David Litwack

The Light Of Reason

The Light Of Reason
Published: November 26, 2016
Author's Twitter: @davidlitwack
A new grand vicar, known as the usurper, has taken over the keep and is using its knowledge to reinforce his hold on power. Despite their good intentions, the seekers find themselves leading an army, and for the first time in a millennium, their world experiences the horror of war. But the keepmasters’ science is no match for the dreamers, leaving Orah and Nathaniel their cruelest choice—face bloody defeat and the death of their enlightenment, or use the genius of the dreamers to tread the slippery slope back to the darkness.

Assessed 

5 Stars

The Light of Reason is the third book in David Litwack’s The Seekers series, (The Children of Darkness and The Stuff of Stars being the first two) and it continues the series’ trend of well-written, dystopian science fiction with wonderfully-developed characters and a unique mood.

We re-join our heroes, Orah and Nathaniel, as they return from their adventure across the ocean. The childhood friends immediately notice that their home is not how they left it. They learn that the Vicars have broken the truce and are rallying against technology and The Keep, threatening the stability and viability of their homeland. With Orah and Nathaniel having just returned from the realm of the Technos and the Greenies with machines and hoping to broker an alliance, they find their plans substantially set back. With an old friend missing and some new friends in tow, Orah and Nathaniel set out to once again set things right in their homeland and to (hopefully) bring an end to the darkness once and for all. Twists and turns abound in this dramatic third act, and without giving away too much, the ending will more than satisfy long-time fans of the series.

The dark mood from the first books returns, and while the protagonists’ victories are at-times short-lived, they never become uninteresting or demoralizing. The characters that are developed throughout these three novels live in a melancholy world, but ultimately persevere despite it. The depth of characterization, the beautiful phrasing & word choices and the dramatic action mix together to form a truly unforgettable experience. The pacing is appropriate and the author handles action and dialogue with skilled precision. The conflicts of man vs. man and man vs. machine are well developed, and the dichotomy of values ascribed to technology and the lack thereof from the first two books remains intact.

This is another fantastic book from David Litwack and is a tremendous addition to an already amazing series. The Light Of Reason is easily a 5-Star read.

 

 

The Stuff of Stars

The Stuff of Stars
Published: November 28, 2015
Author's Twitter: @davidlitwack
Book two of The Seekers dystopian trilogy. Against all odds, Orah and Nathaniel have found the keep and revealed the truth about the darkness, initiating what they hoped would be a new age of enlightenment. But the people were more set in their ways than anticipated, and a faction of vicars whispered in their ears, urging a return to traditional ways. Desperate to keep their movement alive, the two cross the ocean to seek the descendants of the keepmasters’ kin. Those they find on the distant shore are both more and less advanced than expected. The seekers become caught between two sides, and face the challenge of bringing them together to make a better world. The prize: a chance to bring home miracles and a more promising future for their people. But if they fail this time, they risk not a stoning but being lost in a never-ending dream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Children of Darkness

The Children of Darkness (The Seekers)
Published: 20 Jun. 2015)
Author's Twitter: @davidlitwack
A thousand years ago the Darkness came–a time of violence and social collapse when technology ran rampant. But the vicars of the Temple of Light brought peace, ushering in an era of blessed simplicity. For ten centuries they kept the madness at bay with “temple magic,” eliminating the rush of progress that nearly caused the destruction of everything. Orah and Nathaniel, have grew up in a tiny village, longing for more from life but unwilling to challenge the status quo. When Orah is summoned for a “teaching”—the brutal coming-of-age ritual that binds the young to the Light—Nathaniel follows in a foolhardy attempt to save her.

July 30, 2015

Format: Paprback

5 Stars


The Children of Darkness, the first volume of David Litwack’s The Seekers series, is a classic quest story. Three young heroes embark upon a journey to uncover a secret that can save the world. Along the way they meet a wise guide and encounter daunting obstacles that test their courage and resolve. And they return very changed.

This YA novel follows the pattern, but it’s anything but run of the mill. The quality of its intelligence, imagination, and prose raises The Children of Darkness to the level of literature.

Orah, Nathaniel, and Thomas live in a theocracy. The Temple of Light came into existence a after a series of wars almost destroyed humankind, and for a millennium it has kept the peace. The Temple controls every aspect of peoples’ lives. The vicars of the Temple prescribe how many children a family may have, how people cook their food, what musical instruments they play, and, of course, what they’re allowed to think. The rules are enforced by bands of deacons and by “teaching” the young in a process that amounts to torture.

A vicar comes to the village of Little Pond and selects Thomas for a teaching. When he returns, he avoids Nathaniel and Orah because the vicars have forced him to betray his childhood friends. Next Orah is taken for teaching. Nathaniel follows her and the vicar to Temple City and offers to take her place. While he awaits the vicars’ decision in a dungeon, the old man in the adjacent cell tells him of the Keepers, a secret group who through the centuries have passed down coded directions to the Keep, a hidden place where the wonders of the ancient world are preserved. Everything forbidden by the Temple is there.

The old man appoints Nathaniel a Seeker, charged with finding the Keep, and gives him the first part of the code along with clues to the location and identity of the next Keeper. After Nathaniel returns to Little Pond, he and his friends set out to find the Keep.

At first their quest appears altogether noble and right. The Temple of Light is oppressive, cruel, and anti-intellectual. As the wise man explains to them, the aim of teaching is to extinguish the fire in human beings — the spirit that drives individuals to dream and achieve and aspire to greatness. Teaching almost destroys Thomas. But a thousand years ago, humankind almost destroyed itself and the world with the magic in the Keep. For all its shortcomings, the Temple makes it possible for human beings to live in harmony among themselves and with nature. The quest might open Pandora’s Box.

