From Publishers Weekly
Although Jerusalem's Hope, book six in the Zion Legacy series with Viking, was supposedly the conclusion, this new offering from Tyndale picks up the same basic story line and many familiar characters. It's now 2002, and Moshe Sachar takes his youngest son, Shimon, through a secret passage to an underground library chamber. There, Shimon is shown a cache of 70 scrolls and told to begin studying the fourth (other scrolls were the premise of earlier books in the series). The words of the document begin, "Those who lived in darkness have seen a great light..." Several pages later, the novel's time period changes to that of the document-New Testament times-where the story revolves around a young blind beggar named Peniel. Other familiar characters from the earlier series, including Zadok, Miryam, Nakdimon and Marcus Longinus, make appearances throughout. The text, which is a retelling of New Testament events and history at the time of Christ, is heavily padded (Peniel is repeatedly visited by Old Testament characters, and their stories retold), and the pacing drags. Although the Thoenes are veterans of historical fiction, this plot sags under the weight of choppy dialogue and one-dimensional characters. CBA readers may recoil at some fairly gruesome incidents, as when Susanna bat Maccabee carries what she believes is her lover's heart around with her in a jar, or when another character is viciously blinded with a hot dagger. While hardcore Thoene fans will add this to their collections, many readers' patience will be sorely tested by this too-long rehash of scriptural stories.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Viking canceled the Thoenes' Zion Legacy series after its sixth entry, Jerusalem's Hope
[BKL S 1 02]. Undaunted, evangelical fiction's second-best-known duo (after Jenkins and LaHaye) have come home, as it were, to Tyndale, with a new series called A.D. Chronicles. It's simply a continuation of Zion Legacy, telling the story of Moshe Sachar in present-day Israel, whose discovery of ancient scrolls frames the historical story of Yeshua. Marcus Longinus, arguably the strongest character in the series, has a vital presence in this outing, doing his best to prevent the slaughter of Jews before Passover. The Thoenes introduce several new characters, the most appealing of which is a blind teenage beggar-boy, Peniel. The shepherd Zadok and the three Sparrows return from Jerusalem's Hope
, though their travails are submerged in the larger story of Jewish revolt, Roman unease, and the imminent Crucifixion. Though every public library will want First Light
, it lacks the narrative punch of its predecessors, perhaps because the Thoenes have now entered territory already famously, and more passionately, treated by such novels as Quo Vadis
and The Robe
. John MortCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved