Monday, 21 April 2014
The Parasol Protectorate, a review (Part 2 of 2)
by Claire McDermott
Continuing from last week...
God is rarely mentioned, but there is a religious order. The Templars in Italy are the main villain in the third instalment of the series. Their agenda is to destroy all supernaturals, who they consider to be abominations to God, because they have chosen the immortal life thereby rejecting the natural order established by God (mainland Europe is not as open to vampires and werewolves as GB is!) They also consider Preternaturals to be demons, being born without a soul and therefore denied any chance of eternal rest in heaven. Conversely, the Preternaturals are also pitied because they are born in that condition, and are used as tools by the Templars to weaken and destroy their enemy. Religion is seen to be antiquated, dangerous, and presented in a negative light, but I don't think that this is a bad thing in literature. The Templars are fixed in their endeavours to see non-human beings as creatures to be destroyed. It's easy to see a similarity with our own world today, we still have persecution and rejection of people who don't conform to Christian standards, and religion is seen by many to be outdated and even damaging. This fantasy story gives the reader something to fear that we can identify with - tragically we know all too well that Religion has and will be used to achieve goals that I would deem not of God. Sadly the Templars are not given an opportunity in the books to redeem themselves, but I like to hope that if a future book were to be released, that there could be some saving grace for them.
In truth, no one gets away without some portion of guilt - all types of people, from scientists to Egyptian mummies, from family members to butlers, everyone in these novels does something wrong at one stage or another. There is a balance here, good and evil is not black and white, and that for me is the best thing about the series. There are countless times when you discover that the hero is actually the 'bad guy', but they have valid reasoning for their actions and end up favourable again. People make mistakes and then correct them, all have sinned and many seek forgiveness and redemption, and there is an air of learning and discovery throughout the books which I find encouraging. We as Christians need to be continually reviewing why we believe what we believe, and be willing to change our view on things as well, because only then will we be able to stay true to the world around us, and not become the villain without realising it.
I highly recommend these books for people who like steampunk and supernatural themes, they're rather silly at times, but they are considered, well constructed and give a new perspective on what could easily be a bit of an over-wrought genre of late. I enjoyed the new perspective and value an opportunity to look at my belief system and see how it measures up. Am I most like the Templars, the religiously fervent, skilled warrior types, who hold fast and true to their faith? Do I consider myself to perhaps have excess soul, and if so would I consider the choice of immortality that supernatural metamorphosis offers? Would I be open to the notion of welcoming werewolves and vampires into my home if they truly existed? And is it possible to be born without a soul?
Plenty to ponder over a cup of tea!