Finding “the Fear of the Lord” in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Stories

Writing for Christianity Today, R. S. Naifeh looks at the ways in which the fantasy novels of Lois McMaster Bujold explore religious and spiritual matters.

Though not herself a Christian (Bujold describes herself as agnostic), she is rare in the field for the seriousness with which she takes religion. (About C. S. Lewis, she once quipped: “He makes Christianity look good. There are many Christians who make Christianity look bad, also.”) And while her Hugo-winning series technically features a polytheistic world, it is often fueled by questions (and answers) familiar to Christian theology. Her novels treat religious devotion sympathetically while portraying a world in which the gods are objectively knowable and invariably good. Indeed, reading her books brought me to a deeper understanding of just what it means to have “the fear of the Lord.”

I discovered Bujold a few years ago, and The Curse of Chalion is now one of my favorite fantasy novels. Its sequel — The Paladin of Souls — is quite good, as well. I haven’t read any of the Penric novels yet, but Naifeh’s article is a good reminder that I should change that.

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