Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: The Blood Book


The year 2004 was the “Year of the Trilogy” for Ted Dekker, as all three books of what was then known as THE CIRCLE TRILOGY came out one right after the other. The story was in the vein of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia in that it was a creative retelling of the Bible’s redemptive story. THE CIRCLE TRILOGY grew into a collection of interrelated stories called The Books of History Chronicles.

THE CIRCLE TRILOGY was the epic story of a man named Thomas Hunter who found himself bridging two vastly different worlds through his dreams. One moment he’s conscious in his life in Denver, Colorado; the next he’s asleep in that world and conscious in a world recreated by Elyon (an Old Testament name for God). In this world evil in humanity doesn’t exist. They live in perfect community in an extravagant colored forest, following the ways of the Great Romance, which is their sinless and blissful interaction with their loving Creator.

The messengers of their Creator are white bats called the Roush. What evil that does exist is confined across a bridge in a black forest where the agents of evil, black bats with cherry red eyes known as the Shataiki, dwell with their king Teeleh. The humans are forbidden to cross the bridge and eat of the forest’s fruit because it would be the undoing of humanity’s perfect interaction with Elyon. It’s a strange fantasy world, to be sure.

In the midst of this Thomas Hunter introduces an ultimately destructive evil into both worlds—a deadly virus known as the Raison Strain in our world, and humanity’s first fall to evil in the other world. It’s the story of Thomas Hunter’s attempt to rescue both worlds and Elyon’s restoration of the relationship humanity once enjoyed with him.

A few years later, Dekker introduced us to a new series called The Paradise Novels and to an evil character named Marsuvees Black and a little boy known as Billy who seems to be the catalyst of everything Thomas Hunter experienced. The foundation of all the Chronicles is a collection of blank books known as the Books of History. These books have the power to make what is written in them become a reality. They’re both powerful and incredibly dangerous.

As The Books of History Chronicles were released many questions were raised. How does all this connect? What does Billy have to do with the other world? Who is Marsuvees Black and where did he come from? What is the connection between the Roush and the Shataiki? What is Teeleh’s plan to undo humanity? How did Thomas Hunter bridge the worlds? The questions are many.

To give us some insight into the questions, Dekker recently gave us THE BLOOD BOOK: TALES, CONFESSIONS, AND RUMORS OF THE WORLDS. Specifically, he gave 1,000 of his fans a chance at having one of these books through the Share the Love Campaign in preparation for the release of his novel THE PRIEST’S GRAVEYARD. Thankfully, I was one of the 1,000. I loved the Books of History Chronicles because it put flesh to some of the concepts of our redemptive story. But I also wanted the questions answered.

The book is written as if it was compiled by Ba’al, who is the high priest of the Horde in the other world, and, we soon discover, the Billy of the Paradise Novels.

The first part is about the creatures of the other world—the Roush, the Skataiki, and the Albinos who are the followers of Elyon. Ba’al sends a warrior named Mustul into the Black Forest to capture a Skataiki to bring back to the alchemist Grushom to study. Mustul is to also bring back the writings of Marsuuv, a queen of the Shataiki. Mustul pens his experiences of his mission, and then we read Grushom’s account of studying the Shataiki’s nature and structure. The findings are interesting.

We then read Mustul’s account of capturing a Roush, followed by Grushom’s account of studying it. Here we begin to understand the connection between the Roush and the Shataiki.

Finally, the first part closes out with Mustul stealing the journals of Thomas Hunter and Grushom’s study of a human albino.

Dekker reveals at the end of the book that this first part was written by his agent Kevin Kaiser. Kaiser turns out to be a worthy storyteller next to Dekker, and I’ll be excited to read anything of his in the future.

The Second Part, penned by Ted Dekker and another storyteller named Josh Olds begins with what I was most eager for in the book. Ba’al, who is Billy, tells us his secret history, and it is revealing to the whole story I’ve become so wrapped up in.

This is followed by the journal entries of Thomas Hunter. It was great to get back into the mind of this epic character. Thomas muses on the nature and unfortunate hypocrisy of the Christianity of our world and on the nature of Christ’s teachings. Jesus is known as a man named Justin in the other world (much like Jesus is known as Aslan in Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia), and from Thomas’ point of view the people in the other world seem to be more impacted by Jesus than in our world. Though I appreciate Dekker’s viewpoint, this part seemed a little like he was using it as a soapbox, as I’ve heard Dekker talk about the shortcomings of American Christianity many times. Still it’s a challenge to see Jesus more for who he is.

The book closes out with the writings of the Shataiki Queen Marsuuv. Here we learn about Teeleh’s plan to use Thomas Hunter to undo Elyon’s rule, and we also learn Teeleh’s history, closely connected to Satan.

THE BLOOD BOOK was a fun read, especially after reading all of the Books of History Chronicles books and seeing all the connections. Though there are only a thousand copies available, I can’t imagine that Dekker wouldn’t make it available to a larger audience someday. It was a great closer look at the fantasy world that Dekker created in the original CIRCLE TRILOGY.

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