Book Review: Harry Potter, Narnia, And The Lord Of The Rings: What You Need To Know About Fantasy Books And Movies

Harry Potter, Narnia, And The Lord Of The Rings:  What You Need To Know About Fantasy Books And Movies, by Richard Abanes

If you know going into it that this book is written from the point of view of an evangelical Christian who finds a great of fault with the Harry Potter series in a way that he does not with the Chronicles of Narnia and Middle Earth.  If this is a point of view that will trigger you into irrational irritation, you should probably steer clear of this book.  As for me, I thought that the book was rather matter of fact and sufficiently well defined that I didn’t see anything about the book as problematic.  Indeed, the book seemed blindingly obvious, even as someone who tends to be favorable to the story within the Harry Potter universe.  The author is, to put it very mildly, not a fan of the series, but he is not a fan for very legitimate and specific reasons, and reasons that are wrong to consider censoring.  They are also reasons that are likely to be shared by a great many people whose children have become interested in the series who view this with a less than pleased perspective.

This volume is divided into three parts and twelve chapters that put the dispute over fantasy into a larger and less pleasant contexts.  The author begins with a look at family fun and what it means to be a child in the contemporary age dealing with entertainment choices.  The first part of the book then focuses on fiction (I), with chapters dealing with the fall of fantasy from the eights of Lewis and Tolkien to the current interest in writings by Pullman and Rowling (1), the connection between the occult interests of Rowling and neo-pagan religious thought and practice (2), the surprising depth of the classic approach to fantasy (3), and the way that children are trusting souls who can be led astray (4).  The second part of the book focuses on the various subcreations of fantasy works as realms of imagination (II), which chapters on life in Tolkien’s Middle Earth (5), Narnia (6), and Hogwarts (7), with a look at the hype and the magick within the world of Harry Potter (8).  The third and final part of the book looks at entertainment (III) with chapters on the Potter wars (9), the relationship between books and marketing and corporate strategy (10), the need for a reality check when it comes to fiction (11), and the attacks on the legitimacy of questioning fiction that are made (12).  The author then closes with two appendices on what is bad about occult thought (i) as well as helpful resources for further reading (ii).

Is Harry Potter worth fighting over it?  Those of us who write about the series, as I have done, have noted some definite issues when it comes to the morality of characters, and the hostility to Christian morality that J.K. Rowling has shown in conceiving her world is certainly troubling.  It would appear as if she does not truly identify as a Christian, but has a contemporary and eclectic view to standards with a longstanding and serious interest in occult powers that she has explored in the course of her fantasy fiction.  Although the approach of this book is not one that every reader is going to share, our society needs to better understand that textual criticism as this book offers is not akin to censorship, and that adverse attention is sometimes warranted by the content and approach of works.  At any rate, this book is part of a conversation that would warn us about the illusions of the freedom offered by neopagan thought, warnings that appear all the more prescient in light of our culture’s moral crisis.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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