Teo and Ana journey into new lands in search of the New Testament. In the midst of dangerous terrain, elite societies, and new enemies, will they be successful in their mission?
About the Author
Bryan M. Litfin (PhD, University of Virginia) is the author of the Chiveis Trilogy and several other books, including Getting to Know the Church Fathers. Bryan and his wife, Carolyn, have two children.
Read an Excerpt
Anastasia lay awake under a bearskin cloak, listening to the alien sounds of a land far from home. The stub of a candle hung from the ceiling of her leather tent, providing enough light to chase away the nocturnal spirits, but not the heaviness in Ana's heart.
Three weeks earlier, she had relinquished her home in the Kingdom of Chiveis. When she crossed the mountains into the Beyond, she had abandoned every person she knew in the world except one: the man who slept beside her in a bedroll on the tent floor. She sighed as she lay under her covers, contemplating a future of exile and uncertainty. It wasn't the future she had dreamed of, yet it was the will of Deu, the Creator of all things. Ana resolved to bear whatever burden he might ask of her.
She glanced over at the dark-haired man on her right. At least I'm not completely forsaken, she thought. Teofil had come over the mountains with her, lending his strength and encouragement when she faltered. The steady sound of Teo's breathing reassured Ana in the vastness of the unknown.
Descending from the glacier, the exiled pair had met four army scouts from a land called Ulmbartia. The men had welcomed Teo and Ana into their expedition, for the scouts too were in a foreign land, far from their own realm to the south. Warlike tribes called Rovers wandered these wild mountains, often raiding into Ulmbartia, so the kingdom had sent an expedition to seek out the passes the enemies were using. When the tall, powerful warrior Teo appeared out of nowhere, the Ulmbartian scouts readily accepted his offer to join them in exchange for provisions. Lieutenant Celso and his men-at-arms were happy to add Teo's sword to their dangerous patrols. With Ana cooking and tending the needs of the camp, the soldiers decided their mission had taken a dramatic turn for the better. Teo and Ana were assigned a tent of their own at the expense of the tracker named Bard, who was relegated to sleeping outdoors.
Ana hunched into her bedroll and gathered her blankets. Though it was high summer, a cool mountain breeze found its way into the tent and fluttered the candle's flame. Dawn was still several hours away. Ana was about to roll over when she felt something move against her leg.
Did that really happen?
Ana lay still, trying to convince herself she had imagined the movement at her ankle. Her heart thudded. She held her breath lest she stir up the thing that had invaded her bed.
It's nothing. Go back to sleep.
Ana had decided her anxious mind was playing tricks on her when the creature moved again, sliding against her calf under the covers. It was smooth and ticklish in a revolting way. Ana's mind reeled as she realized the creature was a snake. She began to tremble as she felt it move up her leg, but she forced herself to hold still, hoping it would move past her and find its way out. Instead the creature sought the warmth of her body and slipped beneath the linen shift she was wearing. Ana clenched her jaw at the slippery sensation against her thigh. The snake paused, then glided onto the skin of her stomach. Only willpower held back the scream that clogged Ana's throat as she felt the serpent crawling up her body. Is it poisonous? She didn't dare move in case it was.
Time hung suspended. Ana's every sense came alive. She heard the gentle rustle of her garment and felt every undulation of the snake's muscles against her belly. Though it moved slowly, as if with painstaking deliberation, she knew the creature was coming toward her face. It was about to emerge from her neckline. Ana scrunched her eyes. Deu, help me! Make it go away!
For a long time nothing moved. The tent was quiet. Ana swallowed. Maybe it's gone? Yes. It slid away from me just like I prayed. She opened her eyes and glanced down.
The viper rested in the center of her chest, staring back at her. Its yellow eyes were lidless and glassy. A forked black tongue tasted her skin.
"I'm coming for you," it whispered.
Ana exploded into a scream, snatching the snake behind its head in an attempt to hurl it away. The serpent recoiled, then struck her mouth with a smashing blow. Ana felt its fangs latch onto her lip. The hideous burn of fresh venom flooded her face.
"Teo! Help me! Get it off!" She was outside her covers now, writhing on the floor and grasping the snake's flailing body as it dangled from her lip. Though she yanked on it, the viper refused to let go. Its fangs pumped more venom into her soul.
Strong hands grasped Ana's shoulders, firm yet gentle. A familiar male voice spoke into the confusion. "You're okay! It's Teo. I'm here with you. You're safe."
"I'm coming for you," the snake repeated, then let go. The walls of the tent crowded toward Ana. The world spun in circles.
"Wake up, Ana. You're dreaming. Everything's okay."
What ... ? Who ... ? Where am I? Am I home in Chiveis? Relief coursed through Ana. There were no Ulmbartian scouts. She hadn't left home after all. It was just a horrible nightmare.
The space around her came into focus. A musty leather tent. A wobbly candle. A rumpled bearskin cloak. The night air cool against her skin. She looked into Teo's gray eyes. His handsome face wore a look of deep concern. His hands were steady on her shoulders.
"The s-snake," Ana stammered. "Is it gone?"
"There was no snake. You had a bad dream."
Ana put her hand to her lips. The burning sensation had vanished. She glanced at her fingers. Nothing. "Am I bleeding?"
Teo leaned toward her and inspected her face in the candlelight. "You're unhurt."
"It seemed so real. A snake was in my bed." She shuddered. "It touched me."
