The Sword by Bryan M. Litfin

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
The Sword Crossway Books (April 30, 2010) by Bryan M. Litfin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bryan Litfin was born in Dallas, but lived in Memphis, Tennessee and Oxford, England, where he discovered that the house of his favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien, was only five doors down from his own. Bryan still enjoys epic adventure stories, as well as historical fiction. However, most of his reading these days is taken up by academia.

After marrying his high school sweetheart, Carolyn (a true Southern belle), he went on to study for a master’s degree in historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. From there he went to the University of Virginia, taking a PhD in the field of ancient church history. He is the author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Brazos, 2007), as well as several scholarly articles and essays.

In 2002, Bryan took a position on the faculty at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago, where he is a professor in the Theology Department. He teaches courses in theology, church history, and Western civilization from the ancient and medieval periods.

On the morning of January 6, 2007, Bryan woke up with an epiphany. Having finished writing his primer on the ancient church, he had the idea of trying his hand at fiction. The thought occurred to him that the writer of speculative fiction typically has two options. He can create an imaginary land like Middle Earth (which offers great creative freedom but is unrealistic), or he can delve into genuine history (which is realistic, yet limted to what ‘actually occurred.’) However, if a writer were to create a future world as in the Chiveis trilogy, it could be both realistic and creatively unlimited.

This little dream stayed in Bryan’s mind while he researched how to write fiction, and also researched the European landscape where the novel would be set. He planned a trip to the story locations, then went there in the summer with a buddy from grad school. Bryan and Jeff rented a Beemer and drove all over Europe from the Alps to the Black Forest with a video camera in hand. With that epic setting fresh in his mind, Bryan returned home and began to write.

Today Bryan lives in downtown Wheaton in a Victorian house built in 1887. He is blessed by God to be married to Carolyn, and to be the father of two amazing children, William, 11, and Anna, 9. For recreation Bryan enjoys basketball, traveling, and hiking anywhere there are mountains (which means getting far away from the Midwest – preferably to his beloved Smokies).

ABOUT THE BOOK

This novel poses the question, “If a future society had no knowledge of Christianity, and then a Bible were discovered, what would happen?”

Four hundred years after a deadly virus and nuclear war destroyed the modern world, a new and noble civilization emerges. In this kingdom, called Chiveis, snowcapped mountains provide protection, and fields and livestock provide food. The people live medieval-style lives, with almost no knowledge of the “ancient” world. Safe in their natural stronghold, the Chiveisi have everything they need, even their own religion. Christianity has been forgotten—until a young army scout comes across a strange book.

With that discovery, this work of speculative fiction takes readers on a journey that encompasses adventure, romance, and the revelation of the one true God. The Sword speaks to God’s goodness, his refusal to tolerate sin, man’s need to bow before him, and the eternality and power of his Word. Fantasy and adventure readers will be hooked by this first book in a forthcoming trilogy.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Sword, go to HERE

ANDREA’S COMMENTS: Fun and insightful, this will please fans of both low fantasy adventure and post-apocalyptic novels. The sword play is realistic and mostly discreet in my opinion, but this is not for readers especially squeamish about blood and carnage (as in stuff blowing up.) If you’re easily offended at preaching, the bible study scenes will be drudgery for you. Other than one literal “Teo” “Ana” moment, the romance element worked well and was appropriate given the heroine is still a virgin at the end and they live in a religious atmosphere based on the baal cults. If scenes merely implying pagans are about to commit sexual sin offend you, or the hero and heroine snuggling up and not doing anything, this isn’t for you, take note.

Note I am merely observing who might not like this–I actually enjoyed this, though I do hope it gets another edit before it’s release, the average reader probably won’t be so annoyed. This future world scenario is quite well thought out, while subtly raising an interesting eschatology question: what if the decline of our civilization, rather than being a sign of the end of the world, is only a sign of the impending collapse of our civilization? The destruction he envisions rivals the destruction of the Great Tribulation to such a degree that folks who think Left Behind was book 67 of the bible will hate this, and  I personally doubt we’ll see an even worse catastrophe than the Tribulation’s twice culling  a 1/3 and 1/4 of Earth’s population,  until the last page of history is actually written, in my opinion, it’s fair game.

Plot spoiler: The bad guys using trickery to invert Elijah’s duel with the prophets of Baal may offend some readers. In the text, the author defends portraying God as apparently deciding to forfeit the duel by saying the duel constituted twisting God’s arm. This is defensible only on the basis of the prophets of baal calling for the duel this time. Otherwise, the biblical text forces the author into the position that, if you’re a prophet walking as close to God as Elijah did, you can twist God’s arm and get fire to fall from heaven and burn up a sacrifice badly drenched, but the rest of us are out of luck. That is a theological land mine and whether he set it off depends on the reader’s views.

6 Comments

  1. So am I the only one who reviewed this and thought there was a major theological problem because Maurice and Habiloho and Teo and Ana and maybe some of the others all apparently had or gained a saving relationship with Deu even though they did not know His Son?

    Becky

  2. Well, the sacrifice scene bothered me, but the misunderstanding made sense in the context of the story. I understand the concern, it’s good to defend the gospel. The rest of us were probably thinking of where Paul’s sermon-by-mail to the Romans indicates, in a situation where the person genuinely has no access to the gospel, that God will make provision for them, if they would accept Christ if they did have a chance to hear. There’s a common theology in Christian circles that one is only responsible for what they know. I have to admit, I was curious why the author chose to hide the gospel from them.

    This idea of course has no application to the debate in modern America, where the non-Christians who hope to get in some other way have heard about Jesus and willfully reject Him.

  3. I stumbled upon your blog through a friend’s FB. This book sounds very interesting. I just might check it out. Without your review, I probably wouldn’t bother with any book with swords in it–I think they’ve been done to death, but the premise of this book sounds intriguing. BTW, I play at writing MG fantasy/mystery. I like good fantasy stories.

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