Jonathan is the hero of the story, hailing from the tribe of Daniel. The tribe of Gideon plays the antagonist role, similar to the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon. They are, for the most part, bloodthirsty and aggressive. Manassah, the Gideonite leader, wants to unite the three tribes via conquest, whereas Jonathan seeks to bring people to remembrance of their distant family heritage in order to restore peace and unity.
The story moves along quickly and provides intrigue and satisfying battle scenes. Nothing too gory, so the book is appropriate for all ages. As expected with this genre, there is a great deal of religious content. This is both good and bad. It’s good in that it gives the book lofty meaning and spiritual insights. It’s bad in the sense that the storyline occasionally feels like it has been forced to fit around the doctrinal goals of the author rather than just unfolding on its own. This is why I’m generally not a huge fan of this genre. Fraley does a great job, but I’ve never encountered a story in LDS speculative fiction that doesn’t seem a bit forced in places.
There are two nits that I feel compelled to bring up. Neither are truly errors, but they still bugged me a little while reading the book. First, the planet Gan in the story has three moons. Therefore, the author continually calls the light from those moons “moons-light.” For some reason, this got under my skin. Light coming from a moon, or moons, is moonlight, just as light coming from multiple candles is still candlelight, not “candles-light.” Second, I was a bit baffled why all the people on Gan have names from the Old Testament. The peoples of the Book of Mormon, for example, were only a continent away from the Holy Land, yet most of them did not have Old Testament names. The fact that people on an entirely different plant didn’t have original names made it more difficult for me to suspend disbelief as a reader.
Again, those are just nits that probably won’t bother anyone but me. I don’t want my inclusion of them to take away from the overall positive tone of this review. I liked the book a lot. It is a wonderful and well-written story by a very promising new author. The message of The Thorn is inspiring and will be greatly enjoyed by LDS readers of all ages. Daron Fraley deserves congratulations for a wonderful debut. I look forward to the rest of the series with great anticipation.