The Thorn by Daron Fraley certainly explores an interesting premise: the thought that there are other worlds, other places that have a belief in Christ and knowledge of His gospel. What would it be like to believe in Savior that wasn’t even part of your world? What signs would be given or His birth and death? What would the prophets share with the people? It’s pretty good answer for those who’ve ever wondered about the possibility and one that I haven’t seen explored before. The Thorn seems to be a hybrid work consisting of a woven tapestry of history, theology, and science fiction.
From the back of the book:
Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world – Earth – is about to appear in the heavens.
During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon – a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others.
This was an enjoyable first book by author Daron D. Fraley, I think the series will do well for him. However, for me, personally, I don’t think it will end up on my “absolute favorites” shelf. Not because the book is bad, by any means, but only because it’s not a genre/premise I particularly enjoy. I like the scenario and enjoyed it for the story’s sake, but the very elements that will make it appealing to so many caused me a few hiccups. The frequency of scriptural names and similar stories we read within the Bible and Book of Mormon sort of, hmmm, ….. disoriented? ….. distracted? Me. Does that even make sense? Probably not, I hardly ever make sense- even to myself.
Don’t let my weirdness stop you from reading The Thorn. It is time well-spent and I admired the messages of friendship, commitment, devotion and spiritual strength that it carries. Besides, we all know by now that I’m a big old flake. I might pick it up again in a year or two and have a totally different opinion. Have you read it yet? Leave a comment and tell me why you loved it so poor Daron doesn’t think I hate his work or something. I don’t, really! He has talent, I can only see the series getting better as it goes along.
So, here’s a flip side for you. One odd thing that usually gives me a moment’s hesitation deciding whether or not I’ll read a book didn’t at all with The Thorn. I know, I know, I’m so wishy-washy. See, I’m not fond of books that have to add huge character lists at the beginning of the story. If the story’s not good enough for me to care about the characters enough to remember their names and how they fit in the story, then they probably didn’t need to be there. If I have to stop the story to refer back to the list and figure out who someone is, you’ve lost me. My poor brain just can’t handle that kind of taxation. Did the character list in the front of The Thorn bother me? Well, I eyed it with suspicion. Then I looked closer and loved the way it was done. The definition part of the tables really appealed to me. Maybe it’s because I’m one of those people who will peruse through a baby book for no other reason than to see where names came from and what they mean. ;) Did I have to refer to the character list to keep people straight? Nope. Hurray for characters with substance and purpose! Now, if I just could have kept from trying to put them in my scriptures instead of the planet Gan . . .
Who do I think this book will appeal to? Those who enjoyed Orson Scott Card’s Homecoming series, definitely. Fans of alternate realities, yep. People who like a lot of action in their fiction, yep. Teenage boys, probably.
Heck, don’t take my word for anything- “test drive” The Thorn for yourself by reading the first part on Daron’s website. Then you’ll know how big of a schmuck I really am. ;) And, if The Thorn really appeals to you, I’d suggest you enter Daron’s contest as well. How fun!
Keep writing, Daron! You’re going to do well.