The Circle – Ted Dekker

Circle Series Ted Dekker
Complete Circle Series by Ted Dekker
Series: The Circle Series
Published by Thomas Nelson on February 2011
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Fantasy, Suspense
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five-stars

More than a million readers have experienced the Circle series. Now, for the first time ever – and only for a limited time – they can dive deeper with a limited edition boxed set. This is a “must have” for the thousands of hardcore fans – as well as for the newer Dekker fans who now have a limited window to secure hardcover editions of the entire epic series.

The Circle. Diligent followers of this review site (and I thank you for being diligent followers; go ye and make disciples) will have noticed that over the past few days, TCC has dived deep into the world of The Circle, the magnificent mythos created by Ted Dekker. We’ve considered the books individually.

Black – We discussed how this was the book that made me fall in love with Story and how magnificently it portrayed redemptive history in fresh and exciting ways. Dekker’s premise and execution is absolutely flawless, setting a standard that is equaled in Red and White.

Red – We discussed the beauty of redemption as Dekker portrayed it. Red is the heartbeat of redemption, and because of that at points this book is simply overwhelming. We think we know the story of Redemption; we think we understand the horror of the Cross. But Dekker slaps us across the face and tells us we know nothing, or that we have romanticized what we know so that the grittiness of the meaning of Redemption has been lost on us.

White – We discussed this denouement from the climax of Redemption, and how it began a new Story. The romance of Thomas and Chelise is absolutely scandalous, and we shocked by it, but how much more scandalous is that love of God for a wretch such as I? But pulsing from the denouement comes the final resounding climax of the Circle being accepted by Elyon as a Groom accepts his Bride—this is the Great Romance, the reason for which we were created.

GreenWe discussed whether it worked better as Book Zero or Book Four and how it fits into the Circle Series. My own personal opinion is that, as Green furthers the story of characters first mentioned outside the Circle, it is best seen as a standalone novel that intricately ties in the various elements, characters, and themes created by Dekker.

Before I move on to other books and other reviews, I thought we deserved a comprehensive look at the series. The line of thinking is not just because the series—or at very least, the Trilogy—functions as a whole, but also because Thomas Nelson has published a wonderful edition that collects all four of these Stories into one magnificent volume.

First of all, let it be said that this volume is a masterpiece, not just for its individual stories but for the way it is presented. As a beautifully bound hardcover, it recalls reader’s minds to the Books of History and gives the collection a look that is absolutely authentic to the nature of the novels.

This edition also contains an alternate ending for Green, rectifying an issue that many readers saw as keeping the book from an ultimate conclusion. This new ending gives the series a definitive climax (or does it?) and establishes Green as the conclusion of the series. The alternate ending changes the last few chapters of the book, with the original ending being included afterwards for comparison. In Dekker’s own words, he found the original intellectually fascinating and mind-bending, but without the emotional payoff that the new ending gives. Dekker also gives an exclusive interview for the book’s last pages, and answers some very interesting questions—and as always, raises some of his own.

Whether you’re new to Dekker, or want to actually own the Circle Series, or are a hardcore Dekker fan, this is an edition you’re going to want to get hold of. Dekkies, this is the collector’s edition you’ve always wanted. It’ll look great on your shelf next to the Circle pendant, I promise. (And of course you’re not going to miss out on the alternate ending of Green, are you?) And if don’t already own the series, what better way to rectify that grievous oversight than by getting this all-inclusive edition?

Let me move from a discussion of this actual volume to exactly what the Circle Series has meant to me. I made mention of this in my review of Black, but I’d like to elaborate on that more here and now. It is no hyperbole when I say that the Circle Trilogy changed my life. I can’t claim, as some, that it brought me to faith, but it certainly served to deepen my commitment to and freshen my perspective on Christianity. The Trilogy made redemptive history—the epic saga of man’s fall and salvation—come to life. It tore the veil of Christianity off of Christ and left me staring into the very heart of God. In a spiritual sense, it helped me understand that the Church isn’t as much dead as it is lethargic and tired of the same old platitudes and two-dimensional spirituality it has been fed. It served as the catalyst for me—a young teen when I first read the Trilogy—to seek out ways to revitalize the people of God to a living faith, an active faith, a transformational faith that really understands and gets the mind-blowing implications of our salvation.

The Circle Trilogy was also what made me fall heels over head in love with Story. Without it, there is no way that I would be a storyteller or a book reviewer today. In fact, it was Dekker’s novel Kiss, coauthored with Erin Healy, that served as my very first book review ten years ago. From there I hit the ground running and have been stumbling forward ever since.

It was also through the Trilogy that I learned the power of Story. Way more than just entertainment and fun, Story could be meaningful, insightful, and challenging while still being entertaining. Didactic teaching may fill one’s head with facts, but Story gives them context, flavor, purpose, and power. Tell me God loves me and I will agree, show me His love through Story and I will be weeping with the sheer joy of it all. Story provides the best way for ideas to be considered and for learning to be accomplished. After all, did not Christ often speak and teach through Story?

And I still find this absolutely wild to believe, but the Circle has also left me changed socially. My best friends come not from a common geographical location, but from a common perspective on faith and the teachings of Jesus—and we were all brought together through the Circle Series and Ted Dekker. What began in 2008 as a message board in a contest and role-playing game that promoted Dekker’s young adult spinoff of The Circle, The Lost Books¸ has now developed into several deep and intimate friendships that by all statistical and logical accounts should never have been possible. For me, they represent my true Church—the people I go to discuss faith and unmask my own brokenness while still engaging in fellowship and fun. When we manage to actually get together in person, it is very much like the Gathering celebration portrayed in the Circle Series. Ten years later, friends have come and gone, people have changed, but my very favorite people are still those of the Circle. (I even married one of them!)

The Circle Series is the redemptive mythos of this generation. Like Lewis and Tolkien, Dekker combines spiritual symbolism with engaging Story. Fiction simply does not get better than this.

Thank you, Ted, for showing the world the heart of God through your Story. And thank you for the effect that has had on me. It means more than you’ll ever know.

five-stars

About Ted Dekker

Ted Dekker is a New York Times best-selling author of more than forty novels. He is best known for stories which could be broadly described as suspense thrillers with major twists and unforgettable characters, though he has also made a name for himself among fantasy fans. Dekker’s novels have sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Two of his novels, Thr3e and House, have been made into movies with more in production. Dekker resides in Austin, Texas with his wife Lee Ann and two of their daughters.

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