Traitor's Rise by Norm Thomas

6/10 Light-hearted and fun fantasy - a nice way to pass a rainy, nasty afternoon.

Your dead. You find out there is an afterlife. You learn that Heaven does exist and is populated with Angels. Sweet right? Well you would think so wouldn't you. But for Colin Carpenter this is where it gets interesting…

A simple Street Sweeper on earth (who dreamed about nothing much more than being able to use an automated cleaning device) it's not long after the shock of dying and meeting his dead relatives has passed that he starts to understand that life in the afterlife is anything but simple.

For as he quickly learns an existence in Heaven is not all about reclining on clouds and painting rainbows. There are jobs to do and order to maintain and as he starts to become aware, not all is as it should be. There are dark forces at work in the shape of the Demon horde and the Angels are hard pressed to keep the peace. From Warrior Angels to Admin Angels, all have their part to play in the management of Heaven and the battle that has raged since Lucifer and his lot were thrown out of Heaven. But it is not quite as straight forward as that, as the spectre of a Traitor to Heaven hangs over events for life in the afterlife, as Colin soon learns, is not quite as straight forward as it seems and he must choose his path wisely.

It is at Angel University that he is provided with the information and skills he needs to make those choices. But is it too late? For a traitor is lurking, awaiting an opportunity to destroy the hold the Angels have and give the Demons ascendancy. Is it just possible that Heaven could fall? Could the Demons really reclaim their old home? Can Colin, simple and true play any real part in the events that are about to take place?

Set against a heavenly backdrop, a fierce battle looms between Angels and Demons, each fighting for the right to run the Celestial Plane. Colin and his fellow students are oblivious to these rumblings until a massive and damaging attack on Heaven itself shocks them to the core.

With him on his journey are characters such as Deidre, his wise and helpful and perhaps not exactly all that she claims to be, guide. There are his friends at University including the matronly, mousey but quite OCD Abigail Brown, the teacher and exotic Professor Xn and of course the dashing and debonair co-human Zac Woolfe. Add to this the affections of a minute Wood Nymph by the name of Bimbo, the overtures of one Luke J Iffer (aka Lucifer himself) and the interest of the very senior Archangel Arismael and it seems Colin has more than enough to keep him occupied.

Tara's Thoughts:

Colin did not draw me into this book immediately. Another character did: Dinael, who was mourning the loss of another angel Linarael. And as I read further, the author's subtle sense of humour that coloured most passages began to resonate with me. Here is a good example:

'You see you have many choices, Colin,' Deidre explained. 'As we just discussed you could take the Buddhist option and choose to return to corporeal life through reincarnation. This could be on the planet and solar system or galaxy of your choice.' 'OK,' Colin answered slowly. 'I am not sure that reincarnation is really the thing for me.'

'No? Well, another avenue available for you is what is known as the 'atheist' option, though I wouldn't advise it. In this option you would be sent to an empty room for an indefinite period allowing you to pretend that there is nothing else going on and abjectly ignore anyone or anything that attempts to communicate with you.'

The author imagines a different kind of heaven than the one I imagined before reading this. Yet, a lot of what he writes would make actual sense: people to help the newly dead come to terms, a school to train those new to heaven that could be good Angels, and Angels that were more than just fluffy and nice, as well as demons that were more than just evil beings. There was also a reasonable explanation for why God's doesn't do more on Earth for humanity.

Good descriptions were key to helping me believe in the author's world, and the author did a good job with those, per this excerpt:

Passing through the Gates, Colin found himself at the start of the longest road he had ever seen. A shade lighter than the cloud around it, it ran in a straight line from the Gates, heading off into the distance as far as he could see. The road itself was made from the most beautiful flagstones, laid in perfect rows and showing neither mark nor blemish. Running alongside the path were strange, but beautiful unearthly lights which sat on top of light poles that at first appeared to be trees, but on closer inspection turned out to be carvings. The lights themselves reminded Colin of the lightning globe lights that he had seen advertised on television when he was alive on Earth. The inside of the globe was full of arcing colours of light like small lightning strikes and he imagined that they would move and react if he reached out to touch them. To the sides of the lights, running away into the distance as far as the eye could see, was a vast lawn. Manicured to the highest standard, it was a deep blue green.

I found Colin to be somewhat slow on the uptake, and the book takes a long time to progress. This was light-hearted and fun fantasy reading, unlike the kind of books I usually read. The ending was a surprise, though looking back at the story arc, I should have guessed that the book would end this way.

Overall opinion: a nice way to pass a rainy, nasty afternoon.

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