Imagine a world where technology has been shunned and people are back to a pre-machinery existence. It sounds idyllic, but not all is well in the world that Geoff Livingston has created in Exodus, book one of his series called The Fundamentalists. A powerful Christian sect has been rising under the watchful, rather demonic eye of a power-hungry, nay, power-crazed emperor named Pravus, and the growing empire is forcing people to recall the days they had only heard stories about – days when Christians killed Christians, when Christians killed Jews, when Fundamentalist Muslims killed Christians and Jews, and so on. While Emperor Pravus’ army asks people to convert to the proper faith, survivors, like those in Harper’s Ferry, must make peace with the fact that this new Christianity is not about faith or even religion, but merely about power.
Exodus is a widely sweeping book covering a lot of geographical expanse (Atlanta to New England to the Rockies) and a lot of time (knowing about the Crusades can be a big help as much as knowing about what is going on today). The confusion and violence of this world is seen primarily through the eyes of Jason, a young man who is struggling to find his own voice and power while fleeing the only home he’s known with his people. Jason is not a character who is easy to like, nor is it easy for his loved ones to deal with him easily a lot of the time. His mixture of humility tied to entitlement means that anything anyone says can set him off at any moment. He is self-centered but reveals this in his mindset that he must do his duty to his people.
The exodus from Harper’s Ferry, where Jason and his people had lived, is much like the Exodus story from the Bible, a parallel that Jason does not use as guidance because he views the Bible as a tool of this new evil Christian sect. There are moments of great doubt, decisions that must be made that are “make or break,” and there are the occasional moments of hope as well. By the end of the book you are thinking that perhaps the day will be sunny, but dark clouds hint at future significant obstacles Jason and his people will have to face.
I found this book extremely hard to put down, but then like Jason’s mentor Brachus, I find religion extremely fascinating. Those of you who have strong religious faiths of any kind may find this book a little difficult, because it requires an acceptance that sometimes the world’s religions become deeply flawed not because of the faith but rather because of leaders who use peoples’ faith as a chance to further their own lives. Christians, Jews, Muslims…all must come to terms with the fact that horrible things have been done throughout history in the name of faith or religion, and that is a difficult pill to swallow. However, it is a lesson that is worth revisiting, or worth thinking about for the first time if that’s your situation. Geoff’s book makes these lessons of history come to life in a new, dark world, a place, potentially, where we could be headed.
In short, I highly recommend you give this book a read. Get in on the series right at the start. The book officially launches Monday, August 26 (tomorrow as of this writing) and it can be purchased here. When you read it come by here and let me know what you thought of it!