Tuesday, January 20, 2009


(Click book for Amazon link)

In The Book of Names, D. Barley Briggs introduces the concept of three religious branches, Black, Gray, and White, that operate independently of each other. Each group stands for following and emphasising a different characteristic of their creator.

The Gray Abbey works to balance the other two branches, White and Black, in their actions and try to moderate and work in harmony. The White Abbey has two main purposes, to learn all of the Book of Law, and to keep and protect the Book of names. Studious, serious and unbending, the White Abbey members see themselves as Stewards of the Truth, and are quick to inform others of any wrongs. By contrast, The Black Abbey follows the Way of Mystery, and seek to learn the unknowable secrets of Aion, The Creator. Rather than focus on logic, and strict adherence to written Laws, the Black Abbey strives to peacefully use rituals and power to fight the darkness through mystical means.

This struck me as the way many people view religion - either caught up mysticism and symbology, or legalistic and unyielding. Both extremes began with good intentions, but devolved over time into thinking only their way contains the path to true enlightenment. The Grays strive for a happy median, seeing good in both views. In fact, it is the Grays who become the strongest allies of Haydn and Ewan, while the other two factions get caught up in petty squabbles over who is the most correct and so the most important.
D. Barkley Briggs illustrates this point in a non-condemning way. Much like the world of Korac Tor, the different religious factions of our world have lost sight of the fact that we're on the same side. By dividing the Black, White, and Gray Abbeys among themselves, their common foe weakened what should have been a strong, unified front.

D. Barkley Briggs seems to have woven a modern parable into this story of a far away land.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Great observations, Tim. Definitely some parable in the book, I think.


Brandon Barr said...

Thanks for the review Tim.

Fantasythyme said...

Thank you for visiting. I've been out for a while, but the pneumonia is gone. I still hope to blog a third day this week. I enjoyed Book of names and look forward to more of the story.