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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Lapidius by Matthew Runals is a Christian fantasy and the first book in the author's debut A Nation Found series. The story is set in the fictional realm of Novum Albion, a place struggling to uphold the righteous and principled foundation it was historically admired for with each passing generation. The prospect of stemming Novum Albion's decline comes by way of Lapidius, a military-style academy intent on the reformulation of young minds, bodies, and spirits. Among the newest crop of cadets, readers are able to follow friends Joey, Lucas, Kyle, and Brian as they embark on their training, narrated through an omniscient point of view that also allows readers into the thoughts of others both within and beyond the walls of Lapidius. Strength, perseverance, and teamwork are critical in all situations and for the rehabilitation and safety of Novum Albion, and are taught by action in a cranked-up, monster and fantasy-filled gauntlet known as The Game.
Lapidius is an ambitious undertaking for any author and I definitely have to take my hat off to Matthew Runals for putting this novel out there as his debut. It is a big, big story with a lot of moving parts, world-building, and a full cast of characters. The book is heavy in content and this is reflected in its length, a combination that will bode well for readers who like complete immersion. Christian readers with conservative political outlooks will relish the construct of what Novum Albion was and what it has become, as well as the drivers behind restoring her to exceptionalism. I did find the writing style to be rough around the edges and those who are accustomed to more polished prose will not find that here, but the beauty of a debut novel is that we are able to witness the maturation of an author and see their growth in near real-time, and I do believe that Runals has the potential to make his mark in the genre.