This will be a book review on R.J. Larson’s Books of the Infinite trilogy series.
As per usual, we’ll start with the summary:
Ela Roeh becomes the first prophet the country of Parne has seen in 70 years and is the first female prophet it has ever had. Only 17 years of age, Ela leaves her family with her younger sister Tzana (as per the Infinite’s wishes) and leaves for other countries.
Over the next year or so, Ela prophesies the destruction of various empires as the Infinite finally judges the evil-doers for their wicked ways, and reinforces the righteous in putting good kings on the throne.
During this time, Ela falls in love (against her will and better judgment) with a man named Kien (who likewise functions as a prophet, but also a judge), whom she is certain she can never marry (due to her belief that she will die young). Ela’s feelings towards Kien are reciprocated, and he attempts to persuade her to marry him and to at least enjoy the short time she has on earth together. Eventually, she is persuaded and they marry and have two children by the end of the book.
First, I just want to say: Great titles. The three books in this trilogy are titled: Prophet, Judge, and King. It would have been neat if Larson had made another book called “Priest,” as I feel that it would have completed the roles, but that’s just my personal perfectionistic criticism.
I liked this series a lot. It was well written.
Essentially, it took the Biblical narrative with regard to the prophets and prophetic writings and re-wrote it in a different context at about the same point in history, but in a different world (we know that it is a different world due to the few mythological creatures that we definitely don’t have here). Larson records the story of Nineveh’s repentance (only without Jonah’s sulk), the story of Jezebel and Baal worship, and part of (what I think is) Israel’s fall.
However, I didn’t like a couple of things.
The first thing I didn’t like was in the story of a King whom the Infinite (God) had placed over a nation. The King’s advisors highly suggested that he marry to place an heir to the throne, so he began to search for a wife. At this time, they were re-building a temple to the Infinite, but the temple mount was on a pagan’s land. This pagan ordered them to either stop building the temple or to buy the property (knowing that the mount was special to the followers of the Infinite and that they would buy the property). However, as a condition of the sale, the owner demanded the marriage of his daughter to the purchaser of the property. The purchaser of the property was the King.
The King did his best to try to obtain the mount some other way, but he never consulted the Infinite. The King then married the pagan woman.
Now, here’s where I find an issue: It’s been a copy of the Biblical narrative thus far, and if we were to follow the biblical pattern from here, we’d find that the King would be led astray by his new pagan wife and it would lead to the collapse of his kingdom…but it doesn’t. She eventually converts.
Now, this is definitely a nicer ending, but I don’t like it; it isn’t realistic and it isn’t Biblical.
The second thing I didn’t like was the issue of Ela’s supposed “early death.”
There was a saying in Parne that, “A sliver-haired prophet has failed.” Ela obviously didn’t want to die young, so she asked the Infinite about the saying and the Infinite basically confirmed that – as long as she stayed faithful to Him (which she did) – she would, indeed, die young.
…and she did. And was brought back to life. Yay! Beautiful resolution!
Except, the author never resolved the issue. Ela had foreseen her future death and her vision matched the death she died, but Ela didn’t seem to recognize it as a thing of the past and the author never even seemed to try to insinuate that perhaps it was over…but it was, whether the author admits it or not.
So the book leaves us with Ela married to Kien, a mother of two children and projected to die an early death…maybe even before her kids are grown. An almost happy ending, but not really resolved.
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend you read the series. It’s a neat book, similar to The Circle trilogy (check out my book review on that here) and the Narnia Chronicles in the way that it mirrors Biblical narratives.