I read my first Hannibal novel, The Paris Betrayal, several months ago (And even my phone knows it. When I type in the word “Paris,” “Betrayal” pops up in my predictive text bar).
I was really impressed by Hannibal’s allegory, which took me by surprise. I didn’t catch the biblical parallel until I was almost finished reading. But when I did, I was BLOWN AWAY. It definitely made me want to reread the book, with the allegory in mind.
When I discovered that Hannibal had written book one of a new allegory series for children, I eagerly requested a review copy from the author. Hannibal kindly sent me a book, which also has a very cool cover showcasing the fantasy elements.
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”Eph. 6:11
As a whole, the plot strongly emphasizes the sovereignty of God. While “good versus evil” is a common theme in many children’s novels, Hannibal goes a step further by taking the theme back to its roots. The Rescuer (the God figure) not only knows the future. He is also completely in control of its outcomes— even to the point of planning in the mistakes we’ll make.
Spiritual armor also plays an important role in the plot.
Hannibal bases the series loosely on the DragonRaid universe, established by Dick Wulf in the board game of the same name.
While I had not heard of DragonRaid, prior to reading the first of the books, Hannibal makes it clear in his introductory note that Lightraider Academy is indebted to the original Dick Wulf creation.
What I Liked
Children’s allegory is my favorite genre, and Hannibal’s latest contribution is excellent!
- I especially enjoyed reading about Connor’s experiences as a shepherd, which brought to mind the David of the Bible, as well as Jesus’ title of “Good Shepherd.” This was one of the elements, in the story’s description, that caught my attention. Shepherding has such a biblical quality!
- The characters were engaging and believable. I like that Hannibal introduced characters from differing backgrounds, including a shepherd, a miner and a scribe.
- I also enjoyed reading about Connor’s friendships and rivalries with the other characters. Amidst all of the action, it was neat to see how relationships developed.
- The world-building is rich and believable, with numerous mythological creatures— good and bad—as well as a unique vocabulary for family relations. Although I haven’t read Lord of the Rings (but I have read The Hobbit and The Silmarilion), it had a definite LOTR feel to me. Definitely an interesting world to explore!
- While there was some violence in the novel, the characters are careful to wage war against the dark creatures— not their fellow man.
- One thing I really appreciated was the treatment of supernatural elements. Hannibal clearly demonstrates that God is the One doing things (or rather, the “God character,” since he states that the allegory does not exactly replicate real life). While the trainees learn Scripture, for instance, this is by no means a magic spell. Instead, Hannibal makes it very clear that, while we ask God, God chooses if, when and how to act.
- I think this is such an important distinction to make, particularly in a book with such emphasis on spiritual warfare. I’m very sensitive to the notion that we, as Christians, can control God with our words and actions, and I’m glad that Hannibal so clearly debunks this idea.
This is a fall-release with a definite “cozy quality.” (It reminded me of The Hobbit). I recommend it for young readers (8-12) of fantasy, including fans (or will-be fans) of Tolkien’s world.
This book is suitable for Christians and non-Christians, alike. I think that this would be an excellent alternative to Harry Potter, not because the books are equal, but because both explore supernatural battles. BUT, where Rowling’s books rely on witchcraft, Hannibal’s characters rely on God. I would LOVE for children of different backgrounds to be exposed to this truth, instead.