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Army of God
A plot by a rival to kill Noah and his family is thwarted by a beautiful young woman, who joins them as they flee the ancient Biblical city of Eden. A year later, the Lord reveals His plan to destroy the earth by flood and commands Noah to build an ark. Only the news is met with skepticism and opposition from members of his own family. Eventually, word of the ark reaches Eden, prompting the rival to send an army of five thousand men to destroy it. However, Noah has an army of his own. Action, adventure, and suspense combine with the Biblical account of Noah’s Ark to create a heart-pounding page-turner that will stay with you long after the flood waters have receded.
Debut author Bailey combines fantasy action and biblical legend in this expansive retelling of the story of Noah’s ark. The 500-year-old preacher Noah, son of the governor of the city-state Eden, takes to the streets to warn citizens about mixing with the people of Enoch, who are descended from Cain. His words are rebuffed by rebellious atheist Malluch, who despises Noah and plots to kill him. Noah and his family flee the city. Then Noah hears the voice of God telling him that the world will be destroyed by a flood and he needs to build an ark and fill it with two of each animal. Despite setbacks, the ark is in its finishing stages as Malluch’s army descends. Noah’s family fights back, aided by animal troops.

Bailey’s writing is clean and very readable, though his highly detailed descriptions and historically accurate measurements (such as the use of “one hundred eighty parts” to mean 10 minutes) slow the story. The familiar narrative is expanded more by Noah’s family arguments and Malluch’s men partying and scheming in Enoch than by action or plot twists. The setting is fleshed out with both historical fact and vivid imagination: an altar in debauched Enoch is littered with bones, its streets are full of drunks, and its thieves are torn apart by lions.

Bailey often relies on narration to describe characters’ thoughts and feelings. However, the dialogue is fluid and evocative, showing both the warmth and kindness of Noah’s family and the suspicious, anxious nature of Malluch’s cohorts. Malluch’s conflicted lieutenant, Shechem, is particularly well drawn. The frequent scenes and mentions of violent death, sexual assault, and forced prostitution—with men, women, and children as victims—will feel incongruous to anyone expecting a G-rated Bible story, but readers looking for a grimdark fantasy novel based loosely on a familiar legend will find this hits all the expected notes.

Takeaway: This bloodthirsty sword-and-sandal novel based on the tale of Noah’s ark will appeal to fans of darker epic fantasy.

Great for fans of Glen Cook’s Black Company series, Joe Abercrombie.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: -
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B+