Finally, I’m reviewing The Iron Chamber of Memory by John C. Wright.
Alright, silliness aside this is the one of the best written books of this century. My life changed after reading this book. It was a coalescence of much of how I have been raised and consumed as a child. I read King Arthur and fairy tales voraciously, until I found the love of my life, crazy-weird science fiction. To say I could name most of the mainstream knights of Arthur’s court when I was younger is not an exaggeration. Even now: Lancelot, Gawain, Gareth, Agravain, Mordred, Bedivere, Percival, Galahad, Bors, Kay, King Pellinor, Tristan and the Saracen/Moor Palamedes. (Now Palamedes I had to look up the spelling but I’m counting him) I received baptism through their literature long before I was properly baptized! I literally ask dates (semi-humourously, I do it to judge what level of literacy they actually are on. Lots of girls ‘read’) whether King Arthur exists or not, and if he does, is he dead or sleeping. I have been very dissatisfied with my answers so far.
As a child, I was lonely. Books were worlds apart from this one. As a child, I was highly educated and learned things beyond my ken far too early. Books taught me how to handle and love truth beyond my own life. As a child I knew not who I am or what culture I was but ‘Christian American’ with hints of Englishness from my mother. Books gave me things to cling to for culture and how I should act, though only as an adult have I realized a portion of them. God is great and has done wonders for me, but that is not Ben the personality that must be sane or else he is mad. Books provided a concrete way of life. The world that we live in is not rational when people are involved. Books and the Bible taught me how we should be. I could use my innate worldly Machiavellian abilities to gain pussy and then dump them when I am no longer taking full enjoyment… but that is not Christian behavior. Simply someone declaring that a thing is bad is meaningless unless they point to something greater.
Why do I mention these things? First, to say that this book was written from the soul. It is a firebrand to people like myself, who know we must fight for Christ, but have no idea how to, except what we inherited from our fathers and, for females, mothers. And let me tell you, you probably don’t want me like my father. He’s a good man, but he has MELLOWED out. When I read this book, my very soul resonated, and my understanding to the real spiritual warfare going on. A fire was lit on my path towards my true goals. Of course, I do not take all of the book literally, but the metaphors are as sound as whatever makes up the walls of heaven. This book was made for me and others like me for our help.
Now, that might sound crazy, but hear me out here I’m going to double down in just a second. Grey doesn’t really exist. Rather, perfect grey doesn’t exist. Certain things may have a pretense of ‘neutrality’ but I guarantee I can define anything down to a virtue or a sin. We, being fallen, must choose what sins afflict us through the cultivation of sins. Read the Screwtape Letters. The trainee demon is given small things to trip up his ‘case’ with that would otherwise be innocuous. Fat or too picky? Guaranteed glutton, that’s also greed and sloth (I prick my own blubber hardest). Movie? Depends on what it is. Movies are more like propaganda for various topics. The good stuff like Indiana Jones (even the newest one guys) vs. some trollop like a Woody Allen film (where there is no hero or rather, no morality that can make a man one) is very clear. The topics of self-sacrifice and selfishness in Passengers or Interstellar vs the whatever in Gravity or Mary Sue Star Trek reboot are similar examples. Sucker Punch is a ‘tapdancing’ movie, but I think it’s on the side of good, ultimately. It’s Christian Critical Theory, break everything down to its base parts and decide if its a sin. Now, don’t go full frankfurt school here. Eventually you’ll go full Puritan and I’ll remind you that Cromwell and Solomon Kane’s sins are almost guaranteed to be wrath and pride.
Relax, the review and summary is coming.
Now, that established, you might be saying something like: How dare you just lump everything into two categories? Well, I’ll be blunt. God does and there’s nothing we can do about it. Now I won’t claim to know the sin or not behind everything. I’m not so arrogant. I’m just saying that it can be done and where it leads and how it goes for popular culture especially. Books are no different. To continue to use Screwtape, there is nothing so disastrous in the hands of a man as a good book to the devils.
