The year is 1772. Toma Nicelescu and his partner Alek Cardei have been assigned by Catherine the Great of Russia to guard the estate of the Cantemirs during the Russio-Turkish War, namely their daughters, Lucine and Natasha. Toma and Alek both know that they cannot allow themselves to become emotionally involved with the sisters, even if the allure is tempting because of their close quarters. Alek is the first to fall, hungry for Natasha. However, Natasha introduces them all to something beyond their control and imagination. In a castle on a mountain not to far away, the devil has come down to tempt humans with the ultimate choice between living free or living dead. Though Toma and Lucine first resist the temptation Alek and Natasha first fell to, they find that there is little they can do to resist it forever.
Immanuel’s Veins can be considered a culmination or an example of everything Ted Dekker has done in his writing career. It is a cornerstone and a sample of everything he has ever done, yet nothing more and nothing new. Combining elements from the endless Circle saga, When Heaven Weeps, and his serial killer novels, and packaged in his trademark epic style, Immanuel’s Veins is deep on the outside yet very empty on the inside. However, nothing Ted Dekker writes can be completely discounted.
Toma, Alek, Lucine, and Natasha are not exemplary characters, but neither are they empty characters. The villain is a mix of all the villains Ted has ever created, making for a predictable result. Of course, there is some offhand allusion to some version of the great Thomas. It’s a miracle this book escaped without a millionth manifestation of Billy\Billos\Will that is really controlling the whole situation with a Blood Book, even though there is a Blood Book mentioned briefly. Basically, this cast of characters is nothing new for Ted Dekker.
The first half of the plot is empty and confusing, lacking substance and locational awareness. Things don’t really get going until the creatures in the dark castle, another manifestation of the Shataiki, start biting people. However, whatever smoke and mirrors and optical illusions Ted Dekker creates are only a cover-up for a very typical plot. By the time the book was half over, Ted created a situation similar to the end of When Heaven Weeps, with the same outcome. Though Ted had a chance to pull things out of a nosedive, he did not, though there are few interesting elements at the end. As mentioned before, Immanuel’s Veins is an example of Ted Dekker, namely the new Ted Dekker, the one that markets himself as an epic and new author but still does the same old stuff.
I used to say that Ted was better at his standalone novels, but now I’m not so sure. Perhaps he can redeem himself in his upcoming co-authored series that seems to be just as mystical as ever.
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