The Seraph Seal

( 50 )

Overview

2012: An ancient prophecy quietly unfolds as a fragmenting world accelerates its descent into massive chaos.

Then, in 2048, the prophecy comes to fruition. US president Matthew Serafino is sworn into office, and University of Virginia historian Paul Binder receives a cryptic but summoning message. Strange circumstances and bizarre discoveries lead Paul to London, where he meets a brilliant and beautiful manuscript specialist, Angela Matthews Krall, in order to decipher an ...

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The Seraph Seal

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Overview

2012: An ancient prophecy quietly unfolds as a fragmenting world accelerates its descent into massive chaos.

Then, in 2048, the prophecy comes to fruition. US president Matthew Serafino is sworn into office, and University of Virginia historian Paul Binder receives a cryptic but summoning message. Strange circumstances and bizarre discoveries lead Paul to London, where he meets a brilliant and beautiful manuscript specialist, Angela Matthews Krall, in order to decipher an unknown Syrian manuscript with special powers. Together, they uncover clues that lead them both down a mysterious, life-or-death path.

Global intrigue, cascading natural catastrophes, and a complexity of characters, motives, and symbolic traditions intersect as Paul and Angela delve into forgotten traditions and lost meanings. Life-changing discoveries force them to struggle with questions about their own faith and the nature of truth and hope. Suddenly they find themselves positioned either to lead humanity into a new future or to watch as the earth dissolves into total destruction.

The Seraph Seal combines apocalyptic intrigue with a journey of love and discovery that blurs the lines between fact and fiction. It will lead you into a world where only you can determine the future of the earth as we know it.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780849920776
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Leonard Sweet is the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University (NJ), a distinguished visiting professor at George Fox University (OR), and a weekly contributor to Sermons.com and the podcast Napkin Scribbles. A pioneer in online learning with some of the highest "influence" rankings of any religious figure in the world of social media (Twitter, Facebook), he has authored numerous articles, sermons, andmore thanfifty books.

Lori Wagner is a ministry leader and writer whohas published poetry, articles, and reviews on cultural studies of science and literature and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in writing, English and German literature, and science and culture for over twenty five years.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments....................xi
Engaging the Apocalypse: A Nonfiction Essay on Scenarios and Semiotics for the 21st Century....................xiii
Prologue: The Key....................xxi
Chapter 1: The Letter....................3
Chapter 2: Fire and BRICs....................13
Chapter 3: The Diatessaron....................21
Chapter 4: Cerastes, Cerastes....................31
Chapter 5: The Palimpsest....................41
Chapter 6: Smoke and Mirrors....................51
Chapter 7: The Aries Seal....................61
Chapter 8: The Devolution Revolution....................71
Chapter 9: The Prophecy....................83
Chapter 10: The Griffin's Egg....................93
Chapter 11: The Key and the Dove....................105
Chapter 12: Sulfur and Ice....................115
Chapter 13: Stirring the Soup....................127
Chapter 14: Oil and Water....................137
Chapter 15: The Crossroads....................147
Chapter 16: The Wetlands....................155
Chapter 17: Cooking Goose....................163
Chapter 18: Revelations....................173
Chapter 19: In the Vineyard....................183
Chapter 20: Exposé....................191
Chapter 21: Latitude and Longitude: 21, 21....................201
Chapter 22: Silver Moon....................209
Chapter 23: Living Waters....................217
Chapter 24: The Rose and the Dove....................227
Chapter 25: Solar Lights....................239
Chapter 26: The Apprentice....................249
Chapter 27: The Potter's Wheel....................259
Chapter 28: The Missing Link....................267
Chapter 29: Roots and Shoots....................275
Chapter 30: The Rainbow....................283
Chapter 31: Silver and Gold....................293
Chapter 32: Connecting the Dots....................301
Chapter 33: The Chameleon....................309
Chapter 34: Twists and Turns....................317
Chapter 35: Signs....................325
Chapter 36: The Gathering....................333
Chapter 37: Turning on the Heat....................343
Chapter 38: In the Red....................351
Chapter 39: The Golden Griffin....................359
Chapter 40: The Inheritance....................367
Chapter 41: The Final Journey....................375
Chapter 42: Quaking Fields....................383
Chapter 43: The Quintessence....................387
Chapter 44: Song of the Seraph....................393
Chapter 45: The Hills of Bashan....................399
Chapter 46: Formations....................403
Chapter 47: Endings and Beginnings....................409
Chapter 48: The New Dawn....................413
Epilogue: The Fossor's Find....................417
The Journals and Notes of Paul Binder....................423
The Alphabet of the Apocalypse: Reading the Signs of the Times....................447
Notes....................519
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First Chapter

THE SERAPH SEAL


By LEONARD SWEET LORI WAGNER

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2011 Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8499-4927-2


Chapter One

The Letter

21 March 2048

Roanoke, Virginia

A nimbus cloud cover lay thick and low over the Virginia hills, and Paul could tell the rain was coming. He absentmindedly waved on the light to the garage and reached for his coat from the hook by the door. He looked at his watch: 5:30 a.m. Just enough time to stop for coffee on the way to my nine o'clock class. He ran his fingers lightly across the touch screen on the wall, and the garage door slid upward.