Teo glanced around. "The tent is tight. The mesh in the vents is unbroken. A snake couldn't get in here."
Ana felt a heavy weight settle into the pit of her stomach. The snake may have been a dream, but everything else was real. The tent. The scouts. The journey over the mountains into the Beyond. Her beloved Chiveis really was lost — maybe forever.
A draft stirred the air in the tent. Goose bumps arose on Ana's exposed legs. She gathered her knees to herself, wrapping her arms around them.
"I'm cold, Teo."
The bearskin cloak enveloped her, then Teo's arm encircled her as he held her close. Ana tucked her chin to her knees and began to cry.
"The Eternal One knows the plans he has for you," Teo said softly.
It was a quotation from the Sacred Writing of Deu. Those holy words and the strong arm around her shoulders were Ana's only comforts in the turbulent sea of grief.
* * *
The afternoon sun sparkled on the water. Bard dropped the string of rabbits on a flat rock next to the stream, then retrieved a knife and cleaver from his rucksack. It didn't take him long to gut and skin the carcasses. When the job was finished he opened his padded satchel of spice bottles, cursing the Ulmbartian quartermaster who had packed several vials of unknown contents for the expedition. Though Bard couldn't read any of the labels, he knew from taste or smell what most of the bottles contained, and he left the mysterious ones alone. Locating the salt, he deposited the rabbits into a leather bag to soak in brine. By dinnertime the meat would be ready to cook, and that was a good thing, because Lieutenant Celso could be very demanding when he was hungry. The soldiers would return from their patrol in a few hours, and they would be expecting a hearty meal.
Rolling his neck to work out a kink, Bard glanced toward the camp upstream. It was a well-chosen location. The tent sites were level, water was close, and plenty of dry wood lay about. A natural stone grotto in the hillside made a cozy place for a campfire, not only catching the warmth to ease the evening chill, but also shielding the fire's light from any prying eyes that might be wandering in the woods. When he was on an expedition, Bard never let himself forget he wasn't home in Ulmbartia. He was across the high pass, deep in a Rover-infested wilderness. Danger could come from anywhere.
The expedition, Bard's sixth foray into the wild mountains as an army tracker, had been unlike any other. In part this was because they hadn't encountered any Rovers yet. Normally the soldiers would have had a few skirmishes with their enemies by now. Yet the main thing that set this mission apart was the presence of the two strangers in camp. Three weeks ago Bard and Lieutenant Celso had been investigating some Rovers' tracks when the lieutenant stepped on a branch. The sound triggered movement upstream. Several paces away, a man in foreign clothing scrambled to his feet. Bard laughed as he recalled his surprise at seeing the handsome warrior standing over his young lady-friend. They obviously weren't Rovers; their attire was too civilized. How had this strange pair found their way so deep into the wilds? The warrior had waved, so Bard and Lieutenant Celso returned the greeting. Now, three weeks later, Teofil was a mercenary in the service of Ulmbartia, and Anastasia was a far better camp cook than Bard had ever been. He grabbed the sack of rabbit meat and walked toward the tents.
Anastasia was feeding leftover scraps to the expedition's bloodhound. Though Trusty's tracking ability hadn't been needed so far, he made an excellent companion for the two guardians who were left to tend camp while the soldiers were out. The woman tossed the dog a last chunk of gristly meat, then glanced up.
"Hello, Bard," she said. Her accent wasn't quite right, but she was doing her best to learn the Talyano speech.
"Hello, Anastasia," Bard replied. He held up the sack. "See what I have?"
"In what the sack is?"
Bard broke into a wide grin. "No," he corrected, "you're supposed to say, 'What is in the sack?'"
Ana's cheeks flushed, and she shook her head with a shy smile. "I try, Bard, I try."
"I know. And you're doing well. Talyano isn't easy to speak. You've learned a lot over the past few weeks."
"Teofil is faster."
Bard pursed his lips and nodded. "He has a knack for languages like I've never seen. He's almost to the point where we can converse back and forth."
"Me too. Very soon. Watch." She pointed at the leather bag Bard was holding. "What is in the sack?"
He burst into laughter. "There you go! You're a fast learner, Anastasia of Chiveis."
At the mention of Anastasia's homeland, her face fell, and Bard immediately regretted his words. Though the other men in the scouting party didn't know it, he sometimes heard Ana crying when she thought she was alone. Sensitive by nature, Bard knew how much the beautiful young foreigner missed her home. He felt sorry for her. Unlike the macho soldiers who shunned him, the gentle woman with the sunny disposition treated him with acceptance. The pair had developed a friendship of necessity as they watched the camp while the three Ulmbartian soldiers and Teofil were on daytime patrol. Anastasia gave Bard dignified camaraderie, and he tutored her in Talyano. It was a good arrangement.
Bard opened the sack, lifting a dripping carcass from the brine. Ana's eyes lit up, and she nodded approvingly. Her hair shone golden-blonde as it caught the afternoon sun. "Good! I like ribbits," she said.
Ribbits, Bard thought to himself. That's cute. Anastasia was learning his language as fast as she could.
This time, he didn't have the heart to correct her.
