Beyond Oblivion

crucifix1Anthony Horowitz’s five volume series called variously The Power of Five or The Gatekeepers is a far deeper and interesting read than his many volumes about a teen spy doing impossible stunts without benefit of superpowers. The cosmology is roughly is one where there is apparently no religious reality, such as a creator and/or redeemer god, but there are powerful beings who wish only to destroy and they wish to destroy our world. They are, however, dependent on humans evil enough to help them, such as members of a witch’s coven, embittered apostate monks, and rapacious financial magnates. Meanwhile, in a vaguely defined transcendent “dream” world there are beings or some beneficent force that sends five young saviors to our planet and works out a plan for defeating the “old ones” definitively.  It turns out that these five teens have counterparts (alternate selves?) who lived ten thousand years earlier and each is interchangeable with his or her counterpart in the event of the death of one of them. Such a substitution allowed for a victory in the past. I am going to focus on the ending of the series in the final book Oblivion which is a powerful read, even as it raises some serious questions.  I hereby issue a SPOILER ALERT for those who prefer to read the book before reading my comments. By the beginning of the last book, the “old ones” have broken through and destroyed the world. The five teens have to stop and reverse the destruction. At the end, Matt Freeman, the leader of the group, reads his life story in a library in the dream world which tells him the plan, horrifying as it is. What it boils down to is putting himself into the hands of the enemies in their fortress in Antarctica so they can exact their revenge on him by torturing him for several millennia, all the while depending on a journalist who has befriended him from the beginning to sneak him and kill him swiftly. Matt’s death brings in Matt’s counterpart while another boy, who had betrayed the cause, gives his life to open a time warp to bring the group together to defeat the “old ones” for good. Although Christianity is not shown to have any reality in the series, a Christian can certainly see a Christ-like act of renunciation in the self-sacrificing death of Matt and for the betrayer as well. There is a sense of providence, if not divine, in the plan. By hindsight, it is the only plan that could have worked. The “old ones” were so blinded by a lust for revenge that they left themselves open to being defeated by teens with dedication they can never understand. It is a powerful illustration of how love, not power, is the only way to defeat such evil. The ending is disturbing in that the surviving teens celebrate and return to the dream world while the ones who made sacrifices are just plain gone, unless the dead boys live in their counterparts in some way. Of course, if the world really is a world where such acts of renunciation give only the satisfaction of making this act of sacrifice, than that is the best one can do. Emmanuel Kant based his ethics on this level of disinterestedness where one sought no reward for doing the right thing. There is something noble about this, but if the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the loving God embodied by Jesus, than there is a far greater good and glory that sustains such a disinterested sacrifice.

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