Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Release Day Review: Peace (The Four Horsemen #5) by T.A. Chase

28531572Title ~ Peace (The Four Horsemen #5)

Author ~ T.A. Chase

Publisher ~ Pride Publishing 

Published ~ 9th February 2016

Genre ~ Fantasy/Paranormal M/M Romance





When falling in love means risking everything, an angel must decide if losing his heart is worth it.
Lam is an Agnus Dei—or a messenger angel—who deals with mortals and the Four Horsemen. He’s helped them to find love and become mortal again, but he can’t seem to figure out his own relationship. Of course, it would be so much easier if he hadn’t fallen for Lucifer Daystar, the most infamous angel out there.
Lucifer Daystar has loved Lam since the moment he saw him. They’ve hidden their relationship since Lam isn’t supposed to fraternize with Day. He wishes things could be different, but he won’t risk Lam getting into trouble for being with him. Then one day Lam disappears and Day must search the world to find him.
By the time Day rescues him, will Lam have decided that loving a fallen angel isn’t worth the pain?

Alan’s Review

“Peace” is the fifth book in T. A. Chase’s “Four Horsemen” series, and the best so far. Each of the previous books was named for one of the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse: “Death”, “Pestilence”, “Famine” and “War”. This is the fifth book, so who is “Peace” if all the biblical horsemen are already accounted for? Lucifer Daystar, the fallen angel Himself.

Ms. Chase has invented a brilliant alternative theology that attempts to explain a just God in an unjust world, but more important, the way in which humanity has built its religious mythos in its own image. For thousands of years, Christianity has proclaimed this invisible universe with its perfect Heaven, where Archangels are the messengers of God, clothed in light and perfect compassion. In opposition is the fallen one, Lucifer, the devil, the source of all evil.

But what if that’s not the case? What if the Archangels are actually run by a quartet of self-absorbed, ambitious angels working for millennia to grab more power unto themselves through the subjugation of all the other angels and the terror they spread in the human sphere? If that is so, they have egregiously violated the purpose of their very existence, to shepherd and guide humanity.

And what if Lucifer was not banned from Heaven because he wished to replace God Himself, or put himself in dominion over the others, but instead fomented a revolution to check the growing, evil power of the Archangels? What if Lucifer is, in fact, the “rebel with a cause” of the heavenly realm?

As Lucifer makes abundantly clear, in Ms. Chase’s new novel, he doesn’t want power – he has no interest in it. Despite the fact that he lost his wings and was to be denied heaven for all eternity, he remains the most powerful entity in the universe, with the exception of The Judge, yet has no desire or intent to tempt humans into evil. As he sees it, humans don’t need any help embracing evil. They’re doing just fine on their own.

And what about God? According to Lucifer, God, as we think of Him, the benevolent Creator in flowing robes of light, simply does not exist. He is a creation of the human need for an all-powerful parent with unlimited love. No one knows if God did once exist, after all, life was created (and continues to be created), but the Universe is actually run by The Judge, who is neither benevolent nor punitive, just a dispassionate reader of the hearts of all beings, from humans to Archangels, dispensing Justice dispassionately, weighing the pros and cons of each, without error or bias, and determining who shall enter into heaven and who shall be sent to the other place. He can punish all, but only with pain commensurate with their crimes, and reward the righteous similarly.

Into all this supernatural politics come the Horsemen, humans who, upon death, are assigned to roam the spheres as the enforcers of the universe, guiding the dead to their judgment, wreaking famine and pestilence to cleanse the human plane, and working, forever, to keep the universe in balance – the balance between good and evil, joy and pain, power and helplessness. The Horsemen have no choice in the matter. Like other high entities working for Heaven, they are immortal and are condemned to roam the spheres for century after century until the time comes to replace them with new souls.

But Lucifer has been around for millions of years, and even the Judge cannot “unmake” him. He can banish him, cause him pain, limit his powers, but he cannot destroy him. Only the Creator can unmake, and who knows if he even exists any longer. Lucifer Daystar has leveraged his millennia in the human sphere and his near-unlimited powers into a great multinational array of companies, businesses, factories and land. He gets to play with the Earth as though all that is upon it is just chess pieces for his endless entertainment. Unfortunately, he is easily bored, and the human sphere has left him cynical, uninspired and lonely.

That is, until he takes up with one of Heaven’s “Messenger” angels. These are lower-level angels whose job is to warn humans at risk about where their behavior may lead them. They can’t change those behaviors (free will, after all), but they can give them a glimpse of the price they will have to pay for choosing evil.

Lam is an unusual Messenger angel. He actually likes humanity. He likes watching humanity. Though he has the heart of a compassionate rebel, he never breaks the Archangels’ many rules with one exception, his love for Lucifer Daystar. Once, many millennia ago, he happened to walk in on a fight between Lucifer and Michael before Lucifer was banished. He had never seen a being so beautiful, so fascinating, so powerful, so… hot? That crush lasted thousands of years until the day that Lucifer Daystar sought him out, and the two became lovers. Consorting with Lucifer breaks one of the strictest rules of the Archangels, and one day, they pass judgment on him, without bringing his case to The Judge, flaying his back bloody, ripping the wings from his body, and sending him, now mortal and near death, back to earth to die alone.

Of course, Lucifer will never allow that. Though he cannot enter heaven, he is actually more powerful than all the Archangels combined and he will destroy Heaven, if he must, to save the angel he loves.

This is the setting for an epic battle that rages between Heaven and Earth, most of it a trap to lure Lucifer back to the Heavenly Realm, so the Judge will condemn him for violating his banishment, and rip away all his powers - the powers that threaten the domination of the Archangels.

I won’t go into detail because it’s much better coming from the pen of Ms. Chase, who writes astonishingly vivid scenes of battles between Lucifer, the corrupt Archangels and their minions. It’s heart-stopping and heart-warming at the same time. Lucifer’s love for Lam is so pure and so beautiful that it makes the power of the Archangels look tawdry and venial by comparison, and stands all our age-old assumptions of the evil Lucifer on their head.

Ms. Chase’s vision is so different from almost every other gay fiction author’s, that some people, trying to pigeonhole this series, can’t quite figure out why it’s not a standard gay romance, or even a traditional paranormal fantasy (no shifters, werewolves or vampires). But they’re missing the power and the beauty here. The spot-on dissection of the religious myths that have driven humans to acts so barbaric they’re almost unendurable, all in the name of Christianity, demand a new theology, a new take on God, the Heavens, human lives and human destinies. And this, Ms. Chase has done with wonderful, passionate writing and a clear-headed, rational view of what has rarely been addressed rationally before.

This book (indeed the whole series) speaks to us and our humanity more than it speaks to God, Heaven and the Archangels, who are our stand-ins. And it does so with great humility, art, compassion and a uniquely informed perspective on our lives and our religious beliefs.

If you haven’t read this series of short novels (a bit longer than novellas, a bit shorter than full-length novels), you owe it to yourself to give it a look. If you keep your eyes and your heart open, there is much you can learn from Ms. Chase, all while following a great adventure wrapped in a profoundly moving vision of love.

If I could give this series more than five stars, I would.

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