Allon is the first in a fantasy/allegory series by Shawn Lamb. The biggest mystery is who you can and cannot trust. Lamb presents characters, some only briefly, but startles us with their motives and revelations of good or bad character, and the consequences of their actions. Beware of jumping to conclusions. Some things are predictable but details keep you guessing.
I think my favorite character is Erin. She tries seduction, changing herself, even a very risky personal sacrifice to earn Ellis’s love. Her changing character and motivations are worth the read. (By the way, this seduction is not at all explicit, nor is another seduction scene in the book. There is no objectionable sexual content.)
The writing style and vocabulary are awkward. Sometimes the vocabulary used is plainly, to me, wrong word choices.
One plot incident that I consider pivotal is the point where Ellis’s relationship with Shannan changes. It involves the trust issue I mentioned earlier, and has something to do with a wild boar. But it is only briefly talked about and does not even make it into the action of the book. Shouldn’t that be more important, if it changes their whole relationship?
My second serious objection is to the handling of the Guardians, and it is twofold. Guardians are supernatural beings similar to angels or demons, interesting characters, both the evil and the heroic ones. But this is an allegory about humans and their growth and preparation for service to God. Shannan’s interaction with the Guardians was frequently captivating but these things distracted from the story of Ellis and Shannan. The Guardians steal the focus from the human characters and the main plot time and again.
Some Guardians rebelled against Jor-el, the God-figure in the story, but who did and who didn’t rebel isn’t always clear. Why are Guardians horribly imprisoned, tortured, maimed, even killed in such frequency and detail? If they are not humans, the focus of the story, what is the spiritual purpose for this?
I am not against violence in books, even for younger readers, but I need to understand the reason for the gruesome description of one Guardian’s mutilation during his imprisonment, and the manner of his death. He is portrayed as defiant and heroic in the face of torture, but he confesses to something the author simply does not explain as rebellion. Quite the opposite. This Guardian says in his dying “confession” that he followed the orders of Jor-el. Are all these imprisoned Guardians guilty of rebellion? Can they repent and be “saved”? Other Guardians who become free don’t confess to wrongdoing, at least not clearly enough for me, and I am not a young reader.
I know of no theology that teaches Angels will torture other Angels, no evidence that they fight or die much as we do except for being a little stronger and faster. Lamb insists that they don’t “die,” but we see them wounded and dying over and over. What teaching is this? It’s worse than a distraction, it’s a kind of heresy skewing the whole redemption and growth and preparation for service storyline. What chance is there for these characters we’ve grown to admire and love, who’ve sacrificed and suffered just like the humans? One good stab and poof! They just disappear. Were they saved? Were they lost? We have no idea.