Monday, May 9, 2016

Review: An Arrow in Flight by Jane Lebak

An Arrow in Flight
By Jane Lebak


Ever since Adam left the garden, Gabriel has known why humans sometimes act irrationally, and he helps them without hesitation whenever God gives him an assignment. All seven Archangels of the Presence do as much, sometimes even without orders — whether it's redirecting a lovesick princess, encouraging a terrified hero, or dealing with an amulet-wielding old man who's compelling an unlikely service from the angel least likely to give it. But after a brutal attack during one assignment, Gabriel starts getting touchy and harder to deal with. The other angels love him, but it's been going on for centuries, and he won't take redirection. Then God gives Gabriel an assignment that could result in the destruction of Jerusalem, and Gabriel makes the wrong decision. God forces Gabriel out of Heaven. He's got one year now to make things right between him and God, except he can't possibly do enough. He's isolated from the other angels and being propositioned by demons. Even worse, as Gabriel wanders the Earth trying to change others' lives for the better, it's becoming more and more obvious that the one thing he needs to change is the only one he never wanted to risk. An Arrow In Flight features each of the seven Archangels of the Presence in their own short stories, from Abraham to the fall of Nineveh, all leading up to a long-story crisis that requires each working in unison to help Gabriel when he doesn't seem to want their help at all.

An Arrow In Flight is a series of vignettes concerning the Seven Archangels and various missions they are sent on, beginning with the investigation and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The interactions between the angels are believable and the characters well-developed. The interactions they have with humans are realistic and the instances recorded are usually reflecting biblical accounts. Halfway through the book, the vignettes drop and the second half of the book concerns Gabriel, who hesitated to destroy Jerusalem when ordered to by God, and therefore was sent out of God's Presence for a year. The remainder of the book chronicles his experiences when severed from connection with the Holy Father.

Gabriel's account is poignant and raw, believable; and sinners can identify with the shame and conflict he feels, attempting to reconcile himself to his state, the fear of ultimate destruction in the hands of an angry God, the sorrow of loss of fellowship with Him.

Satan as an antagonist is depicted in a believable manner. His character is three-dimensional if a bit shallow, with some of the flavor found in Paradise Lost, but with much less airtime. The main antagonist in this story seems to be Gabriel's flaws, which his character successfully works through in the course of the novel.

Perhaps it's my Protestant viewpoint, but I had some issues with Gabriel starting out female, though I concede the point that angels can appear to be any human in disguise form. Also, the timeline points, especially in the early chapters, could use some work, as the time lapse between the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the fall of Jericho is a bit longer than 400 years, considering the period Israel spent in Egypt is recorded as 400 years in Gen 15:13.

The story opens up with a brutal attack of two angels by the men of Sodom, involving a near-rape and brutalization, and the shock this causes to the victim. There is a depiction of the destruction of Jerusalem and a battle between a Babylonian soldier and Michael the Archangel.

Very clean.

Adult Content:
PG. As mentioned above, there is a near-rape scene. There is a chapter involving a woman whose husbands never make it to the marriage bed because of a demon's infatuation with her.

Christian content:
This book is clearly Christian in nature, Catholic in denomination. Some of the book pulls from the Book of Tobit, one of the apocryphal books included in the Catholic bible and omitted from the Protestant canon. The handling of salvation by grace, the plight of the sinner, the idolatry of the people and its consequences, and the holiness of God, are fully explored and crystal clear.

Final analysis:
I found it uplifting and poignant, reading a story from the perspective of angels trying to keep humans on the path to heaven, while battling demonic forces. While I had a few qualms from the outset concerning the timeline and treatment of Gabriel as 'half-fallen', I was pleasantly surprised by the content. Five Stars.

About the Author:
Jane Lebak
Jane Lebak talks to angels, cats, and her kids. Only the angels listen to her, but the kids talk back. She lives in the Swamp, writing books and knitting socks, with the occasional foray into violin-playing. You'll also find her blogging at, a resource for writers seeking agents and small publishers. 

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