Paul heard the crash just as he was closing the car door. What now? He slid out of his seat belt, shoved open the half-closed door, and ran out into the driveway. The moon cast a bluish hue over the vacant terrace. He crossed the lawn and stepped into the street. A block down the road, a car lay on its side in the middle of the deserted intersection, its lights flashing on and off. The back end of the coupe was torn open, and a mixture of gasoline and antifreeze poured out onto the road, causing a greenish vapor to rise over the black tarmac. Paul looked up and down the intersection. There was no one in sight.

Paul cautiously approached the vehicle, fragments of finely shattered glass crunching under his feet. It was raining now, and fog was forming around the car in wisps as the liquid from the punctured radiator continued to hiss and steam across the cold ground.

It was quiet. That couldn't be good. As he rounded the side of the car, Paul noticed something sticking out from under the tangled metal on the driver's side. A man's arm lay twisted in an unnatural position, crushed beneath the frame of the car. The lifeless fingers reached out, as though grasping for something just beyond reach. Paul looked around. There's no one here. The air was still and heavy. The only sound he could hear was the pattering of rain on metal and pavement. His mind began to race. Someone had to have hit the car with a powerful force in order to knock it on its side and damage both the rear and front ends. But there's nothing out here.

A cold shiver ran down Paul's spine, and he backed away from the outstretched hand. Moving slowly toward the front of the car, Paul could see that the windshield had been smashed in. What remained of the driver was slumped sideways, the side of his head covered in red, blackening blood. Then Paul noticed the letter.

The large white envelope sat on the dash, as though placed there for him to see. How it would have remained in that position during the crash, Paul could not fathom. He inched closer until he could see the scrawled writing across the front:

Mr. Paul Binder Personal and Confidential

At first, Paul backed away, a wave of terror and revulsion building in his throat. The bulky trunk of the mutilated car blinking in the early morning darkness felt surreal, as though it were some monstrous creature lying there watching him, breathing, waiting for him to make a move. The feeling passed. Paul carefully reached into the hole in the windshield and grabbed the letter from the dash, then turned away and tuned in to his Pearl—his personally enhanced auto-relationship link—that was clipped to the base of his ear. He had just purchased the new Pearl earring last week to replace his former pendant. The new 2048 version did everything imaginable. It was a type of BMI (brain machine interface) that could not only follow commands but could interlock with Paul's every thought and body function. In a moment, the device would connect to his FirePillar, alerting emergency services.

After the police arrived and Paul answered what questions he could—I didn't witness the accident, only the aftermath—Paul signed his statement and walked back toward the house.

"I never saw the other car," he had told them.

Because there was nothing there to see, the voice inside his head taunted him.

Paul didn't mention the letter. If he did, he would be pressed for hours with questions he knew nothing about. He needed to think. Shivering, he drew his coat around his neck and shook off the voodoo. "To shake off the voodoo" was one of his mother's favorite expressions. Whenever he was afraid as a child, had a nightmare, or was feeling insecure about giving a speech at school, his mother would look him in the eyes, cup his face in her hands, and say, "Now, Paul, you go on and shake off the voodoo. You're gonna be fine." And she was always right. He smiled to himself, thinking how much influence she continued to have on him, even from the grave. He stopped and looked back. The police were still buzzing around the car, joined now by a fire and rescue crew working at extracting the driver from the passenger side of the vehicle. Whatever had happened that morning must have an explanation, and the authorities would find out what it was.

Paul walked back to the garage, got into his car, and set his Pearl to navigate in the direction of Charlottesville. It was already 7:30 a.m., and now he would be late for class. No coffee today. On the seat next to him lay the letter, his name staring up at him. Setting his jaw, he ignored it and continued to drive. He would deal with it later.

Relaxing a bit now that the rain was starting to clear, Paul interfaced with his Pearl to find station WKCI. The news ran through the usual—weather, sports, local, economics, then turned to a special address by the president. New Earth Day—he had almost forgotten. President Matt Serafino was talking now about the new technologies that would revolutionize the nation's food supply. Already in his second year in office, Serafino had mesmerized a tired and disillusioned USAmerican people with promises of superior genetically altered food supplies, increased life expectancies, innovations in avatar and touch technologies, lower crime rates, increased cyber and virtual communications, and decreased levels of aboveground contaminants. He had already mobilized forces in all the major cities to prevent looting of the hospitals and churches that were left abandoned. In the first quarter of the twenty-first century, with the introduction of the New United States and its secularized religion, the remnants of the old churches collapsed. After the faithful went underground, meeting in homes or in private settings, the old-world doctors, who refused to embrace the new manipulation technologies, followed suit and went underground, too, to form the Anti-Technology Biological Alliance (ATBA). Serafino had a plan to rebuild USAmerica once more into the most viable and economically wealthy nation in the world—harnessing the power of the oceans, winds, and the earth's core to drive the technoindustries, which would renew and replace USAmerica's failing industrial framework. The people called him the twenty-first-century Uncle Sam—the one to usher in a new and restored United States.

