It’s been a while since I read a fiction book, and even longer since I read anything labeled “Christian fiction”. Thankfully this book was exactly what I’d hoped it would be: A pleasant diversion that made me think… but not too much!
For a guy writing his first novel, Litfin did well keeping the story engaging and interesting from cover to cover. There’s nothing earthshattering about the quality of writing, but it’s a good story. The “Christian” aspect of the novel is prominent, but it doesn’t feel forced or contrived, and doesn’t try to push any particular system of doctrine (I’m looking at you, “Left Behind” series).
The setting is several centuries in Earth’s future, after a supervirus and nuclear war have killed off most of the world’s population and set mankind back to the iron age. A bit cliché, perhaps, but it works. As civilization re-emerges, the Kingdom of Chiveis is a polytheistic realm with no trace of the Bible or its God. The people worship four deities; each has its own set of priests, with a High Priestess whose power is on par with the King’s.
Teofil, a young Lieutenant in the Fifth Regiment of the Royal Guard (as well as a professor at the kingdom’s University), is our hero. On a rescue mission to save the beautiful Anastasia, he discovers the remains of an “ancient” French cathedral. Here someone has hidden a copy of the Bible, though much of it has not survived the passing of time. One of only a few in Chiveis able to read the “fluid tongue” (their name for French, the language of the “Ancients” in their region), Teo begins translating Scripture into the vernacular, and a small band of believers begin to gather to hear the words of “Deu”.
As you might imagine, those in the religious establishment of Chiveis are none too pleased with the upstart rival faction. I don’t want to ruin anything for you, but Litfin has included plenty of excitement to please readers. Whether you like noble quests, romance, humor… even poetry and music, it’s all in here.
One of the more interesting things to me was the respect Litfin shows for God’s Word. Teo would never have found the Bible had his interest not been piqued by a discovery in a botony textbook of all places. While studying in the University’s library, he came across Psalm 51:7-12 in the entry under “hyssop” — apparently the only fragment of Scripture surviving in Chiveis from the time of the Ancients. This caused him to begin asking metaphysical questions such as “Am I a sinner? What if the Ancients knew of a god who loves people and hates sin? Could we know this God?” It was a powerful way of demonstrating the efficacy of God’s Word to change hearts; just one small passage led to the search for the God who could “blot out all my iniquities” (Psalm 51:9).
In short, this book isn’t destined to become a classic, but it’s a really fun, easy-reading story with an edifying message. I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel, due out in May!
But it here.