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Book Review: Journal of the Angelic, Odyssey of the Divine by Mark Raborn

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“Karmus…Karmus…

Hearing my name is my earliest memory, and my clearest…Like a whisper awakening me from a long, deep slumber, the call seemed ghostly, perhaps dreamlike, though I could see nothing.”

These earliest memories introduce us to Karmus, the last created angel, as he becomes conscious. He is our guide through events that take us, in Mark Raborn’s speculative fiction Journal of the Angelic, Odyssey of the Divine, from eternity past — when the angels were one glorious and united community — through the rebellion of Lucifer and a great heavenly war, to the heartbreak of a divided heaven, and the saga of earth and humanity.

The concept of the book — with its space setting, its eon-spanning time frame, and its angelic characters — is vast, but intricately imagined. Raborn has created a detailed universe down to an explanation of the physics of angelic navigation, how they go in and out of the visible realm, communicate, and get injured but don’t die. The book is heavy with the names of angels, planets, and foreign-sounding angel-speak that describe aspects of space and angelic life. Thankfully, Raborn includes a glossary at the end to help us keep these imaginative but often-inconsequential details slotted in their places.

Though the story germinates from sketchy references to the fall of Lucifer in the Bible, Raborn has used his imagination extensively – and to good effect. The plot has its share of surprises, with suspense building every time Lucifer is mentioned. Though some of Raborn’s ideas are unconventional (like the way planet earth comes to be populated with humans) within the framework of the rest of the plot, even these bits seem plausible.

Character-wise Karmus, along with the rest of the angelic characters, felt lacking in personality to me. Neither did God feel like a real person; rather he felt more like an energy force. However, Raborn did paint some compelling pictures of the company of angels. In their love, respect, loyalty, and acceptance of each other, they formed a strong and beautiful community which, when it fell apart, had me feeling as torn and disappointed as they were. The way Karmus tells the story, using formal and often exalted language, also made him seem realistic as a creature from some other realm.

While this book is largely about speculating on events in heaven before recorded time, I found it also had much to say, by way of angelic example, about our spiritual life now in areas of purpose, creativity, and worship. Raborn shows the angels always motivated and busy with interplanetary projects. Worship is an integral part of angelic life to the extent that some scenes reminded me of descriptions of heaven from the Bible book of Revelation.

Journal of the Angelic is a worthwhile read just to experience the imaginative universe Raborn has created. However, the spiritual truths the story delivers will linger with you long after Karmus has left Adreenta to go to other orbs and to tell more seraphs, storfs, and dariats what he has seen.

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