Shara refused to release her grip on the Cerulean Dusk Dreamer, a stunningly beautiful stone with mystical powers. For Shara believed that this magical rock could fill the chasm of longing forged across her lonely, abandoned heart. For as long as Shara could remember, she could not summon any memories from her past to help her understand where she had come from, who her family was, and where she most belonged. These answers of identity and belonging eluded Shara for the majority of her life. Until. Until the fateful day that she discovered the Cerulean Dusk Dreamer. This rock was a power rock and was forbidden in the land of Tirragyl. Ignoring the danger, Shara fell asleep with the necromantic rock in her clutch. Over time, Shara discovered that the stone’s enchantment would lead her towards some new, but partial revelation – past or future – about her life – in her dreams. Desperate to learn about herself and her mysterious past, Shara took hold of the rock night after night after night. Alas, Shara failed to acknowledge the growing side effects of the rock’s growing influence. Addicted to its seducing power, Shara became even more lost. If she continued on this path, instead of the rock leading her to greater hope and revelation about her identity, the bewitched rock would ultimately lead to her demise. Shara didn’t care. Shara believed in the false, incapacitating hope of the Cerulean Dusk Dreamer.
I first met Shara, a young, determined and resolute teenager in Chains of Gwyndorr by Joan Campbell. Whereas Shara is just a friend from a fantasy tale, Joan is one of my friends in South Africa. Joan and I first met in 2008. She led a women’s Bible study and I was invited to attend. It was during those Bible study times of sharing and connection that Joan would talk about her writing and her dream of becoming a published author. I can hardly believe that we have established nearly a decade of friendship since that initial encounter. And in that time span, Joan’s dreams have materialized. She has published three books, Encounters, Chains of Gwyndorr, and now Heirs of Tirragyl. Chains of Gwyndorr and Heirs of Tirragyl are part of the Poison Tree Path Chronicles trilogy. To say that I am proud of her, is an understatement! Joan has walked a path of dedication and perseverance to see her books come to life.
Shara figures prominently in Joan’s first fantasy novel, Chains of Gwyndorr. I grew to care for this young girl as she championed the poor and the oppressed and as she questioned the discriminatory practices of her time. Yet, her overwhelming desire to unlock the mysteries of the past lead Shara to a place of compromise. As she continues to place her trust in this spellbinding rock, Shara jeoparizes herself and her values that catapult her into darker depths and more as her story continues in Heirs of Tirragyl.
We are all tempted to do that, though. We seek various products or venture various paths to secure identity, belonging, and purpose.
Buy this program and your extra weight will vanish into thin air.
Wear these shoes and you’ll be noticed.
Use this skin product and you’re assured a youthful appearance.
Follow this path and you’ll be sure to achieve success.
Read this book and you’ll find the answers you seek.
Our young people are especially bombarded with products, programs, promises, and points of views which offer just-the-thing for their life. Just like Shara, though, none of these objects will ultimately fulfill the deep longing of their hearts. For Shara, her anxiety heightens. Her discontent expands. Her compulsion deepens. Thus, Shara chooses to flee into the dark, mysterious abyss of her enchanted dreams to search for her belonging.
Only through the hope found in Jesus Christ, however, can Shara’s belonging be found.
There is a better hope.
She could flee to Christ, her Savior.
It says in Hebrews 6:18
… we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.
New International Version, Hebrews 6:18
Shara is just one of the many complex and dynamic characters in Joan Campbell’s Poison Tree Path Chronicles Trilogy. The character that features even more prominently in Heirs of Tirragyl is Nyla. Nyla is a princess and heiress to the throne of Tirragyl along with her twin brother, Alexor. According to Tirragyl belief, twins are born with half a soul. Impacted by this twisted assertion, both twins struggle with the issue of identity and self-worth.
In southern Africa, where I live, I cannot tell you how many times I have been complimented for having birthed three boys. I have been told how blessed I am because of my sons. I have brought more honor and distinction to my husband, too. By the simple fact that I birthed three boys instead of three girls, my worth is amplified. This thought is incomprehensible to me. And yet it is prevalent in southern African belief systems.
Since Nyla was born a girl, she is especially besieged by the contention that she was born incomplete and unnecessary. And this cruel and untrue thought is found throughout the world, not just in the fantasy kingdom of Tirragyl…
Girls are a problem.
Girls are a burden.
Girls are less.
Girls are not good enough.
Girls offer nothing.
Girls are exploitable.
Girls are expendable.
To grow up with the cultural belief that your life is less valuable than another – even your brother’s – would be difficult to overcome. And yet, through the love, companionship, and loyalty of a trusted few, Nyla works to discover her value, worth, and identity. She takes hold of a greater hope and confidence than herself as she faces her adversaries – both hidden and known. Nyla is determined to live and to live beyond the expendable assignment of her birth position and gender.
It is the same for those who follow Christ. Our identity is found in Him and it is through Him that we may live beyond our circumstances and experience true worth.
…we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
New International Version, Hebrews 3:6
Another character of note in the Heirs of Tirragyl is Lohlyn, Nyla’s lady-in-waiting. Dedicated in service to her queen, Lohlyn has bound herself to protect and defend Nyla’s life to the point of self-sacrifice. Unlike Shara and Nyla, Lohlyn is a young woman who knows who she is, to whom she belongs, and the purpose for which she lives and breathes. She is warrior, ally, and friend. She is unmoved from this calling upon her life.
In the same way, we as Believers are called to hold fast to our hope in Christ. In Hebrews 10:23, we read:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess…
New International Version, Hebrews 10:23
The Greek transliterated word for unswervingly is aklines. Aklines means to be unmoved and unwavering. Aklines means to hold firm. In fact, aklines is so firm and immovable that someone in such a position cannot even incline or be nudged out of position. This is my view of steadfast and strong Lohlyn. She remains by the side of her Queen out of duty, out of respect, and out of love – unwavering in her devotion and determined in her protection. Lohlyn’s purpose is empowering and sure. It is no wonder that Nyla is steadied, encouraged, and strengthened by her trusted friend.
These are just three of the compelling characters you will meet in my friend and author, Joan Campbell’s fantasy work, Heirs of Tirragyl, the second fantasy novel in the Poison Tree Path Chronicles series.
Shara, Nyla and Lohlyn caused me to observe how the hope of Christ empowers and fulfills our belonging, our identity and our purpose as hope was worked out in each of their lives whether they thought to embrace this hope or not. The hope of Christ is readily present.
We take hold of the hope set before us – and find our belonging.
We hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory – and discover our identity.
We hold unswervingly to the hope we profess – and we secure our purpose.
Please order a copy of Joan Campbell’s recent release of Heirs of Tirragyl and tell me what you think! I am incredibly proud of my friend’s creative work and more importantly, I am incredibly proud of my friend for pursuing her dreams as she placed her trust, hope, and dependence on her Savior Jesus Christ in this profound, life-changing journey!