Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Red: May's Book of the Month
Last August or early September, shortly after my birthday, I started Black, the first book in the Circle Trilogy, which I received as a birthday present. I finished it, and then I started Red, the second book in the Circle Trilogy, which I borrowed from Jason and Shannon, and after reading about thirteen or so chapters in it, I lost interest. From the beginning, I was skeptical about it. I'm not sure why. Probably partly because I had just read a whole Dekker book...hardly without letting myself stop to breathe. If you start one, you'll know what I mean. I guess I burned myself out of him...but anyway I stopped reading it, despite the fact that Brian urged me to finish it. He was surprised when I told him I didn't like it. He told me to finish it and give it a chance.
Earlier this week, I gave it that chance.
It was amazing.
Besides being rich with characters and an amazing plot, Dekker does in an entirely different style what Tolkien and Lewis did...what I hope someday to be able to do. Just earlier today Andy and I were talking about whether or not Lewis and Tolkien had an agenda behind their books.
I insisted that they didn't, and Andy said that he wasn't going to readily believe it. I see his point. I probably started the argument before I had enough information to defend my 'opinion' fairly.
I have read that neither Tolkien nor Lewis had an agenda behind their novels; that they meant them for entertainment.
After having a friendly discussion with Andy about it, reading some old notes of Brian's in an e-mail and finishing Red, I realized that it isn't quite that simple.
I'm not sure how much either of them meant for their books to be allegorical, or parallel, or whatever, but I do know that both wanted their books to be entertaining. Lewis was more deliberate about his books being Christianized that Tolkien was, but I still don't know how deliberate either of them were.
You're probably wondering what any of that has to do with Red....but as I was reading, and as I was suffering with Thomas and Rachelle (obviously on a much smaller basis) and as I was breathing deliberately, hungrily awaiting to see what would happen next, a whole lot clicked together.
What Tolkien and Lewis mean with their little pieces of wisdom found in their books....how much more there was to it than I thought there was....and how a novel can still be incredibly entertaining and meaningful with an 'agenda.' I'm not sure if Dekker had an agenda, but I think he did.
Sometimes Fairy-Stories May Say What is Best To Be Said.
That's a direct C.S. Lewis quote. There is so much that suddenly dumped itself on me, that there is no way that I can explain it all here, or take the time to, or even try to make whoever is reading understand, but let's just say that now I know why The Circle Trilogy are listed as some of Brian's favorite books in his profile.
While reading it tonight, my understanding of both love and Christ deepened.
The story is engaging, full of great twists and turns, and wonderful characters, with a wonderful wonderful ending.
I don't think I'm ever going to be another Lewis or Tolkien. I don't know if my books or my mythology will ever measure up to them, or any other great writers of the past. But maybe, someday, I can be one of those people that writes a good book in the tradition of Tolkien and Lewis, like Ted Dekker or Donita K. Paul.
There are dozens of others who were influenced by Tolkien or Lewis in one way or another, but I don't know all of them.
The great thing about all of these fantasy stories...the ones that I have grown to so admire, adore, love, to a certain extent, and prefer over any other novel, is that the ones written within a Christian world-view can bring us so much closer to The Greatest Story of All....the one that really happened.
I think that's what Elyon and Aslan and even Gandalf are meant to do, even in a small way. And then there's Lucy, and Edmund, and Thomas and Rachelle and Frodo and Sam.....parallels.
I can't express how much clicked together when I finished Red, but I highly recommend it. Red is May's Book of the Month, because I was captivated, moved, touched, I started to cry at the end and it's the kind of great book that I hope to write someday.
If you haven't read the Circle Trilogy yet, you should. Start with Black.
To Buy Red or White, click on their links.