Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Novel from Lars Walker

Gene Veith:
Lars Walker . . . is a novelist of note. He is also a Christian and a Lutheran. His faith comes out loud and clear in his fiction, but, unlike many “Christian novelists,” he is not preachy or sappy or didactic. With Lars, the Christian themes don’t substitute for a good story; rather, they contribute to the good story.

Lars specializes in historical fantasy. He is especially interested in Vikings, writing about the ancient Norse seafarers and warriors at the time when they were first getting converted to Christianity (around the year 1000). In addition to all kinds of swordplay, battles, and adventures, his characters are involved in spiritual warfare, as the old heathen magic, lore, and demons array themselves against the followers of Christ.

Lars has a new book out, West Oversea, that I enjoyed greatly. Like his earlier Viking novels, Erling’s Word and Year of the Warrior, it features the characters of the warlord Erling, a historical figure, whose dedication to doing what is right sometimes gets him into trouble, and Father Aillil, an Irish priest with a vivid personality (who reminds me somewhat of Martin Luther in his self-deprecating but life-affirming faith). This time, they journey to Iceland, then Greenland, then Vinland, a.k.a. America. They connect with the discoverer of that rich but dangerous land, Leif Erikson. (I did not realize that he was a Christian. His father, Erik the Red, was not.) At one point, Father Aillil has a vision of the future that perfectly captures–and refutes–the particular kinds of Godlessness of both modernism and postmodernism and suggests what might come next. The book is full of fascinating lore, thought-provoking ideas, memorable characters, exciting action, and just good story-telling.

I could hardly put the thing down. You can buy it here for less than ten bucks.