It is always difficult to begin to read a series of novels partway through. It is for that reason that I had some trepidation in picking up this latest of Brian Godawa’s “Chronicles of the Nephilim” series at book 7, David Ascendant.
Godawa’s writing history has been varied, included screenwriting for films such as “To End All Wars” and “The Visitation”, multiple non-fiction books on the topic of apologetics and filmic worldview, not to mention his previous works of novel length fiction in the Chronicles of the Nephilim series. Godawa also shows a great deal of work in plumbing the depths of the Old Testament for useful incidents, plot points, and characters to expand in his creative expansion of the Biblical text.
I did not need to worry about the difficulty of picking up the series. Godawa manages to fluidly weave in adequate explanation of previous events throughout the series, and plays well to a world he has no doubt developed over the six previous novels. The quick pace allows a reader to invest quickly in the development of the story and to at least understand the basic roles the characters are performing in the plot. While my experience with his base biblical texts did help in that understanding, I have no doubt that a person would come to the novel well able to understand the plot.
Unfortunately, this quick pace of David Ascendant combined with the use of extremely visual language may leave the reader with a fairly superficial impression of the motivations and personality of the characters even as they act through a very rapid succession of events. It was difficult to empathize with many of the characters, and it left the novel generally feeling a little shallow.
Overall with David Ascendant, Godawa has crafted a story that is both imaginative and well-constructed – even if we wish he’d invest a bit more in character development. Regardless, fans of the “Chronicles of the Nephilim” series will enjoy this latest entry, and newcomers may find themselves motivated to get started on Godawa’s epic series.