disclaimer: I rec’d a copy of this book as part of the publisher’s Book Sneeze program. I rec’d no other compensation and attest that the following review is based on my honest reaction to this work of fiction.

The Seraph Seal by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner

As the 21st century unfolds, the number of apocalyptic novels has radically increased — due no doubt to “left behind” proponents and the general fear of the future. I’ve read a few of these books and been turned off by others (just by their descriptions) but when the The Seraph Seal came up as a choice for review, it caught my attention.

The Seraph Seal , co-authored by Leonard Sweet, a Christian author and professor at both Drew University and George Fox University, and Lori Wagner, also a Christian author and lit/writing professor on the undergrad and grad levels, is a stunning book. It’s stunning, not just for it’s size — a whopping 420 pages just for the story plus another 100 or so pages of references — but also for it’s detailed, intricate weaving of Biblical prophesy, fact-filled linking of current events and fictionalized projections of what might happen in 30+ years.

The premise is that in 2012, on December 21st at 2100, eight babies would be born. These eight babies, represent the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the four elements, the four personality-types, the four evangelists, etc. The birth of the eight represents pure good and pure evil … the two sides of each of these four groupings. The book then shoots ahead to 2048, 36 years later when the prophecy will come to fruition. The suspense is in figuring who are the eight, who are the good four and who are the bad, and what will happen. It is about figuring out who will choose to do the good, who will give of self for others, and who will choose what gets him/her ahead, what allows him the most power, the biggest piece of cake.

This novel is a fascinating, fast-paced read. The authors grabbed me from the start and held my attention through the historical information, the scriptural analysis, the world-wide events unfolding. The story is tautly written with great use of symbols, surprising twists and descriptive writing that is not overdone … but just right.

I think the aspect of this book which I liked best was its theme of love — pure love, charitable love, the love described in Catholicism as the theological virtue of LOVE or CHARITY. This theme, and the opposite vice of pride, resound through the book. The main characters, Paul Binder who is the image of true love, and Matt Serafino, the image of pure pride and self-centeredness play out their roles of good guy vs bad, of good vs evil, of charity vs selfishness. The ultimate battle of good vs evil pits these two characters against each other in the final chapter. How they get to that point is an intricately woven masterpiece of literature.

There is also the overarching theme of Divine Love, the love that God has for every one of us … which is available to each and every one of us … the love that we can accept or deny … the love that has God giving us another chance to accept Him. This is the Love that is carried through this book.

The final 100 or so pages (which makes the book over 500 pages!), allow the reader to delve into Paul Binder’s “notebook”, tracing the “facts” and symbology and scriptural references in a glossary or encyclopedia of apocalyptic resources. For those who are interested, this makes for a great reference source on these “facts”.

By the way, for those who do not believe in the Apocalypse as described in the Book of Revelations, this is still a fascinating read — a well-written, suspenseful novel with interesting characters, believable events and an amazing ending!

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