sunday as he lay dying he would have a handful of fellow Christians over and they would enjoy the Lord’s Supper together and he would preach a small sermon. What a blessing to get to see this dear brother’s heart only months before he met the Lord. What riches and truth we can share in due to the hard work of the translator.
I was blessed over and over again by this brother who has gone before me. His perspective on life was convicting. His thoughts on affliction were so encouraging, and his last sermon on God’s love brought tears to my eyes as I thought of it being the last sermon he preached.
I can’t put into words how thankful I am for this book. It’s going to be hard not to just start it right over again. If you are looking for something to feed your soul and compliment what your pastors preach on Sunday, this is my suggestion. Read this book!

(If you click on the links, it will take you to Amazon where you can purchase the book. Bonus! I get a tiny kickback. 🙂 Thank you!)