Just when we thought we knew where Ted was headed in his career, just when we were ready to pigeonhole him, he breaks out with another fantastic series. This is not a cheap spin-off of the Circle Trilogy, or another way to cash in on that series' success. This is great storytelling.
The story introduces us to Johnis, a young man who is still trying to understand his place in the Forest Guard. He knows his community is threatened by the nearby Horde, but he and the others have lost their deeper understanding of the good and evil forces that encircle them. They've become lackadaisical in the thirteen years since the Circle Trilogy ended, and they follow their leader Thomas based mostly upon the old stories.
Soon, Johnis and three partners are thrust into a battle for their very lives, racing to fulfill an assignment from Thomas, while also fighting off the bat-winged Shataiki. Johnis is given his own specific quest, and he is forced to either rise above his own limitations or fall prey to his youth and inexperience.
I discovered Ted's writing at the beginning of his relatively short, but prolific, career. I still think "When Heaven Weeps" is one of the best Christian novels out there, and "Thr3e" broke barriers in the market. When he wrote the Circle Trilogy, we had only hints at the larger mythos he was creating, one which ties together his last ten books or so. While I loved the allegory and depth of "Showdown," I found "Saint" and "Skin" to be more movie-script oriented--not bad, just different.
"Chosen" is a return to the deeper exploration that I've come to expect from Ted's stories. Despite being immensely readable and aimed at the YA audience, this is a story older readers can also enjoy for its fantasy elements and for the spiritual ideas that ring throughout. I'm anxious now to read "Infidel." And if these are any indication, "Adam," his next full-length novel should rank among his best.