Eifelheim

Here is what you need for your summer reading: an addictive yet literary genre-bending novel combining physics, history, the Middle Ages, faith, personhood…and aliens.

Now that I have lost basically all of you one way or another, allow me to introduce you to your next favorite book: Eifelheim. I loved it, and I honestly think you will, too. If you’re not generally a sci-fi fan, the compelling story and resounding themes will win you. If you’re not generally a literary fiction fan, the history and sci-fi elements will make it worth your while. And if you are a historical fiction reader, you really, really have to read this book.

Thanks to last summer’s excellent (albeit extremely long) reading challenge, wherein I tackled Charles Taylor’s amazing A Secular Age and James K. A. Smith’s likewise excellent How (Not) To Be Secular, I could see how accurately Eifelheim gets into the medieval mindset–the way common people lived and thought about life, God, and science. It’s a far cry from popular conception, and this novel nails it.

It also strikes me that science fiction may be the last genre where you can read a serious exploration of faith in a secular book. Isn’t it odd that it takes aliens to approach topics like salvation? In that way, this book reminded me of Lewis’s space trilogy, which I also recommend.

Although there were a few storylines that I didn’t find satisfactory, overall I loved¬†Eifelheim, and was caught in that terrible place of wanting to race through it while being sad that it was ending. If you’re looking for a fascinating, unusual, well-written book this summer, I think Eifelheim¬†would make an excellent choice.

 

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5 thoughts on “Eifelheim

      1. I’m enjoying it so far. I didn’t realize it was set in the Schwarzwald–I lived in Freiburg for about a year, studying at Albert-Ludwigs. I’ve hiked along the road built for Marie Antoinette, mentioned in one of the first chapters. This is adding another fun little layer to my reading, so thank you for the recommendation!

      2. I really enjoyed Eifelheim! I’m impressed by the way Flynn wrote the medieval passages–he really gave a good impression of the different paradigm people had then, rather than just having modern characters set down in the fourteenth century. Thank you for the recommendation!

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