The Chiveis Trilogy: Christian or Controversial?

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“There’s this story that takes place way in the future where everyone has forgotten about God and then someone finds a Bible!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this over the past four years I’ve known my husband. He would always talk about this series that he read as a teenager called the Chiveis Trilogy by Bryan M. Litfin, and the fact that the genre was Christian post-apocalyptic fiction intrigued me. You don’t see books with that label very often!

Lo and behold, after getting my new library card, I found an audiobook of The Sword, the first book in the series, on Overdrive! After finishing the book and doing some research on it, I got the sense that it was pretty controversial in Christian circles. So, coming from both a storytelling perspective and looking at it critically from a Christian viewpoint, here are my thoughts on The Sword.

Why Critique Books?

My purpose in critiquing books is not to say that the book or its author is awful. I’m not trying to say that I know everything there is to know about writing a book, or that I’m even right in my assessments/opinions. I have a few motives: 

  1. To break apart stories so we can learn what makes them successful or unsuccessful and apply those elements to our own stories or know what to avoid
  2. To dispel the myths that popular books are “perfect” and that writing a book as “good” as a well-known author is an unattainable goal
  3. In the case of Christian books, to determine whether or not the book truly brings glory to God and represents Him and His Word well

It’s comforting to know that a good story is a good story. No one has any secret special knowledge that makes their story better. As long as you take the time to learn and practise the art of writing, you have the same potential as a famous author to write something that people will remember for years to come – perhaps even more potential!


Four hundred years from now a deadly virus and nuclear war have destroyed the modern world, and those who survived have returned to a medieval-like age of swords, horses, and feudal kingdoms. Yet the breathtaking mountain realm of Chiveis lives in peace, protected from the outside world and obedient to its own gods. Though this noble civilization seems to flourish, Christianity has been forgotten―until a mysterious book is found.

When Teo, an army scout, and Ana, the beautiful daughter of a farmer, discover an ancient Bible, everything begins to change in Chiveis. As old beliefs give way to new faith, persecution rises and the kingdom’s darkest secrets begin to surface. Will the new discovery be the end of Teo and Ana? Or will they find a way to bring the God of the Ancients back to the land of Chiveis?

The Sword on Amazon

The Good Stuff


Litfin does a good job of creating a world that feels unique, yet still familiar. My husband and I had a fun time trying to figure out where this trilogy takes place based on a map we found for the books and the landmarks/clues in the narrative. The author obviously did exhaustive research to fit Chiveis in Europe (around Switzerland/France/Germany), and it’s fun to imagine this far-off world being in an existing place. The way Litfin presents the kingdom of Chiveis, its culture, and its history feels unique even though it shares a similar premise with other post-apocalyptic novels.

Unpredictable plot

This really is one of the most unpredictable plots I’ve ever read, sometimes to the book’s detriment (which I’ll talk about in the “plot points” section below). Many times while reading I predicted a seemingly obvious sequence of events, only to be completely wrong in the end. Litfin does a great job of keeping you guessing, making you want to keep reading so you can find out what happens next.

Focus on God’s grace

After reading so much about how the false gods of Chiveis are angry and vengeful, after hearing how corrupt so many leaders of the kingdom are, it feels like a breath of fresh air when the main characters finally grasp God’s grace. It’s the perfect contrast to the general mood of Chiveis, which is selfish and punitive. Reading this book truly reminded me how vast and wonderful God’s mercy and grace are.

The Not So Good Stuff

Overdone tropes

I just couldn’t get over some of the tropey elements in this book. Though some effort is made to make Teo and Ana (the two main characters) unique, in the end, Ana is just the typical squealing, frightened hero while Teo is the strong, masculine hero to save her. This bleeds over into their relationship, which again, feels more tropey than realistic. Now, tropes aren’t always bad, but when a love story is written the same exact way as all the others (the girl is embarrassed thinking about the guy, the guy can’t stop thinking about the girl, they have the standard miscommunication fight, etc.) then it becomes a bit much. The relationship between these two main characters could have been a lot more nuanced, which leads to the next point…

Weak characters

Teo is certainly the most fleshed out character, but most others are pretty generic. Ana has a strong start but devolves throughout the novel into your basic DID (damsel in distress). I would have really liked to see these characters move me more. Even Teo’s character development takes a couple leaps and bounds that seem a bit too farfetched, making even his character not entirely believable.

