Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Chosen: Ted Dekker, April 20—30, 2014
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
An overview for the uninitiated: Ted Dekker’s Books of History Chronicles comprises three series and a number of stand alone books centred around the eponymous books, which fall into three categories: the seven original books written by Elyon, the subsequent thousands which contain histories of the world and a number of blank books, writing in which will make your words come to pass.
The Circle Saga (Trilogy until the release of Green, read 2011) is the main series introducing the present day world and a primitive future earth from which the Books originate. Protagonist Thomas Hunter jumps between these worlds when he falls asleep and must save both from terminal crises. While Hunter is himself in both worlds, other characters have surrogates with connected fates.
The Paradise series deals with the blank books and their abuse by Marsuvees Black, while standalones such as House detail some of the evils Black writes, with his representation under surrogate guises including the likes of Barsidious White.
I strongly recommend reading the Circle Saga first to get a proper understanding of the setting of Chosen.
Chosen, the first of the Lost Books series, is a midquel set between Black and Red, the first and second instalments of the Circle Saga (read 2006-2007). Hunter is reduced to a supporting role with four new recruits to the Forest Guard – sixteen year olds Johnis, Bilios, Sylvie and Darsal – taking centre stage. On an initiation task, they are accosted by one of the Roush (allegorical angels) and urged to find the seven original books of history.
This is a very poor start when compared to the likes of Black. There is not enough explanation for the unfamiliar and too much for series veterans. Everything is very cliche and perfunctory.
Johnis, the titular chosen one, is rushed from ignorance to acceptance. Soon he is mouthing off to super-villain Teeleh, which undermines the terror of Teeleh, the journey of Johnis and is all quite unconvincing.
The dynamic between the four new recruits is also run of the mill, with nothing in particular resolving the customary tension and resentment between the naturally gifted rising star and the grafters.
In between the real action, Hunter and opposite number Qurong do much pacing which is reminiscent of Circle but utterly lacking in atmosphere. Instead of building tension, these interludes interrupt the action and diminish the characters’ roles with inane chatter.
The plot goes nowhere, but does it very quickly with a frustrating pattern of Deus ex machina in Roush form over and over again.
The Roush, though abused by Dekker’s plotting, are scene stealers and by far the best characters in Chosen. Their wit and exuberance are a welcome constant and hopefully they will remain regularly recurring with better contexts.
It was also wonderful to have Hunter’s first wife making a surprise appearance. Links to Paradise are also evident, and great fun to spot.
A distinctly average opener that belies the talent of Dekker and genius of the original Circle Saga.