Bryan M. Liftin’s novel, The Sword, is a story about struggle, persecution, and truth in a post-apocalyptic world. The two heroes, Captain Teofil and the farm girl Anastasia, are forced to fight rough outsiders, religious persecution, and their own internal struggles with doubt. What Liftin creates is a story that tugs on the heartstrings, letting audiences feel excited, afraid, and hopeful.
The Sword is presented in three distinct sections, each telling a different aspect of the story. Part one starts when Captain Teofil meets Anastasia in the woods after a dangerous encounter with a bear. This is the beginning of a growing strong friendship. When Anastasia is kidnapped by outsiders, Captain Teofil ignores orders from his superiors and treks out to rescue Anastasia. During the rescue the two come upon an abandoned church in which they find a damaged copy of the Bible, referred to as “the text of the Ancients.” This is also the location of one of the most memorable scenes when the two have to escape the church by climbing down the outer walls. Anastasia is returned home and Captain Teofil promises to translate the text.
Part two is where the two and some close friends, including Teofil’s mentor Maurice the Wise, begin translating and learning from the text. They start a small community of believers learning from the new God they know as Deu. Teofil faces some of his own challenges and, with Anastasi’s help, he turns himself over to Deu. The third section is the finale. Here, the persecution they faced turns to imprisonment and culminates in a dramatic duel between the gods of old and Deu. The book ends with a feeling of hope, though not the one the reader expected.
Liftin does a very good job of creating a unique setting for his story. The world has been taken back by nature after a devastating plague, and the people are surviving much like the medieval times. This includes much of the morality, which I have to compliment Liftin on. In these times, sexuality is a free form, and is an accepted part of the society. He covers the topics of prostitution, rape, and lust in a very tactful, but still interesting fashion. Liftin also crafts his characters very well; they are unique and believable. The High Priestess is especially stirring; her representation of evil is almost tangible. Teofil and Anastasia fill the requirements for a typical hero-heroine, but they are not very stable. Captain Teofil sways from being the headstrong, inventive military captain to an indecisive, self-doubting man. Anastasia switches from confident and witty to awkward and reserved and back again.
Nevertheless, The Sword is a good book for both solid and new Christians. Liftin shows how trust in God can change one’s world. He also shows how to keep faith even in persecution. One theme that is used often in the book and sums up the ideas is the message of Psalm 27, with the character’s focusing on God as their protection. I would readily recommend this book to those looking for a story of both adventure and purpose. – Todd Naevestad, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
The Sword has something to entice every reader: action, adventure, drama, mystery, discovery and romance. Through a commanding use of descriptive language and character development, Litfin engages his readers to the point that they will feel a part of the journey themselves. Seasoned and novice readers alike will benefit from Litfin’s ability to provide a thrilling adventure while at the same time giving the opportunity to ponder the theological implications and Biblical parallels held within the Kingdom of Chiveis. Boasting of an original plot set in a unique era which beckons its reader into a new world vaguely familiar with fresh twists on life, The Sword will leave you begging for more.