Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Book of Joby

Some novels are woven with such delicate care that they reminisce of the very finest symphonies, with every single sentence, every word and every phrase deliberately balanced against the whole to produce, in the end, such finely crafted art, that we can only stand in awe and be grateful that we were able to participate. The Book of Joby by Mark J. Ferrari is one such novel.

I was very fortunate to have this book recommended to me, after my great disappointment with Wicked, when I pointed out that such amazing concepts for books should not be so thoroughly wasted. I was told that this book carried not only a brilliant concept, but was brought to fruition by a very capable and meticulous first time writer and I must say that that assessment was right on.

The Book of Joby incorporates ideas from the biblical Book of Job, from Camelot—legends of King Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere, and seamlessly merges them into a contemporary fantasy that will, at times have you laughing, cheering, crying and mourning. The seemingly odd mixture of Roundtable lore and heavenly scripture in a modern world are so well placed together that the absurdity of those concepts united never gains chance at solidifying. You’ll simply accept it, as I did and enjoy the ride.

The Creator and His fallen angel, Lucifer—the bright one, have decided, once again, to engage in their favorite wager. A candidate will be chosen by the Lord and that candidate will suffer all the wrath and trials that the combined might of the powers of hell can thrust against him. The devil wagers that he can cause the candidate to turn so completely from God that he becomes an instrument of evil. God wagers that His champion will see himself, and those around him through whatever gauntlet the devil may throw at him. The condition being that the Creator command no agent of Heaven interfere with the devil’s doing unless directly called upon by the candidate, and that at no time whatsoever, may God himself interfere at all. In the balance, hangs all of God’s creation.

Enter Joby, a young charismatic boy, the apple of his parent’s eyes, the delight of his teachers, the pride of his friends, into this struggle as the Creator’s chosen champion, unbeknownst to him, of course. In the blink of an eye, Joby’s ideal life becomes a place of hardship and turmoil, all through the subtle deceits and meddling of Lucifer and his army of demons.

In this book, you’ll follow Joby through the story of the first forty years of his life, plagued at every turn by those who mean to twist and corrupt him into something ugly and evil. The heart of a boy, desperately trying to hold it’s form against an onslaught of wickedness until he faces his final and promised confrontation with the devil himself.

I’m not without complaint where this amazing book is concerned. It’s intricacy leads to slow pacing to the point of tedium at times. Every single detail in the climax and resolution is set up with great care in what may seem, at times, like a long climb towards that goal. I found myself wishing, more than once, that Ferrari would just get on with it already, but that complaint dies as the pieces all fall into place and each and every detail that seemed wearisome comes sharply into focus near the end.

You don’t need to be familiar with the Bible, or even be religious to enjoy this book. You don’t need to know the tales of the Knights of the Roundtable to appreciate it either. You’ll need a little patience and a love of richly complex, but never overwhelming themes as they’re woven, very vividly for you, into an amazing story, told by an incredible storyteller. Be warned, you’ll come to love Joby quickly, and you’ll feel his misery palpably as the author pulls no punches in his torment, but the reward, of course is there for you, in the end, if you, brave knight, are bold enough to seek it.

No comments: