ISSA: The Greatest Story Never Told
A novel by Lois Drake
Published by Snow Mountain Press
Available online now
In bookstores late Sept 2009
Reviewed by Helen Beaufort for Spiritual Encyclopedia
In her first published novel, ISSA: The Greatest Story Never Told, Lois Drake has created a work of religious historical fiction worthy to grace any spiritually-minded person's bedside table.
While it's inspired by Elizabeth Clare Prophet's research presented in The Lost Years of Jesus, the author has gone beyond the bare bones of the documented information to imagine an entire story of Jesus' youth - the so-called "missing years" of the Bible.
In doing so she manages to weave in an abundance of spiritual teachings and truths as they are encountered and understood by the characters in the novel - Jesus (Issa) and his family, the young Prince Vima Kadphises and his father King Taktu, the prince's friend Sanum, Joseph of Arimathea and his servant Awa, the wealthy warlord Panum Sri Bashir, and many others.
Against the backdrop of warfare and the expansion of the Kushan empire in the East, and under the watchful protection of the ancient Order of Melchizedek, Jesus and his friends make their way across India and the Himalayas on a quest of spiritual learning as they seek the guru - Maitreya, "the Coming Buddha". Throughout ISSA, spiritual teachings are touched upon in a way that enhances the flow of the novel, and are more often than not an integral part of the plot.
I noted the presence of karma, twin flames, spiritual testing, dharma (mission), Hinduism, Buddhism, inner attunement, heart-centeredness, handling emotions, black magic (focused misuse of energy), miracles, conquering our own dark side, sacrifice, and discerning/following God's Will.
The story flows almost seamlessly from one event to another, somehow covering a period of many years in 218 pages without making me feel lost. I was completely absorbed into the characters' lives and world, and was pleasantly surprised to find myself at the end of the story without having had any desire to put the book down during reading.
I have seen the book referred to as young adult fiction, probably because of the ages of the main characters, and while I'm sure teens and young adults would enjoy it, I'd lean more towards the categorisation on the back cover of the book - inspirational fiction - as I believe any spiritually-inclinded or open-minded person has a lot to gain from it.
As a novel, ISSA has all the right pieces and it's gripping enough to keep you riding the waves. As a spiritually inspiring book, it's thought-provoking enough to allow you to tune into a time and place where the people are God-focused and striving to better oneself is the norm. For that "tap on the shoulder" reminder alone, I am personally grateful.
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