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Home arrow Books arrow Arena -- Karen Hancock

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Arena -- Karen Hancock Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Saturday, 17 February 2007
I was first introduced to Karen Hancock's book with the Guardian King series (The Light Of Eidon, The Shadow Within, Shadow Over Kiriath). Considering how much I liked those books I decided to check out her first published book, Arena. The back of the book describes it as a combination of The Pilgrim's Progress and The Matrix. This scifi allegory certainly does seem a lot like The Pilgrim's Progress or Hind's Feet On High Places but the similarity to The Matrix is a bit stretched. The story takes place in a science-fiction setting but it's not a virtual reality.
The story follows the allegorical spiritual journey of Callie Hayes. Unhappy with her life and just not quite sure what she wants to do she reluctantly agrees to participate in a psychology experiment at her university. The experiment turns out to be quite a bit more than she expected. She is transported to an alien world and tossed into the "arena". The arena is a testing area. The observers give the participant a few simple rules and then watch to see if the participant is able to follow the rules.
Behind the scenes we find that there is a reason for all this. The participants, without knowing it, are jurors in a case that is ruling on the justice of the one who created the arena. His claim is that he is just and fair while his opponents claim that people only follow him because of what he does for them. To prove the creator's motives the unwitting participants are placed into a situation where they must trust the creator or choose to go on their own.
Callie goes through many difficult situations in the arena and more often than not chooses the wrong path. It doesn't take much imagination to see the allegorical relationship that Hancock is setting up here. And, just like in real life, the wrong choices are much easier to take at first. Through her experiences Callie changes and learns to depend more and more on the creator so that by the end of the book she is victorious only because of the maturity of her faith in the creator. Again, the allegorical relationship is fairly obvious.
In reading this book I couldn't help but wonder if there was a hint of biography along with the story. The author's name, Karen Hancock, is somewhat close to the main character's, Callie Hayes. They both live in southern Arizona. If I remember correctly, Hancock states on her website that she was a biology major when in college. And the spiritual journey Callie goes on sounds a bit familiar to what Hancock has said about herself.
It was an enjoyable book and I'm very glad that we have a writer like Hancock to continue to produce good and thoughtful Christian fantasy and science fiction.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 February 2007 )

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