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This, the third ARKANE thriller from JF Penn, is far and away the best of the lot. The story is mostly coherent, and the action is well-written.

The historical exposition sometimes intrudes on the narrative to the point of distraction.

Also (and this I fear puts me in the minority of modern readers), I find the frequent references to the protagonist's (and antagonist's) angst to be tiresome. There is also a behind-the-scenes villain whose motivation and goals I was unable to discern: Near the beginning he appears to be a Jew, yet he later appears to be aiding Jerusalem Muslims; perhaps he is merely mongering war for fun and/or profit. Perhaps the answer comes later in the series.

The gruesome ceremonial bit near the center of the book excludes it from YA-eligibility, which is, IMO, a shame because it will tend to shrink the audience from its potential size. (Writing something the YA audience isn't interested in is one thing; writing something unsuitable for them is another.)

Further, those expecting a Christian treatment that does more than cherry-pick the Biblical text for parts that contribute to the story's viewpoint (and it does have a viewpoint, a la Indiana Jones or perhaps Dan Brown) will be disappointed. There were places that made me despair of a coherent viewpoint at all.

As with so many books nowadays, some of the editorial choices mystify me; apparently standard English ain't what it used to be.

Overall: 4 stars for a rollicking adventure.
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