Fawkes, by Nadine Brandes: Review
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
"Standing for my beliefs isn't always the same as standing for truth." ~Fawkes
Thomas Fawkes is the son of the great Guy Fawkes, legendary warrior, Keeper of the secrets of colour power, and absentee parent from the day of Thomas' birth. He has spent his years awaiting the day his father will re-enter his life, bringing the mask that will allow Thomas to bond with the magical power in colour.
Thomas has no mask, and thus, no colour power. He is also slowly turning into stone.
With the Stone Plague spreading through his body and no colour power to reverse it, Thomas resolves to find his father and claim his mask. But when Guy Fawkes invites him to join an assassination plot against the king of England—declaring it the only way to stop the Stone Plague and right the world's wrongs—Thomas does not hesitate, and the Gunpowder Plot becomes his own.
Only one problem—murdering the king means destroying countless lives, including the life of the girl Thomas loves, and the more he learns of the Gunpowder Plot and its origins, the more he doubts his father's convictions. Perhaps the Stone Plague cannot be blamed upon the King. Perhaps mysterious White Light is not a threat to Keepers of colour power at all. Perhaps everything Thomas believes is founded upon deception. The only way to know is to seek the truth.
"Belief needs to be founded in more than just personal convictions." This theme in Nadine Brandes' historical fantasy, Fawkes, struck me early in the book as a unique spiritual parallel. The world that Brandes creates is a world of colour power, in which Keepers fight to keep all-powerful White Light out of reach of the world, and Igniters resist them out of their desire to know White Light for themselves. It took me a while to grasp the connection—most of the characters in Thomas' circles believe White Light is a danger—but the more I read, the more I recognized our own world in this fantastic portrait of 17th-century England, where relative morals can make wrong seem right, and where a plague (whether of stone or sin) can only be conquered by seeking the truth.
Thomas is questioning his own convictions almost from the start. He recognizes how passionate his father and fellow plotters are, but feels that something is wrong. Curiosity and questions cause him to seek the truth for himself. He asks questions, examines his own beliefs, and most crucially, listens to the voice of the White Light in his heart as it vies for a place in his life. I give Nadine Brandes five stars for a super creative spiritual tie-in!
Fawkes is well-written and deeply rooted in one lost soul's search for truth. It was fascinating to watch the story unfold and see spiritual values reflected in a world of colour power, a Stone Plague, and magical masks. Not only are the fantastical elements totally original, but the spiritual journey Thomas undergoes is a powerful testament to the truth, purpose, and conviction that can only be found in God. Thomas learns to think for himself, to be a "seeker of the answers and the truth. To be above the influence and opinions of the outspoken", and to find truth in the "foundation of morals and justice." Belief, in short, doesn't make something true. Truth makes something true. And truth, as evidenced by history, archaeology, creation, and the Word of God, is CHRIST.
I found Fawkes to be unique, well-written, and thought-provoking, an awesome example of clean quality and spiritual insight! To close with my favourite line from the book, a quote by the White Light that is true for our heavenly Father:
"I am not subjective. I am foundational."