Image from 2004 Dragon*Con
October 11, 2012

Queen of Wands

I'm not sure if John Ringo is a practicing Catholic or not. At one point I read that he was pro-choice, and I don't think I've read anything to contradict that, but he seems to be writing from a more Catholic viewpoint in recent novels than he did at the start of his career. In a novel that he co-wrote with Tom Kratman, The Tuloriad he came out with a novel that had a strong religious, and pro-Christian, component to it. He then followed up with Princess of Wands a novel with a devout Episcopalian housewife and soccer mom as its heroine. Six years later he's back with a sequel to Princess, the second in the series, Queen of Wands. The novel is actually three stories, one of which, the second, takes place at Dragon*Con, a sci-fi convention, held in Atlanta around Labor Day every year.

Barbara Everette, the heroine of the novel, is a devout Christian, but she's a also a member of a group that serves as the cover for the Special Circumstances office of the FBI. The SC is a group that is specifically charged with combatting demons. As such the members consist of a number of worshippers of various deities, including Wiccans, Asatru (Norse gods), and others. Barbara's best friend in this group is Janea, a stripper/call girl who is a priestess of Freya. The characteristic that all members of the group share is that they are believers in some higher power, but the Christian god, called the White God by the neo-pagans, is recognized as the strongest god of them all. Now this gets into whole realms of theology that I don't want to discuss. I think that we have to just "suspend disbelief" and mutter, "It's only a story," and then leave the theology aside. Ringo isn't out to present a latter day City of God, or a Summa, just a decent story in a genre called urban fantasy. So he has Barbara battle demons in Chattanooga, while Janea is in a coma. Janea, in the second story, goes on a spiritual quest to find her true identity while she is in the coma. In the third story Janea and Barbara encounter creepy monsters out to dominate the world. The monsters in this instance derive from Lovecraft's Old Ones. The novel does include a call for a national day of prayer. Now there have been national days of prayer before, notably during the fracas between the states of the 1860s, but Ringo presents the call in the context of the present decline in religious belief, and there's some comment about the Constitutionality of such a call.

The novel is fast reading, and the stories are engaging. It's worth spending the money and the time to read.