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The Final Storm
by Wayne Thomas Batson

Reviewed by Kevin Lucia

"...a classic fantasy truly worthy of the title Christian epic."

Not too long ago, Aiden Thomas’s life was depressingly normal. He was nothing more than a slightly overweight, geeky bookworm no good at sports or anything else remotely cool. He did have one friend – oddly enough, a popular kid, Robby -- but when his Grampin got too sick to live by himself, and his entire family moved away, he lost even that. He was back to square one; worse – now he had no friends, and was alone in a new school.

Then, he found the Scrolls of Alleble, which whisked him away to the magical world of The Realm, where all the people are mirror images of those in this world. There he faced danger and peril; encounters the awesome power of King Eliam as well as the frightful power of the evil betrayer Paragor, and is changed forever. He becomes more than he ever imagined, as he gives his life over to the grace of King Eliam. However, as Aiden returns to his world, he receives a vision that chills him to the core: Robby’s Glimpse – his best friend – in service to the evil Paragor!

When school opens in his new town, Aiden encounters Antoinette, a fierce, vibrant young girl with a talent for art and a powerful roundhouse kick. As the grace of King Eliam would have it, she and her family are also believers in King Eliam! Soon, Antoinette receives visions, signs she will be the next called into The Realm. Sure enough, Antoinette makes the same ethereal passage as Aiden, and encounters all the wonder of The Realm, as well as the grace of King Eliam.

And not a moment too soon, because Paragor has set dark wheels into motion, waking the dreaded Wyrm Lord and The Seven Sleepers as his end-game gambit to defeat King Eliam and take The Realm for himself. Antoinette and eleven other knights have been tasked with preventing this, but she is side-tracked by Aiden’s desperate plea to find Robby’s Glimpse, and persuade him to give his life to the King. She is partly successful: she tracks down Robby’s Glimpse, a powerful, arrogant knight named Kaliam, battles him fiercely in combat – but is defeated, and imprisoned in Paragory, awaiting her doom.

As the end approaches, Aiden quests for Robby’s soul in the real world, while Antoinette and the forces of Alleble prepare for their fiercest battle ever – perhaps their last. With the Wyrm Lord, The Seven Sleepers, and now the Scroll of Prophecy, victory is all but assured for Paragor; however, the myth of the Three Witnesses provides hope to the King’s followers. It’s told that in the end, King Eliam will raise the three greatest warriors The Realm has ever known to defeat Paragor. The only question remains: is this myth, or prophesy? Will the Three Witnesses be raised in time, or will The Realm fall into eternal darkness?

The Final Storm brings The Door Within trilogy to a resounding conclusion, as forces of evil and good collide with epic force. The final installment in the trilogy is much like Matrix: Revolutions, with the storyline splitting into equal parts as the war within The Realm spills over into the real world in very tangible ways, and this heightens the peril, as not only The Realm stands at risk, but all reality as well. Baston ends the series well, but not without fulfilling plot twists and teaser elements laid through the first two novels.

The Final Storm’s greatest strength lies with its ties to real world elements, and though the other stories really lack nothing, after reading the final installment, I would’ve liked to see stronger crossover elements between the two worlds. However, thanks to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, we are now living in a “prequel” world, so it’s very conceivable that Baston could look back and revisit The Realm to tell another tale: perhaps Grampin’s first trip to The Realm?

For a classic fantasy truly worthy of the title Christian Epic, pick up The Door Within trilogy today

Kevin LuciaKevin Lucia Kevin Lucia writes for The Press & Sun Bulletin and The Relief Journal. His short fiction has appeared in Coach’s Midnight Diner, The Relief Journal, All Hallows, Darkened Horizons Vol. 3 & 4, NexGen Pulp Magazine Issues 1 & 4, From the Shadows, Morpheus Tales Magazine, Bohemian-Alien, Shroud Publishing’s horror anthology, Abominations, and Tyndale House’s inspirational anthology Life Savors. He’s currently writing a novella for Shroud Publishing’s upcoming novella series, The Hiram Grange Chronicles. He resides in Castle Creek, New York, with his wife Abby, daughter Madison and son Zackary. He teaches high school English at Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton, New York; and is finishing his Masters of Arts in Creative Writing at Binghamton University. Visit him at his website and Myspace page.