Books like Catcher in the Rye are terrible. It’s full of whining, misanthropy and piss-poor morality. Similar are works by the SJWs and asinine priests of Tor-Baal and other places who claim holiness based on inbound traits than the clarity of the soul. I.e. Things like If you were a Dinosaur my Love or anything by N.K. Jemisin. Similarly as far into the forces of evil as I know personally, Hogg by Samuel Delany. Don’t look that last one up, much less read it for peril of your very souls. These books are evil and firebrands for the Devil. Lord of the Flies gets a bad rap, but really, I could make the argument that it’s more about the lack of logic and men in boys’ lives that drives them away from civilization and into barbarity. It tap dances the line of nihilism as a warning, unheeded by our generation… or maybe heeded once more.
On the opposite end, so far opposite that it is like The Celestial City at the end of Pilgrim’s Progress, are books like The Iron Chamber of Memory. The Protagonist of this book, Hal Landfall, goes through journeys at many different levels of reality (INCEPTION BWAAAAAAAAAAH) to fight for love, truth and ultimately, God against the forces of the Devil, lead by the Gaunt Man, a vampire-esque demon of power and hatred. Memory is a thing that gets better the farther you go in and things have layers to them and their realities. It is like walking deeper into a well designed art exhibit or a secret garden.
Almost forgot. SPOILERS. DON”T READ AHEAD UNLESS YOU ARE FINE WITH ME SPOILING IT, BECAUSE I”M GONNA. SERIOUS GUYS. I”M SERIOUS. Now, my enjoyment of it has only increased after many read throughs. This is a book I have re-read four or five times. If you are anything like me, you will enjoy it.
Hal Landfall and Laurel are on the feudal island of Sark, ostensibly on the behest of the new lord Manfred, and, becoming lost in the woods, break into the Wrongerwood house, ancestral home of their friend Manfred. After seeing some mysterious things (oooooohhh) they come upon the Rose Crystal Chamber. There, the scales of forgetfulness fall from Hal and Laurel’s eyes and they remember their passionate love. They attempt to break the spell of forgetfulness that binds them on the outside, but cannot. Laurel is engaged to be married to Manfred in base reality (outside the rose chamber) but cannot love him like she loves Hal.
Already, by this point, John C. Wright shows the absolute mastery of his craft by calling back and forth to things that will or have already – happened. The descriptions are amazing. The character dialogue excellent. The pacing, superb. If I were doing a professional review, I would be reprimanded for the amount of praise I’m heaping on it.
Now. Laurel, becoming desperate at the approaching wedding to Manfred, tries to convince Hal to make love to her, or to twist it, betray Manfred in favor of his own desires. Hal is an old school kind of fellow and refuses for two reasons, They are not married and it would betray Manfred. Hal leaves the Rose Crystal Chamber to avoid temptation. This continues in various ways for half a book. It’s good stuff. Read it. The author keeps their romance fresh indeed.
As and aside: I despised Guinevere as a child. Even now I do not favor her. Probably never will. She should have put Arthur and Camelot before her own happiness. Remember, she did not remove herself from Lancelot, Lancelot went on quests to escape her and avoid betraying Arthur. It’s an object lesson for men. Women’s hearts are not to be trusted when you surround yourself with temptation in a romantic culture that punishes being caught. Or, like ours, encourages it.
About halfway through, things start to bleed between layers of reality. What were once merely farm youths become wolves. A walking stick is very much more. Manfred can deflect lightning with a book. Rings are heavier than worlds and Laurel is not at all what she seems. It is revealed that she has been a part of a conspiracy to get at the secrets of the Wrongerwood House. I’m going to simply tell you what happens.
Laurel is a harpy-like creature and frees some Ifrits to summon her dark lord, the Gaunt Man. She achieves, through addicting Hal to Heroin (magical heroin!) and having him nearly kill his best friend, Manfred, her aims by getting the keys to the White Mirrored Chamber, which is the source of the mist that clouds men’s eyes that they do not see the spiritual warfare about them. Fortunately, Manfred (a magician at that layer named Mandragora) and Hal (a knight called Henwas) foil her and her master and are able to retreat for now, back to base reality. Though, the wedding is set for that very day.
