Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review: The Fellowship of the Fish

The Fellowship of the Fish
The Fellowship of the Fish by Keith Madsen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Inspirational/Christian fiction Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free eBook copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: An ancient Christian symbol becomes the emblem of a new movement, a movement of people convinced that even in the midst of deteriorating relations between Muslims and the Western world, it is still possible to "give peace a chance". This novel is a sequel to the author's book Searching for Eden. In that novel Evan Jordan trekked through Iran and Iraq on a spiritual quest brought on by the death of his 14-year old daughter. On this quest he found other wounded souls from different faiths and different cultures, a fellowship they began to call "the Fellowship of the Fish."

In this sequel this fellowship now fights for a vision of an Eden-like world, where terrorism of all kinds can be left behind and people can reach beyond their cultural and religious barriers. They have much opposition. An Iraqi terrorist cell steals nuclear material, and plots to deliver a suitcase bomb to a US city. Iranian and Israeli leaders threaten war, while political forces in the US choose bravado and incendiary rhetoric over calls for peaceful solutions. All the while behind the scenes Evan, Jessica and Carmen work with their international fellowship to eliminate nuclear weaponry before it eliminates us. They will deal with political riots in Iraq, hostile mobs in Washington DC, the violence of a right-wing group at an Israeli archaeology site and a nuclear bomb no one can find.

Can this interfaith fellowship persevere against entrenched hate? Join Evan Jordan and friends in this peace action-thriller!

My Thoughts: This is the sequel to Searching for Eden. Since I had taken so long to get to the first one, that delayed my reading this one. Again my apologies to the author for taking so long.

When I first started reading this book, I started thinking about how attitudes toward people change. When I was in high school, my dad was fully in support of the Mujaheddin; for those who don’t know what that means, they were the Afghan “freedom fighters,” fighting against the Russian incursion into Afghanistan. He had me wear a button on my coat in support of them. Then, after the US helped them, taught them how to fight, and left them in control of their own country? They became Al Qaeda. Yeah, you’re welcome ... *sigh* That’s gratitude for ya... I was raised to hate and distrust a lot of people – based on race, creed, religion, color, sexual orientation, you name it – but I’ve learned that you need to take people as they come, get to know them as humans, not as a label, and try not to judge groups by the whack-jobs among them who make the most noise. Like Islamics – a lot of people hate Muslims nowadays, because of what Al Qaeda has done to us (to bring this paragraph back around), but Al Qaeda does not speak for all Muslims. They don’t even truly follow the Koran, but rather the teachings of some self-proclaimed mullahs who haven’t even done the requisite studies and training, and who are twisting passages of the Koran to their own usage – kind of like how a lot of fundamentalists in this country do with the Bible, come to think of it. Shakespeare said to first, kill all the lawyers, but maybe it would be more fruitful to get rid of all fanatics?

And speaking of Russians (I was, look, right up there! Weren’t you paying attention??), I loved the character Vladimir – he was debonair and had a great sense of humor, like all Russian men I’ve met. OK, like my husband, but he assures me he is typical. I was a bit puzzled by the choice of Vladimir for his name – well, it is a fairly stereotypical Russian name, but I had to wonder, could there have been a more stereotypical Russian name to use? I asked the expert (my husband), who claims the most stereotypical Russian name is Ivan, closely followed by Boris. I think Boris would have been a pretty good choice, but Vladimir fits the guy. Plus I just like the name – it rolls off the tongue, if not the keyboard – try it! Vladimir... Vladimir... nice, no? The rest of Evan’s students were great, too – I enjoyed the interactions between them, and the changes that they went through during the course of the book. But Vladimir was my favorite – I would have liked more Vladimir.

OK, I keep rambling about strange stuff, but haven’t really addressed the book yet, except to express my admiration for Vladimir. This one followed a lot of the same basic ideas as the first – finding peace in a troubled world, working together with people of all faiths and cultures, and finding your own, personal peace with your creator, whether you believe in an external creator, or if you believe that everything was a result of coincidental generation from primal goo. It’s about being a good person, not a good “fill-in-the-religious-blank”. About the changes that you can achieve through trying to work together rather than working against one another. I really like what Carmen did at her school to try to bring people together and get them talking about peace. I was amused – well, darkly amused – by the representation of Fox News, which will probe until they get a sound bite that fits what they want to say and take it out of context. I also found it funny that it was brought up that conservative Christians are all about freedom of religion – for themselves. But when it comes to anyone else, they’re as much proponents of the separation of church and state as the most ardent atheist. It is so ironic that a country that was founded by people seeking freedom to practice their own religion should become so ardently set on only allowing their own particular brand of religion to be practiced; hypocrisy, you are an ugly, ugly thing.

I didn’t expect the ending – there were a lot of things I didn’t expect, but they fit in with the overall story told in these two books. I think a lot of people will find a lot to enjoy in these two books. The characters are interesting and well-developed, it is well edited and written well, the descriptions are amazing – there is just a lot of good in these books. Check them out.

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