Sunday, July 15, 2012
Book Review: The Kingdom
From the prologue: The rulers of the earth took counsel together, and the Pact they made defined the centuries to come.
The Kingdom concludes the Chiveis Trilogy by Bryan Litfin. The first two novels in the series are The Sword and The Gift. The trilogy has an interesting premise. It explores a post-apocalyptic Europe beginning several centuries after "the end of the world as we know it." In this world, Christianity has both fallen into decay (just naturally--slowly but surely--been forgotten with the passing of each generation) and been outlawed. In the first novel, Ana and Teo discovered--by chance--a copy of the Old Testament. This presumably being the only known copy in existence. The two learn that it is only the first half of the Sacred Writings. And, of course, they WANT to find the second half, the second testament. But they hardly know where to begin. But just because their knowledge is incomplete, doesn't mean that they aren't eager--very, very eager--to share what they do know. For this is the first they've heard of a Creator God--Deu or Deus, as they call Him. And they're drawn to Him, trusting in Him, in His goodness, in his justice, in his righteousness. Teo in addition to being an incredibly brave, strong, oh-so-handsome soldier, is, of course an extremely brilliant scholar who speaks two or three languages, at least--including some of the ancient languages. Chiveis is the country (nation) where they both live. But it is immoral and corrupt. And the 'state religion' is idolatrous. The High Priestess, let's say, LOVES power, and loves the control she has over others. She's definitely into cruelty and torture. So when Teo and Ana begin spreading the good news--what they know of it--she is most displeased. The two end up being exiled. The second novel follows the two after their exile. Their true mission (which they sometimes forget about) is to find the New Testament, the Second Testament. This second novel introduces readers to two or three other countries or regions. It introduces at least one or two new villains to the general story, and, essentially has hundreds of pages worth of torture for the reader to endure alongside the characters. The bad news? They find the New Testament only to lose it to their enemy. The good news? The message and content of the New Testament is NOT lost after all. The book concludes with Teo hard at work translating this one into several different languages so they can spread the good news to all countries and nations. Which brings us to the third novel....
...Ana and Teo have finally, finally admitted they have feelings for one another. And they've finally found a community of believers who are eager to share in their work in evangelism. Actually, Ana and Teo fit into their already-present community. Teo may have many qualities to be a leader--of sorts--in the Christian community, since he's so brilliant and can translate the New Testament in just a few short months into several different languages, but he's not trying to take the role of the Papa in Roma. This novel begins with the couple preparing to be separated for many months--Teo seeking to travel to another country in search of Knights of the Cross, to see if they still remember what "the cross" means, to see if they are still loyal to the Papa. What Teo learns in his journeys--and what Ana learns as well--is that WAR is coming, that there are powers that be coming together united in hatred for the Christian faith.
How do I feel about The Kingdom? How do I feel about the trilogy? Well, I'm not sure there's an easy answer. It does have an interesting premise, in a way. And the books do give me something to think about. But. The characters annoy me just as often as they satisfy me. And essentially all three books are high on torture and "intense" situations that seem like desperate this-is-it close calls. Perhaps because of the high-frequency of these dramatic moments, perhaps because the characters always seem to come away safe, I never truly worried. I was also annoyed with the "romance" in this one. I felt Ana's love for Teo strained her common sense at times, and the same with Teo. Because Teo was so in love with Ana, he had his stupid moments.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible