Review: The second book in the Chronicles of the Nephilim series by Brian Godawa, Enoch Primordial is actually a prequel to Noah Primeval (reviewed here) (Untold Podcast story-episode here). The world of this second novel feels much larger than the Noah book. We’re introduced to a much larger number of biblical (and extra-biblical) characters, and travel to some very unique locations in this biblical fantasy.
However, I didn’t like Enoch as much as its predecessor. There was quite a bit of exposition in the novel as a whole, but particularly in the opening chapters which made getting into the novel rather difficult. In addition to this, Enoch has a large cast of main characters, but as they traveled together I didn’t feel that they were distinct from each other. The reader is certainly told how they are different, but I just didn’t feel they were particularly well fleshed-out. Add to this the grandfather (Enoch), father (Methuselah), and Son (Lamech) have similar back-story elements, and further haziness is cast over the characters. Other character motivations (one in particular) made no sense to me coming or going. And a court-room scene, while making some very good observations, seemed a little weird for the world of the story, and very drawn out.
So, does this mean I don’t like the book? Not at all! I just feel that there were too many messages, information and “interesting” tidbits inserted into the novel.
But I liked the story. There is genuine character growth, real heart-ache and some really cool triumphs in this fantasy novel! I appreciate Godawa’s general approach to the genre which gives us minimal descriptions and unleashes our imaginations to fill in the rest. This really engages the mind, and moves the story along! I also like Godawa’s integration of healthy biblical perspectives (often contrasted against unhealthy ones that many believers hold). I was also thrilled to have Nephilim characters in this novel, whereas they seemed like thoughtless brutes in Noah, in Enoch they are actual characters.
So, Enoch Primordial wasn’t as strong as Noah Primeval, but does that mean I’m giving up on the Chronicles of the Nephilim series? No way! I love this series and I’m chomping at the bit to free up some time to get to Gilgamesh Immortal in the next few weeks.
So, if the idea of biblical fantasy is at all appealing to you, go check out Noah Primeval and definitely check out this book, Enoch Primordial for a fun ride and an expanded world.
Rating: 3.5/5 (I liked it)
Find it here on Amazon.
Also, because I’m a pastor and theologian, I feel professionally obligated to make some sort of comment about the sizable Appendix in the book which gives some background information. Like most things there’s areas of agreement and disagreement. I really appreciated the main article “Retelling Biblical Stories and the Mythic Imagination in Enoch Primordial”. Here Godawa provides a winsome argument for, essentially, retelling biblical stories in the fantasy genre in order to communicate the timeless truths of scripture to a contemporary audience.
The section on Satan, or “the satan/the accuser,” is unfortunately a hornet’s nest issue which simply cannot be effectively addressed within the space Godawa gave it. There are major issues of exegesis, Old Testament hermeneutics, New Testament hermeneutics, NT use of OT hermeneutics, progressive revelation, apocalyptic literature, linguistics, grammar, divine attributes, divine sovereignty, biblical typology and prophetic literature to be dealt with in an issue like this. And, unfortunately, in this section Godawa raises more questions (or more doubts) than he provides answers. This, of course, isn’t always wrong. But this topic and the issues he brought up deserve a more robust exploration if they’re brought up. (My advice: only dive into this section if you’re willing to do extensive follow-up homework).