I have heard it said that John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the greatest pieces of Christian literature. There have been many rewritings of the Pilgrim’s Progress over the centuries since John Bunyan wrote his epic allegory. Some authors have reworked it for children, others for the theatre, and others have simply updated it for modern audiences. Now, Steven James has re-imagined this work for teenagers in the new book: Quest for Celestia.
I am familiar with the general storyline of Progress, but I have never actually read the original work. That is still in my reading stack…. This said, as I read through James’ Quest I worked on comparing my sketchy knowledge of the original to this latest work. I even compared one portion to the original to see how both authors treated the salvation of Christian/Kadin. It seems that James held fairly well to the point Bunyan was attempting to make.
In all, the major changes are as follows: a simplified text, Kadin’s (a.k.a Christian) friend is a girl called Leira, and the story is now set in a fantasy genre. There are dragons and barons and such in the story now. Still, over all, the story works well. There is a strong emphasis on the forgiveness of God over all past sins and the dangers and allurements of the world.
Leira was sidetracked on her search for salvation and ended up in the Baron’s dungeon where she was abused and visited by the guards. This is handled circumspectly and it allows James to develop the twin themes of forgiveness and love that the Prince has for His princess. There are strong ties to Ezekiel 16. Leira also struggles with her view of herself. While I am against the usual self-esteem nonsense that psychology has foisted upon Christianity, there is a kernel of truth in the concept. Every person has worth, but that worth only comes from the Savior’s sacrifice for us not in any inherent worth that we have. James handles this well.
Finally, James does a good job of developing the struggles of Kadin. Kadin is the analyzer who struggles to trust King Kiral’s maps and the Book of Blood. Kadin continually attempts to handle problems in his own strength. I can sympathize with Kadin….
This is a fast read and enjoyable.