The Final Storm

Star summary: 

3- for not-bad characters & settings, a solid eternal perspective, and half a star each for plot & writing.

This book, third in the series, picks up chronologically immediately where Book 2 left off. Aidan and his dad are back in Maryland, trying to meet with Robby and convince him of the Scrolls' truth, and Antoinette is still in The Realm, imprisoned in Paragor's prison. She continues to reach out to her jailer, Kearn (Robby's Glimpse) and sees that he is slowly coming to believe that King Eliam's promises are better even than his father's (Lord Rucifel) offers of power and riches. Meanwhile, Paragor is amassing an army larger than any before, complete with a stronger-than-ever Wyrm Lord (a dragon whose very breath brings death) and the Seven Sleepers ("wolvins," which sound a lot like Tolkien's "wargs"). Sentinel Kaliam is doing everything in his power to defend & gather his allies and build new defenses. Aelic (Aidan's glimpse) is found, badly injured, but alive.

Back on Earth, Aidan has discovered that his best friend Robby already believes in The Realm, but that he has been convinced by Count Eogan (the impostor emissary from the previous book) that Paragor is the true hero of the tale, offering power and riches to his followers instead of the lies and control King Eliam's followers must endure. His father, who abandoned the family years ago, has returned as a rich author of a book on influencing people. He is antagonistic to Aidan, and cruel to his own son. Robby has to choose whether to believe his best friend or to continue to believe Count Eogan's version of the story. Aidan & Count Eogan confront each other, and Aidan brings forth eyewitness proof that King Eliam is telling the truth. When Count Eogan tries to kill Aidan, Robby decides to serve King Eliam, and is swept into Alleble. Like Aidan & Antoinette before him, he becomes a Twelfth Knight and sets out on a mission, racing against Paragor to find both the Scroll of the Prophecy and King Eliam's scribe Zabed. Amazingly, for every new evil Paragor sets out, an unexpected counter-measure is discovered. The defenders of Alleble cling to hope despite their growing peril. Aidan is allowed back to Alleble through The Thread, despite the rule that humans only can visit The Realm once (this had echoes of Narnia to me).

He, Aidan & Antoinette turn out to be the Three Witnesses of the scroll's prophecy, and their valiant loyalty to King Eliam even in the face of death is what finally leads to Paragor's undoing, King Eliam's ultimate triumph, and the final re-merging of Earth & the Realm.

I started to be a bit confused about timeline in this book: Aidan reminds Robby that Captain Valithor was a child when Paragor betrayed King Eliam, meaning that that betrayal took place within 3 generations from the current events of the story. Yet, Mallik and others kept talking about "thousands of years" of history in Alleble. Perhaps it can be argued that there was a long history of Alleble going on before King Eliam's betrayal; before the Schism, but I'm not sure how you could make that work allegorically. Or you could say that time works differently in The Realm, but again, that is difficult to reconcile with the allegory that every Glimpse has a twin on earth, and earth has been trucking along for at least 6000 recorded years (way more than 3 generations).

Cautions? There is wartime violence portrayed; plenty of slaying and fighting, however it isn't gratuitous or unedifying. Rather, it represents the life-and-death nature of spiritual battles which most kids don't really think about. The allegory is transparent (I though annoyingly so, but that's me as an adult), and is flawed, as all allegories must be. (see my review of Book 1 to read more on this). This story seems to represent a pre-millenial view of the end times, meaning that the author believes that Christ will return, all wrongs will be made right, then life will go on on earth for 1000 years with Christ reigning as king, people sowing crops, having children, and even dying. (See here or here for summaries of the 4 views of how Christians think the Bible says the world will end) I say this book seems to present that because after King Eliam defeats Paragor and punishes him and all his followers with everlasting torment, after he remakes the world and re-unites Earth & the Realm, he withdraws to the Sacred Realm Beyond the Sun with all those who had died, appointing regents to govern the New Earth in his absence (including Aidan-Aelic, Robby-Kearn & Antoinette-Gwenn). It is clear that those left behind will eventually die and rejoin their friends in the Sacred Realm. As an amillenialist (one who believes there will not be a 1000 year reign of Christ on earth as the pre-millenial view portrays it), this left me confused and scratching my head. If you have a different view of how to interpret Revelation (as in... you didn't think Left Behind was very accurate), you may find the end of this series as unsatisfying and awkward as I did.

