Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hammer of the Huguenots

Douglas Bond writes books I like.  That seems straightforward enough.  I have found it consistently true, that time I spend with a work of his is time well spent.  Whether it is a biography, a work of practical theology, or a novel; I have yet to be disappointed by one of his works.  His newest novel, Hammer of the Huguenots, is the third volume of his Heroes and History series. I bought the other two when P&R had a sale a few months back, but I have not had a chance to read them.  That is a truth that must quickly change.

Hammer of the Huguenots is a work of historical fiction that follows Phillippe; a young, Roman Catholic man, as he witnesses the French Catholic persecution of Reformed Christians around him and the effects of the Gospel ministry of Pierre Viret.  What drew me to this book, beyond enjoying how Bond writes, is its historical context.  I am still a novice to the genre of fiction, and I am still highly selective on those works with which I will spend time.  If you are not a book about a quest for a ring, hopping through a wardrobe, or solving crimes with your buddy named Watson, I have had little time for you.  But historical fiction I can justify.  Sure, the stories are not “history,” but the truths they convey are historical.  And the context and many of the characters and many of the events are all historical.  So, I can tell myself that I am not reading for entertainment or fun or any of those silly reasons.  Nope, I am learning!

But then here is the kicker.  Hammer of the Huguenots is a work that engages the reader.  I can tell myself I am not reading for entertainment, but then I have to deal with the fact that I am being entertained.  And I can tell myself that I am not reading to enjoy the catharsis of vicarious experience, but then I have to acknowledge how this book causes such a visceral, emotional, personal reaction.  Bond writes in a way that causes an emotional response.  You find yourself feeling the anxiety, fear, and sadness; relief, peace, and joy.

History is good.  Storytelling is good.  Better than anything is the Gospel.  And Douglas Bond would agree.  Hammer of the Huguenots makes that clear.  Bond focuses on the Gospel throughout this book.  The Gospel is presented in many ways and in multiple contexts.  We see the true Gospel presented in contrast to Rome’s doctrine of “faith +.”  We see the Gospel of Christ’s all-sufficiency and vicarious atonement through preaching, teaching, and the response of the characters.  Watching Phillippe confronted with the Gospel time and again and watching him struggle with the implications of his beliefs is more than good literature; it is convicting, challenging, and encouraging.

I greatly enjoyed this work.  If you want to read some good fiction, get a dose of history, and be overwhelmed by the Gospel and its implications, Hammer of the Huguenots will prove to be an investment that pays great dividends.

I received a review copy from the publisher.