At thirty-six, Matt was the youngest president ever to take the oath of office. The same age I am, Paul thought. And he sometimes appeared to have the energy and stamina of ten men. Powerfully charismatic, the USAmerican president commanded attention everywhere he went. People gathered around him in droves, hanging on to his every word. But when Paul had seen him on the Capitol's West Front Lawn that day, 21 January 2047, something about Matt Serafino left Paul uneasy. Could it be the president's strutting confidence? The way he cocked his head to the side before he spoke? Or the way his almost pitch-black eyes surveyed the crowd, his fiery gaze threatening to incinerate on the spot anyone who challenged him?

The truth was, Matt's personality was both charming and deadly.

His campaign had seared into his opponents' arguments, leaving them no choice but to withdraw. And it was that same drive, accompanied by a compelling confidence, that seemed to draw people around him in support of his initiatives to make the United States a supertech world power.

That should have been enough to make him wary of the president, but Paul thought it was more than that. His mind wandered back to that day on the lawn in January, the president's inauguration ceremony. Paul remembered the way Matt (as he liked to be known to the USAmerican people—an oddity in itself for presidential stature) grasped the Bible as Chief Justice Remington Warner swore him in as the forty-eighth president of the United States. There was almost a savagery about that clutch, as though wanting to consume or conquer the Word itself. And then there was the passage he chose for his inaugural theme, Isaiah 66:

    For the Lord will come in fire,
        and his chariots like the whirlwind,
    to pay back his anger in fury,
        and his rebuke in flames of fire.
    For by fire will the Lord execute judgment,
        and by his sword, on all flesh;
        and those slain by the Lord shall be many.

    For as the new heavens and the new earth,
        which I will make,
    shall remain before me, says the Lord,
        so shall your descendants and your name remain.
    From new moon to new moon.

It was a strange passage to choose, and it cast an ominous chill over the crowd that day. Stranger still was Serafino's use of the Bible itself in the swearing-in ceremony. Even though Christianity had become an "ABC" word, something like ABC gum—rechewed and spit out by most New Selfers, Serafino had insisted on the obsolete inaugural tradition, choosing a Bible from the Library of Congress and inserting the aged manuscript into the hands of the chief justice before the inauguration ceremony, the appropriate passage marked by a golden thread.

"I, Matthew Samael Serafino, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

President Serafino seemed to have an answer and a solution to every problem, some of which even sounded plausible. But as professor of history and cultural semiotics at the University of Virginia, Paul knew something about politics and economics. And despite most people's fascination with the USAmerican president, what Paul knew most was that he didn't trust Matthew Serafino.

Charlottesville, Virginia University of Virginia

Paul reached his office at 9:35 a.m. Too late for his morning class, he stopped in the university cafeteria for coffee before settling into his office studio. He had until two o'clock that afternoon before his next lecture. He fingered the corner of the letter in his pocket, remembering the morning's events. He didn't want to open it until he was safely in his office. What could it mean? At last, armed with coffee, the virtual news report, and the latest i-issue of the Journal of American History, Paul reached his swivel chair and pulled the letter from his pocket. He sipped the hot, steaming liquid, gathering his thoughts. Tearing open the envelope with the edge of his finger, he took out the sheet of paper inside.

The letter was handwritten and appeared to be drafted in black ink. Rare these days. No one wrote by hand anymore. With the advent of jewelry piece BMI robotics, advanced biometrics, and Cloud computing, almost all text was now voice and touch activated. Most people didn't even use pens anymore. The only people interested in traditional paper were historians and collectors, like Paul, who loved the feel of the ancient texts. Those more interested in the dead than the living. Paul smiled. Now, the best forms of communication were in avatar space and in virtual meeting rooms. Safer too. Especially in the classroom.

Paul brushed his thumb across the black letters. The ink left a dark smudge on his pale skin, coloring the lines of his personal imprint.

Fresh. Almost as if the writer had just finished the last flourish. Paul braced himself and began to read.

Dear Dr. Binder,

If you are receiving this letter, the year will be 2048—thirty-six years after your birth and the birth of the eight. The Time of Becoming has now reached fruition. Locate the manuscript of the Diatessaron. You have been chosen to unlock the future of your world. The cross key will guide you. Use it wisely.

Paul reread the letter three times, and finally just stared at the scripted ink intently, baffled as to what the words could mean.

For the second time that day, Paul had the uncomfortable feeling that something didn't quite fit. And his mind fought to make sense of it. The ink was fresh. He was sure of it. Yet the letter referred to the year 2048 as though written long prior. Just as the damaged car that morning seemed to appear out of nowhere with no sign of what caused the crash.

Because there was nothing there to see.

Paul swallowed hard, his eyebrows knitting together as he remembered the details of the morning hours. He read the letter again, this time holding it in his hands like a fragile piece of parchment. He turned it over, looking for some sign of identification. There was none.

What could it mean? And why is it addressed to me?

