Does "Christian fantasy" sound like an oxymoron to you? It shouldn't. Although some Christians have become famous for their opposition to books like Harry Potter and Twilight , Christian fantasy is an old and golden tradition: JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, George MacDonald – the list of Christian fantasy authors is long and fabled.
Today, authors of Christian fantasy and other speculative fiction are still producing powerful works. Publishers like WaterBrook, Zondervan, and the spec-fic-only Marcher Lord Press are committed to getting these works out to an eager public. Below are five of the best Christian fantasy novels of yesterday and today.
1. The Lord of the Rings
Is there anyone alive who isn't familiar with the Lord of the Rings? More than any other book, JRR Tolkien's classic fantasy work – usually divided into three novels, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers , and The Return of the King –has shaped fantasy as we know it. Here are elves, dwarves, men, hobbits, and a world so carefully and beautifully crafted that it matters as much as any of the characters. LOTR deserves a place at the top of any Christian fantasy list as well as in the wider canon.
George MacDonald was a Scottish minister living in the 1800s who wrote novels, including Christian fantasy, to help support his family (preaching did not pay well). Both Tolkien and Lewis credited MacDonald as one of their inspirations, especially Lewis, who said that MacDonald's Phantastes, one of the first Christian fantasy books ever, changed his life. Lilith is the story of a man who is drawn into another world, where he encounters the spirit of Adam's first wife and plunges the depths of his own humanity in a world frightening, strange – and terribly familiar.
3. The Auralia Thread
Written by film critic and novelist Jeffrey Overstreet, The Auralia Thread is a four-book series that begins when a young girl with striking artistic gifts mysteriously appears in a kingdom that has imposed dullness and servitude on its people. Overstreet's books are a meditation on art and faith, set in a gorgeous, gritty, and marvelously developed world. The books are Auralia's Colors, Cyndere's Midnight, Raven's Ladder, and The Ale Boy's Feast.
4. Blaggard's Moon
Layered, evocative, grappling with deep questions, and endlessly entertaining, George Bryan Polivka's Christian fantasy – with pirates! – is a story within a story within a story. It opens with the reflections of a marooned pirate who is waiting to be eaten by grisly night monsters as he thinks back over his life, the heroes and heroines he has known, and the choices that led him to life now.
5. By Darkness Hid
The first book in yet another trilogy, Jill Williamson's first Christian fantasy novel follows the adventures of Achan, a boy whose name means "trouble," as he rises from his status of abused kitchen slave to become first a squire and then a terrifyingly gifted mind -reader. Achan's story is compelling and set in a powerfully developed world.
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