Prophet by RJ Larson: A Review

Prophet cover imageStory Overview (Back Cover Copy)

Close your eyes, Ela of Parne. Close your eyes and you will see.

Ela Roeh of Parne doesn’t understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She’s undignified, bad tempered, and only seventeen–not to mention that no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as the elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite’s prophet, Ela knows she will die young.

Istgard has turned their back on me. See the evil they do.

Yet after experiencing His presence, she can’t imagine living without Him. Determined to follow the Infinite’s voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite’s word to a nation torn apart by war. Here she meets Kien, a young Traceland ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela must surrender to her destiny…and determine how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.

Will you accept the branch and speak my will? Will you be my prophet?

Review

Prophet offers something unique in the world of Christian fantasy with its Biblical history overtones and its speculation on life as an Old Testament type prophet. It reframes Old Testament prophesy in a new way which allows greater consideration of the human struggles these prophets faced and the cost they paid to proclaim the word of God.

Although Prophet takes inspiration from the Old Testament, Larson has created her own world, one standing on the brink of war. The Istgardian massacre of a peaceful Traceland town gives Ela, newly chosen prophet of the Infinite, her first mission–to confront the evil rampant in Istgard.

Needless to say, her message condemning the people of Istgard earns her many enemies, but the Infinite protects her as she speaks His word.

And the Infinite gives her two companions to walk with her through the dangers she faces–her endearing younger sister Tzana and the Traceland ambassador Kien. Each has a role to play in the unfolding drama that began when Ela embraced the call of the Infinite.

Though it is said that no prophet dies silver-haired, Ela accepts the risks and responsibilities, because of her love for the Infinite. Yet she still struggles with her flaws, a quick temper not least among them. Sometimes she seems blind to the obvious, so caught up in her own assumptions about what the Infinite speaks, that she can’t consider any alternative meaning or outcome. She’s fixed on the idea of her coming death, but it’s difficult for the reader to feel the danger, knowing that the Infinite still has a purpose for her.

Despite my moments of annoyance with Ela, her flaws emphasize the reality that God uses the weak to bring down the strong. It’s not our perfection, but our willingness to follow His command. Since this story deals with the life of a prophet, the spiritual elements are intrinsic to the plot and the strong messages don’t feel like a sermon, but rather an exploration of relationship with God. Prophet highlights the truth that following God comes with true cost, but it’s worth any price we might pay.

My recommendation

Its YA tone will likely make Prophet most engaging to teen readers, but all ages will be able to relate to the spiritual themes. As a historical fantasy, this has the potential to engage a wider range of readers, especially those with an interest in Biblical history. And if you’re looking for something unique in the Christian fantasy market, you may want to give this a try.

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4 Responses to Prophet by RJ Larson: A Review

  1. TheQuietPen says:

    Good review! I’d seen reviews about this before and wasn’t sure. The book seems to have a high chance of being overbearing or preachy. However, after this review I might just give it a chance. There’s certainly much being made about “chosen ones” in the YA market. It’d be great to read an authentic, faith-based take that showcases a genuine connection/relationship with the God-character.

    • Sarah Sawyer says:

      The main storyline demonstrates the way God works among his people and explores what it means to have a life fully given to him, so that dominates the plot, but I didn’t feel like the whole purpose of the book was to force a moral on the reader.

      To me, the interactions between God and Ela seemed realistic for the most part, as they closely resembled what takes place in the Old Testament accounts of the prophets. I think there’s great value in exploring what actual relationship with God looks like for the long term.

      Anyway, it’s a different type of fantasy. I always like to explore new things, so I’m glad I gave it a try, but I don’t think this is my favorite subgenre. 🙂

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