Published by Thomas Nelson on September 2010
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense
Buy on Amazon
The Heaven Trilogy is a testament to Dekker’s range and skill in the art of Story and proves himself to be one of the master Storytellers of this generation.
More than any other author I’ve read, Ted Dekker has the ability to immerse the reader into the story, and then at the end pull them out of it, leaving them entertained, enlightened, and wanting more. Few write to discover Truth through fiction as well as Dekker. And the world has taken notice.
This nice volume I’ve had the pleasure of reading takes the reader back to beginning. Back before the moniker “New York Times Best-Selling Author” could be added below Dekker’s name. Back to his first three published books. Back to The Heaven Trilogy. Originally published from 2000-2002, the trilogy tells three different stories bound together through the lives of one family. As their stories play out they slowly learn that the true drama lies beyond the skin of this world and resides in a reality more fantastic and more real than we can even imagine.
This hardbound 3-in-1 set begins with Heaven’s Wager. Kent Anthony is a computer programmer who’s long been at work developing a banking system called the Advanced Funds Processing System. It’s his ticket to wealth and success, and will hopefully revolutionize the way banking is done. Kent is all set to unveil the system to the bank bigwigs when he receives an urgent notice that his wife has fallen ill…
And from there, Kent Anthony’s life falls completely apart. An important piece in a celestial chess match, Kent becomes something of a reverse Job. Of course a righteous man who lost everything would call out to God! But what if an unrighteous man was given everything? Would he then seek God?
Meanwhile, there is one who understands Heaven’s longing for Kent Anthony and Hell’s desire to see the story end in failure. Helen Jovic, Kent’s mother-in-law, begins walking while praying for Kent’s soul. Some of Dekker’s most insightful and incisive dialogue comes from Helen, a bit more blatant didactic teaching than Dekker would employ now, but eloquent and effective. As Helen pounds the doors of Heaven as Kent rushes towards the gates of Hell, only the grace of God can save him but it’s his own free choice to make. God called Satan’s bluff and accepted the challenge. And the result of Heaven’s Wager depends on Kent Anthony’s decision.
When Heaven Weeps
When Heaven Weeps takes us back a generation to the mid 1960s when the Reebok-clad grandmother who prayed for Kent in Heaven’s Wager was a crack-whore who captured the heart of a Serbian solider who had been through a life-altering experience while fighting in Yugoslavia.
The story begins by flashing between the Serb—Jan Jovic—and his experience in the war and his resulting success in America after writing a book about it called The Dance of the Dead. While dealing with his success, he meets Helen in what seems to be a chance encounter and in his efforts to help her escape her life of drugs, controlled by the sleazy Glenn Lutz finds himself falling in love with her.
A la Hosea, Jan becomes the picture of a God who loves the unlovable and though a monster of his past may haunt them, ultimately wins the heart of his beloved. All of this is, of course, to the chagrin of the church officials, who decry the fact that Jan would associate with someone like Helen. Along the way, Jan discovers something about himself, something that he’d miss in the experience of his past that will affect how he views the future and how he understands the concept of sacrificial love.
In the preface to The Heaven Trilogy, Dekker’s remarks that many readers—even those who aren’t fans of any of his other books—love When Heaven Weeps. In truth, I have to consider it Dekker’s best by far. His use of imagery, poetic dialogue, and strong character development develop a theme of God’s unfailing love around a plot that you literally cannot tear yourselves away from. Dekker has written several great novels, but this is still his masterpiece.
Thunder of Heaven
More loosely connected than the other two, this story follows two American kids living in the jungle on a coffee plantation whose lives fall apart when drug lords take over. Both are presumed dead, but Tanya had really managed to survive and begin a new life in the States. Now, eight years later, she is finding herself called back to the Venezuelan jungles to find out what really happened to her family and her darling Shannon.
Meanwhile, the full plot of the drug plots takeover is revealed. More than just drugs, Tanya’s family’s plantation is now going to be the home of a terrorist cell intent on attacking America. To stop the terrorists and unravel the mystery of her past, she’ll have to work with a rogue CIA agent called Casius who has more than one secret he’s not telling. It all hurtles forward to a stunning conclusion that speaks volumes on the themes of love, loss, and the power of prayer.
Quite honestly, this novel is probably the weakest of the three. While it’s certainly well-done, its tone and focus are slightly different than its two predecessors. This is most likely attributed to the fact that was adapted from Dekker’s first (and unpublished) novel To Kill With Reason. It lacks a certain gravitas the other books carried and seems a bit disconnected from the scope of the rest of the trilogy. It doesn’t fit seamlessly, but Dekker makes it work well. It’s a solid book as a standalone, but comes off a bit lackluster compared to the brilliance of the first two novels.
Throughout the series, Dekker weaves a single phrase that reveals the trilogy’s entire theme and purpose: Peel back the skin of this world. Dekker’s exploration of Truth through these novels shines forth in a belief that pure power lies beyond the skin of this world in the hands of God. And he expresses that through stories that touch on themes such as the power of prayer, the freedom of choice, the love of God, the interest of God in our lives, the plan and purpose of God, the importance of understanding the horror of the Cross, and the realities of Christian discipleship.
Over the years, Dekker has continued to cultivate similar themes even as he has made his methods of storytelling less obvious—more like the parables spoken by Jesus, one needs eyes to see and ears to hear. These earlier stories are a bit simpler, a bit more straightforward. Not better or worse, necessarily, but certainly different. Longtime Dekker fans will enjoy this revitalization of Dekker’s first novels while new fans will enjoy seeing Dekker write in a style they’ve probably not experienced. The Heaven Trilogy is a testament to Dekker’s range and skill in the art of Story and proves himself to be one of the master Storytellers of this generation.
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