Gothic Perspectives on Children’s Literature
5 Rendering Unto Caesar: The Sword of the Spirits Trilogy 91
5 Rendering Unto Caesar: The Sword of the Spirits Trilogy English author Samuel Youd (a.k.a. John Christopher, Jonathan Christopher, Stanley Winchester, Hilary Ford, William Godfrey, Peter Graaf, Peter Nichols, and Anthony Rye, all literary pseudonyms) is perhaps best known for his Tripod Trilogy and its prequel (The Coming of the Tripods). The latter is a quartet of adolescent science fiction that recounts the subjugation of earth to a technologically advanced race of aliens who bestride the planet in walking machines reminiscent of those featured in H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Like the Tripod Trilogy, The Sword of the Spirits is a continuous science fiction narrative spread over three volumes. It tracks the political rise and fall of Luke Perry, son of a commoner who attains to the rank of noble- man, though at an inordinate cost to himself and others. John Christopher, the literary alias under which this trilogy is published, excels in portraying the inner life of his characters, i.e., their complex triumphs and tribulations, as well as the interior and interpersonal conflicts to which such complexities inevitably give rise. In this regard, his political gothic science fiction for younger readers illustrates the psychological gothic genre at its best. As with all first-rate gothic literature, however, the principal genres of the gothic imagination (supernatural and political as well as psychological) are merged into a compelling synthesis. Like the other cult-of-childhood stories discussed in this volume, the Sword of the Spirits trilogy is a meditation on the...
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