Quest for Celestia – Steven James

Quest for Celestia Steven James
Quest for Celestia: A Reimagining of the Pilgrim's Progress by Steven James
Published by Living Ink Books on March 28, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Fantasy
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four-stars

After a chance encounter with a man whom 16-year-old Kadin believes is a wizard, his life and health begin to deteriorate. Out of desperation he embarks on an epic journey to a land no one in his village believes exists, to be healed of a disease no one thinks he has. His quest for truth leads him to a fantastical world of witches, dragons, giants, danger, and deception. Tracked by an evil lord and accompanied by only one friend, Kadin must face his greatest fear to find the healing he longs for most.

Quest for Celestia is a complete re-imagining of one of the bestselling books of all time, first published more than 300 years ago—The Pilgrim’s Progress. If you think you know the story, think again. Twists lurk around every corner. The journey begins now. Destiny awakes in the hills.

Kadin’s life used to be normal. After all, that’s what life was like in the city of Abaddon. But after a strange encounter with a wizard, Kadin’s life will never be the same. First thing, the wizard told him that all the fairy stories about Celestia were actually true. Second, the wizard gave him a Book of Blood that was supposed to prove it. Both were anathema to those living in Abaddon. Kadin tried to ignore it, tried to get rid of it, tried to forget about his encounter with the wizard, but the lure of the Book proved too strong. Now he has a black lump on the base of his neck, a scaly reptilian growth he can’t ignore. Finally, the truth comes out. Kadin is kicked out of his home—but is it his home anymore?—and begins his trek toward Celestia.

With Quest for Celestia, Steven James has undertaken a noble and weighty task. This complete reimagining of Pilgrim’s Progress seeks to update the symbolism and allusion, the writing style and sense of suspense, all while keeping the heart and form of the original story. A daunting task, considering Pilgrims’s Progress is one of the most bestselling and beloved books of all time. Yet James manages it masterfully. I can think of no other author I would trust more to update this story. James’ writing ability, storytelling prowess, knowledge and reverence for Story, strong faith, and creative mind make him the perfect person for this reimagining.

Those familiar with Pilgrim’s Progress will undoubtedly see the parallels in the journey, yet there are some differences. For instance, the character of Leira provides an amalgam of Bunyan’s characters Faithful and Hopeful adding the element of potential love interest. Apollyon is represented by the Baron Dorjan and, if memory serves, Dorjan plays a more prominent role in Quest for Celestia than his Bunyan counterpart. Far more than just a paraphrase or an update, Quest for Celestia maintains the heart of Pilgrim’s Progress while forging its own story. New themes are added to bring relevance to modern day struggles, the back story of the Celestial City is fleshed our more thoroughly, and as a whole the story is treated more as a fantasy and less as an allegory.

The result is a work that manages to be fresh, relevant, and vital. Those who have read Pilgrim’s Progress will find themselves enjoying the connections while being engaged with James’ unique story. Those unfamiliar will find themselves immersed into an epic fantasy quest as two young people seek their salvation. I would especially recommend this book to preteens and young teens, especially boys. It’s a great story for getting them involved in reading, in learning about faith, and possibly even laying foundations for introducing them to classic literature. Steven James is one of my favorite storytellers because of his diversity and creativity, and Quest for Celestia is proof that I’m justified in that sentiment.

four-stars

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