Validus is the last angel God creates, and being last he sometimes wonders if he's meant to do anything great, though his heart yearns to be a warrior for Elohim. In present day Earth, Validus has risen through the ranks. The war with the Fallen – angels who have followed Apollyon, or Lucifer – is tense, and things aren't exactly looking good. Validus is struggling to keep things together when he receives orders to join up with a guardian, an angel assigned to protecting people under the age of reason, to protect a fully grown man, Drew Carter.
We follow Validus from this point onward, seeing some of book one through the eyes of Validus. But we also get flashbacks, starting all the way before Creation. We see Validus struggle to understand God's purposes in both timelines, but always trusting his Lord.
The story essentially gives us a bigger look into the realm of angels and demons, and we get a look into Validus, named Wallace by Drew in book one. We see that Drew might have a bigger role in God's design than we perhaps expected, and it's crucial Validus ensures his safety. In the flashbacks, we see Validus' character grow, becoming more sure of himself, and growing stronger in his confidence of Elohim's ultimate Plan.
The worldbuilding, based on Biblical truths and speculation, is a fascinating mix. In the first book, I loved the idea of a second realm in our world, where angels and demons fought. In Rise of the Fallen, we get to see it in full, with ranks and rules for both sides. It was done well, pulling from Biblical truths as well as speculation (and even then speculation seems inspired by some portions of the Bible). In the story, some text is in bold, to indicate it's taken from the Bible. I like how Chuck Black makes this very clear.
Some aspects of angels and heaven I'm not sure I quite agree with, but I was glad to see how Mr. Black portrayed God. Not only is He a loving and forgiving God, but He's also just and powerful and fierce. He is in control of everything, including what Apollyon and his demons can do. Apollyon must receive permission from Elohim in order to outfit his Fallen with swords to fight against God's angels, and the demons can only directly kill a human by God's express permission. I like that Mr. Black chose to show these traits alongside the ones of love and mercy.
Violence/gore: There is a lot of fighting between angels and the Fallen, and both sides lose soldiers. It's not gory, but there is a lot of violence and war. Some wounds bleed, but again it's not at all grossly described. When it rains, it causes pain to the Fallen (and any body of water). For angels, it can heal, but it's very painful. We see a couple scenes during this process, and the angels being healed scream (which might unsettle some readers).
Profanity: Referenced swearing.
Sexual content: References to sexual perversion among the humans.
Other: A gang in Present Day tries to get two teens to try illegal drugs.
Have you read Rise of the Fallen? What did you think? Did you like or dislike it? Why? What do you think about Chuck Black's portrayals of God and His holy angels?