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Kingdom Series

Kingdom Series

by Chuck Black
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Item: 21300
Current Retail Price: $59.94

PLEASE NOTE: this is your last chance to buy this book. We will NOT be buying it again. Also, this book is NOT RETURNABLE, and SOLD AS-IS. It may have defects, such as highlighting, torn pages or loose cover.

The Kingdom Series is an allegory or extended parable of the Bible, set in a Medieval Europeanesque world of knights, swords, and beasts. The King and His son plan to take back His kingdom from the Dark Knight Lucius with the help of the bold knights of Arrethtrae.

The series opens with Kingdom's Dawn, paralleling the book of Genesis. Leinad is the hero of this book, a young man who learns that his father Peyton was once the lord of the land until the Dark Knight Lucius decieved him, causing him to fall to the status of lowly farmer. After a plague of insects known as the Vactor Deluge sweeps the land, Leinad flees with the orphan girl Tess only to end up a slave at the hands of the wicked Lord Fairos.

Kingdom's Hope follows Exodus through the rest of the Old Testament. Leinad leads the people of Nan out of slavery to Fairos into the lush land of Chessington. The people of Chessington prosper until the reign of Lady Moradiah causes them to fall captive to Kergon of Daydelon.

In Kingdom's Edge, which parallels the Gospels through Acts (ending when the Followers are raptured,) Cedric is our hero, a man who meets the Prince when he comes from across the sea to walk among the people of Chessington as a peasant. When the Prince begins to train his followers in the art of swordfighting, the Noble Knights of Chessington conspire to kill him.

Kingdom's Call is the Gospel through the beginning of Acts, this time told from the perspective of Gavin, a Noble Knight who has sworn to hunt down the Followers of the Prince until a face-to-face encounter changes his worldview.

Freshly converted and renamed Gavinaugh is charged with spreading the good news of the Prince to the Outdwellers who live outside of Chessington in Kingdom's Quest.

Finally, Kingdom's Reign takes up the story of Cedric again as he and the Prince return to Chessington after the forces of Lucius have taken it over for good following the Rapture. A fearsome battle imprisons Lucius in the Wasteland, and the King and His son reign in Chessington for a millenium until the people who still refuse loyalty to the King begin to plan a rebellion.

Our Honest Opinion:

We've carried the Kingdom Series over the years by popular demand. They get a lot of hype in Christian circles as a tool to spark children's enthusiasm for the Bible. As long as the books are pointing your child to the Bible and not merely replacing it, we think that's great. But we have a few other problems with the series that go beyond intent.

As a whole, the Kingdom Series is burdened with shallow descriptions, and too much telling rather than showing. The prose often reads like a summary of a story and not the story itself. Granted, the writing improves a bit as the series progresses, but it still tends to suffer from clunky word choice and many a misplaced modifer. And despite the author's protested neutrality on any eschatology, the story has a noticeable premillennial and Arminian bent.

As far as allegory is concerned, the earlier books suffer from parallels that are either too obvious or not obvious enough. The later books run into some theological problems due to the burden of sustaining the metaphor. True allegory isn't really as simple as using the same situations but only swapping out the names and locations. But the kind of allegory that the series uses sometimes ends up trivializing the actual stories, or losing the point altogether. (We have a more in-depth discussion on allegory here on our website.)

That being said, there are a few powerful moments in the series where the story and the theme truly work together, moments that may resonate with children encountering these ideas for the first time. Those bright spots are the reason we will keep carrying these at Exodus, although with reservations. As mentioned above, the books have a distinctly Arminian flavor, and a premillenial eschatology, and that combined with the shallow writing and sometimes weak allegory means that, however noble the author's intentions, we aren't able to recommend the series.

Includes:

 

Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here.
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Exodus Rating:
FLAWS: Fighting/violence
Summary: Bible stories allegorically retold in a medieval setting.

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  My Personal (Non-Exodus Approved) Take
Lauren Shearer, 8/9/2014
The difference between showing and telling is very crucial in the craft of writing. The first can be found in the works of the great authors, the ones who use descriptions, hints, and clues to show us who characters are, what they look like, and where they are without outright telling us everything about them. The second is the scourge of book reports and high school fiction writing classes. Unfortunately, the Kingdom Series falls squarely into the second category.

In the Kingdom Series, a character cannot simply say something. It doesn't matter that a situation implies a sarcastic, or fearful, or joyful tone of voice. That adjective is hammered onto the end of the sentence. I lost track of the number of times a character "smiled an evil smile" or "smirked cheerily" or "smiled slightly." The series is awash in misplaced modifiers and distractingly clumsy word choice.

The point of the book is, of course, the allegory. Before this I never thought you could make the book of Genesis boring, the Old Testament trite, and the book of Acts dull, but somehow Chuck Black has done it. I'm sure the idea of transplanting the Middle Eastern setting of the Bible into a faux-European Medieval setting sounded good at the time, but in execution it really does nothing for the Bible stories. In fact, the shallow allegory actually left me yearning for the relative richness of the Biblical descriptions.

Here's an example. The heartwrenching story of betrayal of blameless Joseph by his own brothers is replaced in Kingdom's Dawn by the following set-up. Our hero Leinad(whose annoying name is Daniel spelled backward, in case you hadn't noticed,) has joined a group of field workers led by the antisocial Benreu (get it?.) He deems these men untrustworthy, for absolutely no given reason except that they were "crude" men who were loyal to Benreu, a man whom Leinad has developed a baseless prejudice against. Then one day, completely out of the blue, the field workers up and sell Leinad to Lord Fairos. That's it. That's the story. In case you think it couldn't get any better, Leinad, after he is kidnapped by, yes, Lord Fairos, is taken to Fairos' home country, Nyland (which ain't a river in Egypt!) to a castle called (unfortunately) Pyron Mid.

Many of the dramatic confrontations in the Bible are reduced to duels between two characters because swords in this series represent the Word of God. Of course, this does lead to an unintentionally amusing scene later in the series where a Follower is brought up on charges of smuggling swords across the border. But it also reduces things like Paul's speech on Mars Hill to a tournament battle, and Elijah's confrontation on Mt. Carmel to a hand-to-hand duel. The series is sadly quite good at killing drama.

I could go on but I don't think I need to. Most of the rearranged or otherwise obscured names are so cringingly obvious that they're distracting. The story swings from incomprehensible parallels to just plain insulting ones, punctuated by the patronizing and pedantic discussion questions. So focused is the book on attempting symbolism that things like plot, description, and character development die quietly by the wayside. Which is a sad but apt metaphor for the Kingdom Series itself.