Wolf Soldier (Book Review)

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author, in exchange for an honest review.

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.

Scripture Connection

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

Eph. 6:11

Spiritual Themes

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.

Game Background

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.

Recommendation

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.

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

2 thoughts on “Wolf Soldier (Book Review)

  1. Hmm, sounds really interesting. Was there magic involved at all?

    I tried to read another of Hannibal’s books once, and I learned I was not the military thriller type. At all. 🙂 But I might have to take a stab at trying his other works …

    Like

    1. Hi, Vanessa! From what I recall, “magic,” if there was any, would have been employed by the evil side. It would have been more like dark power. And while the main characters do recite Scripture in time of need, they also learn that the outcomes are up to God. (I was a little bit concerned at first that this would be a spell, but it’s explained that they don’t have power).

      Liked by 1 person

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