Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"When The Nile Runs Red" by DiAnn Mills

“When the Nile Runs Red”
DiAnn Mills
Published by Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL
ISBN-13: 978-0-8024-9911-0
ISBN-10: 0-8024-9911-2

What do you like best in a book? What are the characteristics you look for in deciding to purchase one or check it out of the library? Do you look for action? Romance? Adventure? High drama? Well-drawn characters?

Then take a look at “When the Nile Runs Red,” by DiAnn Mills. This prolific Christian author delivers a well-told story of life in the southern Sudan filled with all of those elements and more. She gives us a trio of complex leading characters, savage yet elegant scenery and a storyline right out of the headlines.

Meet Paul Farid, an Arabic Muslim from a wealthy family. Attractive, educated, well-spoken – Paul is on the road to success. His trip is detoured when he becomes converted to Christianity and realizes his past behavior toward the people of the south is at odds with his new faith system. Paul’s actions, and his fortune, are now dedicated to helping the people he previously worked to destroy.

Dr. Larson Farid, Paul’s American wife is more than his life partner. She is also his co-laborer in the desperate villages of the southern Sudan. As a medical doctor, Larson works to heal bodies damaged by the ongoing violence. As a woman, she teaches other women skills to minimize the health hazards around them. As a Christian, she ministers to spirits thirsting for Truth.

The third part of the equation is Colonel Ben Alier, the military man bearing both physical and spiritual scars from the constant warfare in which he lives. Ben leads the Rhino Batallion, fighting for freedom and peace in southern Sudan.

These three form an unlikely yet highly effective team as they work to build a better life for those in southern Sudan. Success seems to be close at hand with the signing of a peace treaty and appointment of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement leader John Garang as vice president to the national government. Is their work done?

Mills has taken a national tragedy to a personal level in “When the Nile Runs Red.” Rather than a simply relating a sweeping story of global events, she brings us the impact of those events on individual lives. Her characters are imperfect humans, struggling to be their best and offer their best to others in a world where the price for lack of vigilance can be betrayal and the result of failure is death. No cardboard fillers here – the people are multi-layered, deep and realistic. They trip and fall; they persevere and endure; they question along the way.

This book is very much like a funnel, drawing the reader deeper and deeper into the lives of the characters. I found it difficult to put down at the end of a chapter (I tend to do my recreational reading “a chapter now, a chapter later.”) and wanted to keep going.

There are elements of romance, adventure, political intrigue, mystery and travelogue within the pages. Although the book continues the story of characters first introduced in “When the Lion Roars,” prior reading of that novel is not necessary to enjoy “Nile.” Neither is having an in-depth understanding of the political environment of Sudan. Mills puts everything in context as the story progresses.

As a reader, I especially enjoyed her descriptive passages. I have never traveled to Africa, yet I could see and feel and taste and smell the land she describes in this book and I am left with a longing to return to a place I haven’t physically been yet.

I also appreciate her careful plotting. Reading about people who never make an error is boring – let’s face it, Christians make mistakes, too! These were people I could easily meet in any world – they just happened to be in Sudan and the story grows naturally out of their actions. Few things turn me off on a book as thoroughly as a forced plot. You won’t find that here.

As a Christian, I appreciate the underlying faith of this book. Beyond that, I appreciate Mills and Moody Publishers putting their faith on line and using income from the sale of “When the Nile Runs Red” to support aid efforts in the southern Sudan.

I’m a firm believer in libraries – I have a library card and I use it. This time, though, I don’t want you to use your library card. More than simply urging you to read “When the Nile Runs Red,” I urge you to buy it to read it. You’ll be providing humanitarian aid as well as giving yourself a good read! (By the way, it would make a great Christmas gift for the readers on your list!)

For more about author DiAnn Mills and her earlier books, visit her webpage at

© 2007 Mary Beth Magee

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