Christ's Glory, Not Mine

by science fiction author Andrea J. Graham

CSFF Blog Tour: The Wolf of Tebron

I apologize that there will be no devotional/meditation today, as this marks the last day of the CSFF Tour of The Wolf of Tebron by C. S. Lakin (AMG) and I am finally done and ready to review. (And I don’t have the energy for two posts today.)

The Wolf of Tebron introduces us to Jordan, er, Joran, the youngest son of woodcutters  (I think) who doesn’t really fit in with his family and is often made fun of. He gets in a jealous rage, believing his wife, Charris, has cheated on him, and sends her away back to her parents. Only she never arrives, whisked away by magic.  A loony goose woman spouting prophetic rhymes tells him his bad dreams about Charris have trapped her and only only Joran can release her. After realistic huffing and doubts, he sets out to verify that she really never arrived, frees a wolf from a trap, and learns, yes, his wife did literally disappear. Joran then sets off on a dangerous journey to the castle of the moon (and eventually the sea) to learn what has befallen his wife.

Oh yes, did I mention he’s Dr. Dolittle, er, can talk to animals telepathically?

The Wolf of Tebron is a beautiful, thought provoking tale that starts a bit slow (even for me) but will eventually capture you and draw you in.

If you’re concerned about such tedious things as theology, she does draw on the philosophies of man (as well as usually sound theologians like Chesterton and C.S. Lewis) and the book makes subtle positive references to the atheists’ creation myth, which is commonly mistaken for sound science and hence some Christians mistakenly think they need to embrace the crown jewel of a fundamentally anti-Christian worldview. Scientifically, the theory is untestable, unreproducible, and hence unprovable. It also contradicted by other proven scientific laws, microbiology, and, yes, the Bible.

The Bible tells us nothing died until after Adam and Eve fell at a point in time the genealogies indicate was a bit less than 6000 years ago. Not only this, everything already existed before the fall in a state of complete perfection, a state from which we and creation can only devolve. No literal Adam and Eve means no literal fall, no literal fall means no sin, no sin means no need for the very Savior that Tebron desires to point us toward.

Sorry for the rant. Commercially speaking, Lakin would have been wise to avoid any references at all to the origins of creation and fossil fuels, since her theme does not necessitate raising that issue. So, if that is a hot button issue you care about, within the book, it’s a  minor reference and shouldn’t factor heavily into your buying decision unless you avoid all literature that contains any references to this bad science–and good luck with that.

Another point some readers might care about is the author slips in human philosophies and accidentally gives them equal weight with scripture by putting them on the tongue of her Christ figure. Though I will admit it took me a while to pin down precisely what was bugging me. So keep watch and be discerning, engage the material and decide what to accept and what to politely disregard.

A few specific points I was concerned she could be taken wrong on, that I want to correct:

  • The bible tells us plainly all creation groans under the curse of the fall, and awaits the redemption. Animals do suffer secondhand, and are more innocent than we are, but before we sign them up for sainthood, we should also consider some creatures are known for devouring their mates or even their own offspring.
  • Satan is a specific fallen angel, not a nebulous force. Darkness is used to represent the enemy in scripture in the same vein as light represents Christ. Jesus is a specific personality, too.
  • Giving up our fallen sinful nature as we exist now would not mean losing our humanity, rather it means becoming fully human.

Relatedly, on further reflection, someone could possibly take the implications her Christ figure had a sin nature to lose badly wrong. Of course, it is only an analogy and one can even get into trouble with Christ’s parables by over-analyzing them. This may or may not be a fair question, depending on  the exact role the Wolf of Tebron plays inside his own story universe, whether he is truly a mere symbol, or intended as a purely speculative alternate incarnation of the Lord, as is the case with Aslan.

I will admit, for my tastes, she imitated a bit too much the storytelling style of traditional fairy/folk tales. Early on especially, this slowed the pace by stopping the forward motion cold to backtrack. The style also regularly distanced me  from an otherwise lovable and relateable hero and cheated us out of experiencing his emotions by simply telling us what he was feeling.

