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War in Heaven, A Novel Paperback – January 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

"The telephone was ringing wildly," begins Charles Williams's novel War in Heaven, "but without result, since there was no-one in the room but the corpse." From this abrupt--and darkly humorous--start, Williams takes us on a 20th-century version of the Grail quest, with an Archdeacon, a Duke, and an editor playing the old Arthurian roles. Throughout, Williams reminds us that these legends were above all about divine, not just human, romance. While filled with marvels and black magic, the novel also suggests that the devil just might be what the face of God looks like to those who have sought destruction, just as that face is love to those who have sought love. The choice, Williams affirms, is always ours. --Doug Thorpe

About the Author

(1886-1945) An intense, imaginative, magnetic person, Charles Williams was a member of the Inklings, the group of creative Oxford Christians of the 1930s and 1940s that included C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. Though he excelled in many literary genres, Williams is best remembered for his poetry and his original fiction—contemporary religious novels filled with suspense, mystery, and supernatural conflict.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.; New edition edition (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802812198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802812193
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #611,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 76 people found the following review helpful By NotATameLion on June 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these...Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." (John 1:50-51)
"War in Heaven," much like the story of humanity, is all about the invasion of the supernatural--the divine and the demonic--into the mundane settings of everyday life.
Charles Williams has a keen sense of what Thoreau called the "lives of quiet desperation" that most people live. The characters in "War in Heaven" are plagued by everyday demons long before they encounter any exceptional ones...Williams takes these lives, and in a most un-quiet way...builds an entrancing story--one that shakes the reader to the core.
This is one of the scariest books I've read in a long while. The presence of evil is palpably felt in the antagonist of the book...a very creepy kind of evil...not your run of the mill stuff.
I don't want to spoil the plot (not to mention that the plot is a little hard to describe-owing to the fact that so much of what is import in this book has little to do with story line--so much of it is "in the moment.") So all I will say here is that the conclusion is well worth the "dry spots" one finds in the prose. It is one of the most beautifully written scenes I have ever come across in English Literature.
I recommend this book...but not to the faint of heart.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Gord Wilson VINE VOICE on May 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Let's start by granting all the cavils of the critics: Charles Walter Stansby Williams wrote bad poetry, worse plays, and worst of all, a handful of obscure, nearly unreadable novels. Nevertheless, Charles Williams is my favorite writer, and War in Heaven my favorite of his books. Let me proceed to explain why.
CW's poetry may miss the mark of some poetic standard, but even now I can recite pieces from Taliessin Through Logres, while I usually find modern poetry uninspiring. His plays may not hold up well in some conventional sense of what plays are supposed to be, but they contain some of the most quotable lines I've ever read, and I would drive to the next state to see one put on. His novels may be dismissed as dense and obscure, but they are among the most gripping books I've ever read. War in Heaven isn't his best novel--that would be All Hallows Eve-- yet it's my favorite. I'm finally up to the point of saying why.
Some college lit classes read Descent into Hell because it takes place on a number of well-defined levels. War in Heaven has wheels within wheels as well, but they aren't so clearly defined. It's not quite his easiest to read novel--that would be Many Dimensions--but it's still one of the easiest. Of all his novels, War in Heaven perhaps falls over into the most categories--it's a supernatural thriller that is sort of a detective novel, kind of a suspense novel, in a way about relationships, about self-growth, spiritual search and discovery, but not in a traditional sense.
Everything that conventional novels are supposed to be these novels are not, which is why people like me who have no desire to read the bestsellers at the supermarket checkout stand yet find themselves taken with Williams' novels.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By C. V. Manning on July 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
It gives essentially none of the story away to reveal that the plot of "War in Heaven" revolves around the Graal (per Williams's preferred spelling). Williams's first published novel is full of the blurring of reality that one finds in all of his fiction and, like "The da Vinci Code", involves a struggle between opposing groups drawn into conflict by the Graal. However, unlike "The da Vinci Code"'s ersatz, vapid spirituality--which, where it has flavor at all tastes merely of cheap sideshow spiritualism--"War in Heaven" depicts allies of darkness that are rank with evil even as its friends of light savor of ultimate goodness. In "War in Heaven" one gets a glimpse beyond the veil to see ultimate spiritual reality consisting of powers and principalities swarming in defiance of a holy throne even as the King of Light engages all according to his overarching plan and by his undeniable power. By contrast, in "The da Vinci Code" one finds that the ultimate reality beyond the veil is tantamount to a group of 7 year-olds playing with a Ouija board at a slumber party. So, if you're looking for a "spiritual thriller" of substance that involves the Holy Grail, "War in Heaven" trumps (perhaps greatly trumps?) "The da Vinci Code." 5 stars. An excellent book.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By P. M Simon on April 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
"War in Heaven" is a must for any serious reader of Christian fiction. It begins with an interesting murder and quickly evolves into a Quest for the Holy Grail,thus assuming that Those Feet in ancient times, did indeed wander England's mountains green. Along the way, an unlikely triumverate (or should we say Trinity) of good guys battles some very sinister fellows. Touches of humor grace the book, and the theology and the message are sound and inspiring.
Williams was one of a trio of great early 20th century Christian authors, in a little club (The Inklings) with fellow dons C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Today, Tolkien is most remembered for fiction, and Clive Staples Lewis for theology. This is, in part, because Williams wrote in a more formidable style. However, once you get into the syntax and rythym, his words flow smoothly and he is very readable. Press on through the first few pages of any Williams book, and you will be rewarded with a "ripping yarn" on many levels.
This book is recommended not only for those who love Williams' other fiction (Descent into Hell, Place of the Lion, etc.) and nonfiction (Descent of the Dove), but for anyone who would enjoy a serious Christian adventure novel.
There is a strong message of the role of faith, and of eccumenical Christianity in "War in Heaven." Maybe it isn't for sticklers on one denomination's doctrine, but for most, it is well worth ordering.
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