The book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs
Genre – Fantasy, Young Adult, Christian fiction
Series – Book one
Rating – PG – Peril and fantasy violence
This is the tale of four brothers who recently moved after their mom passed away. Hadyn, the oldest, is struggling to return to normal. All he wants to do is to return to the good old days. One day Hadyn and his brother Ewan find scrolls that suddenly appear in their briar patch. This leads them on a journey of self-discovery.
My Thoughts –
This book was a nice surprise! In my quest to find new books, I sometimes forgot what is on my list as the list is made up of sticky notes. So, when I started reading, it was a nice surprise that the setting starts off in modern times. I really liked this section of the book as it made me think of Stephan Lawhead’s books. Don’t get me wrong, the fantasy world Briggs created was had its own merits, but I almost wanted just a story set in modern times.
Alright, let’s talk characters. There were two characters that stood out to me. First, Hadyn. I connected with him on several levels because we are both the oldest sibling, and have similar characteristics. Anyway several characters have a decent character arc which was great. I liked Sorge and his mysterious past. He was a good mentor for the brothers by providing them with history and wisdom. I wanted more of Flogg! We did not learn about him except that he is a gnome. I am hoping that in future books, we will get more of him. Maybe a visit to his homeland? A few twists surprised me, but the whole evil witch who works for the evil Devourer felt flat.
The book was written to the author’s sons after their mother died which gave it a feeling of authenticity, but towards the end, it got a wee bit repetitive. I am hoping that the next book will come delve deeper. The ending was a wee bit predictable, but there was some great themes throughout the book about family, self-discovery, and love. There was a Jesus like character called Aion and a Satan like character called the Devourer. We see there are followers of Aion in three branches each doing a different task. There are certain gifts that given from Aion and these can be a variety of things.
Honestly, there was not much violence. There were a few times where the characters were in peril and then the final battle at the end. The evil witch would sit in her tower and throw mice into a pot of blood. She controls a bunch of teens by her power. She also uses magic spells and incantations, but it is shown to be evil.
In the final battle, there is some fighting, but mostly characters only get cuts bruises. Nemasia releases these evil flying spirits called Watchers and they can terrorize people. The evil witch falls into a crack in the earth and vanishes.
Language – A few uses of the word hel, but used as a fictional location
Innuendo – None
This was a great start to a fantasy series and had a good mix of humor, theology, and action. Personally, I would say that this book is aimed at a younger audience maybe teen and young adult. There were some good take aways like considering what role we play in fighting evil, not giving up hope, and overcoming grief. I think as the series progresses it will develop sea legs and become an epic fantasy saga.
Note – I read the second book in the series, and it starts to really develop our characters.
Cannot wait to hear from you all!