The first time I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I was probably 10 years old. I just remember enjoying the story, marveling at the magical world of Narnia. As I grew up, I heard that The Chronicles of Narnia were spiritual allegories, and as I reflected on the plot of the book, I could see what they meant. I didn’t actually reread that first book until college, and the story’s blatant theology caught me off guard (J. R. R. Tolkien famously called the books ‘crude allegory’).
In retrospect, I’m glad college-me was more spiritually perceptive than 10-year-old me.
I would’ve loved the chance to read Narnia with my parents, for them to help me see the biblical themes. I can imagine that such a book would be a useful tool for parents today looking for a fun book to help their kids talk about Jesus and theology at their level.
Enter Matt Mikalatos’ new book The Sword of Six Worlds: a tremendous book and wonderful resource.
If you read my blog, you know that Matt is one of my favorite authors, and RELEVANT already described him as “C. S. Lewis meets Monty Python”. The Sword of Six Worlds introduces us to a rich, fun fantasy world ripe for adventure.
We meet Validus Smith (it’s from the Latin, call her Val) and her best friend, Alex. After dodging an evil substitute teacher whose trying to kill them (aren’t they all?), Val and Alex discover that Earth is but one of many worlds threatened by the Blight. Earth’s last hero paladin is gone, making Val Earth’s last hope.
Children want books where the stakes are real and their choices matter. Sword of Six Worlds delivers marvelously on both counts. The story is fun and interesting, and Matt’s world-building will leave you hungry for more.
But what really makes Sword of Six Worlds pop is the well-handled theological themes. How Val deals with the agents of the Blight helped me to clarify and hone some of my own theological positions.
That’s a pretty incredible feat from a book kids are going to read and love.
In a meditation on the allure of evil despite its destructive power, Val is told that
“Sometimes people want the power to control life more than they want life itself.”
And when she finally confronts the book’s main adversary, you’d swear he got his villain monologue straight from the Serpent in Eden:
The Locked Worlds were locked only because of someone called the Architect. He thinks he’s in charge of all the worlds because he built us these gateways. He hates the Blight—of course they don’t call themselves the Blight—and he’s purposely told lies about them to shut them out of various worlds.
Val has to discover the power of the Paladin, and what it means to wield the sword that is an allegory for the Word of God. When Val discovers the former Paladin, she learns the Sword can’t be used as a weapon:
The sword broke because I used it in anger…. And that’s when I stopped being the paladin. It’s a rule that cannot be ignored.
One may only use the Sword to fight with Compassion:
Compassion is when you see someone hurting, for instance, and you hurt so badly for them it makes you sick, and you want to take the hurt away.
Matt really knows how to nail an ending, and The Sword of Six Worlds is no different. No spoilers, but it’s well worth the read.
You’ll love your first adventure with Val and Alex, and be chomping at the bit for volume II. If you’re a fantasy fan, do yourself a favor and pick up The Sword of Six Worlds. And if you’ve got kids, read and discuss it with them!
Bottom Line: The Sword of Six Worlds is fun, insightful and challenging. Though it’s written for kids, every age will enjoy it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”