Despite their attempts to the contrary, Hal and Manfred are foiled. Tragically, Hal’s armor fails him, as it was based on his purity of heart and Manfred sacrifices himself for Hal’s sake. Laurel, who has genuine feelings for Hal and Manfred, is moved by this and forsakes her evil powers and ways through the shedding of tears for her sin and death of Manfred. Hal slays the Gaunt Man and Laurel’s sea-hag mother, and then retreats to the Iron Moly Chamber, where all memories are as they should be and not what reality rules them to be. Hal’s true nature is revealed in this chamber of truth. There, he learns why the forces of Good win, and what the stakes are. Here, John C. Wright talks to the reader as much as Hal. He returns from the chamber to base reality, where his dear friend has died in a tragic carriage accident, that only Laurel survives. Hal and Laurel mourn the loss of a friend and husband and the book ends.
I skipped over SO MUCH. I regret nothing. There is so much more to this story that my being forced to skip over so much is basically a crime in every state but the one I’m in right now. I am forever stuck in Missouri for this heinous crime.
This book is the king of Superversive literature SO FAR. Good, heroism and everything worthy of a man is portrayed. A man may read this book and be warned against much evil, from your own soul, women, and the devil (but I repeat myself). A man can ready this and gain a better glimpse of masculinity than from most of our fathers. You see, it’s not in simply living the good life, it’s fighting for the good life. It isn’t simply being a moral man, it’s fighting for that morality. And that morality doesn’t just come from some inner thing that philosophers can say does or doesn’t exist, or can explain away. It comes from a definite source with definite rules. (BIBLE)
You see, when good men do nothing, the Devil wins. When good men give into temptation, the Devil wins. When good men have no backing from the most High, the Devil will win eventually. You see, the Romans were evil bastards, but their gods lost to God through the great virtue of the early Christians. Attila the Hun was turned aside by a Christian leader’s word. Western Christians sent missionaries through out the world to great success, but never enough. The Christian West rules and witnessed to the world. It was not because of some internal quality natural to the Semitic, White, Black, Yellow, Red, Polkadotted, rather, it was the Cross.
While the salvation message within the Iron Chamber of Memory is buried a little deep, it is certainly there and better handled that most of the drek that passes for Christian fiction these days. It is like a bright and shining light as to what repentance is. When Laurel, an arch-temptress, weeps for Manfred wholly and truly, all the evil she has done is not forgotten except in base reality, but, ultimately, it is forgiven. She pays the terrible consequences for her actions, and, thankfully, comes out as a Christian. Of course, John C. Wright is too clever to come out and say it, but that’s the ultimate effect. To me, who has been similarly laved, it is like listening to one of the good old hymns, but merely without the lyrics.
Ahhh, Mr. Wright, if you ever read this, you must forgive me for foisting a Protestant hymn on your ears. But all Christian’s can appreciate the words presented here. The declaration of God’s protection is universal.
The villainy of the evil characters is doubly enforced. In base reality, where all ‘living’ men live, the many minions of the Gaunt Man and the Sea-Hag mother of Laurel are also political figures. They become more monstrous as more truth is revealed, from base to the Rose Chamber to the White Mirror Chamber, but they cannot seem to enter the Iron Moly Chamber, where all things are revealed.
The Iron Moly Chamber is where things are as they are. It is not where they are as they should be, but rather, only where all truth is laid bare, as much as a man can take or are allowed. Again, consequence for sin is made clear. Hal cannot speak to his dead father, or gaze once more upon the Holy Grail. He is granted audience with Manfred, who explains much to him, on the spiritual war, the dragon around every heart and the nature of our actions and death.