Paul knew what the Diatessaron was. That is, if the ancient Syrian manuscript he was familiar with was the one he thought the letter was referring to. More than one author had created such "harmonies of the four," but the most famous was by a second-century writer named Tatian from the region of what is still the country of Syria. With copies written in both Syrian and Greek, the text comprised a unification of the four known Christian Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The message was controversial, and Tatian was later treated as a heretic. Some even feared the text had magical powers. But the harmonized Diatessaron was revered in the early Syrian church and in the Orthodox churches of the East. Paul would give his right arm to see an authentic copy of the Diatessaron manuscript. He also knew that no complete and original manuscript existed.

Paul's concentration was interrupted by his vibrating Pearl. He took the call. "This is Paul."

A male voice spoke. "Mr. Binder?"

"Yes, I'm Paul Binder."

"Is this Dr. Paul Binder, the professor of history and cultural semiotics?"

"I am."

"Dr. Binder, this is Emory Makefield. I'm calling from the Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies at the University of London. We've just received a very unusual manuscript. I think you're going to want to see this."

"What is it?"

"Dr. Binder—may I call you Paul? We believe it's a complete Syrian manuscript of what appears to be the Diatessaron."

Paul drew in his breath and paused for a moment. It couldn't be. He regained his composure.

"Tatian's Diatessaron?"

"I had it checked out myself by one of our experts. We believe it's authentic."

Paul's heart was beating faster. How could this be happening?

"I don't understand. Where did you get this?"

(Continues...)



Excerpted from THE SERAPH SEAL by LEONARD SWEET LORI WAGNER Copyright © 2011 by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 50 )
Rating Distribution

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(14)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Now that the weather is becoming gloomy and the days short, I fi

    Now that the weather is becoming gloomy and the days short, I find it’s the perfect time to get around to a few reads I’ve put on the shelf over the summer. So I sat down recently, pondering a stack of books with great potential and too many words for me to conquer in a weekend.
    First on my list was The Seraph Seal, a Thomas Nelson title by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner.
    The Seraph Seal is a book best enjoyed with an open mind. Set in 2048, this is the authors’ interpretation of what the unknown future Apocalypse might hold.
    Like so many other well-meaning authors Sweet and Wagner venture to tell a fictional story of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse talked about in the book of Revelation.
    While I agree with some potential end-times ideas played out by these horsemen, I do not subscribe to all of them. I enjoyed reading this interpretation because I was able to apply an important lesson I learned from reading the Shack.
    The Bible says that no man can know the time or place of the coming of the Lord, but every man is invited to search the deep mysteries of the Bible.
    I also respect the time and knowledge it took these authors to produce this novel.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    It's fun to read this book now, in the year 2012, considering al

    It's fun to read this book now, in the year 2012, considering all the talks everywhere about the "end of the world [as we know it]". People are not sure what to think, how to react, and who knows - a thought lingers in mind - perhaps the world will truly change on December 21, 2012.

    The plot of the book is set in the year 2048 - 36 years after the apocalyptic date predicted by ancient Mayans. The world has changed - technology rules as never before, everything is connected and automated. Yet for the professor of history and cultural semiotics (signs), Dr. Paul Binder, the past contains mysteries he is invited to examine - and he is the one specifically chosen for this even before he was born.
    The book is suspenseful, yet it took me a bit to adjust to all the new terminology. Considering all the technological advances along with new political and religious systems, there is a lot to get used to. Also there are a lot of characters besides the main ones. However, once you know what is going on, the story becomes really intriguing and entertaining.

    If you are into conspiracy and literature like Da Vinci Code, if you like history and religion mixture, this book is for you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 13, 2012

    The Seraph Seal by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner is a very uniqu

    The Seraph Seal by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner is a very unique take on the end of the world based on the four horsemen of the Apocalypse found in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. The book is a combination of religious fiction and sci/fi set in the future in the year 2049. The Seraph Seal contains many religious and historical references. While some readers my find the constant introduction of characters, religious and historical references confusing, I found it an enjoyable challenge to keep the straight and make connections between each. One of my favorite genres is religious fiction due to the fact that I teach religion. I loved the combination of historical and religious facts intertwined. Religion is best understood in conjunction with the historical facts of the era. I felt that Sweet and Wagner did a wonderful of blending the two. The Seraph Seal is a much for detailed version of a Dan Brown book - which I loved. While I personally love The Seraph Seal, I wouldn't recommend it to someone who is religiously conservative or sensitive to new takes on Scripture.

