Rant and Rave: Champions—The Lost Chronicles of Eden

“There’s a demon beside you right now,” opens the prologue to a gripping tale about the visible, invisible, and exceptionally human.

Debut novelist Karren Renz Seña conjures up two worlds, one within the other in Champions: The Lost Chronicles of Eden. Earth and Cielos, the city closest to heaven, are the site of an ongoing war. It’s a war that has been fought since the beginning of time and is a war that is still being fought countless times everyday.

Image courtesy of Shepherd’s Voice Publications

Pandora’s forbidden fruit

As the much-coveted Sword of Sargatanas has just been stolen, the worlds are in a scramble to recover it before the damned use it to crash open Gate Pandora, the gateway to hell. This would unleash legions of beasts and demons into every dimension, earth very much included.

Your clueless, average college boy, Gabriel, finds himself in the center of a war he wasn’t even aware existed. Leaving homework, chores, his adoptive family, and campus crushes behind, he is kidnapped and forced to travel onto another plane to train with six other champions—all gifted and called to fight the prophesied battle.

Guardians, not guardian angels

Hale un vale (Home is here),”  utters Solenn, the leader among the champions, as she finally touches Cielterra ground. But where is home to Gabriel? Why was he called? Who is he, really? He seeks out answers while training and living with the other champions for weeks. But he soon discovers that although they are indeed strong and talented, they are nowhere near heroic. A bunch of egoistic, pain-in-the-butt teenagers, no different from humans, were chosen to stop the apocalypse.

Seña endows her champions with flaws. From pride as high as the sky to temperaments as furious as the fires of hell, they were no angels. Angels belonged in heaven, but this was no heaven. Instead, it’s a coming together of spooky bedtime stories and what man has referred to as made-up legends.

However, Seña highlights the need for these guardians, who keep benevolent watch to help us during our encounter with everyday demons. A malicious thought, a greedy intention, a rush of envy, an urge to cheat—these are all examples of when we are amidst evil. Yet our champions, our guardians, fight the demons within themselves too.

Good intentions

Where there is evil, there is good. Where there is darkness, there is light. Seña carefully walks the tight rope between preachy and principled, and she successfully (and thankfully) delivers the latter. This is the first epic fiction released by Shepherd’s Voice Publications, and she subtly manages to share Catholic values to an audience regardless of religious beliefs and differences. Her story significantly dabbles on humanity and morality without sounding too much like a boring spirituality class. She never directly refers to God nor of sins, merely suggesting them in between the lines.

Although it was intelligently built on pillars of biblical references, the book was sometimes over-embellished with these. She included a lengthy list of characters and extra details which could only be described as confusing and excessive. And while the book is a page-turner, the plot did take forceful dives into rushed twists, especially towards the ending of this fairly short read. It also lacked support from its amateurishly written dialogue, which reeked of corniness and predictability.

Nowadays many fiction novelists who aren’t meant to be writing romances seem to insert sappy developments where there is no need for them. Seña would have had a stronger story without the budding fling between two of its protagonists. She would have done better to further develop the complexities of each of her seven main characters, instead of sampling readers with shallow heroes and their constant rise and fall from grace.

World’s impending apocalypse rests on the hands of hormonal young heroes is not an original plot. Inspiration can be drawn from the millennial fascination with apocalyptic stories and pop culture’s rise of teenage-mutant-super-humans out to save the world, and Seña’s guardians are up there with the likes of good-looking vampires and loving zombies. However, it was a creative way of getting certain messages across.

Made in the Philippines

However, if you like Lord of the Rings without the rings or contesting Hunger Games fight scenes, or if you’ve always wanted to see Manila as a familiar setting, the book is worth picking up. The tale is about victors and it comes highly recommended for those fond of victories or journeys towards it. A series installation, Becoming Champions, is now available in FISH magazine.

Champions: The Lost Chronicles of Eden is a proudly Pinoy work that finally footnotes present day Manila as the backdrop of a number of universal themes. The book is a good attempt at filling in the gaps and coloring outside the lines of time old beliefs. Seña masterfully takes us on a 21st century religious connect-the-dots into other worlds and back with a wake up call to be better people—maybe even champions.

Rating: 2.5 / 4

Adrienne Tan

By Adrienne Tan

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