Forbidden (The Books of Mortals) by
Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
Fantasy – Faithwords 2011
While I’m finishing up reading and reviewing Book Two in the The Books of Mortals, here is a review of Book One to bring readers up to speed. Check back next Thursday for a review of Mortal as we return to watch our world began to realize what life and death truly are.
Imagine a world, our world, where every person on the planet is dead and doesn’t know it. Not zombies according to the current literary fad but rather a planet populated by people who are but shells of what they were created to be. Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee paints a picture of what might happen to a world so bent on eradicating its inner demons that it strips itself of all emotion. All that is, except fear.
Nearly five centuries have passed since a select group of scientists worked to tinker with humanity’s genetic code. Their discovery of a way to eliminate all emotions save fear gave way to a unified world ensured peace by the Order. But then, on one seemingly uneventful day, 24 year old Rom, finds his life altered forever thus beginning the first installment of what will ultimately be a trilogy called The Book of Mortals.
Ironically, Rom is a funeral singer. A funeral in which, like with most of his world, there is no body and no real sorrow. When Rom leaves the funeral he witnesses the unthinkable, a murder. As the old man who has been attacked is dying he gives Rom an ancient vial of blood that can grant something Rom did not even know he was lacking – life. The kind with real emotions: love, hate, jealousy, betrayal, passion, joy, ecstasy and despair. Real life. A life the world does not even know it is missing. To tell more would be to rob the reader of embarking on this journey with Rom and seeing it unvarnished through his eyes.
As with any fantasy or epic there is a fairly large cast of characters. Central to Book One is Rom, the ultimate unlikely hero. With no frame of reference to understand the emotions he now feels all he knows to do is to employ aid from the few friends he has. And he will need them because someone else has discovered the secret of emotions as well. Saric has to be one of the most unsympathetic villains ever created. His discovery of emotion only proves what man’s heart is capable of when all boundaries are removed. Other characters of note include Feyn the soon-to-be Sovereign of the world and sister of Saric, Avra, Rom’s best friend since childbirth, and though only introduced late in the story, the boy Jonathan.
Many collaborations fail miserably but not this one. Dekker’s imagination and sometimes almost maniacal focus on darkness and light coupled with Tosca Lee’s eloquence of prose is magical. Generally I can pick out who wrote what part of a novel but 50 pages into Forbidden I simply did not care. I was no longer reading a story by Ted Dekker or Tosca Lee. I was riding along side Rom, suddenly awakened to his former deadness and unsure if he can stand this new life on the ragged edge. Unsure if it is worth it.
This hero’s journey is summed up in an exchange between Rom and the man they call Book, a keeper of the truth of former times:
“Keep your words. This pain is no life.”
“You only feel pain because you’re alive, boy!” the keeper thundered. “This is the mystery of it. Life is lived on the ragged edge of the cliff. Fall off and you might die, but run from it and you are already dead!”
The setup at the end of Forbidden leaves one impatient for what follows. Even so it can stand alone with its powerful prose, intense action, compelling characters, and premise that leaves one wondering how many walking our world are really dead and don’t know it. It’s been seven years since Ted Dekker revolutionized a genre with Black, the first in his Circle series. I have no doubt a new revolution is about to begin.
TED DEKKER is a New York Times bestselling thriller author. Heralded as a “master of suspense” by Library Journal, Dekker has sold millions worldwide, establishing himself as one of the most widely recognized author brands.Ted Dekker’s fans are comprised of readers of all ages, backgrounds, and belief systems who love his compulsively readable stories, authentic characters, and universal and relatable themes that he explores from a unique point of view.
TOSCA LEE is the NY Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed DEMON: A MEMOIR, HAVAH: THE STORY OF EVE, and the Books of Mortals series with NY Times bestseller Ted Dekker: FORBIDDEN, MORTAL and SOVEREIGN (2013). Tosca received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She also studied at Oxford University. In her spare time, Tosca enjoys adventure travel and makes her home in the Midwest.