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  • Posted March 9, 2012

    So, I have to admit that I am still slightly perplexed that I ch

    So, I have to admit that I am still slightly perplexed that I chose this book to read and review. Usually I like to read either historical or modern day fiction. I have never once in my entire life ever read any apocalyptic literature, nor have I ever had any interest in doing so. Yet, for reasons practically unbeknownst to me, I chose this book. Needless to say, it has sat on my shelf for many, many months- until a few days ago when all of a sudden I randomly decided I wanted to read it. Well, all I can say is that it hooked me right from the start and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
    The Seraph Seal, written by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner, begins in the year 2012 where an ancient prophecy begins to unfold. Fast forward to the year 2048. The world is fast accelerating into massive chaos. New discoveries are constantly being made in different scientific fields, and those in power are fighting to rise to the top. Add to that rising political tensions throughout the nations, mass pandemics, and escalating natural disasters, and the question arises- how much longer can the earth survive at this rate of speed? Amidst the turmoil arises a key player: Paul Binder, a historian at the University of Virginia, who one day receives a strange and cryptic message. From there he is led down a path that leads him to London. Once there he meets manuscript specialist Angela Krall, whom he teams with to decipher an ancient Syrian manuscript. Together they begin to slowly unravel clues that lead them down a mysterious path, and along the way they begin to discover that perhaps there is more to life than that which they can see and understand.
    I read a review on this book recently where it was said that this book is not for the faint of heart, and I have to say that I agree. As I said, I really enjoyed this book and I found it very fascinating. However, you can in no way breeze through this book, for it is rather heavy, physically and mentally. The book itself is over 500 pages, which I believe in itself could scare some people off. Then there is the actual written text itself. There are quite a few characters to keep track of, as well as events. Everything is subtly woven together, and you really need to pay very close attention so that you do not miss a single miniscule detail. There is also a lot of what I am going to call “smart speak” in this book- meaning that things are not explained simply. Rather, it is written in very intellectual terms that I think could very easily confuse people. I know there were a few parts that I had to read over to fully grasp certain concepts.
    Putting all of that aside though, I think this book was put together very well. The story was engaging, and I felt that there were a lot of events of the future that were very plausible, and could very well happen. So, if you are of stout heart and would like a very intelligent apocalyptic read, then this book is for you. I know that I will definitely be revisiting this book later on.

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  • Posted October 16, 2011

    Really Good Church/Mystery Book

    This was a really complex book. There were so many different POV's, and so many deaths, and so many clues! It was like a futurist version of a really churchy Dan Brown book. And it was good!

    I really liked how everthing slowly came together, and the 4 horsemen thing, even though they really didn't do too much, they just got everybody that they could there. And they weren't the ones to stop the bad guy. But anyway.

    The ending was bittersweet, one got sepperated from the main group, and didn't go where they did, but back in time. But they did get where they were going, most of them. And the bad guy didn't succeed, so that's a good thing!

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  • Posted September 18, 2011

    say, what?

    All these thoughts, all these ideas about the end of the world, and the most I could think about for the larger part of the book was, "How the hell can they understand each other?" I'm not trying to be funny, really. That was just my way of saying that it took me an awful long time to really get into this book. I think it's because, for the most part, I could hardly keep my head from reeling in the midst of an information overload. I can tell the amount of research that the writers have done to put together the events that bound this book together-I do even admire and envy them for it. What I don't get is the necessity of laboring over all of these events, all these details in order to make a point. As such, it took the story quite a while to actually get started.

    I kind of like watching end-of-the-world movies, although they tend to look the same after a while. I dawdle in sci-fi movies and fictions every once in a while that futuristic technology hardly amazes me anymore. The Seraph Seal gave me nothing new to think about. Or perhaps, I am disappointed because I have expected it to give me more. I think this book just happened to come a moment too late. =P

    For its part, The Seraph Seal, did introduce a motley of interesting characters with both destructive and constructive personalities. But because there were just an awful lot of them, I found it challenging to keep up. Add to that all the informative details that-although necessary to the story-mostly bogs down the story's progress and thus bears heavily on the intended appeal of the book. I didn't really get into it, didn't really feel any need to rush through it, until nature starts taking its destructive course more seriously. Although the solar anomalies and falling meteors did peg the book among any other forms of end-of-the-world media, at least it was something I could finally relate with.

    And I don't really think having a woman talk about "the power of love" constantly in the midst of destruction, chaos and worldwide deaths was appropriate. If anything, I found it annoying, even comical at times. Insensitive, even. I guess I've been corrupted by life even far more than I imagined that I actually find blind optimism evil. =P

    But despite all of its shortcomings (and for almost boring me catatonic), I am giving this book three stars. Because it did make a fairly good argument of God's propensity to give his repenting children a chance at redemption and a second life. ^-^

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  • Posted September 14, 2011

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    Not What I Was Expecting

    I was very excited to begin reading this book when I first received it. The first few chapters of the story were great and I was thinking,"This is going to be a very interesting book". Boy was I wrong! After reading those chapters, the story got to be very confusing and dragged on.

    What I Didn't Like:
    ~Almost every page was about a different character and there were so many characters (too many in my opinion), that it was very difficult to keep track of them all. Every time the book switched to a different character, I thought "Who is this again?" and by the time I remembered, the story switched to a different character. This was very annoying and made the story very tedious for me to read. I was constantly flipping back to see who was who.
    ~The book makes several remarks about God wanting to give the world another chance and for that to happen "The Chosen One" has to decode cryptic messages.
    ~This book mentions several different beliefs & cultures (Kabbalah, Catholicism, Judaism, Mayans, etc.) and makes it seem as though all the different beliefs have a part to play in saving the world.
    ~How a Christian book (even being fiction) could or would state that "the planets aligned for the first time in millions of years" (page 409) as though it were a fact. I felt that was contrary to the Bible.
    ~How Paul was made to seem like a modern-day Christ. How he was the only one who could bring the world to salvation.
    ~The *new* Scripture that they find that was totally fabricated. The Bible is quite clear when it states that no one should add to or take away from God's Word.
    ~How the United States of America is referred to as "USAmerica". This alone wouldn't have affected my rating of the book, I just found it extremely annoying.
    ~I really didn't like the ending of this book! I won't say what happens, but I found it to be very far-fetched and completely unscriptural.

