Thursday, February 23, 2012
Empyrion by Stephen Lawhead
Even though Stephen Lawhead is a "Christian" author, his books aren't obviously Christian. He writes of different lands and cultures, and his Christian heritage comes out in how some people/cities (in this case, Dome) are truly evil, worshiping hateful things and giving themselves over to being almost like animals....while another people/land/city (in this case, Fierra) represents Heaven in being loving, caring, hard working , and are transformed by their fierce love for their God.
The basic plot is that Orion Treet, a down and out historian on Earth, is hired (more like kidnapped and coerced) by a major corporation based out of Texas to travel through a wormhole in space to get to a colony in a different galaxy. His mission is to discover and document why the colony no longer communicates with the corporation back on Earth. How has it developed and why? The major hitch is that, on the other side of the wormhole, time lapses far more quickly than on the Earth side. So even though the Cynetics colony has only been around for a few years, when Treet gets to Empyrion, he finds a culture that has evolved and changed over time, suffering several major catastrophes from within. When he teams up with a female guide in Dome, where he and his fellow travelers were captured, he finds hundreds and hundreds of years of history and begins to understand what happened. The people of Dome live in a stratified society, much like the caste system in India....only even more stratified, if you can imagine it. There are power struggles and murder and "conditioning" (read: torture) and through it all, the citizens of Dome are taught to fear the Fieri more than anything. They have no concept of space travel, not even of traveling through the air. What a long way they have fallen from the original Cynetics colony.
At the end of The Search for Fierra, Orion must leave the love of his life, choosing his duty over her, believing that the God of the Fieri will guide him. In The Siege of Dome, we see Treet captured and tortured, escaped and joined with the rebel band. The battle rages on between the rebels and Jamrog, the merciless head Director, who will stop at nothing to crush his opponents...and who wants more than anything to destroy the Fieri. They did it hundreds of years before by dropping an atomic bomb in the middle of their city, and he will do it again...as soon as the "magicians" figure out how to work the ancient mechanism found in the storage vaults.
All the way to the end, you'll read these books with edge-of-your-seat excitement. The characters are interesting and intriguing--even the evil ones. As all good books must end, good triumphs over evil, not without casualties, and not without heartache, but it's still good and satisfying knowing that Right is the strongest and Love will always conquer Fear.
About changing my life--what really struck me about these books was how the Fieri attribute everything good to their God. They give him thanks in everything and for everything. The style of their homes reflects their love for Him and the beauty of his creation. The way they perform and give concerts and attend concerts is changed by their belief the presence of their God. They are always conscious that only their God is worthy of praise...ever. This is what made me think differently. I know that as a Christian, I want my life to be transformed by my love for God and gratitude for what He has done for me, but this book really gave me a lot of new ways to think about how my life could look different. The things that I enjoy. The efforts I make. It could all be more intense, more purposeful, more joyful. Because of this, The Search For Fierra was an especially amazing, delightful experience. I know I will read it again someday.