Published by Tommy! (an imprint of Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Pages: 320 / September 2006
Web site: http://www.thedoorwithin.com
In The Final Storm, Wayne Thomas Batson brings his epic fantasy trilogy to a close, resolving many of the plot threads which were left hanging in the previous volume. At this point, readers who have enjoyed the first two novels should be along for the ride. The action picks up on the cliff Batson left readers hanging in Rise of the Wyrm Lord. As such, I wouldn’t suggest reading this volume without having read the previous, where Batson left Aidan in Maryland ready to meet his old friend Robby, and Antoinette captured by Paragor’s evil forces in the Realm. Furthermore, this review will discuss both the final book and the Door Within trilogy as a whole.
While Aidan is in Maryland with his father, he faces some tough obstacles, in particular, the reason why Robby was so cavalier in communicating with him after Aidan left Maryland. It is with these scenes that seeds planted by Batson in the earlier volumes truly come to fruition; primarily, Batson’s notion that people in our world have corresponding “glimpses” or doubles in the realm. While this fantastical element isn’t entirely new (see the Stephen King/Peter Straub novel The Talisman for another great example), Batson doesn’t make it seem a roughly worn cliché. Throughout the first two books, hints are given about Robby’s Glimpse, possibly leading to clues about Robby’s less than friendly attitude towards Aidan. Here, in The Final Storm, Batson ties those threads together nicely and logically, if a bit predictably.
Throughout the series, duality comes across as one of the stronger themes throughout the trilogy: the duality of identity in the real world & the Realm, good v. evil, faith v. doubt. Each novel dealt with one of the young protagonists’ belief in the Realm; from Aidan’s discovery of King Eliam and the Realm in The Door Within, to Antoinette’s complete faith in Rise of the Wyrm Lord to Robby’s conversion in The Final Storm. At first the protagonist, Aidan, struggles with it, and even more so, his friend Robby in the final book. Batson’s portrayal of Aidan’s conversion of Robby is well-handled, and drawn out effectively throughout the novel. Each doubt Robby encountered was plausible and Aidan’s unwavering belief in both King Eliam, patriarch of the realm, and the true heart of his friend reconcile each other in an effective manner. These two pillars of Aidan’s faith were paralleled effectively with Antoinette’s dual faiths as a captive. Whilst in prison, she speaks highly of King Eliam, attempting to convert one of Paragor’s higher ranking Glimpse soldiers. It helped that this Glimpse had something of a heart and doubts about Paragor at the outset. Again, Batson skillfully portrayed Antoinette’s powerful faith throughout, despite her situation and suffering.
As the novel progresses, a prophecy comes in to play; which intimates that when the Three appear, evil will be defeated. It was fairly obvious who these three would be, and I don’t think Batson was truly trying to keep a mystery from the readers, despite some of the character’s confusion. More so, this was another instance where Batson played upon the powerful theme of faith so evident throughout the trilogy. Paragor’s evil forces think they can use this to their advantage, while King Eliam’s good forces use this as a belief that helps them soldier on through each day.
Again, it is difficult not to compare this trilogy to C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, because of the Christian motifs in the fantasy setting. This is especially evident with the prophecy of the Three in The Final Storm and how it parallels the similar prophecy about Pevensie children in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In Batson’s story it worked as an effective homage.
Despite the somewhat predictable elements of The Final Storm, and indeed the entire trilogy, this is still a recommendable saga for the Young Adult Market. Devout Christians can no doubt find the faith based aspects of the novel to ring true with their own beliefs, while others can enjoy these books for what they are on the surface – adventurous entertaining fantasy novels, where friendship is paramount and magic provides a backdrop. It was also nice to see Batson grow as a writer and storyteller through each of the books.
© 2006 Rob H. Bedford
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