    What I Did Like:
    ~Hardly anything. The only thing that comes to mind is Seraphim, Father Arnaud's bird. I loved how the bird would sing hymns.

    This book took me forever to read! I thought this book was very boring, and there are too many things that I disagreed with and found to be offensive to my faith. I will not be reading this book again, and definitely would not recommend this book to anyone. In fact I would discourage anyone from reading it.

    I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Posted August 17, 2011

    The Seraph Seal

    The Seraph Seal by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner is a beautifully well written Christian mystery fiction. The book makes me feel as if I was reading Dan Brown's books, minus the guilty pleasure of having to read something blasphemous. This is a very exciting fiction to read.The storyline is very amazing and there's even illustration on objects in this book.

    I highly recommends this book to those who loves a good mystery. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars. I received an ARC of this book from Thomas Nelson Publisher. I was not required to write a positive review for this book.

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  • Posted July 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Seraph Seal

    In 2012 they were broken. In 2048 the aftermath takes effect.

    Historian Paul Binder receives a strange summoning to study the original Diatesseron. As he and Angela Krall, a manuscript specialist, study the text, they stumble upon a strange trail of clues. Disaster is rampant as the world breathes it's last breaths. Strange events lead the duo on an endless labyrinth across the globe as they try to uncover the mystery of the seraph seal.

    When I started this book, it seemed pretty boring. Taking place 37 years in the future, I had a hard time adapting to this sci-fi earth. However, the further I got into this book, the more interesting and suspenseful it became. It got to a point where I loved the book, then suddenly, it left me off at a rather disappointing ending. One that was so different that it made me question what the authors hoped to accomplish with this.

    On the matter of the literary blue prints of the book, it jumped around a lot. In a way, it was cool for this particular story, and focused more on the world and the story line more than completely on a set of characters. Yet I found myself being immersed into a character's portion of the story, then yanked out and thrown into the story of someone someone else.

    Now, for the theological content. From the very beginning, the apocalyptic signs and puzzles seemed a bit off to me. And throughout the book, they skip several of the events in the book of Revelation. In fact, almost all of it. If you take this book lightly, and accept it as a nice novel with loose ties to the Christian end of the world, it can be enjoyable. If you try to soak it in or get a deeper understanding, turn away; this book will confuse you and possibly anger you.

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  • Posted July 14, 2011

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    Disappointing

    An epic tale of good and evil based on the four horsemen of the Apocalypse found in Revelation.
    Using the four horsemen of the Apocalypse to symbolize the four Gospels, four transcendentals, and four forces of the universe (air, water, earth, and fire), Sweet and Wagner weave a fast-paced, end-times tale of good vs. evil and the promise of a new dawn for humanity.
    Set in 2048, when planet Earth is suffering from the damaging effects of years of misuse and abuse, cultural history professor Paul Binder receives a mysterious letter that leads him to examine a lost 2nd-century Diatessaron manuscript. Ancient prophecies, cryptic letters, and strange events set him on a course to uncover the missing clues that could lead humanity into a new age. Layered with forgotten symbolism from the ancient, Jewish, and Christian traditions, the novel is a type of engaged fiction in which the main character's lost journal serves as a guide to the reader in interpreting clues and understanding the novel's conclusion.

    Honestly, this book made no sense to me.
    It was like it was trying to take religions views on the end times and roll it up into one big story.
    Also, I didn't like how it was clearly a more christian remake of The Davinci Code.
    All in all, I was very disappointed in this book.
    The only redeeming quality that I felt this book had was its memorable one liners, and quotes that, while provoking the reader to thought, it didn't draw the reader in the story.
    It was basically like individual lines in the book were great, but the book as a whole was bad.
    I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone, and I wouldn't read it again.

    1 Star, at best.

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  • Posted July 12, 2011

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    Not what I expected

    I thought this sounded like a good concept. The thing was that it focused so much on the nonfiction that I felt like I was getting a theology and philosophy lesson instead of reading a piece of fiction.

    It starts off with a huge introduction about their beliefs and ideas when they wrote the book. I read my book on e-book so I don't know how long it was exactly, but I got so bored and frustrated with it that I skimmed over it after having to turn three pages or more. I kept wondering when the actual book was going to start. Then the book ended at around the 70% mark in order to accommodate all their notes and references, most of which were reprints from the illustrations and information already shown inside the book.

    I was put off a little by the very brief sections and chapters. They once introduced a character and killed her in two paragraphs. That bothered me. I didn't know why I needed to know a name just to establish that an earthquake wiped out that place. After those two paragraphs they switched to an entirely different location and problem. That kind of switching and popping around in the story was commonplace and unsettling.

    They also added sections to Scripture that don't exist. It was kind of obvious because the existing Scripture sounded like it was pulled from the King James or some other older version while what they added sounded modern. The blurb also claimed that the tale would be based on the book of Revelation but they actually seemed to use clues found from philosophers throughout history, the Kibbalah ... art, all sorts of things besides the book of Revelation. I was surprised how little actual Scripture was used.

