Van Til Tool

Using the Van Til Perspective as the tool to discover what life means and how it ought to be lived.

Monday, June 07, 2010


Seabird Flies !!

Cara-The-Feisty Rules in Debut of Narentan Fantasy Series

A Review of

Sherry Thompson Seabird: Book I of The Narentan Tumults (Grayson, GA:
Gryphonwood Press, 2007)
352 pp $15.99 ISBN: 978-0-9795738-2-8

Reviewed by: Forrest W. Schultz

As a long time enthusiast of the literary works of C. S. Lewis I am gratified at the contemporary long-overdue widespread recognition of some of these works, esp. of
The Chronicles of Narnia. The downside to this, of course, is the danger that "wannabe" authors will exploit the popularity by producing crass imitations of the Narnian tales.

For this reason I was disturbed that Sherry Thompson has chosen to name her fantasy world "Narenta" because it looks so much like "Narnia" that there may be those who, without further ado, will consign it to the crass imitation category. This would be a huge mistake! Narnia fans will love Narenta but it is by no means a crude copy of Narnia.

The feisty contemporary American teenager Cara Marshall transported to Narenta in Seabird bears little resemblance to the mid-twentieth century British Pevensee children transported to Narnia in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and the natures of their respective missions and experiences are also quite distinct and Narenta is quite a different world from Narnia. It would require a lengthy essay to detail and discuss all the Narentan/Narnian differences.

What Narenta and Narnia have in common is the story outline and the nature of the stage on which the stories are enacted. The story outline consists of humans transported to a fantasy world where they accomplish a salvific mission and then are returned to Earth with a resulting increase in spiritual maturity. The stage for the stories is a fantasy world imbued with spiritual analogies and containing talking animals and ruled by one of these animals who is a Christ-figure in the story. In Narnia the Lion Aslan is the Christ-figure; in Narenta the Seabird Alphesis is the Christ-figure. (Narnia is a fantasy world for children transportees, so that a land-bound animal is appropriate for a Christ-figure; Narenta is a fantasy world for adolescent transportees so that a more lofty incarnation is appropriate -- thus a Seabird is the Christ-figure there.) An entire book could be written on the spiritual analogies in Narenta (and Narnia); all I wish to say here is that to me the most striking spiritual analogy on Narenta is its "Living Water". And it is significant that the weapon Cara is shown wielding on the books cover is "The Sword Of Living Water", and that her last act on Narenta is to give orders concerning where it is to be housed after her departure.

The Pevensees, since they are children, require several trips to Narnia to gain the desired spiritual maturity, while Cara requires only one trip to Narenta -- she arrives as an adoleschent and leaves as an adult, which is dramatically depicted in a climactic scene where she perceives one of deepest of C. S. Lewis's spiritual insights as she faces down her opponent the sorceress Rabada. As Cara utters this insight, the reader is suddenly struck with the fact that she is now a woman; she is no longer a girl! And only after she attains this insight does she deliver the coup d' etat which demolishes the triad of sorcerors and thereby accomplishes her mission.

This deep spiritual principle which Cara discerned here was dramatically depicted by C. S. Lewis in his adult fiction space novel Perelandra. The principle itself, which Lewis states and discusses in one of his didactic works, is simply this: repeated sinning eventually depersonalizes the sinner. If, for instance, a man continues to whimper, eventually he will BECOME nothing but a whimper, i.e. there will no longer be a person behind the whimper. In Perelandra the villain, a demon-possessed man, eventually becomes what Lewis calls an Unman.

Cara, perceiving this principle, calls her nemesis a "nothing" at first, which she later amends to a "black hole", which sucks in and destroys life, but which has no life of its own. Here Thompson actually one-ups her mentor. C. S. Lewis did not and could not draw this analogy because black holes had not yet been discovered by astronomers in his day, when he wrote the Narnia books and the space trilogy.

The "tumult" faced by Cara in Seabird is the first of seven tumults prophesied for Narenta. The second tumult is the subject of Thompson's second Narentan novel which has just been published. I shall read and review it soon.

There is a good deal of humor in Seabird, mainly because Cara's conversations are filled with American figures of speech and American teen jargon. Most of this is spoken but a lot of it is Cara talking to herself. This, plus her feistiness in telling the land's top scholars and kings and generals just what she thinks makes for a very lively and often funny story.

This spunk is there from the very outset when Cara vehmently objects to being regarded as the land's deliverer and demands to be returned to Earth because "your magician grabbed someone from the wrong planet!". It takes her quite a while before she finally agrees to accept her mission.

It does not take long for the reader to realize that the Narenta story is imbued with a very different atmosphere from the Narnia story. This has to be the case when you consider that Cara is an American adolescent born in the 1990s and that the Pevensees are British children born in the 1930s. You do not need to read very far before it becomes crystal clear that in no form or shape or fashion is Narenta a "knock-off" of Narnia.

So, is Narenta to be considered as worthy of comparison with Narnia?? I believe that Seabird is in the same league as Narnia's first volume (LWW). Let us hope that the remaining books in the Narentan Tumults Series are as good as the first. This will not be easy! Cara will be a tough act to follow! The challenge Thompson faces is creating characters who are deserving of following in her train and of stories which continue the great start she made with Seabird.

June 3, 2010

I shall be posting more reviews of Thompson's Narenta series as they are published. So far, I would say that I believe Narenta is in the same league with Narnia, and, for me, that is a HUGE compliment because of the enormous respect I have for C. S. Lewis. I will be posting more on Lewis soon. 2010 is the 50th anniversary of my introduction to Lewis (in 1960). I shall be posting here some remarks about that soon.


  • At Tuesday, June 08, 2010, Blogger Xanthorpe said…

    What a great review. I love Seabird and I believe that Earthbow is a worthy next-chapter in the Narentan Tumults. I should be getting my copy soon :-).

    I know Sherry really appreciates you taking the time to write such a thoughtful piece on Seabird. Her characters and the world they inhabit are truly a fantastic creation. And the message is timeless and timely.

    Awesome job!


  • At Tuesday, June 08, 2010, Blogger Forrest Schultz said…


    I have just now completed my review of Volume I of "Earthbow" and will publish it here soon.

    Hope you will like it also.


  • At Friday, February 25, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi there,

    This is a message for the webmaster/admin here at

    Can I use some of the information from your post right above if I give a link back to this site?


  • At Monday, February 28, 2011, Blogger Forrest Schultz said…

    To Charlie:


    Why did you send your comment using "Anonymous"?

    Would like to know who you are and why you are interested in "Sebird".



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