I picked up this book - The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop - one rainy weekend many years ago simply due to the size of the book (well over 1000 pages). I wanted a long book to wile away the wet hours and stimulate my imagination. I'd only read the first few pages in the bookstore and hadn't paid too close attention to the characters or their names. Plus, I really only cared about the length as I just wanted to kill a wet weekend. You cannot imagine my surprise when I arrived home and, within a few chapters, discovered that the book featured Satan as a put-upon father and Luciver and Damien as tortured sons. Woah. My poor little Christian soul went on red alert. As a Christian, I stuttered to a halt in my reading and found myself taking several blinks as I forced my mind to wrap around the idea that High Lord of Hell could take on the role of a caring father who did his job to the best of his ability and paid the price for the high power he wielded. Damian lived his life as a sex slave who yearned for a woman he could serve and Lucifer, being something of an arrogant ass, could still fondly and gently deal with a wayward little girl who really should go home to her bed. As I made my way through the book, I felt myself wishing my father would love and care for me as Satan did his sons. He seemed to always know when to draw the line and stand up to them and when to give them love and support. As the weekend progressed, I pondered several points including the connotations the names "Satan" and "Luciver" had in my life. I also pondered the role that evil took in my world and how that correlated in the fantasy world of Anne Bishop. I realized that when reading fictional fantasy, one needs to park the real world at the door, to leave preconceived notions behind as we delve into our imagination.
During the weekend, I slowly embraced the expansion of my imagination as I fell in love with the characters and embraced some of their philosophies including "power comes with a price" and the part that everyone plays in the world and how we may not enjoy that part, but we play it anyway. I liked that the characters may wield power, but they did so at personal cost. I enjoyed the philosophy that outsiders may see beauty and glamour, but inside that world we may not survive should we gain acceptance. I don't recommend this series to all of my Christian friends as I know that some of my more conservative friend would not accept a fantasy world where Satan plays the part of a loving father who reads to his sons and bemoans his daughters lack of dresses in her wardrobe. However, I do recommend the read to my friends who want to expand their imaginations. I suspect that many of my more conservative friends may struggle with the name of Satan and that he resides over Hell with both a firm hand and with compassion for some of those who end up there.
In the end, I'm now a full-blown Bishop fan...and guess what? I'm still a Christian, too.