Litwack avoids the usual tropes of YA fantasy. There’s no simpleminded battle between good and evil, no sexual jealousy and tension between friends, and no adolescent bickering. The friends argue about things that matter — how they can best survive, whether the quest is worth the cost.

In The Children of Darkness Litwack has created a fully realized and altogether believable world. The characters, including the functionaries of the Temple, are complex and sympathetic. The conclusion is unexpected yet feels altogether right. Everything is set for the next volume of the series, which I very much look forward to reading.

Highly recommended.

5 stars.

Reviewed Chelsea Heidt

3.5 Stars

I admit it: I liked this book more than I thought I would for a good while. It’s a dystopian book, but that takes a while to come out, and it begins like a humdrum fantasy, which put me off a bit at the beginning. The story starts with a festival in the town of Little Pond, and one of a handful of annual visits by a vicar from Temple City to bestow a blessing of light, deal out medicines, and–unfortunately–take away one of the main characters, Thomas, for a “teaching.” Thomas leaves behind his friends Orah, who has prophetic dreams, and Nathaniel, who believes he is destined for greatness. In Temple City, Thomas receives his teaching, showing the horrors of the past age called “the darkness,” a time when people used weapons like suns they dropped from the sky against each other. He comes back changed, and shortly after Orah is taken for a teaching of her own–but Nathaniel, determined not to let another of his friends suffer, goes after her, and he, Orah, and Thomas end up on a quest to discover the truth about the darkness and whether the vicars of Temple City have been lying to them their entire lives.

Not-so-spoiler: they have. This is pretty much a given in a dystopian book. What makes this interesting in comparison to most modern dystopians, I feel, is that the government in control of the land is a theocracy. In most dystopians published these days, religion has been eliminated or at least pushed to the fringes. In The Children of Darkness, religion–granted, a conglomeration religion and not one of the ones that’s currently practiced on Earth–is front and center. I liked this, because it shows how government and religion can be so strongly linked that they can become the same thing, even in places where one isn’t actually portrayed as the other. It also makes it harder for the heroes to invoke change, because they’re fighting against a doubly-strong force; trying to turn people away from a political structure of life and a religious one is, in theory, twice as hard as trying to turn people from just one of them.

That said, this book can be a bit slow. The quest of looking for the truth about the darkness doesn’t progress very quickly; there’s not a lot of action. You’re not going to find any girls on fire in this book, no teenagers quite literally fighting the power. There’s a lot of walking from place to place, admiring of the scenery and creations left over from the previous age, and then a lot of sitting around and learning. This was necessary for the characters, because the main thing they’re trying to do is find out the truth; they’re not dead-set on overthrowing the system, they just want to know what’s really going on. When they do decide to act, they do it with words rather than weapons. I’m skeptical of how successful this would have realistically been, since they never actually emerge into the light and kind of end up with a leaderless movement, but eh. Whatever. However, this non-action might mean that this isn’t the book for people looking for something a little more like The Hunger Games. It’s a slower, lower dystopian, and it also kind of ends up feeling more like backstory for whatever comes next.

There are supposedly two more books in this trilogy, one of which is currently out. I think I’ll read the next one, at least–it involves crossing the ocean, which is a much more intriguing proposition to me than finding the keep was–but I’m also interested in reading another Litwack book I already happen to have, Daughter of the Sea and Sky. I think his writing and world-building skills are strong enough to give another look, even if this one wasn’t quite as fast and action-y as I would have thought, and might have liked.

3.5 stars out of 5.

I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review.

The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky

The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky
Published: May 3, 2014
Author's Twitter: @davidlitwack
After centuries of religiously motivated war, the world has been split in two. Now the Blessed Lands are ruled by pure faith, while in the Republic, reason is the guiding light-two different realms, kept apart and at peace by a treaty and an ocean.  Children of the Republic, Helena and Jason were inseparable in their youth, until fate sent them down different paths. Grief and duty sidetracked Helena’s plans, and Jason came to detest the hollowness of his ambitions. These two damaged souls are reunited when a tiny boat from the Blessed Lands crashes onto the rocks near Helena’s home after an impossible journey across the forbidden ocean. On board is a single passenger, a nine-year-old girl named Kailani, who calls herself The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky. A new and perilous purpose binds Jason and Helena together again, as they vow to protect the lost innocent from the wrath of the authorities, no matter the risk to their future and freedom. But is the mysterious child simply a troubled little girl longing to return home? Or is she a powerful prophet sent to unravel the fabric of a godless Republic, as the outlaw leader of an illegal religious sect would have them believe? Whatever the answer, it will change them all forever… and perhaps their world as well.

Reviewed 

A tiny wooden boat crashes onto the rocks and is smashed into splinters by the waves. A lone young girl is rescued by Helena and Jason, who attempt to protect her from the authorities of the Land of Reason. They advise young Kailani to request asylum, in an effort to keep her from incarceration. For this innocent child is from the Blessed Lands—ruled by pure faith, and she has illegally entered the Republic—ruled by reason alone. Her sudden and inexplicable appearance changes everyone’s lives, and most especially Jason’s and Helena’s. Can the two lands cooperate, or will more war ensue?

The story opens dynamically and holds the reader’s attention throughout. The character development is excellent, and I found myself identifying readily with each of the main characters. The plot and pacing are sound, and the editing and proofreading are done to a high standard. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and feel that any reader who enjoys Literary Fiction, Sagas, and Religion-versus-State dramas, would enjoy the book.

At around 280 pages this is a medium length read, and I read it in a couple of days. The premise of the story is a variation on the dystopian theme, and I felt that the author dealt with an issue pertinent to our culture (religion or reason?) without preaching.  Right up until the end I had no idea how things were going to work out. I give a strong 5 out of 5 stars to ‘The Daughter of The Sea and The Sky’.