The Circle Trilogy – Book Review and Summary

This will be a book review on Ted Dekker’s The Circle Trilogy.

First, I’ll start off by compiling 1000+ pages into a one-page summary:

Walking down a street in the United States in our world, Thomas Hunter is attacked by the mafia on his way home from work. A bullet grazing his head, Thomas falls unconscious and wakes in another reality, one which makes more sense and feels more real than the one he grew up in. Having no memory of his former life in this other reality, Thomas begins to re-learn all aspects of life in the paradise he finds himself in…until disaster strikes, man chooses evil over good, and the other reality begins to crumble. Thomas then has to lead a band of the surviving followers of “good” into the wilderness to a forest refuge Elyon (God) prepared for them.

Meanwhile, every time Thomas sleeps in this “other reality,” Thomas wakes back up on planet earth with no time having passed between when he goes to sleep and when he wakes in the other reality. There, a super-vaccine has mutated into a deadly virus that kills its hosts in a painful death. When he talks to his friends in the other reality about his “dreams” on planet earth, they are astonished to tell him that he is vividly dreaming of something called “the histories.” Thomas discovers that he is able to find information about the future of planet earth in “the histories” from the other reality. However, the ones who know “the histories” in enough detail to help Thomas won’t give him information, and the only other way to get information is to risk his life in evil’s hands.

Thomas falls in love in the other reality, and his jealous wife forces him to eat a fruit in the other reality that keeps him from dreaming.

He doesn’t dream of earth for 15 years.

In those 15 years, those who rejected good (thus, siding with evil), the “desert dwellers” begin to attack the “Forest people”, Thomas’ band. Thomas – using his recollection of the construction of metal and weapons from his “dreams” of earth – leads his people in a protective battle against the Dessert Dwellers who threaten their lives.

Until a dire situation requires Thomas to dream again to acquire additional information regarding explosives. Waking on Earth, Thomas’ situation there comes back to him and he realizes that he cannot just abandon them again. Thomas proceeds to help them until it leads him to sacrifice life for the lives of billions of people on earth.

Thomas, however, does live on in the other world. And he learns the Biblical redemption story first-hand, seeing God sacrifice Himself for the sin of His followers.

Now, I liked the series a lot. It actually reminded me of Narnia in that it took the Biblical redemption story and fantasized it for an exciting read. However, there were some issues and plot-holes that I noticed, and I’ll mention a couple of them here.

First, while there were a lot of good theological points and the redemption story was very powerfully laid out, some things that “God” and “Jesus” did in the “other reality” just didn’t match the character of God or the story of the Bible. For instance, Justin’s (AKA: Jesus) life’s message was to love the Dessert Dwellers instead of killing them. However, Justin killed the Dessert Dwellers before his ministry began, and was actually Thomas’ best soldier. Jesus would never have done something like this. The Bible says that God is the same “yesterday, today, and forever,” so this is a huge misrepresentation.

Second, there are certain technical errors.

For instance, there wasn’t much consistency with regard to how much time passed between when Thomas went to sleep in one reality and then woke up again in that same reality. For the most part, it seemed as though time would pass by (or fast-forward, if you want to think of it that way) until the point when he naturally would wake up, but it didn’t always work that way.

Another example would be that the series says that once a person recognizes their existence in both realities, their death in the one reality will kill them in the other reality. However, Rachelle (Thomas’ wife in the “other reality”) died, yet Monique did not die back on earth.

So, overall, I liked the series. It was very entertaining and quite gripping. It’s the kind of series you could read again and again and it wouldn’t get old. I also know that Ted Dekker did extend this series beyond the Trilogy to allow it to loop back into itself again. I find this really annoying, but I also recognize his brilliance in pulling it off so seamlessly. Dekker also allows this series to inform and be informed by other series he’s written such as the Saint, Sinner, and Showdown series, making the Worlds seem all the more real.

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