Werner's Reviews > The Oath

The Oath by Frank Peretti
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Aug 18, 08

bookshelves: supernatural-fiction, books-i-own
Recommended for: Fans of supernatural fiction, esp. with a Christian orientation
Read in January, 1998

Peretti is generally viewed as the dean of supernatural fiction writers in the commercial "Christian fiction" market (which he was largely single-handedly responsible for opening up to this genre). Although I haven't read any of his other work, I'd be inclined to say that he deserves his stature in the field. His characters (at least, in this novel) are utterly believable, fallible people; his plot is gripping, and perfectly paced; the Oregon mountain setting is well-drawn (the author makes his home in Oregon, or at least did at the time of this writing); and he writes with genuine psychological and spiritual insight.

It will not constitute a spoiler to reveal this much: the 19th- century founder of Hyde River, Benjamin Hyde, was a Satanist, who persuaded the townsfolk to bind themselves in a satanic pact; and the devil's physical presence continues to be embodied in a huge dragon which (unbeknown to outsiders) still haunts the area. The symbolism Peretti employs here resembles, in some ways, Hawthorne's in "The Bosom Serpent;" but the scale here is grander, the novel-length treatment allows for fuller plot and character development, and the much more lethal menace of the reptile here makes for far greater dramatic tension.
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message 1: by Mike (the Paladin) (last edited Mar 07, 2011 06:00PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mike (the Paladin) I thought the dragon was meant to be the big surprise in the novel (after we went shooting bears and so on trying kill what had done the mauling). As an "incarnation of sin" it's the main "villain". (I read someone say it was the incarnation of Satan but at least the book didn't try that in the end.) I always say that books are a matter of taste. I found a lot flaws here. I didn't like the story telling in general, and the whole approach began to wear on me pretty quickly. Even in the beginning I just couldn't get involved.

************************************************************* Spoiler Below *******************************

I also thought that this book failed in another way. It's representation of Christianity was a bit confused, climaxing with the protagonist "praying for conversion" so he could "slay the dragon" or in the parlance of the book, face sin. This confuses what the conversion experience is and what sin is. (Eph. 2:8)(I Tim.2:4)

So, I didn't care much for the book (story) itself and on top of that thought it gave a skewed and possibly misleading view of it's real subject.

That may be I admit a bit subjective but all the reviews are.

On the other hand (as I mentioned) I find his book The Visitation one of the best modern Christian novels I've ever read. Also subjective. I still have a couple of his books on my shelves, but The Oath sort of put me off him. I guess I need to read the ones waiting.

By the way, not disagreeing with your rating for you...just for me. :)

message 2: by Werner (last edited Mar 08, 2011 04:11AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Werner Yes, all reviews, and all responses to literature, are inherently subjective, and meant to be so; there's no "right" or "wrong" take on it! You obviously did a much deeper theological analysis of the book than I did (I do interpret the dragon as Satan personified --who of course reigns over people through sin-- though.) My only quibble with that approach is that the metaphors and symbolism of fiction may not be well-adapted as a vehicle for an exhaustive presentation of the truths of systematic theology; they work more to create a visceral, rather than intellectually analytical, response. (None of Jesus' parables of the Kingdom --which are the first examples of the presentation of Christian truth through stories-- presents a fully-developed picture of the system of Christian soteriology as you'd read it in a seminary text; and some theologians have attacked The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because they regard its presentation of the atonement as a ransom to Satan as erroneous.) Just a thought!

I haven't read The Visitation, but I want to. On the other hand, from what I've read about This Present Darkness and its sequel, I'm not all that attracted to those works.

Mike (the Paladin) I read This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness "back when". Not bad but again a little misleading I suppose. Ya books that parents should go through with their youths. I remember R. C. Sproul wasn't "real happy" with them, but then that's true of a lot of books/things LOL.

Well, speaking of The Oath here again, to each as they say. The Dragon is the obvious symbol for Satan as it's the main Biblical symbol. I didn't think that the theology in the book was "dangerous" (except maybe to someone trying to use the book as a primary source for such.) Mostly I just didn't like the story telling, the rest just "added on" to the problems. Like I said, even as the story was getting rolling I just couldn't get into it. Some books touch one person and not another it happens.

Werner Very true, Mike!

The main criticism that I've read of Peretti's Darkness books is that they focus so strongly on an invisible-to-humans conflict between angels and demons that the role of human moral responsibility and choice is reduced almost to the vanishing point. But that may have been the reader's misperception.

Mike (the Paladin) I went back and looked, I basically gave those "not bads" and rated them 3 stars. i probably ought to reread them before discussing in detail. I remember being concerned about the "parenting" and such but thinking "youths" would like them.

Werner I just checked out your reviews of those two. Maybe I'll give them a try sometime in the future and make my own assessment, when I reduce my to-read shelf to a manageable size (yeah, like that's ever gonna happen! :-) )....

Mike (the Paladin) I know. To read shelves, stacks, lists, or whatever are not only self perpetuating they're breeders....

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