I just finished Jill Williamson’s From Darkness Won, book 3 of her epic fantasy series, Blood of Kings, and noted once again how overt the Christianity is. Some might even say preachy. In fact they have in their Amazon reviews.
Of note, a good many other reviewers who apparently agree with the worldview of the author and main characters didn’t find the stories preachy in a negative way.
Nevertheless, there were those that said things like the following:
- it bludgeons you with the faith
- preaching incessantly and without subtlety
- Occasionally, the Christianity approached preaching
- I was getting irritated by the constant preaching
Jill’s work is not alone when it comes to a clear depiction of Christianity in her fantasy. A friend of mine completed a recent release and remarked how surprised she was to find blatant Christianity in that story.
That got me to thinking about the various other books I’ve read that take place in a fantasy world but show the One True God — identified by various different names. Many also have His Son and/or scriptures that can be equated to the Bible. Here are ones that came quickly to mind:
- The Guardian King series by Karen Hancock
- The Sword of Lyric series by Sharon Hinck
- The DragonKeeper Chronicles and the Chiril Chronicles by Donita Paul
- The Door Within trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson
- The Binding of the Blade series by L. B. Graham
I’m sure there are others.
The presence of Christianity in fantasy, though couched in otherworldly terminology, seems to upset non-Christians. Is this because the Christianity is transparent or because it is heavy handed?
Which brings up my real question, playing off John Otte’s recent posts — is Christian fiction really just for Christians?
The fact is, we live in a day when Christianity seems to be meeting more resistance in the West than it has for some time. Consequently more readers seem irritated with mention of Arman or Wulder or Eidon — fantasy depictions of the One True God.
Does that mean, then, that Christian writers should refrain from having their characters do what Christians do — turn to Christ, pray for help, give spiritual counsel, worship with other believers, and so on?
If Christians do want to show their characters acting like Christians, should their books then be confined to Christian circles? Should we indeed write for and market to Christians only?
On the other hand, must writers such as R. J. Anderson who publishes with a general market house limit their depiction of Christianity to oblique references, vague symbology, or typology?
In other words, is there no room for a fantasy version of Peace Like a River? In case you haven’t read that story by Leif Enger, the characters believe in God — in particular, in a miracle-working God. Yet the story, published by a general market publisher, was “hailed as one of the year’s  top five novels by Time, and selected as one of the best books of the year by nearly all major newspapers.” It became a national bestseller, despite the clear belief in God.
But that was 2002. Have things changes so much in the last ten years that an overt fantasy about Christianity can only be considered a story for Christians?
What does it take for readers to care about a story even if their worldview might be different from the one espoused by the main character? I have some ideas, but I’d first really like to hear what you all think.