C.S. Lakin delivers yet another brilliant, earthy, complex “fairy tale for adults” in The Crystal Scepter, the latest in her series The Gates of Heaven. Lakin weaves qualities of Shakespearean drama, historical fiction, fairy-tale adventure, mythical magic, and a fantasy style not unlike C.S. Lewis yet wholly her own.
A young king, Pythius, who murdered his own father for his crown and who will stop at nothing for the ultimate prize (of immortality and supreme power) pays the ultimate price—but his endeavor to circumvent his fate eventually seals it.
Meanwhile, Perth, a fisherman’s son with an unlikely past, discovers that “the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart” when—shrimp of a boy that he is, and often ridiculed—he vows to protect his village from an evil sea monster and sets off on a hero’s journey to fulfill his promise, realizing his destiny instead.
The Crystal Scepter is not something to read when one is tired or harassed by the day—when I read it at night I swiftly became frustrated at the many layers of significance to each passage, the richly allegorical prose, and the apparently unnecessary repetition of certain points.
However, reading it on a Sunday afternoon was delightful, enlightening, and such a fantastic ride that even knowing the Greek mythology (the story of Perseus and Medusa) that is the heart of the tale, there was so much else woven in that I could not anticipate the ending. I had goosebumps with the last sentence, left with an overall sensation of appreciation, peace, musing, and hope.
I am unfamiliar with the scripture that is referenced, but this seems to be Christian fiction that all faiths (or those without a recognized “faith”) could enjoy. (There is also a wonderful discussion/reading guide at the back.)