Review

PUBLICATION DATE: APRIL 3, 2012

F

or 3500 years, the tribe has searched for redemption and reconciliation to God.  Afraid to die, but tired of living, they’re sole desire is to execute God’s judgment in the hope of gaining His favor and be granted a death that will allow them to enter heaven.  Though their logic is flawed, their methods have been honed to perfection over the course of thousands of missions through thousands of years making them the world’s most deadly organization.  However, their numbers have dwindled as many begin to suspect eliminating or punishing sinners is not their path to redemption.  Even though members of the tribe are allowed to peaceably leave, when one decides to flee with equipment critical for their current mission, the rest of the group pursues him relentlessly.  In the process of trying to recover their stolen equipment, they cross paths with former Army Ranger, Jaggar Baird.  But what is one disabled, grieving man against nine highly trained immortals set on a mission of mass destruction to appease God?  With an excellent speculative angle, The 13th Tribe is different from Robert Liparulo’s previous novels, but still provides the tense drama and thrilling action long time readers have come to expect.

I am so glad to finally get to read The 13th Tribe.  I have been eagerly waiting for this book since June 2010.  I’ve always loved speculative fiction and over the last five years, I’ve grown to love thrillers.  So the combination of both genres written by one of my favorite authors has made it an excruciatingly long wait to read this book.  Needless to say, the advanced copy made an excellent early Christmas present!

While I’m not disappointed in The 13th Tribe, is different than what I expected.  I am a bit surprised by the relatively slow start to this book.  That’s not to say it’s uninteresting, but instead of the anticipated fast start with little down time, there’s a gradual build in the action and intensity.  During this time, a lot of information is provided in order to set the stage for not only the members of the tribe, but also Jaggar’s background and struggles.

I particularly enjoyed the speculative portions of this novel.  The flashback to Mt. Sinai and the re-creation of the children of Israel worshiping the golden calf brought a fresh perspective to this well-known story.  I literally felt transported to the scene and watched in horror as the same people who had just witnessed astonishing miracles doubted God and threw themselves before idols.  While this book has several memorable scenes, this is quite possibly my favorite.

In addition to the speculative aspect, there are some entertaining supernatural elements.  Liparulo does a very nice job of incorporating the immortal aspect without it becoming a crutch for the story.  While members of the tribe are immortal and it defines their actions, it doesn’t define the book.  There is much more to The 13th Tribe than immortal killers carrying out God’s judgment vigilante style.

The complexity of the tribe’s characters makes it easy to understand their motives, but as a result I had a hard time disliking them.  I wanted them to fail their mission, but at the same time wanted them to survive in order to find redemption.  Furthermore, while their logic for eliminating sinners is flawed, it is well defended, which opens the door for good theological discussions.

This story lends itself well to heavy Christian teachings and theological exchanges, but at times it feels like the pacing is sacrificed in order to convey specific ideas.  I prefer the more subtle approach found in Liparulo’s previous books, which still presents the information while maintaining a steady pace.  However, given the setup of this story and that the Christian teaching is on the surface, I wish Liparulo would have went deeper in some cases.  For the most part, common questions and answers are given for scenarios, when the story allows for more difficult, spiritual issues to be tackled.

Even though this book is different than what I expected, it is very good and well worth the wait.  With the heavier Christian aspect, it easily falls into mainstream Christian fiction and will most likely appeal to a large audience.  New and long-time readers can look forward to exciting, action-packed combat sequences, tense, thrilling situations, and surprising twists.  Oh and more waiting until the next book in The Immortal Files series is released.