Themes:- Obviously, the main theme is that of the unseen spiritual reality of which we are all a part, whether we know it or not. As Josh McDowell put it in his endorsement of the series, "there is more to life than what we see with our eyes." The battle cry of all Alleble warriors is "never alone!," emphasizing the ever-present, ever-hearing nature of our Savior. The centrality of faith in what we cannot now see, but can only read about. Standing firm through the end, even in the face of death. Death as less than "the end." The ultimate triumph of good over evil.

Bottom line: Denying Christ is worse than being killed. Though Satan & evil may kill the body, they may not harm our souls, and so are denied final victory. One day, the final reckoning will come, and all evil will be judged and punished, and all wrongs made right.

Talking points:
- Discuss similarities between the story of the Scrolls and the one in Scripture.
- What spiritual battles have you fought? What battles do you face every day?
- Aidan found it very difficult to talk to Robby about The Scrolls-- have you ever felt like it was hard to talk about spiritual truths with your non-Christian friends?
- Why did Aidan finally overcome his fear and speak up to Robby about The Scrolls? What was at stake?
- For every new evil Paragor sets out, an unexpected counter-measure is discovered. How is this true to life? Why do "the good guys always win"?
- What does this mean: "adventures are funny things. Many are merely happy accidents-- a single spark that ignites an unexpected chain of events. But some adventures are meant for you and you alone. And whether you want them or not, they seek you out of a great crowd and take you somewhere you never thought you'd go. Often, these unlooked-for adventures require a sacrifice too great to imagine."
- The relationship between The Thread, Glimpses in our world, and humans in The Realm is never really fully explained. What do you think happens to Glimpses when they are in our world?
- Who do you think Zabediel represents, if anyone at all? In an allegory, does every aspect have to have a counterpart?
- Do you like the ending, or do you feel it leaves something to be desired? Compare this book to the Book of Revelation.

Appropriate audience: middle school and up (5th-9th grade). Younger kids may not enjoy the fighting and training, and older readers may find it too transparent and simple. These aren't bad books; they aren't great, but there is definitely no reason NOT to let your son or daughter read them if they enjoy them! The allegory is quite helpful, especially if you discuss them.

Stars: 3
Characters & Setting--As before, the many characters are likeable, but not very complex. Lady Merewen stands out, as does Robby/Kearn as more complex and believable. I did feel somewhat more of an emotional attachment to the 3 protagonists, having followed them for 3 books now. The hidden city of Balesparr was pretty cool, too. However, I couldn't really feel like I "knew" Sentinel Kaliam, though by all rights I should have since he's been around for 2 books, too.
Plot-- the plot is very straightforward and simple, yet I found it engaging enough. I was very dissatisfied with the ending, though. I sat on my bed after finishing the book, shaking my head and saying to my husband "wow... that was a lame ending." Half a star.
Writing-- apart from the opening poem (Adventures are funny things...), I didn't really think the writing was anything special. The Scroll's Prophecy isn't good poetry at all (even if it is supposedly translated from an ancient language). Robby attempts to talk in Glimpse fashion once, and that scene rang particularly hollow, as the Glimpse-speak always seemed forced to me. Half a star. So much of his style seems to be a poor attempt to imitate Tolkien.
Character-building/Eternal perspective-- The one thing this book has going for it is its allegory. Good & bad are crystal-clear, and the spiritual truths are effectively portrayed. Despite the allegory being a bit muddled in this book, I still award it a full star.
No wow factor, unless you count the physical book's "feel." The covers and pages of the hardback editions themselves are just really cool.

Star rating: 
 
 
 
 
 

Comments

There's a terrific amount of knwolegde in this article!

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