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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

City of Dreams: A Novel (!Hero Series #1) by Stephen R. Lawhead and Ross Lawhead

An interesting "What if...?" take on the story of Jesus.

Published in 2003 by Navpress

This may be the most pointless review I have ever written. There is something sad about a stillborn trilogy. In this case, only the first book was published, although co-author Ross Lawhead claims the 2nd and 3rd books are written in his blog. So, this reminds of an unfinished building - lots of big plans but someone pulled the plug before it was completed.

Nonetheless, here is the review:

Stephen R. Lawhead
The premise is simple. What if Jesus did not come into the world about 2,000 years ago, but instead was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in the here and now. As a history teacher I very much enjoyed reading the alternate history aspect of this book - how would the world be different if Christianity did not eclipse the old religions of Europe? Would the worship of Jupiter, Thor and Diana have continued? Would Europe have developed the same sort of political structures? These topics are hinted at but are not really the main focus of the book.

The book features Special Agent Alex Hunter, an investigator for ICON (International Confederation of Nations), a one world government organization that has been experiencing difficulty with religious groups who want to break free from ICON's iron grip. Hunter is a tarnished agent, having mishandled a standoff with a religious splinter group in the recent past. The standoff went bad and a bloodbath ensued. He has been brought to New York City to investigate a Zionist splinter group (turns out that Judaism survives in this alternate, but still experiences plenty of difficulties).

Intrigue, plots and plots within plots are discovered and Agent Hunter is not sure who to trust - ICON, the local government or perhaps even the group he has infiltrated. Along the way, he meets Washer John, the character that corresponds to John the Baptist and his cousin Joshua, the character that corresponds to Jesus (Jesus is the Greek-ification of Yeshua or Joshua, if you are wondering about the name change).

The first book ends with Agent Hunter making a major decision about who he can trust in a cliffhanger situation designed to make the reader look for the second book. Unfortunately...there is no second book. Too bad, it would have been an interesting read.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com: City of Dreams: A Novel.

Reviewed on December 6, 2011

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