* * *
With their bellies full, the men reclined around the campfire in the rocky grotto they had dubbed their "dining room." Firelight flickered on their faces, and shadows danced on the walls behind them. Teo had come to enjoy the company of the three Ulmbartian soldiers, especially Lieutenant Celso, a wiry middle-aged man with a sharp tongue. The commander was a true warrior, and an excellent leader of men. Only the fourth Ulmbartian, the fair-haired tracker named Bard, remained a mystery to Teo. Bard seemed uncomfortable around the other rugged men.
One of the soldiers belched, drawing guffaws from his companions. Teo frowned and kicked the offender with the toe of his boot. "There's a lady in the camp," he said.
Ana's meal had been exquisitely prepared. She had added wild onions, mushrooms, and juniper berries to the rabbit stew, simmering the meat until it was falling off the bone. She had also made a salad of dandelion leaves and chard with an oil dressing. All the men agreed they had never eaten so well on an expedition.
Teo touched Ana lightly on her back. "Everything was delicious," he said in Talyano.
"Thanks." She smiled at him, then held up a bottle of thick, golden liquid. "This is new to me. I like it. It's good."
"There's nothing like a fine olive oil," Bard chimed in from across the fire. "It's made by the Likurians. They're always one step ahead of us."
Teo glanced up. "Who are the Likurians?"
"A wealthy people we trade with," Lieutenant Celso explained. "Their kingdom lies a few days south of ours. Likuria sits upon a vast sea whose water cannot be drunk."
"It's salty. It would kill you."
"I've read of that in books, though I've never seen it."
"You can read?" Lieutenant Celso was surprised. "Few in Ulmbartia can."
"In Chiveis, Teofil was a" — Ana sought the right word — "a teacher," she finished. "Very smart." She tapped her temple.
"They can both read," Bard said to the men around the fire. "Haven't you heard Teofil reading his holy book at night? Apparently their civilization is advanced."
"Are you a priest, Teofil?" one of the soldiers asked. "In our land it's usually the religious who can read."
"I'm not a priest, but I am a follower of the true God. His name is Deu."
"Ah, the high god of the Chiveisi."
"No." Ana shook her head. "The Creator of all. The God of everyone." The men murmured at this.
"Where did you get your holy book?" Bard asked.
Teo and Ana glanced at each other, exchanging knowing smiles. He knew what Ana was thinking: The telling of that story would take all night!
"From those big grins, it must be a good tale," Bard said. "Come on, Teofil, tell us the story."
Teo stirred the fire with a stick, wondering where he should begin. Should he start with the first time he met Ana — when a bear attacked him and Ana's archery saved his life? Should he describe how he invited Ana to be his escort at a party in the woods, only to find she was repelled by its debauchery? She'd fled into the forest, where evil raiders captured her. That wasn't a good memory for Teo.
Ana spoke into the silence. "Captain Teofil is a hero like no other man. Enemies took me away, carried me from Chiveis. I was lost. Teofil came to me." The campfire crackled and sent up a shower of sparks. "Tell the whole story, Teo," she whispered to him in Chiveisian speech. All eyes were transfixed on him. He took a deep breath and began to narrate.
"As you can see, Anastasia is very beautiful. Outsiders from beyond our realm took her to be a queen. I alone went after her."
Teo could see from the men's faces that the story had already arrested their attention. In the best Talyano he could muster, Teo described the epic adventure he and Ana had shared. He followed Ana for four days, tracking her kidnappers to their home village. As Ana was being taunted in a feasting hall on the night of her "wedding," Teo disguised himself as a jester. The ruse enabled him to mingle among the men until he could extinguish the hearthfire, plunging the hall into darkness. In the confusion he whisked Ana away, and they escaped on horseback. But their enemies gave pursuit. Chasing the fugitives through a dense forest, they soon caught up with Teo and Ana. The enemy warriors spurred their horses and attacked. Teo did battle with four men at once, yet defeated them all. As he recounted the story to the Ulmbartian soldiers, he stood up and acted it out. The men around the campfire listened in silence, their eyes glued to him.
"The leader was a cruel man named Rothgar," Teo said. "He held me against a tree, then drew his knife." Teo demonstrated how he fought against Rothgar but couldn't stop the knife that was about to plunge into his belly. Slowly Teo drew back his arm to imitate the killing blow.
"What happened next?" Lieutenant Celso's mouth hung open, and his eyes were wide.
Teo glanced at Ana, who was staring into the fire. All the men looked at her.
"Do you want to tell it?" he asked. She shook her head.
Teo made the motions of an archer drawing a bow. "Just as my enemy was about to kill me, Anastasia shot him with an arrow. His body fell to the ground. And do you know what she said?" Teo paused dramatically. The men waited in hushed expectation.
"She said, 'You chose the wrong woman, Rothgar!'"
Everyone around the campfire burst into cheers. One of the soldiers clapped Ana on the back, and Lieutenant Celso raised his mug of ale to her.
Ana motioned to Teo with the back of her hand. "Get to the part about the Sacred Writing," she said.
When the clamor among the men died down, Teo resumed his story. He described how he and Ana had discovered a lost city built centuries ago by the Ancients.
"We know of the Ancients," Lieutenant Celso said. "The remains of their society can be found in Ulmbartia as well."
"I've never seen anything like what we discovered there."
"A temple," Ana said. "The house of Deu. Beautiful and holy."
"A man of the ancient times had hidden a book in the temple. He left ... how would you say it? He left tracks for us."
"Clues," Bard corrected.