Consider, how would the actions of men change if they understood the consequences of them before they did those actions? How would things change if a man could understand the peril of his soul when he watches pornography? How would things change if a woman understood the peril of her soul when she sleeps with as many studs as she feels entitled? We used to know many of these perils. But the culture made a choice to deny consequences. Who allowed it to do so? Why, there’s something I point to.
Christendom laid down its sword after the Second World War. Rather than, say, make it really about Christianity vs. Atheism, it was Capitalism and Americana against Communism. Rather than pursue the truth against Communism and ferret it out, where ever it was, Christendom decided that it would win a war of ideology using the tools of men and the devil than the tools of God. The Baby Boomers and the generations that birthed them, at least, in the places that mattered, scorned those who took a Bible and said it was truth and thus, you are wrong. And my and the next generation is the result. Woe to us! God, Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Angelic Hosts protect us! For the war will be fought by their children and not them.
Let us enter Wrongerwood House, and explore mysteries.
Much like how Hal pursued suicide rather than slay his own friend, the West was driven to do much the same thing. Rather than donning armor and shield, beating the hippy and your stupid children who grew up spouting Communism, the previous generations chose ‘love’. That word, ‘love’ has as many meanings as to be meaningless when in the hands of an unsaved man. What they call ‘love’ is evil and corruption. It started slow, but now? Ah. Does not the dragon wrap itself around every heart? And how many children go to your church after their 18th birthday? Almost none? Well now…
Now lets switch perspective and go deeper, into the Rose Crystal Chamber. Hal chose suicide (which was foiled, just saying) because his will was shattered and he knew not where to strike, only knew who he could not strike. His suicide was portrayed as sin, deep and hurtful to the soul, just so you readers know. This culture is similar, except that in the last few years the side we are to strike revealed itself. Now, sadly we cannot put the sword to SJWs yet. My friends within the superversives forgive me, but I consider it to be a ‘convert or die’ situation with many of them. They desire tyranny of government it is almost unloving to give them a worldly government modeled after Stalinist Russia…
DEEPER, into the White Mirror Chamber
Can you see them? Raving monsters on the edge of sight. Fat slobs going about giving health advice they do not even pretend to follow. Mad men hooked to machines and worshipping a random number generator god they themselves made. A dragon encompassing all the world. People dancing to a mad beat into the House of Silence where they are never heard from again. These berserkers are dragging as many as they can into it. Some resist, but many do not. All over the world, in academies, schools and even your church. All over, I see sleepers walking about in armor and swords in hand as I see a blue-green haired lycanthrope rip out a child’s genitals after convincing him is really a her. No one saves the child from the monster’s claws? I am bound by a straight jacket in my own mind and cannot seem to lift my arms. I scream to arise and slay! Defend yourselves! Surely, no generation has ever been so wicked! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD RISE UP AND FIGHT!
No no, they reply, it wouldn’t be loving to rip away a child from his parents. And you can’t either, you have no power. We will stop you if you do anything we don’t like. Our watchdogs will rend you. You cannot even go to your religious leaders, as they are like us, and care not for you. I see a devil on their every shoulder whispering that their Christian example is enough. If their armor is shiny, it will convert the masses as they once did so long ago! And they nod and smile at this advice.
Screaming, I beg the Iron Moly Door to open, and a strong hand pulls us inside.
THE IRON MOLY CHAMBER. This is as far as you or I can go yet living.
Here, we are shown the ending of all things. No one knows the day or the time, just that it will happen. This evil lasts for a day and then passes away. It wins when people refuse to fight against it. It wins when truth isn’t proclaimed with boldness and no fear for martyrdom. It wins when Christians care more for how they are viewed by the enemy and how they live this life, which passes away in a minute, than they are before God.
[The consequence of Personal Peace and Affluence of the West is both the immense Missionary works and charities, but also the degradation of their soul from hard Christian to soft Worldling. Be grateful that God loves you, for otherwise you would have no hope, and you would be mad indeed. Fear nothing, do what needs to be done and never ever stop fighting.]
