Fantasy Literature and Christianity

A Study of the Mistborn, Coldfire, Fionavar Tapestry and Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Series


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About the Book

The debate surrounding the Christian aspects of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter has revealed not only the prominence of religious themes in fantasy fiction, but also readers’ concerns over portrayals of religion in fantasy. Yet while analyses of these works fill many volumes, other fantasy series have received much less attention.
This critical study explores the fantastic religions and religious themes in American and Canadian works by Stephen R. Donaldson (Chronicles of Thomas Covenant), Guy Gavriel Kay (Fionavar Tapestry), Celia S. Friedman (Coldfire Trilogy), and Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn). References to biblical tradition and Christian teachings reveal these writers’ overall approach to Christianity and the relationship between Christianity and the fantasy genre.

About the Author(s)

Weronika Łaszkiewicz, Ph.D., works at the Institute of Modern Languages at the University of Białystok (Poland). She has written a number of articles on fantasy fiction and American literature.

Bibliographic Details

Weronika Łaszkiewicz

Series Editors Donald E. Palumbo and C.W. Sullivan III

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 223
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7170-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3483-8
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction 3
1 Religion in Modern Fantasy Literature—A ­Cross-Disciplinary Approach
Definitions and Classifications of Modern Fantasy Literature 9
The Influence of Myths on the Religious Aspects of Modern Fantasy 24
Phenomenology of Religion and the Study of Fantasy Literature 32
Christianity in Fantasy Literature—Recent Studies 42
2 The Christian Foundation of Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
Introduction to The Chronicles 57
Images of the Numinous 61
The Numinous and Institutionalized Religion 65
Other Faces of the Numinous 69
Secondary Mythology, Instruments of Power, Sacred Places and Events 73
Biblical References in the Figure of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever 79
Christianity and Donaldson’s Fictional Gods 82
Christian Undertones in the Selected Themes of The Chronicles 86
Christian Symbols and Language in The Chronicles 91
The Chronicles and Christian Ethics 96
Criticism of Institutional Religion 101
Stephen Donaldson and the Religious Dimensions of The Chronicles 103
3 Christianity as a Constituent of Religious Pluralism in Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry
Introduction to The Fionavar Tapestry 107
Images of the Numinous 108
Other Faces of the Numinous 114
Religious Practices and Institutions in the World of Fionavar 117
The Protagonists’ Experiences of the Numinous 120
Diversity in the Structures of Fionavar’s Secondary Religions 123
Christianity and the Fionavarian Numinous 127
Biblical Motifs and Christian Ethics in The Fionavar Tapestry 129
Guy Gavriel Kay and the Religious Dimensions of The Fionavar Tapestry 133
4 The Fantastic (De-)Evolution of Christianity in Celia S. Friedman’s The Coldfire Trilogy
Introduction to The Coldfire Trilogy 136
Images of the Numinous 138
The Church on Erna and other Religious Institutions 140
The Church on Erna and Christianity 145
Biblical References and Christian Morality in the Portrayal of the Protagonists 150
Coldfire and the Motif of (Self-)Sacrifice 155
Divine Grace and Salvation Through Faith 158
Celia S. Friedman and the Religious Dimensions of The Coldfire Trilogy 161
5 The Alternative Vision of Salvation Through Christ in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Series
Introduction to the Mistborn Series 164
Images of the Numinous 166
Religious Institutions and the Process of Religious Reformation
Deification 175
Religious Pluralism in the Wax and Wayne Series 176
Christian Elements in the Portrayal of the Fictional Numinous 181
The Christ Figure and the Fictional Church 184
Christianity and Ascension to Godhood 188
Brandon Sanderson and the Religious Dimensions of the Mistborn Series 191
Conclusion 194
Chapter Notes 199
Works Cited 205
Index 211