Book Review Wednesday – The Third Heaven

The Third Heaven by Donovan Neal

Amazon Book Description:

The prequel to the Bible is here!

We have always thought Hell was created for man…we were so wrong.

The Third Heaven: The Rise of Fallen Stars is book one of a five part series that explores the fascinating story of the Fall of Lucifer.

Lucifer was God’s perfect creation. Yet he rose up to betray the Lord and bring Heaven itself to civil war.

Many tales have referenced this great angelic war but few have sought to explore the behind the scene relationships between God and the angelic hosts. Why did a third of Heaven seek to overthrow their creator?

See Lucifer and his actions in a light never before seen. Journey back to the beginning, and see the drama unfold before your eyes: as allegiances are broken; choices made, and why all of creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God!

˃˃˃ Man’s was NOT the first sin

See the back-story to mankind’s own story, in this powerful, gripping tale of angels at war.

I am always on the fence when it comes to angel-oriented speculative fiction. I decided to try this book because I had only read one other book that focused on the fall of Lucifer.

Plot – Grade A-

The main focus of this book is painting the backdrop of and the first war in heaven. It’s not solely focused on Lucifer, Michael is also one of the primary narrators. Michael and Lucifer, in particular, are referred to as brothers but as the book progress all of the angels refer to other angels as brothers. It is an interesting choice and helped to ‘humanize’ the otherworldly creatures. At times, Lucifer seems almost too sympathetic but then he turns around and acts like a spoiled child, a cunning and very dangerous spoiled child. There is a twist near the end of the book that made me raise my eyebrows on the theological front but other than that the plot had great potential in the plausibility of the musing on and exploration of how the events of Lucifer’s fall as recorded in Isaiah and Revelation COULD have played out.

Content – Grade B

This book is about a war in heaven and it involves fallen angels and HOW they became that way so violence is to be expected. However, the final battle is quite drawn out and there is a LOT of blood flying and spurting through the air. This combined with the graphic picture of hell in the prologue, the various gruesome deaths, and detailed torment made me feel that it was a bit gratuitous in places as far as violence. I know the author is attempting show the harsh reality and the brutality of the fallen angels but it was a step too far for me personally mainly due to the extensive battle.

I wouldn’t say there was sensuality in this book. However, the language at times seemed to be treading in an odd direction of graphic sensuality when describing Hell personified. Such as referring to Hell as behaving like a slut and then Charon who acts as Hell’s Watcher and the embodiment of the Wrath of God is described as screaming in response to a limb being cut off not in pain but in an “orgasmic and masochistic” manner. It was…uncomfortable for me. This is due in part to the fact that sin is just now emerging in the thoughts and hearts of angels and yet Michael is able to supply the above description, which doesn’t really fit into a pre-Fall equation from my personal standpoint.

From a mythology and folklore enthusiast’s point of view, I was intrigued by Neal choosing to name angels after familiar names from various mythological pantheons such as Lilith, Ashtoreth/Astarte, Zeus, Dagon, one fallen angel changes his name to Ares, Minos, Tiamat, Ra, etc. It made sense that angels would share the names and in some cases functions of mythological figures since man worshipped creation instead of the Creator. However, if you aren’t a mythology and folklore enthusiast and aren’t familiar with the mythological pantheon, it could be confusing. Such as with Ashtoreth who keeps being called Astarte and if you didn’t know they were two names for the same mythological figure, I think it would be very confusing.

Technical – Grade D

Unfortunately, the execution of this intriguing book was severely hampered by the technical mishaps. The comma usage is very distracting since there are commas where they shouldn’t be and no commas where they should be. There are also issues with periods, question marks, quotation marks, apostrophes, and even dashes either showing up where they shouldn’t or missing from their proper place. The language used can be very beautiful in some places and the word pictures are often skillfully painted. However, some of the descriptions are jarring and took me right out of the book. There are also a number of cases where typos or homonym errors occur or the phrasing just doesn’t quite work. There is also a very bizarre instance where a long and important section is suddenly in first person when everything else, even other narrative sections by the same character, is written in third person.  I would recommend that the author hire a professional copy editor to finish polishing this book so that the concept is portrayed to its best advantage and then release a revised edition.

Final Grade – C or 3 stars

Overall, I can see the potential in this book. The author has talent and an intriguing take on the possibilities revolving around fleshing out the story of Lucifer’s fall. However, I cannot help feeling this book needed to go through another round or two of editing before it was released and it is a shame that the potential of the book is almost overshadowed by technical difficulties. I’ll be honest that the angel-oriented subgenre of speculative fantasy doesn’t really appeal to me, it is always a hit or miss. This one is right on the line of hit and miss since I can see the potential but I’m not likely to feel compelled to pick up the next four books in this series. I would still recommend this book to mature believers who are fans of Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, and angelic speculative fiction/fantasy. Recommended for ages 18 and up.

The Third Heaven is available through Kindle and paperback.

*Please note I was provided a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not paid to provide a positive review. My opinions are my own.

Next Week – The Remedy: Book Two of the Eyes of E’veria by Serena Chase

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