And then, we are on base reality. Normies once more, I am afflicted by customary lunacy and cannot properly articulate a thing outside of my pen and paper. You are returned to as you are. The Iron Chamber of Memory, ultimately, declares that our enemies are to be pitied, but that our swords be well kept and at hand. How many years until we see the real turn? For the dragon still encompasses the world and the hearts of men alike. The devils are still on men’s shoulders. The corrupt still have power. For myself, I know that my heart is not nearly what it could be, and that, like the book says, half my service is traitorous. I do not know where or when to pick up my sword to arise and slay. and I’m only being half-metaphorical here. Where is the line?
Hal does not raise his sword to slay until he reaches the White Mirror Chamber. The villains are revealed to their forms of ghouls, witches, sirens and lycanthropes. We do not have the luck of that chamber to reveal man and devil’s true nature. He slays not a few and no one seems to miss them. We have tool of argument and reason instead of swords. But the enemy cares not for them and burns their own cities to spite us. Yet, we did not rise up to resist them and throw them back. Perhaps things will change. Trump has already put paid to the inaugural rioters, by arranging the harshest sentence allowed by law. Perhaps things will change for the better, but we are too early in the timeline to see? Ah well.
I’ve exhausted myself for now. Keep in mind, I am just talking about one portion of the THEOLOGY in this book. I haven’t touched the amazing myth that this book pays the best possible tribute to. I haven’t touched the characters in detail. The Plot in detail. The settings in detail. But… it’s as if this book is a vehicle for the theology. AND IT IS NOT EVEN PREACHY PRAISE GOD!
Ultimately, this book pushes forward the idea that good things must be fought for, no matter what. Evil wins when we give into it of our own volition. If we did not, it would dwindle year by year until it was nothing at all. But then again, if that were a thing, we wouldn’t need Jesus Christ. The forces of evil do not increase except by people allowing them to. Yet, those forces against evil, the forces of good, truth and beauty, always increase because once a soldier of Christ, always a soldier of Christ. Once you take up the Cross, the war begins in earnest and never ends. Soldiers may be suborned for a time, but eventually, they will fight their way back, if allowed to. Somethings are final. And death is permanent in this world, but does not exist in the next.
I’ll close with this. Once we slough the mortal coil, we pass through the gates to our reward. When in Heaven, I will be as I should be. Benjamin Wheeler without sin. Without lunacy and wrath and all the things that hold me back, that I must fight to be a virtuous and successful man and not some failure. I will be the ‘Ideal Benjamin Wheeler’. It is a thought that keeps me going, for, there is no point to living for the cycle of reincarnation, nihilism or Personal Peace and Affluence. Others will receive this as well. I am eager to see certain Christians in Heaven and see them idealized and worshiping God the Most High, as I will as well, Immortal!
And then there’s hell. Where the fire will not cease, the worm will not die and eternity is a long time to suffer. Whatever you believe about purgatory is immaterial to me. Whatever good deeds they did, if they did not accept Christ it is straight to Hell with them. There is NO GREY ABOUT THIS. These are the stakes. Wide is the path to hell and how well trodden it is! Christ Himself says He is the Way the Truth and the Life, No man comes unto the Father, but by Him! Ultimately, the climax of the story has Laurel deny the devil and his works and choose Christ through her weeping. Manfred, who was hideously murdered, smiles and says that it is worth it.
It is worth it. EVERY TIME! Join the Last Crusade. Fight and never relent. Find others like you and cleave to them and be loyal to them. A theological debate between denominations is good fun, but if the devil or his servants start knocking around, stow it and form ranks until the present crisis is over. If all the world calls you mad, so what? For example, I’m a lunatic, John C. Wright is some kind of robot, his wife treats with fairies, and Jason Rennie is an Australian. Those are just the first four to come to mind! If all the world weeps and calls you intolerant, so what? They don’t tolerate you. If all the world picks up arms and assaults everything you hold dear, so what? What we hold dear is not of this world, but the sphere above. Read this book, then, get up and fight. DEUS VULT!