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StaceyHH

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AFTER - Taras and Theron: Beyond Jerusalem - David McAfee Previously, on Stacey Reads McAfee, you will remember, dear fellow reader, that following a critical (and somewhat snarky) review of 33 A.D., the author showed up unexpectedly to let me know that I was Doin' It Rong. After a round of fisticuffs, in which the author made a surprising turn-around, the reader begrudgingly became a potential fan.This time, the reader makes a few observations and poses a couple of questions directly to the author.*In AFTER, both Bachiyr - Taras and Theron, make an appearance in individual vignettes that give us a glimpse into each one's character. Theron makes a bit more use of his teeth this time, (in 33 A.D., he spent more time gutting people with his wondrous retractable claws than he did making with the bitey,) and shows us a little more of what we've come to expect from modern vampire lore – an every vamp for himself, soulless, evil anarchist sort of creature. Cue blood, blood and more blood... kind of like watching a Rodriguez and Tarantino collaboration. Theron continues to be a bit obsessed with the Christians, something I noted in the original review. Christ's followers in this series have a glow that prevents the Bachiyr from harming them, except at great physical risk to themselves. Theron still sports the physical mark of his encounter with Jesus, and no amount of blood or ritual has erased this. In the first book, I opined that, though the author suggests that people of faith glow, the reality of his tale is that nearly only people of the Christian faith glow, (or technically, followers of Jesus glow, since “Christian” was only the proper designation after Christ's impalement.) The author attempted to suggest that he had no inherent bias toward Christianity, but I suggested that indeed he did, because he seems to link the “glow” with following Jesus, since others of faith do not glow (or else he means to suggest that no other religion has people of strong faith,) with the exception of the mention of Theron having observed THREE such individuals in 900 years – Jesus, one of his followers, and one other unnamed glowing person (who possibly was much earlier in history, and thus not tied to Jesus.) In AFTER, he continues this thematic portrayal, in that Theron (and Taras,) continue to observe the spread of Christianity, quite easily identifiable by the glow.So my first question is: Why don't others of strong faith glow also? There were many faiths in Judea, Greece, Macedonia, Rome, etc., and many of these people were willing to not only kill, but to die for their Gods. They built amazing monuments, made sacrifices, performed rituals and created art to their pantheons, and yet they do not glow. Why? Taras is a bit of a Bachiyr enigma. At the end of his life, Taras experienced something of a conversion experience before his death and transformation. When he rises, he seems to retain some remnants of conscience. His story is about how he comes to reconcile himself to living, when he knows that living needs for him to also be a murderer. How can he be this different? He was made the same way as any other Bachiyr can be made, why does he retain a conscience? Even Ramah, who doesn't make an appearance in this installment, makes measured decisions based upon what is advantageous, rather than being particularly compelled by anything resembling a conscience. I feel this part of the story needs to be addressed lest the character of Taras simply become Deus Ex Machina.When it's all said and done, I'm very much looking forward to 61 A.D., which I understand is due out soon. McAfee has developed an interesting voice, and has dispensed with many of the debut quirks that I found annoying in the previous works. I found myself devouring (HA!) AFTER, then having to re-read so I could savor different pieces of the tale, and find the bits I want to grouse about, and hopefully tease a bit more explanation out of the author.*Ordinarily I don't address the author in a review, because mostly, I don't really care about an explanation or opinion from the author, I'm just sharing my observations with other readers. In this case, Mr. McAfee and I have, I think, come to an understanding.