Every time I read a Jeff Wheeler book, I marvel at how I get so swept up into his world (they’re all set more or less in the same one, or rather the same interconnected series of worlds, on a timeline I’ve never been clearly able to define.) All of his main characters are the same ordinary, courageous heroes whose defining characteristic is their integrity, but there is nothing otherwise remarkable about them. I think this is important because I once heard someone say (maybe it was Jeff Wheeler!) that the more fantastical your world is, the more vanilla, “everyman” your main character must be in order to still be relatable. I think it’s the fictional equivalent of the concept that stripes don’t mix with a floral pattern or it becomes too “busy.” But because of this, I don’t think I could even name which of his main characters go with which book or series, nor could I ever recount the specific plots of any of them after I finish reading them. And yet I somehow always zip through them, thoroughly engrossed. Why? What is it about them, when neither character nor plot is especially memorable?
One thing that is consistent in each story that I absolutely love, is how the main characters and their mentors quote the Bible without calling it the Bible (they call it the “tomes”), and teach Biblical values in a way that doesn’t come off at all preachy. The stories are too intricate and complex to have been created as pure morality tales, and I don’t at all feel like I’m being patronized, even though I know the way I phrased that, it sounds that way. Instead, they’re instructive. Wheeler’s books remind me a bit of the way Jordan Peterson describes Dostoyevsky’s characters: they’re not just entertaining characters, they’re a study in human psychology. You become vicariously wiser by reading Dostoyevsky’s fiction, or at least Peterson thinks so. That’s how I feel about Wheeler’s stories. They seem “important,” in a way that pure entertainment could never be.
I realize I’ve said nothing about this actual book, though. It’s a continuation of “The Druid,” and it’s a middle book- the last isn’t out yet. Often that’s frustrating, to read partway through a series and have to stop for months at a time, but because all the books blend together, somehow with Wheeler’s books it doesn’t bother me nearly so much.
My rating: *****