I don’t often do a book review, especially on Thinking Thursday, and you would expect it to be a non fiction book about Christianity. This series of three books by Randy Ingermanson is neither.
Marketed as time travel suspense novels, I downloaded the first one because I follow Randy’s tips for writers, I like science fiction, and best of all – it was free. What I found was one of the most astonishing books I have ever read, and I was happy to pay for the other two books in the series.
The only disappointment is that the series stops, and I want more!
So what have time travel suspense novels got to do with Christianity? They are set in first-century Jerusalem among the followers of The Way – the early name for Christians, that’s what.
The first novel, Transgression, is about scientists who manage to create a wormhole in a lab. One scientist believes that civilisation has been ruined by the effect Christianity had in encouraging science, and blames St Paul for the spread of Christianity. So he uses the wormhole to go back to kill Paul during his visit to Jerusalem. Another scientist, Ari Kazan, and an archaeologist, Rivka Meyers, go back to stop him. The wormhole closes, trapping them in the past.
The description of daily life among Jews in the first century is so detailed, you feel as if you’re there. It really brought the Bible to life for me. Ari is a Jew who hates Christianity because of the centuries of Christians killing Jews as ‘Christ-killers’. Rivka is Messianic Jew. But they are in love, and marry as the best way to survive in the past.
The struggles both they and their friends have with their faith is so well told that I was able to sympathise with each of them and understand their reasoning. The reader comes to the slow realisation that some of their reasoning is wrong, along with the characters. At no point did I feel the book was preaching at me.
Having saved St Paul, Ari and Rivka use their 21st century knowledge to try to help their friends, sometimes with disastrous consequences. In the second book, Premonition, they try to prevent the execution of James, the brother of Jesus, by using Rivka’s knowledge of history to predict certain things. But a failed prediction undermines her credibility.
In the third book, Retribution, the destruction of Jerusalem is approaching, as the people groan under the rule of Rome. Ari is a pacifist, but he is asked to use his engineering knowledge to design weapons of war to help defend the city and attack the Romans. History says that a prophet warned the early Christians to leave the city before the final battle. Is Rivka that prophet, and will they listen to her, when her credibility is in doubt?
Although they resolve enough issues to make a satisfying end to the book, there are so many things to come, including the fall of Jerusalem, that I want to know what happens next. Randy says his original publisher dropped him at that point, but now with ebooks he has been able to issue them himself and plans to write more.
So go out and buy the ebooks and encourage him to finish the job!