The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin
Published 2010 by AMG Publishers, 272 pages
“A young blacksmith must undertake a perilous journey to the four ends of the world to rescue his wife, who is held captive by the Moon. Along the way, he befriends a powerful wolf who encourages, protects, and ultimately sacrifices his life to save his human friend. A stirring allegory of God’s love in classic fairy tale tradition.” This is the short summary of the book used for publicity, and it’s a good summary, except for the God part.
The tale is very well told. Lakin has masterful control of the writing craft, developing her characters and drawing the reader to see the world through their eyes. Her protagonist, Joran, lives in a world where the line blurs between waking and dreaming. “Joran’s wife, Charris, is trapped in a dream that is manifested and upheld by Joran’s anger.” (from C.S. Lakin’s blog) His wife is taken captive by a nightmare, and he is tasked with traveling to the four ends of a flat earth to be able to rescue her. Joran is no hero-type. He bumbles, stumbles, and misunderstands situations, and in fact he needs no end of rescuing himself. Joran’s rescuing is provided by a large white wolf who becomes his traveling companion, and whom Joran can communicate with in thought. The wolf often spouts wise sayings from a variety of sources. As the story progresses, Joran gains courage.
What do I think?
I guess I am comfortable calling this a fairy tale, which is what the author calls it. It definitely has fairy tale elements.The wife was kidnapped by the Moon; the Moon is a person living in a strange little house; the hero has task to complete to free his wife; and so on. But it isn’t told in classic fairy tale fashion; it is shown, as a modern novel is. That’s good. It’s very readable.
However, I don’t care for the blurred line between waking and dreaming. I want my fantasy heroes to be dealing with predictable events, not nightmares. I found the dreaming in waking and waking in dreaming to be too unsettling.
There’s another issue too. Actually it’s not with the book but with what the author says about it. The author calls the book “A stirring allegory of God’s love in classic fairy tale tradition.” The wolf, who gives his life for Joran, is the root of the allegory. But this wolf is no Christ figure for me. It’s behaves like a human, dressed as a wolf. In the author’s words, “a ponderous, funny, exasperating wolf.” Not a majestic, holy God who is reaching out to me with nail-pierced hands.
Examining C.S. Lakin’s blog, it’s clear to me that she and I have different ideas of God. For me, Jesus is more like Aslan, C.S. Lewis’s Christ-figure in the Narnia tales. For Lakin, Jesus is more like her dog, always with her, only better.
“… I had a problem with Aslan, the lion. A big problem.
“OK, we know he’s not a tame lion, but he also rarely shows up in all the books of the series. He makes an occasional appearance, and yes, he does give his mortal life to save humanity. That’s powerful. That’s essential. But I felt it lacking, for the God I know isn’t like that. He is, well, more like my dog, but better. I saw God as someone who stayed right by my side–through trials and joys, through fears and confusion. Watching over my while I sleep, keeping me fed and warm, and teaching me all along the way the things I need to know, even things I really don’t want to know about myself. So that is Ruyah, my wolf.” For her, Jesus is a teacher and provider, always there.
This wolf as Jesus just doesn’t resonate with me. Jesus for me is so much bigger than this wolf. More like Aslan.
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