Saturday, February 10, 2024

The Dark Harvest Trilogy

The Dark Faith

by Jeremiah W. Montgomery
368 pages / 2012

The Scarlet Bishop
by Jeremiah W. Montgomery
304 pages / 2013

The Threefold Cord
by Jeremiah W. Montgomery
312 pages / 2014


I gave The Dark Faith to my oldest daughter, knowing only that it was by an OPC minister. The cover looked a bit dark and ominous, but I figured It’s by a Reformed pastor, so how freaky can it be? I hadn’t gotten to it yet because, well, I’d also figured It’s an epic fantasy novel by a Reformed pastor, so how good could it really be?

I was wrong on both counts. This was really good, and quite freaky. My daughter was only a few chapters in when she gave me this update: 

“Dad, the main girl has just fallen into a well of blood!” 

“Real blood?”

“Yeah, real blood!”

“Hmmmm… maybe this isn’t a good one to keep reading.”

“No Dad, it’s okay. I can keep reading.”

An OPC pastor writing about wells of blood? A couple of days later, and another update from my daughter: “They’re going to skin this nun alive!” And then, “Oh Dad, there’s something even worse!”

A story this freaky, that my squeamish daughter still wouldn’t put down? I had to start reading it too… and it was so good I didn’t stop until I was through all three.

The trilogy is set on a Great Britain-like island empire called Aeld Gowan, and the time is very pre-Reformation. The Church here isn’t quite the bed of hypocrisy that got Luther going, but it attracts both the devout and the power-hungry eager to use its influence.

Our hero is one of the devout, a monk named Morumus, who turned to the Church for another reason: knowledge. When still a boy, Morumus saw his father, Raudron Red-Fist, and all his soldiers, slain by nightmarish creatures whose song rendered the men unable to raise their swords and shields in defense. The boy Morumus was overlooked and escaped. Now, as a grown man, Morumus thinks that whatever it was that attacked his father, they were likely followers of the “Dark Faith” that once ruled the island. And he wants to learn more, to prepare the Church for what might be coming. But in ten years of study so far, he hasn’t found much of anything.

What his learning has done, however, is make him an expert in languages, and now his archbishop wants him to translate Holy Writ into the language of peoples who might still follow the Dark Faith. His love for the Lord, and his obsession with solving the mystery of his father’s murder seem to be converging!

This is a complex story, and not one that can be briefly summarized (the appendix of names is a much-needed feature to keep track of the extensive cast). There’s just so much here – whether it’s palace intrigue, a compromised Church, cunning enemies, or unexpected friends, it’s all here, and all wrapped up in an epic fantasy that is very relevant for our own time.


The cautions concern the gore, and especially a scene in which a monastery of monks, who were having their evening meal, are found slaughtered, their innards piled up on the plates in front of them (this was the scene my daughter was warning me about). Why did the author include that? I think to show the evil to be evil. And while there is gore, he’s not glorying in the gore, as some writers do. That’s why my 14-year-old could read it without getting too bothered, though this was a book she wouldn’t read at night. It is, however, why this might be better for 16 and up.


I was struck by just how well-written it is – this would make for a great read-out-loud if only I could find an audience brave enough to hear it. I don’t want to overhype it, so I won’t make comparisons to Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, but I will say that outside of those two, this is really among the best of the best of Christian fantasy fiction. Epic, excellent, and insightful, telling an old tale that has lessons for our modern age. Two thumbs way up!

And if you want to hear another Reformed perspective on the Dark Harvest Trilogy, be sure to check out this review, by OPC member and teen (at the time), Katharine Olinger.