Looking upward; Examining inward; Reflecting outward.
By Mike Lee
"Fire of the Raging Dragon", by Don Brown
You know what they always say about a good-book-turned-into-a-movie: "Don't watch the movie until you've read the book, because the book is way better." Well, that's exactly the case with this book...except this one hasn't been made into a motion picture yet. Key word: "Yet". I hope Hollywood hears about Don Brown's writing, because they will jump all over the chance to make movies. But then again, maybe the movie would ruin the books.
THE SETTING: "Raging Dragon" is set in modern-day South China Sea, and opens with the People's Republic of China (PRC - a.k.a. Communist China) attacking the Republic of China (ROC - a.k.a. Taiwan) with Z-10 helicopters. I initially didn't think Z-10's were real, so I looked for them on the web and sure enough, there they were.
As the story progressed, America's Navy (7th Fleet) became involved the the conflict when they were called to a Taiwanese-captured Chinese freighter carrying a seriously disgusting load. And that's where all the heavy decisions begin. It escalates into all-out battle, and the list of "cameo appearances" begins, from various ships, to SEAL Team 6, to F-18 Super Hornets. I really don't want to spoil the book, so I'll simply say it was a page-turner!
CHRISTIAN NOVELS VS. SECULAR: I'll be honest, I've often been disappointed after reading Christian fiction novels because they tend to be cheesy. For instance, it seems Christian publishers are fearful of printing the slightest inference of gore or rough language. And nearly all of them have a "come-to-Jesus" moment where the antagonist finally gets "saved". I'll be honest, I find this not only unrealistic, but annoying.
But that wasn't at all the case with "Raging Dragon". Brown's Christian influence and approach to the novel contained a few characters with strong faith in God. Rather than having his characters explain the gospel to their comrades, Brown had his Christian characters in the heat of facing extremely difficult decisions. Brown finds a way to redeem the darkness amidst reality...just like Christians around the world have to do on a daily basis.
For instance, one main character struggled with how to hear God in crucial decision-making moments when God was silent. One was gripped by guilt. Another battled an on-going temptation that he knew required divine intervention. Would help, guidance, and wisdom ever arrive? If so, how would it arrive? Does God speak, guide, and encourage through others? Or should we wait until he audibly speaks? I love the subtly-bold Christians in the novel, and you might be surprised what happens.
On the other side, Brown and Zondervan (kudos!) were courageously realistic about gore and ugliness in our world. The gore wasn't on the level of Hollywood-gore, but it was still bloody. It was extremely realistic, and that is one of the key components necessary to help the reader suspend disbelief.
SUSPENDING DISBELIEF: This happens when an author provides the perfect blend of reality with fiction, enough to get the reader to believe the story could be true. Brown masterfully wove real-time, real-world tensions into the plot, inspiring me to fact-check several of the "unknowns". One such area was China's development of nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and their use/capabilities. Another was the organization of the US Navy fleet and its ships. The facts didn't stop there, as the book was chock-full of it. So not only was I intrigued by the plot, but I learned a lot about the intricacies surrounding political and military affairs on the other side of the globe.
NEW FAN: I'm a new fan of Don Brown! He easily rivals any other novelist on the "Best Seller" list. Move over Clancy. If you enjoy reading military and war novels, you'll love this one. I devoured it in just a few days. It is a top-notch book, and I look forward to purchasing others from Brown. No doubt about this one: 5 stars!
Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from Booksneeze in exchange for my unbiased review of it. All opinions are mine. I was not threatened or coerced to provide a positive review.