Call to Arms (The Battle Cry Saga)
The Guru's Review:
I first saw Call to Arms advertised in a Facebook Christian book group and three things stood out for me:
- The plot concerned spiritual warfare, one of my favourite genres
- The author is a debut author and one of the purposes of my blog is to encourage new authors
- I had a feeling that there was something special about this book.
Based on this, I contacted the author via Facebook and asked for a review copy which he granted. I was so impressed with this that I decided to buy my own copy and also due to the fact that the copy sent to me had some formatting issues that I found frustrating.
When I started the first chapter, I had the impression that there was a mistake, I had been given the wrong book. I was transported to a medieval fantasy world (The Kingdom of Elafros) and I wondered what this had to do with the book description. However, I was loving being in this world and continued reading. After a few chapters of exploring this medieval-like environment, I was transported to another world, that of the modern world of the suburb of Silex, and I then began to wonder if there was a tie-in to these two worlds.
- it has entertained me immensely,
- it has encouraged my walk with God,
- it has not deviated from known biblical doctrine, and it will not, I believe, lead a non believer astray or promote false doctrine,
- it honours God,
- it does not encourage worship of the created (eg angels) instead of the Creator (God).
Wolcott has ticked all these boxes for me. He really does portray the reality of spiritual warfare as realistically as possible, the effects of demonic possession/oppression and how easily those who have no relationship with Jesus Christ, including those who have grown up in a Christian family or who know the Gospel but have not acted on it, can be seduced into accepting what the occult has to offer and be brainwashed into accepting it as truth and as their reality. Wolcott's depiction of demons is very real and how they operate and even how they influence humans and ultimately possess them. This novel benefits from Wolcott's research into demonology and how he successfully translates biblical principles into the plot of this novel. This realism is balanced by some of the Christian characters having their own battle with their faith, dealing with fear and learning to trust God and let Him be sovereign, and to be prepared to lay down their life in taking a stand against the demonic forces that have targeted them. Hence the title of this novel, Call To Arms.
This novel is very true to the Bible. It does encourage and uplift one's faith. It does portray that Christians need to be on guard against the schemes and methods satan and his minions use to tempt, entice and trap those who believe in Christ. It does make a statement that Christians need to know what these schemes and methods are. Ask any strategist and they will tell you, that in battle, you need to know who your enemy is and how they think.
Wolcott's demons are depicted as very powerful and very devious, not dissimilar to the supernatural world of them either. The many instances of mind games, persuasion and physical battles support this very well. One principle of warfare that struck me as very significant was when one of the main characters, while being brought up in a Christian home, had not committed his life to Christ and when using the name of Jesus to rid himself of the demon's influence, found he was still defeated, all because the power of Jesus' name and the authority to use it, is only transferred to the person once they accept Him as Lord and Saviour. Maybe this could be Lesson 1 in Spiritual Warfare 101!!
I love it in spiritual warfare novels when the angels visit to fight or Jesus visits. In this novel we have both. We have the Nunci (in the Kindgodm of Elafros they are personal servants to the King of Elafros, but are angelic messengers and warriors), and we have Jesus visit one of the main characters in the modern world. I found this account of this character's encounter with Jesus absolutely beautiful and touched my heart deeply. I was just so glad that I was not on the train reading (the majority of my reading time is on the train to and from work) for others to see me crying while reading this encounter. It is written superbly, giving full respect, honour, glory and majesty to Jesus as He should be depicted in any novel. Very memorable piece of writing and successfully shows Jesus as the victor over sin and death and Lord of all.
Having Jesus visit out of the desperate cry of one of his lost who realises his need for the Saviour, I pray will give any reader, believer or non believer, Christian dabbling in sin or the occult, knowingly or unknowingly, or anyone who feels they are in a hopeless situation without hope or at the end of themselves can take the step as this character did, cry out to Jesus, and see that their salvation is at hand and that their deliverance is nigh. Not just for the bible or in entertaining media, but in real life, in supernatural real life.
While some readers might criticise Wolcott for depicting the Christian teenagers of such young an age with such a strong, mature and well developed faith, more advanced for their years, this did not worry me at all as I have come across such youth in my time and even mixed with some in my own youth. Again, I pray that this inclusion of mature faith in ones so young can be an encouragement and inspiration to any reader however young at age, heart, mind or spirit that such faith, and living out the Word of God, can and is very achievable and freely available if only they would be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. Wolcott shows a realistic balance in the spiritual battles/warfare of both the young and older Christian characters, even of their Pastor, in their faith and dealing with being confronted with the "in your face" demonic attacks. Again, I take this as an encouragement for the believer to be realistic in this fight, we cannot do this in our own strength, when we have doubt, misgivings, are discouraged or feeling weak on all levels, we have our Commander-In-Chief (Jesus, as described in this book) and his Nunci (Angels) to fight for us, encourage us and give us strength in this battle, knowing it is won by His Spirit, and not by any might or power.
The added bonus of depicting the Christians in this way, is that it adds another level of realism/believability to the plot, the reader who is Christian will find it easier to relate to this rather than some super spiritual Christian who is harder to relate to, either in real life or in any novel.
There are many fight scenes in this novel, the usual fisticuffs etc that we are all used to and which is done well by the author, but in the Kingdom of Elafros, most of the fighting is based on fencing and Wolcott writes this extremely well. I wondered why he would be so expert at writing and describing these fight scenes, and a visit to his Facebook page reveal that he participates in this sport. There is nothing like writing about something that you know first hand or have experienced! This adds credibility to the fight scenes and adds to the richness of this medieval-like world of Elafros and to this whole subject of spiritual warfare.
Once the attack on the Christian Church and its members revs up, the action and pace of this novel never ceases. Until to this point, it already was a cannot put down novel, but when this full attack happens, this is nothing compared to the former pace and it would be advisable for the reader to be alone with no disturbances in order to fully appreciate the second half of this novel. Wolcott very nicely ties all the loose ends up and the reader is left breathless and exhausted at the end. What a great way to end a novel such as this? Whets the appetite for the next book in a very intense manner.
This is one well developed and crafted novel and a great debut by this author. He is one to not dismiss, any discerning reader who loves this genre needs sit up and pay attention to this new author.