War in Heaven - A review

Describing a terrifyingly subtle warfare waged among mere humanity. Written by the least known (and perhaps least appreciated) of the triumvirate of Oxford Dons (Tolkien, CS Lewis and Charles Williams), Williams nevertheless deserves credit for his gripping characterisations of terrifying bleak and quiet evil operating in a deceptively normal appearing world.

War in Heaven was the first of a series of books that dealt with the concept of ordinary individuals thrust into extraordinary circumstances, caught in the line of fire between Heaven and Hell. Short enough to make for a good afternoon’s read, this book is especially haunting in its description of how ordinary and mundane the appearance of true evil could be, and yet with none of its destructive impact attenuated by this veneer of civility and normalcy. It also describes how characters with which one might easily identify, ‘ordinary’ folk, can be swept up in the maelstrom of evils intent, attacked in vile and yet also nasty petty little ways, all compelled by a most foul yet cold hatred for humanity, simply because that humanity is also the focus of Divine intent as well.

Finally, Williams wonderfully captures the subtlety of an all compelling and inexorable Divine intent, never flashy, never pyrotechnical yet undeniable, and unstoppable in it's progression, a true presentation of a God so big, He doesn't have to make a really big show of His efforts.

In some respects, Williams was better at describing the subtle monstrousness of evil than either of his two compatriots (although C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters came very close). Avoiding the pitfalls often seen in other's attempts to describe Cosmic Conflict using Angelic or Demonic beings, Williams had no problem using mere humanity as the effective agents of both evil and Divinity. He did not have to interview God or Satan to grasp the essence of their activities in the material universe.

If Stephen King were a protestant theologian, he would write stories like this. I recommend you buy this one first, then get the others in chronological order, and delve deeply into a world where both evil and Divine intent wage total war among us, and through us, and for us...while most of us wander through the blasted battle field mostly (and disturbingly) unaware.

Charles Williams - WAR IN HEAVEN is available in all good bookshops and on Kindle

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