Title: Quest for Celestia; A Reimagining of the Pilgrim’s Progress
Author: Steven James
Publisher: AMG Publishers
Genre: Young adult metaphysical fantasy
I decided to read this because I’ve never read The Pilgrim’s Progress (first published more than 300 years ago) but often wondered what it was about. So I can’t compare it to the original but I assume that all the elements are there. It’s basically a simple tale of a young man’s quest to reach a fabled city of peace and happiness, and is also a subtle analogy for a person’s search for God. But don’t get the wrong idea here; this isn’t a religious book. It’s a great tale for anyone who enjoys fantasy, and the wisdom in it is universal, important for everyone regardless of their religious persuasion.
The story begins when 18-year-old Kadin meets someone believed to be a dangerous wizard. The ‘wizard’ is run out of town, but not before he gives Kadin a book that is supposed to be evil. Kadin tries to get rid of it, but the book keeps returning until eventually he reads it. The words change his life. He learns that Celestia isn’t a myth, as he’s grown up believing . He also discovers that he has a nasty growth on his shoulder and so does everyone else in his town, though no one else can see it. The only way he can get rid of this disease, which grows more painful each day, is to travel to Celestia where it can be removed.
From the blurb – His quest leads him to a fantastical world of witches, dragons, giants, danger, and deception. Tracked by an evil lord and accompanied by only one friend, Kadin must face his greatest fear to find the healing he longs for most.
Kadin’s quest becomes more than physical journey, it becomes a search for truth, because evil and ignorance often don the disguises of good and understanding. Events reveal what is true and what is not, and Kadin learns, amongst other things, that he must follow the path as laid out in the map in the book, because the easy route is not always the right one.
I like the way people’s beliefs are shown to be merely beliefs about the world, not the way the world actually is, even though they swear that what they live by is the truth. In this book, the Christians (as in Kadin and his friends) are shown to have the real truth, but in our world, it could just as easily be Christians whose beliefs don’t match reality. I guess it depends on how you see reality, or perhaps which reality you believe in. Thinking about it may even lead you to believe that there is no absolute reality. Such is the thought provoking nature of this book.
The characters are well developed and easy to relate to. Their actions and relationships with each other are believable and their motivations are clear. The ending is inspiring and heart-warming. I would buy this for kids and teens of all ages because it is an exciting, well written story and has the added benefit of some real wisdom in it.