“In the middle of the night, Willow Ufgood rode the back of a dragon.”
So begins Shadow Moon by George Lucas and Chris Claremont. My wife and I recently rewatched Willow, an old movie we remembered from our youth. This is always a risk. Sometimes, the light of an adult intellect and experience shows those old “favorites” to be pretty awful (case in point: anyone watched The Neverending Story recently? Ugh.). But sometimes they stand the test of time and prove themselves to be good – or at least decent – movies at any age. Such was Willow. In the spirit of Star Wars, it proved itself to be an enjoyable, sometimes comic, sometimes serious adventure/fantasy story that did not ruin our fond memories.
Turns out, there’s a series of books that serve as sequels to the movie! Shadow Moon is the first and I decided to give it a try.
In brief, this story takes place roughly ten years after the end of Willow. Predictably, the movie’s happy ending did not last. Willow, now an extremely powerful sorcerer going by the name of Thorn Drumheller, is investigating a series of earth shattering “events” which have left certain areas of his world completely destroyed (like, completely wiped clean destroyed; great scars in the landscape). His search leads him to travel to the city of Angwyn to try and reconnect with his god-daughter, the Sacred Princess Elora Danan. But he has been apart from her for many years and finds that the Princess, whom prophecy has called the only chance for peace in the world, has become nothing but a spoiled brat. In addition, an imposter has taken Thorn’s place at her side and Angwyn’s king has invited some very dangerous guests to her “coming-of-age” birthday party. Oh, and then Thorn gets thrown into a dungeon with a demon. He’s in for a rough couple of days.
Shadow Moon was tolerably well written (despite a few annoying anachronisms) and full of action and adventure. It was a fine story, an enjoyable read, and certainly held my attention to the end. It is, however, definitely lodged within the “sword and sorcery” genre, which causes me some hesitation in recommending it.
The Christian world seems to have a complicated relationship with “magic,” “wizards,” and the like. On the one hand, nothing positive is said about the actual practice of such arts in Scripture (quite the opposite, in fact). And so, some in our circles (and I include myself in their number) feel a very understandable reticence when faced with something like Shadow Moon or the Harry Potter novels. On the other hand, many of these same people (again, myself included) seem to have no problem with The Chronicles of Narnia or Peter Pan and Cinderella. This, as far as I can tell, is inconsistent.
For my part, I can’t find any cut and dried criteria to differentiate between Tinkerbell’s magical fairy dust and Thorn Drumheller’s magical spells and so, after thought and prayer and counsel over the years, I’ve decided to judge such fictional content less harshly. These, I think, are decisions each believer must come to on their own and for me, there is still a subjective upper limit to what I feel pleases the Lord; it depends in part on what worldview is being promoted, what real-world experimentation is encouraged, etc. To be honest, Shadow Moon rides the line. What is not subjective, is that we certainly must condemn what Scripture condemns (which might be a problem with Harry Potter – a real kid in the real world doing real magic? – though I’ve not read them and will leave that judgement up to someone who has). For now, at least, a higher tolerance seems more consistent to me….
….though I’m open to the Holy Spirit convicting me otherwise, as, I think, we all must be.
|Profanity||2||He**s and da**s and the like.|
|Violence||3||Lots of battling going on here and the blood and gore are not subtle.|
|Sex/Romantic Themes||2.5||There is an instance of intimacy between Willow and his wife and later a short but descriptive account of an attempted rape. Not much outside those two instances though.|
|Miscellaneous||Lots of magic (see above).|
For a full explanation of my Content Notes and the scale, click here.