Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Witch Doctor

By Christopher Stasheff

Saul Bremener's good friend has gone missing so Saul goes to the missing man's apartment only to find it infested with spiders. One of the spiders bites Saul and Saul awakens to find himself translated to a different world, a world where each must choose to be either good or evil and where magic is real.
Saul refuses to commit himself despite pressures to do so. He also finds out he is a natural wizard, with the power to alter reality with the mere saying of a few words of verse.
Although Saul maintains his neutrality, still he is mainly a good-hearted person and can't seem to stop working to make things better for those he comes across who are suffering or in trouble. This includes those who have given themselves to evil and the devil but who Saul heals of their illnesses if they only repent of their sins and turn to God and righteousness, making amends for the bad deeds with good deeds. A lot of those he helps are witches, working in alliance with the evil queen who rules the land.
As Saul progresses through this land, he gains followers, a godly squire, a troll, a beautiful ghost girl, a poet, and a priest. Together, they will stand against the evil queen and free this land of her cruel tyranny.

Throughout the story, Saul refuses to believe that he has magical powers and continues to insist that he is undergoing some kind of drug-induced hallucination. He also insists he will not align himself with either side, but he continuously puts himself in peril by assisting those in trouble and turning many evil witches from the road to hell and into God's grace. I had a hard time figuring out just what it was that Saul felt he was doing that was sinful and finally decided it was that he was attracted to the ghost girl. For some weird reason, the author considers sexual attraction to be a sin, I don't know why. Might be a Catholic thing.

The two-thirds of the story were pretty entertaining, but the last third was rather boring and too concerned with religious and philosophic matters. Also, final battle with the witch didn't make a lot of sense to me, given what we are told earlier in the story about how the witch protected herself from harm.

This story is a vehicle for the author to put forth his views on religion. People who enjoy religious fiction would probably quite like this story. I don't like religious fiction and if I had known that is what this book is, I never would have read it. Now that I do know the author writes religious fiction, I will be sure to avoid his books in the future.
For another review see: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-345-37584-1

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