Bell Mountain is a good, old fashioned fantasy adventure tale sure to be enjoyed by many.
The first in a series of five (thus far), Bell Mountain marks the fantasy debut of author Lee Duigon, and it is an enjoyable debut too. The story follows two children, Jack and Ellayne, as they attempt to make their way across the corrupt kingdom of Obann to climb Bell Mountain and ring the legendary bell that sits atop its peak. Long ago the bell was built by the last good king, King Ozias, but not many believe in the story any longer.
Prompted by haunting dreams of the bell and a mysterious promise made by God in the ancient Writings, Jack and Ellayne believe that the ringing of the bell will reshape the world forever. This call to climb the mountain and ring the bell is not a quest they would want to do, either. It is believed by many that the ringing of the bell will mark the ending of the world. Will they find their courage to ring it? First, of course, they must get there; the road is fraught with many dangers, like child slavers, barbarians, outlaws, and bizarre creatures emerging from the mists of legend, as well as an assassin sent to prevent them from ringing the bell by the corrupt First Prester of the Obann church.
The book is a solid one, set in a fantasy world that borders on being an alternative, or parallel, world to our own. Duigon is a Christian, and so leans heavily on events and ideas taken from the Bible. This is tastefully handled, however, and he always shifts the stories enough to make them original, while maintaining their familiar echoes. King Ozias, for instance, is something of a King David figure, and I caught allusions to other biblical stories such as Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel.
I found myself occasionally wanting more character development and tension, but the moments where the narrative drive wanes is rare. Very much like Lord of the Rings, Duigon relishes in the details of the journey, of walking and making camp, and the inventiveness of the story keeps you reading, even when you aren't sure where the journey is taking you.
On the other side, Duigon is daring enough to present questions about God in the book and let his characters wrestle with their uncertainty. It is widely believed that ringing the bell will bring about the apocalypse, and our heroes wonder about what sort of God would destroy the world in such a way. Even the mentor character, a Hermit named Obst, struggles with this. This is a rarity in the world of Christian literature, where God is packaged up tight and no one is ever allowed to be human and feel the pressing uncertainty of the great “buzzing, blooming confusion,” as William James put it.
By far the most difficult character for me to grasp was the assassin sent to kill the children. I didn't completely sense that killer instinct in him. There was enough to convince you he was not to be trifled with, but I just never got a clear picture of that hardened, calloused heart a trained career assassin would have. But then, that sort of depravity would be starkly out of place in such a book. These tiny complaints all revolve around getting more. More villainy, more adventure, more character.
Bottom line, Bell Mountain is a good, old fashioned fantasy adventure tale sure to be enjoyed by many. The climax kept me up late into the night and left me with chills down my spine (the good kind).
Review by AT Ross
1 positive reader review(s) for Bell Mountain
Mark from USA
Great books. I highly recommend them. The reviewer is spot on. You will not be disappointed - especially at the price i buy them for my Kindle.
8.8/10 from 2 reviews