"Right, clues," Teo said. "The clues led us to the Sacred Writing of Deu. Only the first part had survived the centuries. The last pages were destroyed. So we don't know the whole story of our God."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Gift"
Copyright © 2011 Bryan M. Litfin.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
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.
Table of Contents
PART ONE SOLIDARITY,
PART TWO EXTRAVAGANCY,
PART THREE VICTORY,
STUDY QUESTIONS, 409,
What People are Saying About This
“Litfin has woven another fascinating narrative in his imaginative future world of epic adventure. Using his keen understanding of theology and history, he has skillfully infused this novel with the grand themes of grace and redemption at every turn. There's a lesson for readers here as Teofil and Anastasia face their own brokenness and find who has the power to give strength and courage in their weakness.”
Thomas Cornman, Academic Vice President, Cedarville University
“The Gift is a powerfully written story about forgiveness and a desire to know the truth, no matter the cost. It's impossible to read this book and not develop a greater appreciation for the Scriptures and a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. Few authors touch my heart so deeply that all of their books make my favorites list, but Bryan Litfin has done it with this series.”
Michelle Sutton, author, Letting Go andIt's Not About Me
“A captivating narrative that journeys into the discovery of a living religion that seems lost and unrecoverable, this tale imagines how a sovereign God might reveal its mysteries anew. Any lover of theology and Western history would enjoy watching believers uncover lost symbols and writings, piecing together the greatest paradoxes of the faith in the drama of a fictional narrative. Action, conspiracy, romance, and faith combine in a tale depicting how the treasured beliefs of Christianity might first appear to a generation that had never seen its wonders.”
W. Brian Shelton, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Toccoa Falls College
“Litfin writes with a warmth reminiscent of Lewis, both of whom can tell drama and battles, and even tragedy, while still making the reader feel alive. His fascinating research and knowledge of Christian theology makes The Gift an enlightening read.”
David Ulrich, college student, Orange County, California
“I finished this book within twenty-four hours of receiving it! Thrilling action, sound theology, a damsel in distresswhat more could you ask from a novel? The Gift caused me to feel deeper love for my wife, more gratitude for my children, and a renewed sense of God’s mercy in the gift of Christ. Enjoy!”
James M. Hamilton Jr.,Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment
“The Gift ushers readers back into the land of Chiveis, a medieval future-world brimming with adventure and intrigue. It continues the story of Teo and Ana, exiles from their homeland, on a quest to learn more of Deu, the Creator God. While entertaining to read, The Gift is much more than mere entertainment. It is a call to know and love the one true God through his Son, Jesus Christ, the Pierced King.”
Matt Tully, Pastoral Assistant, Cedar Heights Baptist Church, Cedar Falls, IA
“Litfin draws readers into an evocative post-apocalyptic world, where the true faith is emerging from the ashes of the pasta faith the enemy is intent on destroying. A suspenseful story, skillfully woven with characters who risk their lives for loyalty, honor, and truth.”
C. S. Lakin, author, Someone to Blame andThe Wolf of Tebron
“The second installment of the Chiveis Trilogy steps into a futuristic but believable world where evil is powerful. This story elicits widened eyes, shed tears, and gasps of surprise as the author reflects on the reality of our fallen world and the grace God gives us through Jesus. As Teo and Ana piece together the truth of God’s perfect narrative and search for the God they have yet to fully know, I rediscovered the beauty of the gospel and saw the Savior in a whole new way.”
Rachel Estes, college student, Denville, New Jersey
“So, you’re looking for some adventure are you? I’m afraid you’ll have to stop reading this review and open up the book if you’re looking for that. Behind this introductory section lies the enchanting world of Ulmbartia, Likuria and Roma. The story that awaits you is sure to be foreign to anything you’ve ever experienced before. I invite you to set sail on the oceans of Dr. Litfin’s imagination. Following a brave professor turned mercenary and a beautiful maiden turned aristocrat, you have no need to fear the treacherous road that lies in the pages ahead. The time has come for you to decide, dear reader: Will you take the fateful dive and flip the page? You have nothing to lose and a whole new world to gain.”
Gary Corcoran, college student, Newport Beach, California
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In part two of the Chiveis trilogy (begun with The Sword) Bryan Litfin leads readers in Ana and Teo¿s continuing journey in The Gift ¿ out of their beloved Chiveis and into a post-apocalyptic Italy where beauty and sensuality reign supreme. Here they encounter yet further persecution and realize that not only is Deu¿s religion prohibited in their homeland, but has also been targeted by powerful leaders in other lands.As the pair strive to rediscover the missing portion of Deu¿s Word (the New Testament) and unravel the secrets surrounding the Pierced One, their character continues to be refined and tested by many trials. Thankfully Litfin has done much to improve the depth of his characters, giving them more realistic flaws while drawing them closer to their Creator.No longer is Ana a seemingly sinless young woman as she comes face to face with her own previously hidden weaknesses and failings. The tender ¿ if confused ¿ feelings between Teo and Ana also continue to build on a firm, if still somewhat platonic bond of affection.It is exciting to see that Litfin has clearly been working on improving his craft, and as such, I am looking forward to reading the continuing adventures of Ana and Teo which are bound to be as exciting as those contained within this installment.Disclosure: I received a physical copy of this title for review.
