Saturday, April 05, 2008

Review: "The Begotten," by Lisa T. Bergren

Being sick of the vampire porn that seems to be constantly pushed at me these days, I was intrigued by the premise of Lisa T. Bergren’s “The Begotten” ($14, Berkely).

Here’s the setup: Fragments of what could be a lost letter of Paul the Apostle foretell the coming of a group called the Gifted, blessed with special powers to battle evil, in this case a being known as the Sorcerer, who is a pretty vicious character. Naturally, such a group would be as much a threat to the church of 14th century Italy as it would be to evil, so they have enemies on both fronts.

The setup sounds intriguing. The delivery, not so much. For one thing, “The Begotten” spends a lot of time setting up, bringing the Gifted together, and while I suppose it’s necessary, after a strong start to the book, I really started to nod off toward the middle.

There are two stories here that intrigue me – the conflict between the Gifted and the church and the conflict between the Gifted and the Sorcerer, who, for my tastes is a far too underdeveloped black mass of evil. By the time Bergren really gets to either one of them, I had lost a lot of my initial interest.

For fans of historical fiction or Christian fiction, who revel in attention to historical detail and reaffirmation of their faith, “The Begotten” might be a pretty good book – judging from the reviews on Amazon, it’s popular with that crowd. For me, coming from a fantasy background, there seemed to be a lot of information here that bogged down the story I was interested in, that ultimate battle between good and evil. I also detest preachiness, and the story does occasionally veer into preachy territory.

I can’t say it’s a bad book. It’s well-written and there are some quite enjoyable moments scattered throughout, but overall, it’s just not for a heathen like me. Fans of Christian and historical fiction may enjoy it, though.

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