Imagine if you were present watching the events that lead up to the ouster of Satan from heaven as recorded in the book of Revelation. And then, imagine that the Devil and his legions make a comeback to reclaim heaven because of human error, not just any humans, but the only four humans spiritually equipped to stop Lucifer – the Guardians of the Seal. Hard to imagine? Worry not, Tunde Leye has done all the imagining and put it down in his book, Guardians of the Seal.
This 185 page book tells a story that many Bible readers have had a hard time following. Yet, the book is not a Bible story. In fact, only avid Bible readers will recognize how deeply certain parts of the Bible were explored. The writer takes many liberties with timing and order of these biblical events which, of course, is what qualifies his book a work of fiction. Beware, a fanatical mind might declare it heretical.
The story starts out with a description of Lucifer’s Netherworld. Not anything you may not have imagined if thinking about Devils and demons is your thing. It may seem surprising that even in the midst of the chaos in this world, order is maintained in the hierarchy of demons. One is reminded of what it is like working in some industries, a dog eats dog situation.
The reader is quickly eased into the connection between events in Lucifer’s world and the world of humankind through the eyes of a woman. You may begin to get a feel of the “feminist” leanings of the writer as one of the major characters in his book, Tara, finds a way of having a child without the aid of a man. This episode appears to be a spin-off to the biblical record of the conception of Jesus presented as a scientific breakthrough. (Is God a feminist?) This is just one of the many times that Tunde Leye gets the reader wondering if science and spirituality are as estranged as many want us to believe.
The child grows and becomes a subject of controversy like the biblical seed of the woman. But again, the child is female. And at this point, those who started off thinking this was just a bible story begin to wonder when Jesus will make an appearance or if Tunde Leye is in some way insinuating that there is a woman in all of us, even in Jesus. Heresy? Or Feminism being put in perspective? I will let you be the judge.
Guardians of the Seal is divided into ten chapters of two parts. Five light chapters and five dark chapters. This division, which a few might miss, is further emphasized by a change in typography at the beginning of chapter 6. Perhaps, Leye uses this to symbolize the coexistence of good and evil in equal measure and the need for balance in making decisions as one can easily tilt either way.
For a thinking mind, #TLGotS offers a lot of fodder. Leye explores themes such as love, heroism, lust, drug abuse, sexuality, spousal abuse and truth among others. He does this without moralizing. A part of the book that stood out for me is his exploration of how the abuse of drugs affects the human mind putting it in close proximity to the world of demons. Leye relates the experience of one of his characters, Tony, after he had smoked the “illuminator”, “By the time they got to the podium in front and the DJ turned down the music, Tony was seeing different creatures flying over the warehouse. One seemed to look straight at him like it really saw him. For a moment, a chill ran through him as their eyes met. But he reminded himself it was just the high and he laughed at himself for being scared.”
From the outset of the story, the reader believes that good will triumph over evil, yet, as they read it becomes difficult to put the book down because somewhere in their minds, they are unsure how the writer will spin the story. One of the reasons for this is that God is relegated to the position of an onlooker in this novel. So many times the reader expects an introduction of Deux ex Machina to the plot but God keeps allowing humankind use their free will to make decisions. This in spite of the fact that this ecclesiastical story lends itself to divine intervention. The writer deserves kudos for his self-control in allowing the plot unravel without such interruptions.
At certain parts of the book, the reader finds himself flipping pages, often skimming to keep up with the story but at the same time being conscious not to lose the plot. Whereas at other parts the pace is leisurely and the reader may be tempted to skip pages to get the story going but for the fear of losing the plot.
I would not say that Guardians of the Seal is the best Nigerian book I have read this year but I can say that it would easily rank among the top 5 were I to make such a list. It certainly will not be described as forgettable.
#TLGotS will make a refreshing and easy read for a lover of fantasy and has a couple of plot twists that could make one’s heart race a little faster as one reads.
I am biased towards this story. To understand why, read the acknowledgment page of this book. Nevertheless, I score Tunde Leye a 3.8 for his great effort in this work. Wondering why it is not a 4 then read the book and prove me wrong.
Guardians of the Seal is refreshingly different in a world where African writers are generally known for writing about pain and war. #TLGotS will be a great addition to any booklovers library.