Tuesday, December 28

Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker, a review

The first book by Ted Dekker that I read was Thr3e and within pages I was drawn completely into the story. Shortly after that the Circle trilogy was released and I delved further into Ted Dekker’s words, and loving them.

Ted Dekker’s latest novel is Immanuel’s Veins. It is set in Russia during the 1700’s. Though it is supposed to occur in our world, it fits loosely into the Books of History Chronicles that Ted Dekker has been working on ever since the release of Black.

Toma, the main character and occasional narrator, along with his friend Alek are charged with protecting two beautiful young women (Lucine and Natasha) from danger. Toma grows nervous when a strange group of Russians seem to appeal for the affection of these women. Toma, operating under the direction of the Empress of Russia, has reason to believe this strange group has villainous plans. However, he too has fallen for one of the daughters. Now he is at odds with the leader of this strange group – Vlad – for her heart.



Sadly I would have to say that Immanuel’s Veins ranks as one of my least favorite books by Dekker (with Skin joining it on the bottom of the list).

First of all, this book is highly repetitive. For easily half of the book we have to read over and over again Toma think of his love for Lucine and then berate himself for not declaring his love. I get it. I don’t need to be constantly reminded of this after a couple of times. Toma also spends much time warning the girls’ mother about Vlad and his crooney’s, yet she doesn’t listen to him. So he tells her this again and again.

Second, for much of the first fourth/third of the book I never really feel that the women are in danger. Sure Vlad and his men are weird and creepy. But the stakes are never fully shown. There’s something about Vlad becoming king. But what would happen if he did? What does the empress think of Vlad? All she does is tell Toma to be careful of enemies. But she never mentions (that the reader can tell) who the enemies are. So these women are in danger from someone, but we don’t know who. And Toma really loves Lucine, but Vlad wants to court her. And Alek becomes infatuated with the other sister, but ends up falling for a lady who’s in Vlad’s group.

Aside from a few events at the beginning of the novel, it isn’t until past halfway through that anything mildly exciting happens. For over half the book they pretty much stay at Castle Castile while Toma unsuccessfully tries to order everyone around, falls in love with Lucine but can’t say it, and gets mad at Vlad. And this all happens in about every chapter.

There’s also some strange moments that really drew me out of the story. One person calls another a ‘party pooper.’ Maybe there’s a time travel thread I missed, but that phrase feels extremely modern. The characters were also shallow and didn’t hold my attention. There was also very little growth in the character, except when it supported the theme of the story. And then it didn’t feel natural.

The foreshadowing was also extremely forced. I don’t know if the twists were supposed to be surprising, but they weren’t…

I really wanted to like this book. It had the promise of being a good fantasy tinged novel with the promise of keeping me glued to my seat. However the only thing that kept me turning the page was hoping that it got better. I could tell what Dekker was trying to accomplish, it is a theme he’s tackled before.

However, as an aspiring writer, this reminds me of something. No matter how powerful your theme is supposed to be, you must have a good story with strong characters to engage the reader. Without them there will be nothing to make your theme stick.

1.5 / 5 stars
Previously I have reviewed Green by Ted Dekker.

I received no compensation for this review.

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