While the first book in this series was pretty decent, this one was not good at all. As a matter of fact, I almost put it down without finishing it. I said in my review for The Sword that the concept that Mr. Litfin has created is very solid. His post-apocalyptic future has destroyed the world that we are familiar with and society has risen again in a form very similar to feudal times. The two main characters, Ana and Teo, have discovered some old texts of Christianity (a version of the Old Testament most significantly) and are trying to introduce it into their society to provide an alternative to the controlling and sacrifice based religion currently practiced in their realm. For this they are expelled. Once again, in this volume, the author does have a nice storyline set up. Ana and Teo must learn to survive in a new country with different laws and practices. They have also committed themselves to searching out more Christian texts in order to fill in the rest of the precepts of the religion and complete their knowledge of the God to whom they have devoted themselves. Fine, all well and good.This book however takes off on the weaknesses of the first and multiplies them greatly. In the first book, characters of the opposing religion were unbelievable evil in their actions and everything that they did was evil. It made absolutely no attempt to disguise that this religion was wrong in every way. Well, in book 2, here we go again. Heinous acts are committed by the opposing characters and no one ever questions whether this is right or wrong. The ultra-good intentions of Teo and Ana become saccharine sweet and the virtues of Christianity are continually shoved down the readers throats. All of this combines to make what started out as a solid concept almost unreadable. The action and adventure in the novel are all that kept me going, but it was definitely a struggle.
This book takes place a mere three weeks after the end of The Sword. Teo and Ana have met scouts from a land called Ulmbartia, and are welcomed as heroes after Teo helps defeat some attackers. Ana is noticed by the top levels of Ulbartia¿s social stratus, and is quickly welcomed into high society ¿ which separates her from Teo. Everything looks wonderful in Ulmbartia.But things are not always as they seem. Ulmbartia has a problem with people who are less than perfect; these Defectives are taken from society and never seen again. And there is even more hostility to the One God and His Book ¿ even as Teo and Ana search for the lost second part of the Book. And Ana has to make a choice between the good life she¿s been given and the man she owes her life to ¿ a man she may even ¿ love.The Gift is a great sequel to The Sword. There is action (especially toward the end), there is suspense, main characters die or seem to die. There is theological exploration that reminds me of some of the questions that the Jews had of their Messiah ¿ is He to be the conquering hero or the suffering servant? And which of these was Iesus Christos? We see the continuing development of an orthodox Christian theology as Teo and those with him begin to learn more and discover more about this ancient, lost faith called Christianity.I¿ve actually had this book done for quite a while ¿ this series has grown on me, and I¿m a little disappointed that the next book will be the last one (it¿s a trilogy, after all) ¿ though I¿m hoping for a second trilogy. The plot moves, the twists and turns suck you in, and the characters are compelling (though I got a little frustrated at Teo and Ana constantly NOT declaring their love for each other). And once again, we get a glimpse of how theology may have developed in the early Church, and how different opinions and interpretations led to the many sects and denominations we have today. My recommendation of the Chiveis Trilogy is only strengthened after reading The Gift. It¿s in stores ¿ go buy it already!!
When I saw that I would be receiving Bryan Litfin's novel The Gift to review, I discovered that it was the second in a planned trilogy. Sometimes you run across a book in a series and it doesn't matter if you haven't read the previous books, but in this case I fill it's pretty essential for a real understanding of where the story has been and where it's taking us. So I immediately purchased The Sword and read it rather quickly.I absolutely loved The Sword. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, mankind is living in a feudal stage with no technology. The story, after you get past the introduction of how the world came to be like this, reads much like a fantasy, although we can never forget it is science fiction because of the ruins of the ancients. The Sword tells us how Teo and Ana find the Old Testament, their discovery within it's pages of the one true God, and why they are on the run from the leading religious authorities in their kingdom of Chiveis. In The Gift, Teo and Ana are on the run and discover a whole other world that's out there. Ana gets caught up in the new society and goes through a fall from grace in a series of events and the choices she makes. Teo, while trying to protect her, is considered a low-class citizen and doesn't have as much access to her as before. But he also is on a mission to get to Romo and find the Papa, who may be able to lead him to a copy of the New Testament. The Gift has instances that draw parallels to Bible stories, such as one character who acts like a traitorous Judas, selling Ana out and receives silver for her deed. The first part of The Gift was interesting and kept me reading to see where it was going, but I felt a good deal of the middle was much slower than the first book. The latter half went at a much faster pace and I found myself not wanting to put it down. Like it happens so often with trilogies, the second book didn't hold up as well as the first, but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy it. I love books like this series, and I'm looking forward to the final volume.
I received this as an Early Reviewer and wasn't able to review it as soon as I was finished as I couldn't find it to add to my library (may have been an error on my part), so it isn't as fresh. Even though I had not read the first book in this trilogy, I found it pleasantly surprising to find that I could easily follow and get into the story without prior knowledge of the characters or story. Litfin did an excellent job of weaving flashbacks into the storyline. I'm not sure how someone would feel about this who had read the first one, but it helped me. The premise of a post-nuclear world that has lost the Word of God was believable and made for an intriguing setting, especially when the characters come across remnants of the old society. The characters themselves have, to some degree, depth, but I found them rather stereotypical and predicable. Overall I found the story to be enjoyable and involving but lacking in depth, which I usually like to see in Christian fiction. There is a predictable "fall," followed by predictable redemption, while other characters go the way you'd expect. I saw no new revelation of the character of God or connection with any character to challenge me or make me think. I would like to read the first book, though, and will read the third when it comes out so I can see what happens as there is a great adventure.
