This biblical historical fiction brings the question: What if the three wise men actually wanted to crown a king?
- What was the star of Bethlehem?
- Why did the wise men connect the star with the Messiah?
- And, what did the Magi hope to do after the found him?
Summary of The End of the Magi:
Life should be simple if you’re a member of the biblical Magi. You come out of the box once every Christmas, and you get to wear a cool turban and ride a cool camel. You get a simple quest to seek the Christ-child with only some minor Herod-related villainy to make things interesting. Then you return home by a different route.
So it should seem, if you only read Matthew 2 and/or install a Nativity scene. But for young Myrad, who actually lives in the Parthian Empire, reality is far more brutal.
Myrad is a Gentile but the adopted son of a Jewish magus. As magi, they’re bonded to tell the truth, seek the stars, and track the calendar left by the prophet Daniel plotting the number of years until the Messiah finally arrives to establish his kingdom. They also counsel earthly kings, such as the Parthian ruler, Phraates.
Unfortunately, Phraates has been influenced by the neighborhood’s latest upstart empire, Rome. Which results in the king, enraged at certain magi’s opposition to his foolish alliance, declaring treason and slaughtering nearly every magus he can find.
Our hero Myrad ends up fatherless, homeless, and on the run. Restricted by his clubfoot, he soon joins the caravan of wise tradesman Walagash and his steadfast daughter, Roshan. They’ll face deserts, revolutions, and the friendships and threats of other magi as they work their way toward Jerusalem and that mysterious star.
Stephen read and liked the book, partly for these reasons:
- It reads like a fantasy, though Carr did much historical research.
- It feels Christmassy, though you can enjoy the story any time.
- Myrad is a likeable hero throughout his epic desert quest.
- The star is miraculous, wondrous, and rarely appears.
- Carr keeps the story as biblical as you could want.
- But he also challenges simplistic traditions about the wise men.
Exploring Matthew 2 and The End of the Magi
- What was the star of Bethlehem?
- Why did the magi connect a star with “one born king of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2)?
- How many wise men made the journey to find the newborn king?
- What did Chuck Missler believe about Daniel’s prophetic record?
- What did Zack’s college professor, Rick Larson, think about the star?
- How does this story compare with other biblical fiction?
- What can Christian readers rightly expect of biblical fiction?
- Why do we like the idea of seeing into the future?
- Is biblical fiction “fantastical” fiction?
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- Read Lorehaven magazine’s winter 2019 issue, with Patrick W. Carr’s interview and the featured book review.
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On our next episode
We’ll explore a big question that Christian fantasy fans can’t stop talking about: Should Christians “look for the Christian label” for novels, movies, music and other things that Christian creators make? How do we recognize our own associations with the label—such as a “seal of quality” or a “seal” that guarantees anything but quality?
Explore the best Christian-made fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond, and apply these stories' meanings in the real world Jesus calls us to serve.