I remember waiting for each installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to come out on the big screen. It was early in my marriage and the films came out around December, if I remember correctly. It was hard to wait! I've been waiting again because over the past three years, I've been reading Bryan Litfin's Chiveis Trilogy. One by one they've been published. The final book was just published in June. The trilogy tells the story of the demise of our world due to a deadly virus. The remnant left alive enter a modern dark age and Christianity is hidden. A dark religion takes over the minds of the people. The trilogy is about the search for Christ.
The first book, The Sword, surprised me. It was a book of speculative fiction--a genre that is not my usual choice. I enjoyed the development of the main characters, Teo and Ana. The plot took unexpected turns. The second book, The Gift, was a solid sequel. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first, though. The third, The Kingdom, arrived last week and I had the chance to read it over the weekend.
At the beginning of The Sword, there is a short prologue that explains how a deadly virus spread throughout the world. I was impressed by Litfin's quick, but succinct description of events. It was quite vivid. Then, we are introduced to the kingdom of Chiveis. The gap between the virus and the present kingdom of Chiveis is filled in in the prologue of The Kingdom. It is explained how the kingdoms came about and how their governments took power. Then, the story begins. The conclusion of the trilogy.
I did enjoy this series over all, but the last book is the one I enjoyed the least. There is a lot more violence and sensuality than in the other books. It is interesting to find these components in a Christian fiction book. I feel I should admit that I also cringe at The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This is a very different genre of fiction for me to read. I have read books that have deftly dealt with these aspects of life without dwelling too much upon them. In the case of this book, it is the sensuality in certain scenes and how it is described more than the violence. I understand that is part of battle and war. For this reason, I would only recommend this book to adults and not teenagers. Perhaps I give teenagers too little credit for how mature they are, but still I wouldn't want my daughters to read this book until they are in college. I know I say that as the mother of three young children, though, and my perspective might be different in 10 years.
This story finds Teo and Ana together fully grasping the Gospel and preparing to share it with others. They long to return to Chiveis and hope to soon. The story follows their paths and the paths of those they love. The dialogue felt a little too much like casual conversation today. I imagine royalty as speaking more formally than they did in this book during those scenes and for those speaking to royalty to have more respect in their address. The dialogue often felt discordant with the setting and the plot. The story also felt like a mixture of other stories I've read in the past.
But, the ending was satisfying. It did have a good ending. As I was reading, I hoped for Good to prevail over evil and for the Gospel to be shared with the people. That is what God's Word tells us about this world we live in.
So, do I recommend this book? Yes, if you've read the first two and want to know how everything turns out. Is it a stand alone book? Definitely not. The first two should be read first. Bryan Litfin has created an interesting world with an interesting premise. I think it is wise to consider what the world would be like without the hope of Christ--perhaps considering such can help us be more mindful of sharing the Gospel and seeing those who don't know the hope of Christ as lost. It's so easy to get caught up in our day to day responsibilities and miss out on the opportunities we have to love others in our lives who don't know the Lord. I know it is for me.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Crossway.