"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Sword by Bryan M. Litfin

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Sword
Crossway Books (April 30, 2010)
Bryan M. Litfin
BUT FIRST, A WORD FROM OUR BLOGGER: What would a post-Christian, pagan world do with God's word, if found with no prior conditioning, tradition or dogma as preparation? The fictional kingdom of Chiveis is about to demonstrate one possible scenario.
Bryan Litfin takes a fresh approach to God's word, "The Sword," of this so titled novel. And he does it with an admirable detachment from the Judeo-Christian cultural immersion we take for granted. He presents snippets from the Bible, but in a refreshing translation of his own crafting, free of the religious coloration that imbues today's popular Scripture translations. Litfin presents the simple, God-breathed faith as the natural outgrowth of unprejudiced exposure to the God-breathed Scripture. As the Bible Teofil and Ana discovered contained only the Old Covenant, they and a small community of "Deu" worshipers somehow leap to a Messianic-style understanding of and love for the "All-Creator" revealed there. As for Litfin's writing style and the characters' voice, this blogger found relatively little to nit-pick about. His prose flows naturally, drawing the reader along with none of the fatigue that plagues readers of less worthy historical narrative. My only criticism is the persistent, contemporary idiomatic English the characters use, where I would expect their dialog to reflect the more formal style characteristic of a translation from a Germanic tongue into English. But that "fault" might truly be considered a benefit for those readers more comfortable with contemporary-style dialog. In contrast to that minor stylistic issue, the author presented the protagonists' growth in faith authentically and with great sensitivity. Even their lapses into doubt smack of the cruel reality of human weakness. And don't expect the author to soft-pedal Chiveis' pagan cruelty and lust. Litfin succeeded in presenting the ugliness of debased humanity with an inoffensive sensitivity and tact, without trivializing its evil.
Compared to the garden-variety fantasy we've come to expect from such epoch, other-worldly fiction, The Sword steadfastly refuses to exploit magic and sorcery for its supernatural appeal. Instead, it presents the wonder and majesty of the Eternal One's work through fallible human beings' simple faith.
I highly recommend Litfin's Chiveis Trilogy as a faith-challenging, spirit-uplifting journey into a world that, should the Lord tarry, might just be. 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 of page-turning action and adventure poses the question, "If a 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. Through compelling narrative and powerful character development, 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. Visit the book website at The Sword to see amazing videos and a wealth of information about the trilogy! If you would like to read the first chapter of The Sword, go to HERE

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