By C.S. Lakin
Publisher: AMG Publishers
Publication Date: March 2011
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: March 6, 2011
The story of the birth was told time and time again, but was so mystical that no embellishment could improve upon the truth. Aletha’s little body began to descend through the queen’s birth canal. Reya, who would later tend to her, watched the child as she came out feet first, but then was puzzled when she suddenly stopped. It was a mystery because the child held tight to something and wouldn’t let go. What was the babe grasping? The queen began to howl and push once again. The yo’shana was quickly solved when Aletha quickly started to move and pulled her twin, Adin, into the world clasping his wee hands in hers. The princess was beautiful, but her twin was weak with twisted features and legs. The King would later humiliate him by saying he was nothing more than a “misshapen disgrace of a son.”
Ten-year-old Aletha would later think that “All her life she had been watching over Adin for as long as she could remember.” The King, on the other hand, marveled at the beauty of his daughter and shunned her twin. He had “steadily fallen apart” over the years with greed and insanity quickly overtaking his mind. The Queen lay dying and the twins had little time left to be with their mother who loved them equally. She struggled to give them each a silver locket engraved with the law’az, an ancient language that could no longer be deciphered in their land, save for a few words. “Ahabah ’az maveth” were her final words. Reya started as she knew what they meant … “Love is as strong as death.”
There had been a qa’lal placed on Sherbourne, a curse that would continue until everything was destroyed. The King would later believe the prince, a boy who would do anything to gain his love, was plotting against his very life. He cared little of the grief of his children who had met a strange man who told them both … “Your mother lives!” What madness was that? “Adin you must be brave. It will be many years before the queen returns, but you must not lose hope. Keep this mik’vah hidden in your heart and let it give you strength. And do not speak a word of this!” Several years had passed since they met the stranger and the King’s insanity was spiraling out of control as he offered Aletha’s hand in exchange for the beautiful, mystical firebird. A hermit told Adin there was a mysterious hidden map that would help him travel through time back to the “beginning of the curse.” If he found the map would he be able to take a step out of the world he knew into the unknown? Would he be able to find the origin of the curse and change it or would he lose his life in the process? Would this evil be too much to overcome?
This beautifully crafted fantasy will take the reader back through time to find a curse that changed the world. In this book the sa’har sha’ma’yim or “Gates of Heaven” were sacred sites that protected the world from evil, yet somehow in long ago Sherbourne evil had prevailed. Adin, the twisted, crippled young man was the pa’lat, or Deliverer, whose job it would be to go back through time and undo the “concentrated touch of evil” that had been done … if he could. This Christian fantasy is mesmerizing as the weak Adin attempts to overcome the evil touch of Sha’kath the Destroyer, a man who tried to “corrupt and poison the hearts of men, to make them turn against each other, as he did the very first brothers.”
The words and phrases scattered throughout the book are in Hebrew and are defined in the glossary. Many thought provoking Biblical verses, including “Love is as strong as death” (Solomon 8: 6,7) are taken from the Old Testament. This book, the second in the Gates of Heaven series is a fantasy that swirls though the heavens of life in the manner of the Chronicles of Narnia, leaving us breathless with excitement while subtly delivering us the key to the lessons of life and death. I loved the action, the good, the evil, the unusual talking pig, the treacherous attacking ravens, and was curious when the story reintroduced Joran, a blacksmith from the first book in the series, The Wolf of Tebron. This book can stand alone and the series can be read without thinking of the allegory as in the case of the books penned by C. S. Lewis, however, I think it is more interesting if one does. In the back of the book is a study guide for those interested in exploring the Christian experience woven into the tapestry of this book.
Quill says: This is a series that, over time, is sure to become a classic...if only Adin could hold our hands and pull us into the future to see!