Tuesday, September 30, 2008


MARCHER LORD PRESS is officially launching at Midnight when the clock changes over to October 1st, 2008

I'm presenting a review of one of the three books being launched: Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy, by Theodore Beale. Mr. Beale is also published by Pocket and Simon & Shuster, in the field of Christian speculative fiction.

Summa Elvetica takes place in a fantasy world so detailed it might rival Lord of the Rings. Certainly, anyone in love with that trilogy will delight in this book. Here's the book cover:

"...Beale brings us a delightfully speculative what-if scenario: what if the Catholic Church (or something very like it) existed in a fantasy world in which dwelt non-human intelligent races like orcs, trolls, and elves? At some point in such a world the leading ecclesiastics would have to wrestle with the questions of whether or not these demi-humans have souls and therefore ought to be the subject of evangelization by the Church. Summa Elvetica is the story of the young priest whom the Church assigns to investigate the matter. Along the way to his conclusion, he falls in love with an Elven princess and finds himself in the middle of a racially motivated war. More than the curiosities of high clerics hang in the balance as he comes to declare whether or not elves have souls."

Theodore Beale combines philosophy, traditional Christian teaching, demonology, and the paranormal powers of magic in all its forms, to render a story that's rich with metaphor. The world is a fantasy based on the Roman Empire. The Christians are led by the Sanctiff, similar to the Pope. He has Michealine priests based on the tenets of St. Michael the Archangel - the Defender. Our hero, Marcus Valarius, must journey to the Elvish Kingdom to begin his investigation into the story premise - do elves have souls, and are they created beings of God?

The story is slowed down by the telling of historical tales on the journey to see the Elven High King. It reminded me of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Once there, however, Marcus is rapidly drawn in to the controversy. His is a spiritual as well as a physical journey, and his actions and discoveries mirror those many of us have also had in our own quest for a relationship with God.

This book is multi-layered and should be read slowly and carefully to get the fullest experience. I found it rich in its concept, and Beales' use of humanistic philosophy versus Christian teachings. For those who love their fantasy, as well as Biblical teaching, this book will be a feast.

I have one caveat: at the beginning of each chapter there are quotations written in Latin. These are explained in translation at the end of the book. At first I found it odd, as I have no knowledge of Latin. However, the explanations at the end of the book are the "Summa" that Marcus writes to end the debate.

Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy by Theodore Beale, available October 1 from Marcher Lord Press, $12.99

Be sure to register at the site for special prizes, as well as the Grand Prize Draw - a trip for two to the 2009 comicCON in San Diego.

I have no relationship with MARCHER LORD PRESS in any way, and am not contracted by them for a work of fiction. I offer this review simply to engage readers in what they can expect from this new and adventurous publisher.

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