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I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading new author's novels or author's who have not had many reviews or exposure and giving them much needed encouragement where appropriate.   
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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Spencer Murdoch and the Portals of Erzandor by James M M. Baldwin



A construction worker risks his family’s safety to fulfill a prophecy and stop a global storm ushering in the reign of an evil ruler. Spencer Murdoch unearths a supernatural portal and discovers an ancient being guarding a gateway between heaven and hell. Spencer must find the person chosen to enter the portal before a power hungry doctor can use it to release evil into the world.

The Guru's Review: 
 
This novel kept showing up on a few Facebook feeds from some of the groups I belong to and on my Amazon Recommendations. It was only when it was made free that I finally relented and downloaded it as the premise is what kept my interest in this novel. This is the first novel of Baldwin's I have read and I doubt it will be the last. He writes well and shows very creative imagination. 

Looking at the title of this novel, gives me the impression its construction needs to be a combination of it being character and plot driven. The reader needs to know what makes Spencer Murdoch tick seeing he is he centre of the adventure and there needs to be enough background to the plot or world building to make this adventure worthwhile for Spencer to be involved in. Baldwin seems to be successful here as he has depicted Spencer as an ordinary guy, family man, Christian, construction worker, definitely not a hero or adventurer extraordinaire. I liked this character construction as it makes it relatable for the reader, and you find yourself thinking what would I do if I was involved in something like this? Right from the start when Spencer discovers something suspicious in his street, Baldwin has you drawn to him and uses this to introduce you to the mysterious Dr Ubel, his henchmen (who provide some comedy relief in their bumbling and banter) and the supernatural mystery that thru sts Spencer, his family and his friend Jack, into an adventure that puts the future of the world into Spencer, Jack and CJ's hands.  

It is this that showcases Baldwin's imagination and is very well reflected in the world building that bases the science fiction and fantasy elements of the plot. I loved the riddle that Spencer had to solve in order to fulfill the prophecy. The underground world and the journey to this world that Spencer and Jack make is very enjoyable and suspenseful reading and very much adds to the plot development. It is this that gives the impression that there is enough going on in this plot to keep you coming back for more. And you do! 

I have only one gripe and that is the missing spiritual aspects. This is very much an edgy, speculative fiction novel with Christian themes, a guardian entity to a portal to Heaven, a Christian thrust into the middle of this quest for world dominion by the antagonist trying to thwart the prophecy from God coming to fruition. During this, Baldwin has Spencer showing very little prayer or reliance on God. It is exactly these events that in a novel of this genre that an author has a great opportunity to show a Christian character being submitted and obedient, relying on God to provide guidance and direction as not only is this extraordinary circumstances that he finds himself in, but this should be normal practice in any Christian life. The way Baldwin has portrayed it could be interpreted that prayer and asking for God's involvement is only when extraordinary circumstances occur or when you are at the end of yourself. This is just not so from a biblical point of view. I don't mean this to sound harsh just what struck me as I read.

I also feel that a plot line involving Ubel's son is left unresolved and if this is to be addressed in the next book, there is no indication of this in this volume. This plot line is not a minor issue, Baldwin's portays this as a major motive that keeps him trying to thwart Spencer from fulfilling the prophecy. That is disappointing and adds an element of plot derailment. 


Despite these two negatives, this is a good novel and sets the stage for an engaging series.

I look forward to the next instalment being released on September 2, 2016

Recommended (3.6/5 Stars).

World Building 4/5

Characterisation 4/5

Story 4/5

Spiritual Level 3/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 3/5

Average Rating 3.6/5

To read a sample from this novel or to buy it, click on the cover image below:


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