1) I hate reading series out of order, but I take what life gives me. Going into this without knowing much background, I could still read the story and know what was going on. Major points there since some more famous authors still can't manage to pull that one off.2) Christian fiction...yeah. Not really my thing. While this wasn't overly preachy, the fact still lingered in the back of my mind. I tried not to let the bias free from its cage.3) All in all, this was a good book. I wouldn't read the first, personally, but not for terrible writing. I have passed it on to a younger sister to read.
Not a bad read, though I am not sure about the whole christian theme being so blatant in the book, i normally prefer a little masking like Narnia. A bit slow at the beginning.
As I did the first book in this series, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I do feel like a reader could take this book up without having read the previous one, as Liftin makes a clean break with all but the main two characters throughout most of the book. As opposed to the last book, which I really had no idea where in the world the setting was, this setting is much clearer - and as I've been to some of the places it was even easier to visualize (the scenes will be familiar to most even if they haven't visited because of their popularity & because his writing is such that you easily find yourself immersed in the world). As a reader I also found myself drawn to the characters emotionally - always an exciting thing. One thing I have really enjoyed about both books is that they trace major themes from actual church history - so I am very curious where the results of this second book will lead us in the finale. I'd love to write a lot more, but I'd give so much away, so - just go enjoy it yourself.
The Gift is the second book in a series by Christian author Bryan M. Litfin. I received the book for free as a part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program on the condition that I review the book after reading it.As with the first book, I was not super impressed. The plot and concepts of the story itself are actually fairly good, but unfortunately the author does not really do a great job in presenting that story. The characters feel a little forced and over-dramatic in dialogue and reactions. Modern concepts and ideas also seem to creep in to what is supposed to be a post-apocalyptic society hundreds of years in our future. It's just not particularly convincing. That's actually too bad, because it feels like the idea could have been masterfully pulled off by a more skilled writer.I will also say that the book is unashamedly Christian, even going as far as to include study questions in the back for strengthening your faith. Non-believers are likely to be turned off by the overt spiritual under and overtones. For believers though, this book (and this series) may be worth giving a try.
EXCELLENT!!!!! This story was unique, engaging and captivating from beginning to end!! can't wait to read more in the series!
I've read a lot of fantasy and science fiction over the last 40 years, but only started reading Christian works in these genres in the last five years or so. I really wanted to like this book because of the Christian theme, but it just didn't hold my interest and I gave up after 80 pages. The basic plot is good and the characters were almost interesting, but the writing just wasn't up to the high standards that I look for these days. Even so, I would be willing to try future works by Bryan because this book shows that he has a lot of potential.
Step forward several hundred years into a post-nuclear apocalypse future. Earth has lost most of her technology and a new feudal age is in full swing. In this world, the Christiani are hunted down and nearly exterminated, and even the very message of the New Testament has been lost and nearly forgotten.This is the story that Bryan M. Litfin crafts for us in his Chiveis Trilogy. "The Gift: A Novel", the second book in the series, follows Captain Teofil and Anastasia as they journey through new lands in search of the lost New Testament. Along the way, their adventures are many as they narrowly escape imprisonment, torture and death at every turn. The physical dangers aren¿t the only obstacles in their quest, they battle temptation to fit in to the spirit of the world they inhabit, too.The book comes off feeling a bit like a fantasy work, yet there are no fantastic characters. It¿s actually more similar to a tale from a long lost medieval age, with the twist of people trying to search out the true meaning of Christianity. The character development is excellent even if the plot at times seems too good to be true. The quest to find the true nature of Christianity and to uncover the lost New Testament makes for a great story line, however. And the book moves along at a quick pace.Without having read the first book, I was still able to enter the story easily: enough of the backstory was retold that I didn¿t feel lost. This book also comes with 15 study questions in the back which would allow it to serve as a class assignment for a study of literature, or equally well as a discussion guide for talking over the story and the moral dilemmas which faced its characters with your teen-age children.This story was both unique and well-written. And what is vital for a fictional tale, it was ultimately satisfying. Yet the book offered even more, it was a work about our Christian faith and the struggle to live it out faithfully in whatever age we find ourselves in. I recommend the book highly. It would make for great summer reading. I¿ll be keeping my eye out for the conclusion of Litfin¿s Chiveis Trilogy, too.Disclaimer: This book was provided by Crossway Books for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
The Gift is book two of The Chiveis Trilogy, a futuristic story set in a Europe so changed by war, disease, and time that the few clues about the past contained in the story left me adrift most of the time. I found it more helpful not to map their world to our present age.The one thing completely unchanged is human nature. The lust to control, dominate, and rule continues to plague humanity. In this vision of the future, demons and idol worship are the norm. The Bible had been lost for centuries. In book one of the trilogy, Teo and Ana, the main characters, found the Old Testament. Book two is an account of their search for the New Testament.The plot in The Gift contains plenty of twists and surprises to hold my interest. The ending was unexpected and satisfying. However, I felt the book had two (non-fatal) flaws. The pacing of the plot seemed mechanical. Most scene shifts appeared to be slightly out-of-sync with the flow of the story.My other issue with the book was the depiction of the characters. They felt bland and colorless. Instead of making things happen, most of the time things happened to them. I like resourceful heroes. Neither Teos nor Ana acted especially resourceful. While the book had its strong points, I didn¿t like it well enough to buy the other two volumes in the series.
