Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - The Betrayed - Lisa Bergren

Click on the book covers to visit the Amazon page, or Lisa's pic to visit her website.

The Betrayed (Book 2 in the Gifted Series)

I love this series.

Intrigue, passion, hope, heart, history.

If you love great stories, tight writing and church history teamed with romance, fantasy, suspense and mystery, you've got to get this series. If you loved DaVinci Code, Rivers' The Mark of the Lion, Bright and Cavanaugh's Great Awakenings you'll find much to like in The Gifted series.

As far as flaws, they are tiny. Three very similar names of major players confused me at the beginning, but once I figured it out, it didn't hinder my enjoyment. Bergren does a small amount of telling and some passive writing, but to tighten this series up any further would have made the story almost too tense.

Those who will not read speculative Biblical fiction may not like this series. It is based on a "lost" letter. Bergren does not twist doctrine or attempt to rewrite Scripture, she just adds a story line happening centuries after the Bible, as we know it, was fully formed. What if the gifts of the Spirit landed on individuals who then were drawn together in a group and called to fulfill a path chosen by God? Good question and the amazing story playing out in just such a scenario.

The Betrayed is a powerfully written, gut-wrenching tale. As the characters agonize and struggle with the Gift that each has been given, and the responsibility that comes with it, I couldn't help but think of Job's wife's counsel. "Curse God and die."

The characters are brought to that point, the one where all they have left is the struggle between believing God is who He says He is, and finding a shortcut out of their pain. Each character is three dimensionally formed and believable as they accept, in degrees and layers, God's calling and their expected obedience.

The spiritual warfare aspect of the book is powerful as well, classic good versus evil, but with the good showing weakness and insecurity and evil showing raw magnetism.

The Begotten (Book 1 in the Gifted Series)

A meaty read full of intrigue, brave men, the power of God as He works through His people, and fictionalized history.

Based on the reality of a "missing" letter written by the Apostle Paul, the author, Lisa Bergren, has woven a series based on the powerful gifting of Christ's disciples in different ways. Victorious gifts to bring wholeness and healing to God's trodden down church. What might happen when spiritual wholeness is revealed to people who've lost the possibility of intimacy with God through mere religion?

One flaw I discovered that made the following of the story slightly difficult was similar names of three moderate to major characters. Additionally, those who want authentic language with their historical fiction may be slightly disappointed. However, I discovered the modern feel of the storytelling with occasional historical term or word usage made the story easier to follow.

The Begotten is set in Italy in 1339, a dark time for the church. Martin Luther's rise to return God's Word to the people happened within the next two centuries. The 1339 church kept the faithful separated from God's Word.

If you start on The Begotten, you'd better have The Betrayed ready to dive into because you won't want to stop.

The Begotten has the feel of Francine River's Mark of the Lion trilogy. History buffs and those, like me, who need a little fiction to make history come alive should enjoy The Begotten. I would imagine fans of The DaVinci Code and the movie Luther would get much from this series as well.

And a few words from Lisa...

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

Vito, my comic relief character in this dense, dramatic Gifted trilogy. I always love the sidekick guy who makes me laugh in movies—Vito is that guy, here. He keeps the others from always being so darn serious, all the time. And he’s remarkably good with a sword. I think it would be cool if I was remarkably good with a sword. Who knows when that might come in handy?!

If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?

Sigh. I probably would have written an ending for the love affair in The Bridge. I wanted it to be more of a God/man love story than a man/woman love story, and thought I’d given enough hints to readers that the man/woman would obviously end up happy-ever-after, but half my readers were mad at me for not putting it on-stage. Life’s too short to deal with reader-wrath.

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

“The story of your life is the story of a long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it.” –John Eldredge, Waking the Dead

This quote gives me a chill (and a thrill) every time I read it. It reminds me that (a) we have to be aware that we live within a world at war and we are God’s front line and (b) that Satan wants nothing more from us than to FORGET this central truth.

Anything you’d do but don’t because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.

Climbing Mt. Everest. In fact, climbing anything over 11,000 feet is probably over my limit, but those Mt. Everest people are insane. I don’t even admire them…what’s to admire? Oxygen tanks? Passing dead, frozen bodies no one wants to haul down and bury? Ick.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Me/myself/I mixups…Please, everyone, you can learn this one! There is a propensity for everyone to use “I” now just because they think “me” is generally wrong and they don’t want to sound foolish. So they say things like “Would you care to go to the movies with Lisa and I?” (That should be “Lisa and me.”) Just test the phrase in another format in your head to “hear” the correct version. Ex. Would you care to go to the movies with me? You wouldn’t say: “Would you care to go to the movies with I?” See how wrong that sounds?! That’s how you tell!

Unidentifiable antique, the scent of pipe tobacco and the drizzle of rain – make a scene.

She loved the sound of Portland’s rain, sliding down the plate-glass windows and gurgling down the gutters outside. As a little girl, time spent in her grandfather’s library had filled her mind and heart with a million memories of half-light, dulled by a thick layer of clouds outside, the chill of rain and the warmth of a fire in the library hearth. When she closed her eyes, she could see the clouds of smoke surrounding her grandfather as he bent over a book, puffing away at a pipe like he was a train engine chewing through the coal. She could almost smell the sweet odor of it…

But her grandfather was dead and gone, never to smoke a pipe again. And he’d left her this--some sort of antique box that appeared impossible to open--as the key to her legacy. Why did he always have to make things so difficult?