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On This Foundation

 
 
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Pros


Wonderful setting, great dialogue, well-written, good storylines, effective spiritual message.

Cons


Slow parts; flat ending.


Bottom Line

Apart from dense information which slows down the narrative and a flat ending, “On This Foundation” is an engaging and entertaining read.

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Posted October 31, 2015 by

 
Full Review
 
 

When news reaches him that Jerusalem’s wall is shattered and its gates burned with fire, a distraught Nehemiah seeks God’s guidance in fasting and prayer. Granted an unexpected leave from his duty as cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes, Nehemiah sets out for Jerusalem to rebuild the city wall–never anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.

The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and stop the wall’s reconstruction forever. A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, with many families resorting to selling their children as bondservants just to keep from starving.

Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is the powerful conclusion to The Restoration Chronicles. This exploration of faith in the midst of oppression offers hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.

 

As a history major, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I love historical fiction. I also love the Bible. When those two things intersect, it is too much for me to resist. I thoroughly enjoy reading historical events while being entertained. Lynn Austin’s On This Foundation does not disappoint as she retells the story of Nehemiah and his quest to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.

The setting of On This Foundation takes place during the Persian Empire when the Israelite exiles return to their homeland to find their capital city in ruins. To the author’s credit, the story shows incredible attention to historic detail and biblical accuracy, but the plot is not overburdened by it. The vivid descriptions and cultural detail allow the reader to be immersed in the story from page one.

The dialogue is entertaining and seems natural and plausible. It is used effectively to highlight the differences in culture and class as well as reveal the characters’ motivations without revealing too much or seeking to inform the reader. The conversations portray the characters as genuine, sympathetic, and complex.

The plot and the pace of On This Foundation are driven by circumstances, which lead to conflicting feelings and inner desires within the characters, and also drive the action of the story. There is some suspense in the storyline, but most of the drama is due to several intriguing vignettes in the novel.

The conflict in the plot is driven by external events. The closer Nehemiah gets to his goal, the greater the difficulties for him and the people he leads. The characters’ struggles are constant, which only heighten the reader’s interest. The romantic angle, which is often overplayed in Christian fiction, is useful in heightening the tension without drowning the entire plot. There are a few unexpected twists and turns which only add to the well-written narrative.

Although the story is biblical, the reader does not have to wade through large portions of Scripture or preachy text. There are short Bible verses which, more often than not, are used as prayers, and lend to the authentic feel throughout the book. Austin did not take many liberties and should be commended for her adherence to Scripture. The spiritual message is communicated extremely effectively, and the truths imparted are tender, deep, and lasting.

On This Foundation has two main weaknesses. One is a small portion toward the end of the book where the biblical feasts are explained. The exposition may be important, but it feels rushed and fails to blend into the narrative and move the story forward.

The second weakness is the flat ending. The plot stalls before the book is finished. In addition, there is a main conflict that remains unresolved.

On This Foundation has no objectionable material and is geared to a Christian audience. Women will find it esspecially appealing, but all readers who like biblical and historical fiction may also enjoy it.

On This Foundation is a stand-alone novel, but it is the third and final installment of Lynn Austin’s Restoration Chronicles.

Apart from dense information which slows down the narrative and a flat ending, On This Foundation is an engaging and entertaining read.

 

 

 


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