There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack

There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

A world kept peaceful for a thousand years by the magic of the ruling vicars. But a threat lurks from a violent past. Wizards from the darkness have hidden their sorcery in a place called the keep and left a trail of clues that have never been solved.

Nathaniel has grown up longing for more but unwilling to challenge the vicars. Until his friend Thomas is taken for a teaching, the mysterious coming-of-age ritual. Thomas returns but with his dreams ripped away. When Orah is taken next, Nathaniel tries to rescue her and ends up in the prisons of Temple City. There he meets the first keeper of the ancient clues. But when he seeks the keep, what he finds is not magic at all.

If he reveals the truth, the words of the book of light might come to pass:

“If there comes among you a prophet saying ‘Let us return to the darkness,’ you shall stone him, because he has sought to thrust you away from the light.”

[Full disclsoure: David Litwack sent me a print book in exchange for an honest review.]

There Comes a Prophet was definitely not what I expected—in a good way!  In what seems to be epic fantasy in the beginning, I expected your typical coming of age story: young hero is reluctantly thrust into a war between two races because his mentor is killed/powers are discovered and ends up saving the world after a long and arduous journey.  The reality of David Litwack’s science fiction/fantasy was so far from my prediction that I feel quite foolish now.  No, instead of a young hero there are three young friends who don’t seek to rebel against the vicars in the beginning.  But then something happens that changes Thomas and Nathaniel must bargain away his freedom in order to save Orah from the same fate.

Nathaniel’s completely selfless bargain is the catalyst for the three friends’ journey and along the way, they encounter people who can see the vicars for what they really are.  And what they find at the ‘end’ of their epic journey changes them and their world forever, but not in the instantaneous rebellion way you would expect.  David Litwack certainly isn’t an author that falls into the cliché trap and he has realized that societies don’t suddenly change overnight.  The ending has a wonderful plot twist and my favourite part is that not everything is resolved yet the ending is satisfying.  A surprising number of authors can’t pull this off, but David Litwack has.

My favourite part of There Comes a Prophet was the world-building.  The rise of the Temple, the fall of technology and the change back to the old ways is a fascinating story.  The information is parceled out in small chunks throughout the novel, so it doesn’t feel like an info-dump at all.  Some of the dialogue was a little stiff (even for fantasy), but it didn’t detract from the overall quality of the novel.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

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