Review: 13th Tribe and the Judgment Stone

Today, I’m reviewing not one, but two books by one of my favorite authors: Robert Liparulo.

Image and synopsis from Goodreads

Image and synopsis from Goodreads.

Immortals from the time of Moses roam the earth on a quest for justice . . . and heaven.

One man stands in their way.

In 1476 BC, the Israelites turned their backs on the One True God by worshipping a golden calf. For their transgression, forty were cursed to walk the earth forever. Banished from their people, they formed their own tribe, The 13th Tribe.

Now, three and a half millennia later, the remnant of this Tribe continues to seek redemption through vigilante justice-goaded by dark forces in the spiritual realm. They are planning a bold strike modeled on the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan: the complete destruction of a major city-only now, they possess the horrific technology of modern weapons to ensure their success.

Jagger Baird is a husband and father…and security guard of an archaeological dig at the base of Mount Siani. Jagger suddenly finds himself in a fight for the future as he discovers the Tribe’s plans. But to win this fight, he must overcome his own struggles with faith and self-worth – as well as his anger at God for a past tragedy.

This taut thriller by acclaimed novelist Robert Liparulo fuses tomorrow’s technology with faith and non-stop action for a supernatural suspense novel unlike any other.

~~~

The 13th Tribe was fast-paced, action-packed, and loaded with plot twists.  I could not predict what was going to happen in this book until Liparulo unveiled it.  Upon reading the sections when he revealed the twists, I found myself staring at the page with my mouth agape, barely able to believe what I had just read.  I was astounded and excited and completely mystified by the latest turn of events.  I never knew when I would discover some new bit of background information that would completely alter both the plot and the characters themselves.  This made the 13th Tribe an intriguing and suspenseful read.

Liparulo created a realistic and relatable cast of characters.  I found myself not reading about the characters and looking inside their heads, but being inside their heads and feeling all of their excitement, pain, hope, fear — anything that they were going through, I went through too.

Throughout the novel, Liparulo interwove his signature witty sense of humor and highly original analogies.  More than once, these had me laughing out loud and reading them over again because most were hilarious, and all were brilliant.

In summary, I highly recommend the 13th Tribe.  There is but little doubt in my mind that I will be rereading it in the days to come, and am greatly looking forward to it.

Now, for the Judgment Stone.  (Please note that while my review is spoiler-free, Liparulo’s blurb does have some spoilers for the 13th Tribe.  That being said, read at your own risk.)

Cover and synopsis from Goodreads

Image and synopsis from Goodreads.

The Clan is on a mission to defy God by destroying those with the strongest faith.

When a group of ruthless immortals—known as The Clan—attack St. Catherine’s monastery at the base of Mt. Sinai, they steal one of the world’s holiest artifacts: a piece of stone from the Ten Commandments. Those who touch the Stone can see into the spiritual world: angels, demons, and the blue threads of light ascending to Heaven that signal the presence of believers who are connected to God.

Only Jagger—a spiritually wounded husband, father, and former Army Ranger—and Owen—an immortal himself—have any hope of stopping the Clan’s horrific plans.

But another group of immortals, who believe that Jagger’s wife holds the secret to salvation, is after her. Torn between stopping the Clan and protecting his family, there are no easy answers for Jagger. Laying aside his faith in high-tech gadgetry and in his own strength and abilities and embracing true faith isn’t easy for someone who has resisted for 3,000 years. But it may be the only key to his salvation.

~~~

All of the good that I had to say about the 13th Tribe is applicable to the Judgment Stone.   Once again, the characters were extremely relatable, and the analogies were excellent as always.  The book was filled with fast-paced action from the very first page.  However, this made the novel a bit harder for me to be pulled into.  I generally prefer novels that ease me into the action, rather than dropping me into it from the very start.  This is merely a personal preference, and I am sure that many others would adore the way that the Judgment Stone began.

The only other critique I have for this novel is that I had a hard time keeping up with the cast, especially in the beginning.  Liparulo introduced several monks that I hadn’t met previously, in a very short amount of time.  However, because they didn’t play a very big role in the overall plot, it didn’t greatly affect my overall opinion of the book.

Other characters I had a hard time keeping straight were the members of the Clan.  Bale, their leader, was very distinct, seeing as large parts of the book were told from his point of view.  The other members of the clan were less distinct, but they served their purpose: drawing out Bale’s character and furthering the plot.

I must also include a warning to those that are interested — which I hope most of you are — in reading the Judgment Stone.  Due to the nature of the Clan, this book has the potential to be much more disturbing than the 13th Tribe.  While the Tribe was a group of ruthless vigilantes, they were committing their crimes in the hopes of earning their salvation.  As twisted as their reasoning was, their motives were, in a way, pure.

The Clan  was far worse.  They hated God with a passion that, in Liparulo’s words, “may just frighten Satan himself.”  They would do anything to hurt Him.  They slaughtered children, raped women, and hunted down those that were closest to the Lord.

In spite of this, Liparulo did not portray the Clan’s crimes graphically.  He showed that these things happened, but cast them in a negative light.  He draws out Jagger’s horror in response to these events, and, in doing so, creates a sense of horror within the reader’s heart.

The Clan also revered demons, which were revealed to them by the use of the Judgment Stone.  The way in which he handled the subject of demons was very different from what is seen in Hollywood.  Instead of focusing on how terrifying they are, he used them to portray the spiritual war that is constantly raging around us.  This was something very different from anything that I had read before, and I was thrilled to see this change.

All of these things, both good and bad, culminate into an overarching theme (which I’ll not spoil for you) that is portrayed by an excellent cast of both characters and plotline.  I highly recommend both the 13th Tribe and the Judgment Stone.  I recognize that there are some that will see my brief account of the crimes committed by the Clan and shy away from these books, and that’s okay.  But those that realize that this is an integral part of the plot, and that these things do turn out for the best, will not be disappointed in their choice to read the first two installments of the Immortal Files.

Also, I would like to make a note of the fact that there is a cliffhanger at the end of the Judgment Stone.  I have spoken with Mr. Liparulo, and he assures me that there is a third book coming out; it simply is not published yet.

So, what do you think?  Will you be adding the 13th Tribe and the Judgment Stone to your TBR pile?  Tell me what you think in the comments!

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