Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CFBA Tour - Merciless

Merciless was a long time coming.

The conclusion to Robin Parrish's Dominion Trilogy is the focus of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance this week. I read the first book, Relentless, through the library in November of 2006. It was a great start to an intriguing series, and I was excited when the next book, Fearless, was scheduled for the CFBA tour in July 2007. Then I found out that Parrish is just plain mean...

Fearless was a startling suspense ride, upping the ante significantly. The problem was that the reader was left with a gigantic cliff-hanger, and I was stuck dangling over the edge while waiting another year until Merciless was released. Ugh. In the meantime I bought Relentless and made sure I read through the series again in June to be ready for the end game. Finally, I couldn't wait for the CFBA tour - I bought Merciless as soon as it came out in July, because I couldn't wait!

How did Merciless do, with that build-up?


First, let me remind you of the synopsis: Grant Borrows was shifted into a new powerful body, with amazing mind control powers. He was a member of the Loci, a group marked with rings on their fingers all sharing stories of being changed from a previous life into a new one with advanced mental abilities. Peyton had lightning-fast reflexes. Morgan could remember anything perfectly. Alex could manipulate a person's emotions however she wished.

Relentless showed how the Ringwearers drew together against Grant's grandfather, the leader of the Secretum of Six, who was trying to manipulate Grant into completing his mad plans. In Fearless, the earth is in throes since that confrontation, and Grant and his friends try to be heroes and help with the devastation. After following clues across the globe, Grant and most of his friends end up in a giant underground cavern in Turkey, where we are left hanging, and where Merciless begins.

Out of the chasm where Grant Borrows disappeared, a new being emerges. Skin like granite, eyes of fire, and touch of death. Oblivion has come, and as time stops around the plantet, the Dark World is being formed. What can possibly stand in the way of such a creature?


On to the question now.

Merciless is a high-octane ending to the Dominion Trilogy. Robin Parrish has crafted a new mythology that explores a lot of high ideas in a power-packed reading that again keeps people with a heartbeat dangerously close to needing a cardiologist.

I enjoyed the book greatly. It was a fitting ending for this tale. I think that it suffered in my situation a little from excessive anticipation: since I was looking forward to the end so much, I think it was hard to meet up to my expectations. Don't get me wrong: the book is very good. However, the plot creates circumstances that dampen some of the characters that I really enjoyed. It was necessary for the story to unfold, but I was a little disappointed to not have the same interaction with people like Alex that there was in the first two books. I can't see how it could be a different way, but that doesn't mean I can't miss something. There are also some characters introduced in Merciless that come across as throw-away characters, there to fulfill some plot/demographic need with no more to them.

The suspense and pacing continue on a breakneck pace, and there are so many surprising twists and turns that he's been holding on to all this time, it will spin your mind in trying to guess what will happen. I was impressed on how so many threads crossed back and forth, only to reveal an unexpected end.

I read one Amazon review that thought there wasn't much in the way of ideas in Fearless. I disagree strongly to that, but Merciless does wrestle with various themes and gives them center stage even clearer than the other books. There is a good payoff at the end.

Make sure to read the first two books, as Merciless is not a good starting point. Fans of suspense, speculative fiction, superheroes, and "big idea" fiction will not be disappointed. My 16 year old nephew read the whole series in about 3 days! I eagerly await what Robin has up his sleeve next - though I'm not sure my poor ticker can take much more.

For more info, check out my review of Fearless from last year. Also, that book inspired this essay of mine, which has been one of my most clicked/searched posts on this blog (so thanks Robin!).

Finally, if you would like to read the first chapter of Merciless, go HERE.

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