John Christopher Week – The Sword of the Spirits


As you know, I love “The White Mountains” and the other Tripod books. (Actually I have purposefully avoided the prequel.)

But, my purpose this week is to get people to pull other Christopher books off the shelf.

book cover of   The Prince in Waiting    (Prince in Waiting, book 1)  by  John Christopher

(Photo from FantasticFiciton, which has lots of great purchasing information about Christopher’s books.)

(These books had great old covers, but I love these newer ones, too.)

Let’s start with “The Sword of the Spirits Trilogy” which may even be better than the Tripods. It’s certainly stranger and more challenging.

 The setting: In the future, after man’s technology has destroyed civilization, a new, medieval-ish society scorns technology.

 The plot: Oh man, I hate to give anything away that’s going to ruin your enjoyment of the book. The story is both huge and small, involving wars and personal problems. And then there’s the big secret. And you’ll never forget what is seen through the telescope.

 And a kid is at the center of it all. A kid that readers will identify with even as he….

 The difference between Christopher’s kidlit and adult books, seems to me to be that his adult books can be extremely disturbing.

 This series is in between. It may be the most upsetting of any of his work for young people. (With the possible exception of Dom and Va.)

Reading these books as an adult I kept waiting for the moral, waiting for the voice to say this is right and that’s wrong and lessons have been learned. But not here. The challenge is for the reader to work all that out on their own.


7 Responses

  1. So what IS seen through the telescope? What telescope? I’m intrigued. But thanks for the kind words.
    John Christopher

  2. You know, I always meant to read that series but never did. You convinced me. I just requested this one from my library. Thanks!

  3. While I’m still in semi-disbelief/shock that this comment is really from Sam Youd, aka John Christopher, the writer is correct. There’s no telescope.

    It’s not a telescope. It’s “field glasses.”
    I forgot what he was looking through, but as I said above, I’ll never forget what he was looking at.

    Of course, I’m not going to tell you what it was, because that would spoil what is one of the greatest moments in Kidlit.

  4. Well, I took your suggestion from last week. I loved the Tripods trilogy when I was a boy, but (hanging my head in shame) never read Sword of the Spirits.

    But about half an hour after you recommended the trilogy, I’d ordered all three books, and have begun.

    Ummm … for my kids, of course. (It’s important to read science fiction to 4-month-old girls, right?)

  5. Oh, man, I was already going back to read The White Mountains, but now I have another whole series! Not that I’m complaining. I can’t wait for the rest of John Christopher Week, especially if the author himself is going to weigh in.

    On a side note, did you have the feeling when you read them as a kid that his books were written just for you? I remember having this idea, and it persists to this day, that only I knew about this story. I’ll have to ask my brothers and sister if they read them too, as that would pop my balloon.

  6. Adored these books! Now I have to see if they are available on audio to reread.

  7. I absolutely adored reading the trilogy and urge anyone else to do the same. It’s a great story and raises some interesting issues.

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