Title: Immanuel's Veins
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
In Immanuel's Veins, Ted Dekker combines epic themes of good and evil together with legends of fantastical creatures, all set within a colorful time in history, in a pivotal region of the world. Mixing history, allegory, and fantasy, he has produced a category-busting work that provokes both thought and emotion. It's disturbing, with vivid descriptions of hedonism and evil that may challenge even his longtime readers.
Dekker, known for best-selling thrillers and fantasies (Thr3e, The Boneman's Daughter, The Circle Series, etc), excels in creatively communicating his perspective on truth, love, and beauty. He acknowledges the potential controversy his newest novel may stir, saying, "This is a story for everyone, but not everyone is for this story."
So what's all the fuss about? The story opens in 18th century Russia, deep in the Carpathian mountains, as Toma arrives at the Cantemir estate on a mission from Queen Catherine the Great. He and his partner Alex, both acclaimed soldiers in her majesty's service, have been commissioned to protect the women of that family. But they develop feelings for the two sisters, Lucine and Natasha, during their time with them.
Toma is the epitome of duty, a decorated, trusted warrior who fights his deepening feelings for Lucine because his queen owns his allegiance first. Alex is more of a ladies' man and has no such qualms about involving himself romantically with Natasha. When Natasha introduces him to new friends at a neighboring castle, he begins to change. Here the contrast between true love and worldly lust becomes evident as a major theme in the book.
Toma not only starts worrying about Alex, but he realizes that Lucine has a serious suitor from that same castle. Events unfold that convince him Alex has been deceived into something more destructive than innocent indulgence. When Lucine falls under the spell of the same dark influences, Toma understands that her very life depends on him.
How can he fight evil incarnate? Can a man defeat a devil? In a world where blood is power, Toma discovers the One whose blood has already triumphed. Can he harness that power to rescue his love?
Dekker calls Immanuel's Veins "a passionate tale of God's love for his bride, perhaps the most Christian book I've ever written. Yes, [it] is sensual in parts, but no more than the sensuality expressed by King Solomon, to whom I've dedicated the book."
While there is nothing graphic, be prepared for disturbing scenes ripe with sensual imagery and suggestive poses. Consider that a Dutch publisher, who has taken Dekker's previous works for release in Holland, decided not to publish Immanuel's Veins because it considered the work to be "too sensual."
Blood looms greatly in both literal and metaphorical ways. The theological significance of blood is well handled. But Dekker has a talent for making you almost smell it at times, so sensitive readers beware.
The first edition hardback includes numerous and effusive endorsements that may affect the reader's perspective. I recommend reading them afterwards so as to avoid potential disappointment. Are the endorsements true? Read and judge for yourself.
**This review first published on November 9, 2010.