Wednesday, October 26, 2011
From My Library: The Zion Covenant Series
Currently published by Tyndale House Publishers, $12.99 each
I first read this series in the early 1990s as a teenager. They are absolutely wonderful works of historical fiction, tracking the coming of World War II across Europe. The series opens amidst the intrigues surrounding the expansion of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and follows various characters all the way to the evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940. Not only do the authors do a fantastic job of detailing the dark history of Nazi influence over Western Europe, but they also show God's hand in these events. Every time I've read these books, I've loved that they do not lecture the reader but instead show us how God worked in history and in people's lives.
The many threads of story woven through these novels can take violent and sad turns at times, but these books would be a wonderful resource for high school students as well as providing many hours of great reading for adults. Not only is the history well-researched, but the stories told are riveting. Rather than focusing on one main character, the authors focus on several different strands of plot. As in real life, some of their characters' lives will intersect while others seem to go almost on parallel tracks. Some characters' struggles resolve themselves quickly while other lives will work themselves out over appearances in multiple books.
For example, one of the main characters in Vienna Prelude, Elisa, faces major struggles as Germany moves to annex Austria and she faces danger due to being half-Jewish. While the books does have a satisfactory resolution, we will still get to follow Elisa's life developing in other books and watching her mature and play important roles in other characters' lives makes for wonderful reading as well.
One thing I liked about these books, aside from the attention to historical detail, was that the characters did not live in a set-apart Christian bubble. Many of the lead characters are Christian and others become Christian over the course of the books, but they live very much in the real world. They interact with non-Christians and as the books move through the Anschluss, Kristallnacht and other events leading into the early days of World War II, we also meet a number of Jewish characters.
Because of the author's method of changing focus rather than concentrating on one main character, we see events through the eyes of Elisa or from the perspective of John Murphy, the American reporter whom Elisa marries over the course of the series. We also find ourselves immersed in stories of Jewish refugees fleeing the Third Reich, principled Christian ministers who see what is happening and refuse to accept it quietly, and even Nazi officers and their families who come to question what their own country is doing.
Both unforgettable and exciting, this well-written series deserves a place in the family library. Reading a nine book series may seem daunting to some, but the characters in this book will hold your attention. The fantastic decriptions of the "miracle of Dunkirk" in book 9 will make you glad you stuck with it until the end, too.