Sunday, May 4, 2008

Book Review: Renegade by Ted Dekker

Book ReviewThe Circle is never ending. A fully enclosed line -- no beginning, no end. The Circle goes ever onward. Such could be said of Ted Dekker's epic saga of The Circle.

An epic saga that began with the releases of Black, Red, and White, and now encompasses eight other volumes, with volume twelve, Sinner, slated for release in September of this year.

This saga, as well, crosses several subgenres of the Christian fiction world. While the original three offerings are clearly fantasy, Showdown, House (with Frank Peretti), and Skin could just as easily be labeled as tales of horror, while Saint is more thriller than fantasy. The latest four volumes, subtitled The Books of History Chronicles, are marketed as fantasy and youth fiction, but the most likely link I can find to youth fiction is the age of the main characters in the books. Chosen, Infidel, Renegade and Chaos should appeal to every fan of Ted Dekker fiction as much as any of Dekker's other works.

I should maybe have considered writing one single review for all four of The Lost Books, as they could just as easily have been published in one volume as four. You can find my thoughts on Chosen and Infidel, as well as every other book review I've written, in the review archives at

For now I want to talk about The Lost Books Volume 3, Renegade.

In Renegade, Dekker returns to his story-telling prowess, after what I felt was much groundwork being laid in the prior installment. In addition, in Renegade, we are sent back to the town of Paradise, Colorado, where we first met Marsuvees Black in Showdown. Paradise, Colorado, is a town that receives much similar treatment as that of Stephen King's Castle Rock, Maine, in Needful Things. That's a very fitting comparison, despite the polar opposites of the genre, as Ted Dekker is very much the skilled and visionary author that Stephen King once was (unfortunately, I fear the King exhausted his resources around the time that Desperation and The Regulators were published).

We learn so much more about Marsuvees Black and Paradise, Colorado, in Renegade that, if you haven't read at least Showdown prior to reading The Lost Books series, you, yourself, might be lost in the story. As Dekker, in the past, has woven the several Circle books together quite nicely, Renegade made me feel that the author was stretching prior story lines just a bit to bring all of the characters together once again. Fortunately, that's what the business of writing fiction is about, and Ted Dekker does it quite nicely.

As an avid Ted Dekker fan, and someone who has read the saga that surrounds The Circle several times over, I found Renegade to be the best so far of The Lost Books offerings. It can be quite difficult, at times, for fans of fiction when they reach the end of a book. I cannot count the number of times that I have found myself so engrossed in a book -- so in tune with the setting and the characters -- that I was nearly devastated when the story finally ended because the characters had become such an important part of my life. Ted Dekker has done an exceptional job keeping Other Earth alive and well for fans of The Circle.

Though the publisher promotes the series as:


it isn't quite that easy. I don't believe you can just dive in anywhere and receive the most benefit from the worlds this author has created. I will, in my next review in this series (Chaos) present to you what I feel is the best order in which to read the several works that comprise the world of The Circle. If you haven't started yet, and you want to dive into the world of The Circle before then, might I suggest the most logical starting place: Black -- where it all began.


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