CSFF Blog Tour – Eye Of The Sword, Day 2

Christian or not Christian, that is the question. Yesterday I made a pitch for reading the angels in Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley as “elves with wings.” In other words, they are not Biblical angels, but beings Ms. Henley has sub-created for her fantasy world. Certainly they are good, though they act very much like humans, even intermarrying and having children. They are separated from heaven because the stairway has been destroyed, and they can even die.

The “is it Christian” question is a logical one to ask, then. Both Shannon McDermott and Chawna Schroeder make a compelling argument against understanding it as Christian. Shane Werlinger, on the other hand, found in a key story event, a parallel to the Christian life. Could it be that “Christian” is in the eye of the beholder?

By that, of course, I don’t mean there is a flexible definition of Christian. But stories that are not overt in their Christianity may be seen by one reader as nothing more than good stories and by another as filled with truth about God.

For Christians looking for overt Christianity in Eye of the Sword, they won’t find it. There aren’t even the clear parallels with Christianity that one can find in the Narnia books. C. S. Lewis specifically set out to answer the question, If the incarnate God came to Narnia, how would He show up?

In this second volume of the Angeleon Circle, God as we know Him–the One True God who revealed Himself in the Bible–is not a player. In many respects, then, Ms. Henley’s series is more reminiscent of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings than of Narnia. Tolkien’s works have also been scrutinized for their Christian content and some find them wanting. God does not show up, though various characters serve as types: “a person or thing symbolizing or exemplifying the ideal or defining characteristics of something” (Oxford English Dictionary).

Could that be true of Eye of the Sword? I’m hoping so. Because this is book two of the Angeleon Circle, and there will be at least one more in the series, I’m withholding judgment regarding what might or might not be representative of God and the way He works in the real world.

I will say, I do not expect to see Him appear in the Three Kingdoms in the same way He appears in the true world He fashioned, and in this, I think Ms. Henley has chosen wisely. Her world, her angels, are as different from our world as Narnia is, with it’s talking animals, or as Middle Earth is, with its dwarfs and dragons.

Aslan we recognized because of his redemptive sacrifice. And yet the Narnia books, when they first came out, were not without detractors. After all, pagan gods appeared in the triumphal scene of Aslan’s arrival. C. S. Lewis, of course, was a prolific writer, and anyone familiar with his non-fiction quickly recognized that he was playing out in his fiction his belief that the story of redemption also redeems mythology. It is the True Myth and therefore gives meaning to those lesser stories that point to the One Greater Story.

And yet, a good number of detractors found their points of disagreement with Lewis, insurmountable. Their number is much smaller today, however. Most Christians accept the Narnia books as part of Christian fiction.

How will Eye of the Sword be viewed twenty years from now? We can speculate, but I will hold off formulating my answer until after I’ve read the entire series.

You might be interested in reading Ms. Henley’s blog if you’d like to know more about her, and she also gave a first rate interview to Meagan @ Blooming with Books. Who knows? Maybe becoming familiar with her entire body of work will help to understand her fantasies.


  1. […] Karyn Henley, is one of the more controversial ones in some time. How are we to understand angels? Is the book Christian? These are big questions for fantasy readers and Christians. In so many ways the discussion touches […]


  2. […] Becky Miller wrote that the angels in the Angelaeon Circle are invented beings who should not be taken as representative of true angels. She also pointed out that the debate about which fantasy novels are Christian includes works as respected as Lord of the Rings. […]


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