    In the end I wish more emphasis had been placed on the actual story, the characters and the Scripture. It still was a fast-paced story with an interesting ending that I didn't see coming. I want to thank Book Sneeze for providing my copy in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted July 8, 2011

    Enjoyed it

    This is a fictional book about the apocalypse. It is derived from the Book of Revelation and the four horsemen of the apocalypse. I always like reading books and watching movies with the end of the world theme. Let us just not forget that nobody will ever know when the time will be.

    The book started in the year 2012 when the chosen one is born and so with the horsemen. Then the plot will fast forward to 36 years after their birth in 2048.

    In 2048, the world will be so much different. USA will not be the most powerful country anymore, churches will just be like museums and believers will be underground. Natural disasters and national crisis is significantly increasing all over the world. Paul the chosen one receives signs and learns of his role. He will search and lead the 4 horsemen and humanity to the New Beginning.

    The book is very long and since there are a few characters from all over the world. The first few chapters will be a little confusing since the plot will bounce from one person to the next. But once you get to know the characters, it will be easier and fast pace. Dan Brown fans would like this. It is complete with mystery, suspence, history, religion, politics and love.

    I would recommend this book if you are not religiously and politically sensitive.
    I received this book free from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    Loved It (but its not for everyone)

    This book was sent to me by Booksneeze, a website, for review.
    This book was interesting read, for those of you who enjoyed Dan Brown's Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci code this is going to be a good read for you. This is an apocalyptic fiction novel, so there are many cultural and religious histories involved, and it does make many assumptions for the apocalypse, so those easily offended by theory should read with caution.
    This book is set in the future time of 2048, 36 years after the seven seals were broken to begin the age of the apocalypse in 2012.
    It follows the story of a historian named Paul Binder, who is the chosen one for the journey to the new earth. I do not want to get in to to much of the plot, I fear i might reveal to much of the book. It really is a book in which you learn the pieces of the story as you go.
    The author suggests in the prologue that you read the alphabet of the apocalypse, provided for you in the back before you get started, so you might understand whats going on, but i found this tedious, and pretty much unnecessary. The story can stand on its own very well without this.
    There are many people involved and the story line does tend to jump around a lot, at first i found it hard to discern who was who, and the story seemed very discombobulated. I did not give up however, and as I read a pattern starts to derive, and i found myself being able to follow quite nicely.
    There are many cultural facts, religious, and historical references used, and I often found myself googling some of these concepts for a deeper understanding of what was going on. This made the read kind of slow, but all in all i enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an exciting apocalyptic fiction novel.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    Fabulous Christian fiction!! Amazing!

    Wow! What an exciting book. Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner really and I mean really did a stunner of a job on The Seraph Seal. I really enjoyed the Left Behind series and while I was reading those I thought no book could ever come close to being as amazing as they were. I received The Seraph Seal from BookSneeze in review for my unbiased opinion. I am very glad I chose this book to review!

    I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It managed to do in one book what Left Behind didn't manage in a dozen. The Seraph Seal is superb. The characters are so real, so well developed and given terrific back story it seems like you are reading a biography or a historical account, not fiction.
    The central themes throughout this engaging novel, which I read in one eleven hour block, is end time prophecy and the fulfillment of that prophecy, specifically the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. With a dizzying spate of worldwide travel seeking clues and information interwoven with a touching love story, political intrigue and flat out murder this suspenseful mystery kept me thoroughly engaged the entire time.

    The four horsemen are symbols of prophecy and agents of God to fulfill His prophecies. They are tied symbolically to the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. One December night, thirty years before the 'current events' taking place, there were nine births. Eight babies were all born with a symbolic birthmark, one of the symbols of the elements to mark them as one of the horsemen. Paul Binder was the ninth baby born and just before his birth his mother received a very special gift, an antique key and a note telling her to name the baby Paul. Paul is to grow up and have a very special place in the end times.

    If this review has intrigued you, get your hands on a copy because I can honestly say this is the best Christian fiction I have read in a very, very long time!

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    Didn't meet my expectations, but that doesn't mean it won't meet yours.

    The Seraph Seal is a book that I got to review for free through Booksneeze, and I thought I would enjoy it because I had previously watched Left Behind and other apocalyptic movies. However, this book did not fully live up to my expectations. While I did like reading about Paul and Angela, two of the main characters that are studying the Diatessaron and working to unlock its secrets, I thought that the story would have been better as a movie instead of a book. Some of the descriptions were drawn out so much that a reader easily loses focus and gets bored. Paul Binder, the main character, is a cultural history professor who is "the Chosen one" to decipher the clues to tell the world that the end of the world has come. The book is set in 2012, when Paul and Angela are born, and in 2048, when they meet and begin deciphering the clues to the puzzle.
    The book started out as what might have been an intellectual mystery that presented a new side to the book of Revelations; however, after the introduction, it became a story that quickly switched between about four or five characters. Because it did switch so many times, it became confusing about who was who and so on. Overall, you might like this book if you can keep up with different points of view in characters. However, I felt that the story-line got confusing after awhile and began skipping pages just to keep up with my favorite characters of the book: Paul and Angela. The book also features an ABCs of the Apocalypse, which describes different things that could happen during the Apocalypse.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2011