I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.I also received book 1 of this series last year. It was flawed, but the concept was fascinating: 300 years after the destruction of much of the world, Europe has returned to medieval feudalism. A young man and woman find a copy of the Old Testament and convert to this mysterious new faith, and face persecution as a result. It ends up being a fantasy/dystopia with heavy vibes of what early Christians endured under Rome. Despite some aggravating flaws--such as extremely black and white characters--I wanted to give the second book a try.If this hadn't been an Early Reviewer book, I would not have finished it. Instead, I skimmed, wincing all the way.Instead of improving, all of the flaws of the first book are magnified here as they search for the New Testament in a future Italy. Ana is a beautiful woman who every man wants to rape. No exaggeration. Ana isn't completely passive, but when she's active it's in a sacrificial way. She's the one who runs at the guy with a sword and yells, "No!" only to be tossed aside. And then there's Teo. He's a trained soldier and he gets all the action and heroism. The bad guys are even worse. They are as flat as possible, pure evil and relishing in it. I expected moustache-twirling, too. It's rather insulting to the reader when the characters are painted in such broad strokes. Even some promising attempts at diversity--such as a gay man whose only indicator of gayness is his constant descriptions of being "effeminate"--fell into stereotypes.The plot felt contrived as well. For some reason, everyone as a copy of the Old Testament but not the New. (And yet all these people who only have the Old call themselves Christian). Hundreds of pages blurred by as Ana was seduced by the high society of a Paris Hilton of this new world, and kept being told that Teo was just her "bodyguard" and she had to stop thinking about him. Meanwhile, Teo was actually fighting swordfights and meeting the exiled freaks of society and doing the heavier lifting in the plot.Then there is the dialogue. I won't describe it. Instead I'll quote (and do note that this is an advanced copy, so it could be changed):"You have led me straight to the prize, Teofil... Now at last I will kill you. My only regret is that I cannot prolong your death. I will have to pour my anger on your woman instead."Yeah.I really, really like the concept of this series. I love dystopian books, and the idea of Christianity (or any lost faith) being rediscovered is fascinating. But this just plain doesn't work.
I received this book through the Early Reviewers program (shocked that they would send me book 2 after my poor review of book 1). To be honest, it would have languished in my queue if not for my sense of duty and the fact that I'm moving and wanted to get it packed.Litfin's writing style has improved, but he's still a "tell, don't show" sort of guy. His hero is still pretty much perfect and impossible (what's the male version of a Mary Sue called again?), and his heroine is still pretty much a pretty trouble magnet used as inspiration and a source of drama. While the premise continues to be good -- post-apocalyptic outcasts trying to rediscover the lost religion of Christianity -- the execution is lacking. The prose is stilted, using some overwrought words mixed in with the most basic English vocabulary and style. Basically, it feels like reading a sanitized version of Twilight, or like the Left Behind trilogy. If you liked those books, you'll enjoy this.This book adds even more romantic tension between the main characters' thoughts, but they talk to each other more like an old married couple. Their friends are 2-D good, their enemies impossibly and hilariously evil. For all their talk about Deus, there's even more deus ex machina.Bottom line: if you'd enjoy reading romance novels but don't want to stain your mind with any sexuality, this is your book. If you like your fantasy to be 100% focused on putting Christianity front-and-center, this is your book. If you insist on well-written fiction, this could be a guilty summer beach book.
I had previously read "The Sword", the first book in Bryan Litfin's trilogy, and was curious to see what turns the story would make. In a medievalistic earth in the future, technology, history, knowledge are lost. Most importantly, the Bible is lost. Ana and Teofil discovered the Old Testament in the previous book, and have been driven out of their country. As I read, I was excited to see what would happen next, and the plot had exciting twists and turns. The writing, while improved, is still somewhat awkward, and the characters are at times cliched. But Ana's character is developed more in this book, and we see behind the pretty face. Not bad for Christian fiction, and I'll certainly be reading the next book.
this is a great book, although I hadn't read the first one, so I was a little lost but I still got through and it was awesome. Definitely recommended for those Christian Fiction lovers.
I wasn't sure how I would like this book when I started reading as it is different from my normal selection. The story has a very smooth flow and the characters are developed as the story progresses. I did not read the first book in the series and I think this books stands alone. I am looking forward to the next in the series.
Okay, so I gave the first book in this trilogy a bad review, because the writing let me down. However, I was interested in the premise and the story line enough, that I requested the second book. I was blessed to recieve an advance copy again! Thank you library Thing!I'm glad I did, because this second book is much better than the first. I enjoyed it from front to back. The characters were lovable and although they seemed to go through an unbeleivable amount of trials, they faced them with courage and reasonable good sense this time.The premise is working better in this one, Ana and Teo go in search of the lost New Testament, finding other believers on the way. The adventure also kept me turning the pages.They get into one scrape after another becasue of their belief in an ancient and unpopular religion. I also liked being able to recognise some of the "ancient" places they went, and to think of how they would look hundreds of years after. The only thing that still bugs me is that they seemed to have a lot of blind faith in the old religion, when they hadn't even learned much about it yet. In that sense the characters still seem a little naive to me. It didn't ruin the story for me though. It was still a good read.