Illogical events

One of the main issues I have with this book is how quickly the main characters know everything about God. With only the first few chapters of Genesis to go off of, they seem to somehow figure out God in an instant, accept that He is the one true God, and believe everything written in the Bible.

The lack of doubt from anyone is hard to believe. Even when Teo doesn’t believe at first, it’s only because he doesn’t care about religion, not because he doubts the authenticity of the Bible. The fact that these people with absolutely no knowledge of God or any other religions apart from the state-sanctioned ones would immediately grasp God’s entire nature and believe it is just not realistic, especially as it happens within the span of a month or two.

Plot points not followed through

This is the bad side of the unpredictable plot. While it’s good to have unexpected twists sometimes, this story took that to a whole new level. Litfin introduced many intriguing plot points throughout the story that were either dropped or completed much too abruptly. This pattern repeated over and over again, disappointing me at several points where an interesting conflict was imminent, but then snuffed out. This even happened during the final climax, which wasn’t a true climax at all.

Erased consequences of sin

While I do understand the importance of stressing God’s amazing grace, one of my pet peeves is when Christian authors “erase” the consequences of a person’s sin. Is it important to acknowledge that Jesus’ blood washes us white as snow? That God forgives our sin when we repent? That we no longer have to carry our guilt? Yes! But at the same time, it’s also important to acknowledge that our sin often has lasting real world consequences that can’t be undone. If you steal someone’s car, you may repent of it later and God will undoubtedly forgive you, but you’re still going to jail. To say otherwise is to delude ourselves and others.

A big moment in the book hinges on Teo making a huge mistake and then repenting for it…but the potential real-world consequences for that sin are then immediately wiped out for seemingly no reason other than to release Teo from those devastating consequences in a cheap way. It’s a small detail, but it irks me.

Too detailed

The final issue I have with The Sword is that it has way too much nasty stuff for a Christian book. From very detailed cult acts to lots of sexual content (not explicit but pretty close), this book is filled with depravity that I often skipped through because I had no desire to read it. I understand the need to explain how far Chiveis has fallen from morality and God so that its redemption can be that much greater in the end, but the intimate details were absolutely not necessary. Look at how the Bible gets this point across; it states evil acts as fact and gives you the general idea, still showing you the picture of corruption without going into detail describing it.

Personally, I don’t believe that including details like this in a book honours God. It can cause Christian readers to stumble and have images in their minds that they really don’t want there. The details of corruption in this book are worse than inthe secular books I read, just to give you an idea.

First Book Mistakes?

The Sword was Litfin’s first book, I believe, and unfortunately, it’s obvious that he was still getting the hang of storytelling. As for the Christian aspects I had issues with, I think that Litfin tried his best to integrate Christianity into his story but finished with problematic results; some deeper thought into how the storytelling bolstered or took away from the Christian aspects could have fixed these things.

Ultimately, I rate the book 3/5 stars – perhaps surprising due to all of my criticisms, but overall, it really was an average book. Not bad, not great, and I would recommend it if not for some of the more disturbing content.

Happy reading!

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Photo by Luis Fernando Felipe Alves on Unsplash

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When you write as much as I do, you have to take frequent breaks from sitting. A standing desk (not a whole desk, but a mini desk that will sit on top of my current desk with my laptop, keyboard, and mouse and extend upward) will allow me to continue working while maintaining that good blood flow to my brain. Thank you so much for your support that allows me to keep producing free content. God bless you! ♥️ E.J.


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