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out

    The year is 2048, and Paul Binder has just received a mysterious message; speaking vaguely of the eight horsemen, and of the future of the world. Matt Serafino, the new, flagitious president of the USAMERICA, trying to cope with the many catastrophes the world is going through. Food is scarce, because of the overuse of creating synthetic energy. The four good horsemen meet with each other in an intriguing matter, trying to piece together the seemingly unending puzzle. Paul Binder's quest is to lead humanity to a new and better future, but will he prevail, or watch the earth crumble into complete destruction?
    I found it very compelling, suspenseful, and a perfect mix of truth and fiction. I enjoyed all of the realistic characters, brought to life by the authors. The plot continued to unfold, but did not divulge anything until the final pages. I loved that while these characters were going about their business, they found their own void of truth, and of God. The catastrophic events were very well depicted, in fact, they were entirely believable. Overall, A very easy-to-read, captivating book that was impossible to put down. I would highly recommend this book to somewhat mature readers, though others may enjoy it as well.

    Sincerely,
    Richard (The Boppy) Lauer

    P.S. Booksneeze gave me a free copy of this book to review honestly.

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    Great Futuristic Mystery!

    Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner have created an intriguing novel about what may lie in our future. Using an unsuspected combination of ancient biblical references and futuristic technological advancements, Sweet and Wagner propel the reader into a world of mystery and intrigue, not unlike Dan Brown's breakthrough novel, The DaVinci Code. While I was expecting a somewhat long-winded version of Brown's work, I was pleasantly surprised by the quick and smart read The Seraph Seal turned out to be. The blend of religion and technology is a refreshing take on the classic mystery tale. I recommend this book for anyone wanting to read about a mysterious adventure, and fans of Dan Brown's writings will be very pleased with this book as well. I received this book free from Book Sneeze publishing company for my review.

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  • Posted June 24, 2011

    Not what I had hoped for

    The plot of this apocalyptic novel is a simple one: The end of times is upon the world. The few remaining faithful have a short amount of time to decipher clues that indicate that, yes, the end of the world is here, so that they can adequately prepare as many people as possible for the final day.


    I was intrigued by this book because it initially seemed to be of the intellectual suspense nature. Clues are presented, and the reader ostensibly has to work to determine what these clues mean. However, I didn't find any of the clues to be difficult - thereby negating the need for the appendix at the back that was supposed to be vital to this new genre of "engaged fiction."


    Furthermore, the book was largely predictable and I was never able to establish any kind of personal connection with most of the characters. This may have been because the book jumps back and forth between several different storylines. The moment I became attached to a character, the plot would twist away from that character and not return until several other storylines had been updated. Adding to my confusion, the point of view will occasionally jump from third person limited to third person omniscient, making it difficult for me to understand which character's thoughts are driving the scene.


    The Alphabet of the Apocalypse at the end of the book is an interesting feature, and I hope that the authors publish a non-fiction book that delves deeper into the ideas presented there. I didn't agree with everything that they wrote in the Alphabet, but the feature as a whole was certainly thought-provoking.

    I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher through the "BookSneeze" program, and was not required to post a positive review.

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    Great story!

    Going on vacation this summer? Looking for a great book to read while you are lounging by the water? (I was pretending I was doing that while I was reading it) Than look no further. You have to get your hands on The Seraph Seal. The book was a great mixture of mystery and suspense, mingled with "end times" prophesy. I loved it! Readers of Dan Brown would enjoy this book, it takes you on a trip around the world and makes you long for more.

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    I was disappointed

    Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner do an excellent job of creating a believable future world their Apocalyptic novel, The Seraph Seal. The storyline was complex and fast-paced. Within the blink of an eye we are taken from one end of the world to another. This writing duo, do an excellent job of creating mystery and intrigue. But honestly, I wasn't engaged. There were so many characters to keep track of, from all over the world each with their own connected plot line, that I found it hard to feel or bond with any of them. So many of the characters weren't very nice either.




    As I said, I had a hard time relating to any of the characters, and I just was sorta, "out of it." I didn't get swept off my feet into the story; I wasn't chomping at the bit to finish it either. But that's my personal feeling. I guess it was partly to do with how it was supposed to be the future of America, and how stark and sad it was. Also elements of the plot didn't really seem realistic in any way. And I had problems with how the book - I don't know how to say it - but they sort of added to the Bible, and that didn't sit well with me. Reading this book I had red flags, signs, flashing lights, and sirens going off at me, and I disagreed with how the fictional prophecies seemed to be tacked onto scripture verses taken out of context. I know this was fiction, but I just didn't sit well with me. This is MY personal opinion.




    Overall this book started out well, but later on I lost interest, and things popped out as wrong to me. I recommend that this book be read with a mountain of discernment. Thank you.




    *To avoid a conflict of interest I must, in order to comply with the FTC, inform you that I received this book for free in exchange for my help promoting this book and my honest opinion. I was not required to give a positive review. So this is my honest opinion. Thanks!

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