As in the days of Chaos, only love given freely inhabits the Maker’s design. Those who claim love dependent on allegiance are imposters who know nothing of the Sovereign realm. They will die the same as those who walk without life already! (Mortal, p. 287)
Book One of The Book of Mortals told us the story of a world filled with dead people with no idea they are dead. In this far future earth (though never called that), 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 and a handful of friend’s lives forever altered. A few drops of mysterious blood opens their eyes and minds to a world they once thought alive but filled with people with no emotion save fear.
Mortal picks us nine years after the fateful events chronicled in Forbidden. The promised sovereign, Jonathan, whose blood can change walking emotional corpses into vibrant and passionate “living” Mortals, is set to return to the capital and assume his place of leadership over a world he will lead back to life.
In this installment, Rom, the first to taste new life is determined to protect Jonathan. The nomadic Mortals they now live with owe their new life to Jonathan and are pledged to do whatever it takes to see him assume rule over the world. And a new character, Jordan, sees in Jonathan something more than a Sovereign.
But there are surprises ahead that threaten everything Rom and the Mortals believe are destiny for Jonathan and themselves. Saric, with a new dark life of his own has an army of Dark Bloods who see him as their Maker and will serve him to the last man and woman. There can be no doubt Mortal will end in an epic battle between those who serve Saric because they have no choice and the Mortals who are ruled only by the power of being truly alive.
There is much good to say about both Forbidden and now, Mortal. The duo of Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee have pooled their talents once again to build a story world reminiscent of another Dekker hit, The Circle. Dekker’s zealous and sometimes nearing maniacal emphasis on the themes of darkness and light is evident in full force and Lee’s power of prose paints word pictures to be remembered.
Everything about Mortal is about stark contrasts. Consider Rom’s meeting with Feyn after she has received the dark blood of Saric: Her mouth tasted like rot. This is Feyn, the woman he had known and loved. It didn’t matter how foul his senses claimed this act to be. He wasn’t there to take, but to give. Or take this passage: Bliss. Hades. Two destinies of the deceased. Eternal freedom from fear. Eternal fear, bound in wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was taught from birth. It was the way.
At the same time, some of Mortal’s strengths may also be its weakness. Some readers have noted, rightly so, that the theme and plot sometimes feel like a rehash of The Circle. I also understand the reasons for so much emphasis on blood but find much of the conversation about it somewhat repetitious.
One of the realities of faith based fiction is that both writer and reader bear a weight those in the general market do not have. There can be no doubt to a believer that The Book of Mortals is an allegory. And the weight Dekker and Lee bear is to present allegory that faithfully represents the truth behind that allegory. Since this is a whole different subject, I will be taking a look at the theological issues I see standing in the shadows just out of view in Mortal next week.
In spite of a few issues, this is still a great story! Even if it is a rehash of The Circle, that is one story with the retelling. Now we must wait a few more months for Sovereign to find where the authors intend to take us.
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 and HAVAH: THE STORY OF E B. 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.