by Philip Dodd
The Guru's Review:I have read a few novels that describe the war in heaven concerning the fall of Lucifer (satan) and a third of the angels, but none like this one. Angel War is very unique from its plot, to its description of the angels, their order, their role and even the inclusion of spaceships and other technology.
I write simple, straightforward prose. I try to make it flow with no snag in its path and to sound close to poetry when I can.
My book, Angel War, was inspired by Chapter Six of the Book of Revelation, which speaks of the war in heaven, fought between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels. The Bible only says that the war happened, but not why, so I decided to write my own version of the events of the war and its aftermath. My story is essentially the biography of Azel, the Prince of the White Castle of the Angels of Light, the one who begins the war in heaven and who later becomes known on Earth as Lucifer, the Devil, Satan.
When I first read Chapter Six of the Book of Revelation, when I was a fifteen year old schoolboy, I was astounded by the idea of there being a war in heaven, which led me to an interest in angels in The Bible, literature, painting and sculpture, and finally to begin to write, in 1986, when I was thirty four, what became Angel War. My book could be called a work of fantasy fiction, rooted in The Bible. I think it would appeal to Bible readers and those who like to read fantasy fiction.
Dodd has used poetic licence and his imagination extensively in this novel, creating a wondrous world of the angels and of the Father and their lands (Heaven). Very descriptive and hierarchical than any I have read before.
From this point on, I must state that I do not want this review to be one where I tear Dodd's novel apart and I loathe being critical in any review, but if I am going to write a review it is of no benefit if I am not honest. I state in this review blog that I expect from Christian fiction that,
- it has not deviated from known biblical doctrine, and it will not, I believe, lead a non believer astray or promote false doctrine,
- it honours God,
It is from here on in, that I feel Dodd's use of poetic licence in some his plot and character developments has deviated from biblical doctrine, promotes false doctrine and does not honour God. For me, using poetic licence is best used in Christian fiction where the bible is silent or leaves gaps and this fills in these gaps without compromising biblical doctrine, honors God and keeps the Christian reader within this biblical boundary.
I have an issue with the Angels being married and producing offspring! Even more so having the Father and his Son, Elu (Jesus) married! As far as my reading and understanding of the Bible, there is no mention or implication of marriage and marital relations with or by angels in Heaven or by God Himself or Jesus. I refer to the following bible verse,
Matthew 22:30For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. (HCSB)
Having the angels marry and bearing offspring to me is deviating from biblical doctrine and promoting false doctrine.
Another aspect that I struggled with is the inclusion of spaceships for the angels to travel the vast distances of Heaven and to other planets including Earth. Yes, Dodd's angels have wings and can fly, but this seems to be only for shorter distances. Even the Father has His own spaceship called the Wheel! These spaceships are also used in the war that Azel (satan) starts. To me, the inclusion of this technology, while adding a science fiction element to this fantasy setting, does not fit. It is very out of place and lessens the credibility of the world of Heaven Dodd has created.
Death and war now exist because of him, my son, Prince Azel, to my sorrow. He could have been one of my favourite sons. I gave him his gift, his seat, his castle, his angel house. I do not know why my son was born the way he was or why he rebelled against me.
Never forgive. Never forgive. Not until all of them who served my betrayer has been found and punished. Never forgive, he said, in a deep hard tone.
Upturn every stone, search down every hole, until you are certain that the last of them have perished, by my wrath, in my fire. Never forgive. Never forgive.
Rise, my children. Show me the tree. Do not be afraid. You have done nothing wrong.......I am not angry with you. My wrath is against the serpent and his master.
My first reaction here was that Adam and Eve have not sinned? So the doctrine of sin has been removed in this novel! How does this honour God? So how then does Dodd account the coming of Jesus to Earth later in the novel? If sin has been removed from Dodd's narrative, then he does not explain or give a reason Jesus' mission to the human race later in the novel. The bible states that from Adam and Eve's action, they have sinned and were banished from the Garden of Eden. Even on this issue, the Father does not banish them but Eve suggests that they leave instead.
Too much poetic licence changing/twisting bible doctrine! From this point on, I was not interested in reading more. However, I decided to continue on to see if this deviation would stop or continue. I was being too hopeful as I found out.
Back to the hall in the middle of Eden, he led Adam and Eve. Once there, he gathered the tribe of his human children to him and told them what had happened to Adam and Eve and warned them about the serpent.
We see clear. We must go. We are fallen, no longer good enough to share the fruit and wine of Eden. Beyond our garden, there is a wilderness. There we will live, like bears, in a cave, or in a hut, built by our own hands. At least we will always be together...
Do not follow us.....Only we ate the fruit from the tree planted by the Dragon's servants. We are not as we were, less, not greater...
don't you see? We were betrayed. Now we must go, to hide....Angels are higher than us. We are at their mercy.
But some of the tribe follow them. So from this point on the human race is not populated from Adam and Eve only but from the rest of the tribe too!
Again, twisted biblical doctrine that is not credible for Christian fiction. With all the above examples it has now just fantasy fiction as Dodd describes. I find that it is loosely based on the Bible and not rooted in the Bible as Dodd states in the Donovan Neal interview mentioned at the beginning of this review. I cannot see how this would appeal to bible readers as he states it would in the same interview.
Despite this novel being well written, born of his fascination for Chapter Six of the Book of Revelation, a vivid and creative imagination, I find it disappointing from a Christian fiction point of view. To me it,
- conflicts with and undermines the bible and its doctrine,
- dishonours God
- has the potential to give the reader a misleading impression of what God and Christianity is.
I do not believe that Dodd set out deliberately to achieve the above, but in using poetic licence to
create my own version of the events of the war and its aftermath (and) create on the page my own versions of such people from The Bible as Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Judas, Peter, John, Mary and Joseph, Jesus and Mary Magdalene
he has redesigned and reinterpreted the biblical narrative, and this novel does not encourage, uplift, teach or inspire the Christian or non Christian reader alike. The sum of all this was that I did not enjoy it at all.