This book was, unfortunately, a bit of a 50/50 split. I loved the depth of the characters and the strong difference of good versus evil. But the book has many plot problems. In one place you have one of the protagonists lying in bed, practically dead and barely conscious and the other protagonist is senseless from fatigue. In this situation, everyone is in the same room and somehow (miraculously) the almost dead protagonist gets up - without anyone noticing(!) - and switches the medicines! How? And how, I might add, does Latin - a dead language dropping from modern culture rapidly - survive a terrible, worldwide catastrophe when, as I said, it is practically dead in 2011 and the war doesn't happen until 2042 AND the story takes place 400 years later???? Even after all those incongruities, I still found the book powerfully gripping to the point of reality. I found myself reading cover to cover in the joyously painful intensity of the story. I loved the characters, places, and theme of the novel, but found it lacking in plot formation. You can't just throw in a random element to the plot and hope it works out, you have to show the how, when, where, and the what of any event in a book. It isn't like watching a film or TV show. It's writing. One other thing I didn't like was the sensuality of the novel. In a Christian fiction story, I thought the goal was to break away from the sensuality of the world and show the beauty of writing without all the innuendo and "romance" that the world gives us constantly. So my overall thoughts? All in all, a good book. But I feel like I wouldn't read it again. I give it a 3 out of 5. I would say that the audience would be anywhere from middle to late teens/young adults to even adults.
I think this book would be perfect for a younger audience, maybe late teens. There are some good lessons to be gained from the main character's struggles with temptation. I found it a little boring for long spans and thought the storyline line a little predictable.
I received the first book (The Sword) in the trilogy last year and was left wanting to know where Ana and Teo would be led next. This next installment was everything I could ask for. Though they experience appalling evil, they also grow in their faith of Deu. They join up with some of the remnant of the Christiani and in a beautiful scene near the end of the book, they find the New Testament from the most unexpected source. Faithfulness to the path of Deu and forgiveness (both giving and receiving) are important to the development of their relationship with each other, with their new friends, and with Deu. And that faithfulness will lead to their next mission in the next book.I enjoy these characters. They aren't presented as paragons. They have so many questions about Deu , they struggle as they try to believe and they suffer for their faith. And they learn to trust. Yet again, I am left wanting to know what will happen next.
I received the book as an advanced reader copy from LibraryThing's Early Review program. Although I have not read the first book in the Chiveis Trilogy, "The Sword", I do think this book stands alone. In fact one the main problems I had with the book is that it tries too hard to remind you about the events of the previous book. There are at least 5 place in the book where he reiterates the events in "The Sword" where Ana and Teo find the Old Testament. Don't get me wrong he needed to link the two books, and give new readers some back story. It was just over the top, and once you are in the third act of the book you really don't need to hear AGAIN about how they found the book, you already know so get on with the action.That and the strange jump in perspective towards the beginning. An attack that the reader has been expecting suddenly jumps to the perspective of the attacker "Hrath the Almighty", and Teo is pretty much left out of it even though his quick thinking leads the attackers into an ambush that would have otherwise been a massacre. And then it jumps again to Nikko Borja, the main villain of the piece without a wrap-up of the attack from the main characters. In fact when you go back to the main characters its a long time until the attack comes up in conversation.These examples just show that Bryan Litfin is new to writing fantasy fiction. I think the character are otherwise well-rounded, and developed nicely. The premise to the story is creative and the biggest draw to the novel for me. The post apocalyptic Christian fantasy, where the Bible has been lost to the ruins of time is really intriguing. I think with a few more novels under his belt Bryan Litfin could be the next Stephen R Lawhead.
I am always disappointed to start reading a series or trilogy on a sequel, so I was a little apprehensive to begin this trilogy with book 2. However, I didn't want to wait till I could find and read book 1, so I went ahead hoping that there wouldn't be too much I'd missed so I would be lost.I was not disappointed with this book! There were obviously things that happened in book 1 and they did reference some during the story, but each was explained or summarized enough that I didn't feel like I was an outsider peeking in, and the story worked well enough to stand on it's own.A medieval setting in the future, due to society having been wiped clean from war, our two heroes are searching for truth and the one true god, and meeting with lots of opposition and obstacles along the way to test their faith.The plot was engaging and the conflicts were all thought-provoking. The characters were all well-rounded enough that they seemed like real people with stories of their own, and were interesting enough that you wanted to delve into those individual stories.I found both heroes to be extremely likable and I was routing for them all the way. The bad guys were evil and creepy just like bad guys ought to be, but they weren't one-dimensional and so fit into the story seamlessly.I found myself feeling frustrated at the character's lack of understanding about their faith, because they seemed to grasp hard at concepts that were completely wrong, so I was releived in the end when everything started to fall in place as they discovered the truths of the New Testament.I am looking forward to getting and reading book 1 and book 3 when it's published as well. Ana and Teo have captured my imagination, which is all that one could ask of a story!
I am sorry to say that I did not read the first book in the trilogy prior to this one. However the second book can be read as a stand alone as Litfin does a good job of weaving enough information from the first book into this story line through flashback, comments, etc. The concept of a world where the Bible has been lost is intriguing. However I feel the characters can be a bit over dramatic, predictable and in some ways not human enough. Despite the character development weaknesses, the story is engaging. Their feeling of frustration in not knowing the rest of the story of God comes off quite well. I like that fact that through certain characters Litfin shows the Love that God has for all people no matter who they are. The characters on the side of evil are just that what they are supposed to be evil. Overall it was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading the first and 3rd books in the trilogy.