Please don’t get the wrong impression. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Tebron is also a beautiful, entertaining story with positive morals on love, anger, despair, and fear, and, other than the above theological issues, presents as decent a symbol for God as anyone but God Himself can be.

Others on the Tour:
Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler


4 comments

  1. Andrea, thanks for the thoughtful discussion, althoguh I had trouble following some of what you were talking about. One point, though. Ruyah is not supposed to be Christ. Clearly, Christ did not have a sinful human nature to give up, BUT he did have his humanity, which he totally sacrificed to save mankind. That is the parallel in my book. I never imply Ruyah/ as a Chrsit figure? had sin. He is given a new name, and although his “old name” is taken away (and maybe that implies sin nature to you?), that piece of him he forfiets is his humainty, as Christ, being the lamb of God came to earth specifically to be a human, then to give that humanity in sacrifice to save mankind.

    Becuase Ruyah is not supposed to be Christ, there is nothing wrong with him spouting human philosophy–which is primarily Christian apologetics quoted. There are a few quotes from poets and others, but nowhere does the book imply, and I would never step in that direction, to claim that Ruyah is an exact representation of Christ. He is a savior in his fairy tale world, and he embodies many of God’s qualities.

    Not everyone enjoys the fairy tale-style narative. Patricia McKillip is the master of fairy tales, having won tons of awards for her fantastic books, which I regularly devour. In keeping with the fairy tale style, her books are almost all narration. We today have been brainwashed by medi and TV, movies, etc., to not have patience for naration and exposition and as writers we are told it is wrong! Well, we are told a lot of things like passive voice is wrong and one should never use “was” ever. However, in keeping with a more traditional style, I want my fairy tales to feel more like the old tales and not like today’s modern style of writing. I do use a lot more dialogue and internalizing, which is common today, but overall I try to keep in line with my interpretation of a fairy tale style.

    However…this first book is a bit different than all the rest to follow in the series, and you might find the next ones more to your liking as far as both the smaller amount of narrative and no Christ figure to confuse you. Over fifty Scriptures are quoted (in Hebrew) in The Map across Time, and maybe it will give offense to hear such coming out of the mouth of an obnoxious pig, but I guess I will have to live with the realization that someone will always dislike or be offended by creative expression.

    Thanks again and I’ve enjoyed the postings by all in the blog tour!
    Susanne

    • Thanks, Julie. I hate writing reviews like this one because I often come off as much more negative than I actually intended. I tend to get on my soapbox too much, I think. It’s still a good book overall. 🙂

  2. Susanne–thank you for stopping by. In retrospect, it turns out I read and reviewed this when I was coming down with a nasty bug, so I’d take this review with a grain of salt.

    As an author, I totally understand where you’re coming from. Strange things can happen when we release our babies into the wild and we discover someone’s subjective reading is interpreting things we never intended to be there. 🙂 I honestly wasn’t sure how Ruyah was intended and tried to qualify that, but like I said, my awful tendency to ramble gets worse when I’m not feeling well. 🙂

    I will admit yours is the first novel I’ve read in a long time that could have benefited from footnotes. Chesterton is pretty solid and Lewis, too, on most things. But you know my general opinion on that subject. 😉 It is entirely dependent on the reader. My “warnings” on stuff like that are intended to shoo away the dreaded (totally unfair) one star reviewers, actually.

    On style, you made me very happy on one thing–you didn’t use omniscient! *shudders* I have decided to not even review books that use omniscient. 🙂

    BTW, guys, sorry for taking so long to approve you. I was backed up from being down sick or taking care of the sick for half of last week. First time comments are held for moderation to prevent spam, repeat comments go up automatically.

    Pig? Oh, I can already see the Jewish boycott and book burning coming. 😉 (Just kidding.)

    I definitely feel we are often expected to open our books in what used to be chapter three and lament this and the tendency to want to boil the craft down to a paint by numbers kit. I am very skeptical of any writing “rule” that uses the words “always” or “never” as usually it is way overstated and ignoring the real issue, or otherwise I will find circumstances where that is not the best method to use for a particular sentence/scene/chapter/book. 🙂 Even “show, don’t tell” is way more complicated an affair than its catchphrase would lead an unsuspecting writer to believe.

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