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Knowledge of Angels [Paperback]

Jill Paton Walsh
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knowledge of Angles Oct. 21 2001
Format:Paperback
Knowledge of Angles by Jill Paton Walsh is one of the best books of our time. Its richly illustrated plot was truly unique. We read this book for a high school English class and both agreed that it was one of the best books we've ever read. The story of a wolf-girl slowly interwines with that of a man unjustly persecuted because of his beliefs. A young girl, raised by wolves, is captured by men and brought into the human society. A kindly boy finds help from the Cardinal who in turn decides to perform a religious experiment with her. She is brought to a secluded cloister where she is to be kept without any mention of God in her presence. In this way, the Cardinal tries to find out if there is actually a high spirit, that seems to guide you. This careful experiment soon leads to surprises, that would best have been left unknown. The story of a wrongly persucuted man makes "The Knowledge of Angles" even more amazing. Palinor, a king from an unknown "perfect world" fell off a boat and swam to a nearby island. He is immediatly thought to be an athiest because he neither knows that God exists, or knows that He doesn't. Palinor was put into prison, then released and taken to talk to the Cardinal. His arguments are so convincing that he even has the Cardinal somewhat doubting his faith. The two stories come together to create a very important theme, one of love, hate, God, and sympathy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Walsh's skilful writing is such that the reader is left wondering whether the book advocates the integrity of atheism as a viable response or whether a faith beyond reason's reach is an appropriate response for a believer. It is a book that can be read by believer and atheist alike and provide both food for thought. It would be interesting to know Walsh's personal view on the question of religion and atheism. If atheist, then this book is, I would suggest, the atheist answer to other greats of religious fiction such as C S Lewis, The Narnian Chronicles. If religious, then Walsh probes the religious reader with unsettling and critical questions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking Oct. 15 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The key to unlocking the answers in this novel is the passage before the begining, in which Jill Paton Walsh describes to us the postions angels hold. We, the readers need to amsume this postion in order to understand exactly what it is that Jill Paton Walsh is trying to explore and understand. We are asked not to judge any of the characters as they are all at fault and are all equally right. The way they all behave is true to their beliefs and life style. It is a clever and intriguing novel but i found that to gain full satisfaction from this novel it has to be read al least twice, this in itself is not a difficult task as it is a novel that you could read again and again and each time you would uncover a new and interesting point that would add to the debate that takes place through out the novel. For those who do not want or do not enjoy the hard work or unravelling a novel to its essence, Knowledge of Angels is also a brilliant read at face value and will appeal to a wide audience. It is not about the wrongs and rights of religion, it is an exploration or people and situations using relgion as a setting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Review for A-Level students! Jan. 10 2000
Format:Paperback
Knowledge of Angels is definitely a deep and incredibly thought provoking book. As an A-Level student, I find this book one of the more interesting and challenging books on the syllabus. The novel is a story of how two very different people change the outlook of certain natives on the remote island of Grandinsula. Palinor is atheist, whereas the rest of the island is strict Christian and he comes to blows with Beneditx, a priest. The way in which Walsh focuses on their relationship is interchangable and it is interesting to see how their relationship develops into one of mutual compassion for one another. Amara, the other character is a wolf-girl who has had no human contact until now and she is used as a pawn to see if knowledge of God is inborn or something you are taught. This is an answer which could save Palinor from being burned as a heretic. The way this novel is written is clever and thoughtful and is a story for the past, present and future. Walsh invites the reader to obtain the "knowledge of angels." I'd give it 4 stars. Other A-Level students studying this or anyone interested in the book can e-mail me at ecdrakes@hotmail.com I'll look forward to hearing from you
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5.0 out of 5 stars For Love of Understanding Jan. 21 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a must-read for people of whatever religious ilk. Those who will keep their doors open to the intrusion of God's Sophia will after reading conclude that ultimately what matters is not our notions of what and who God is, but how religiously we can listen to and love our fellows.
What is most striking in this novel is not the arguments for or against the existence of God--although Palinor's rebuttal and repartee are incisive and excellent fodder for further thought. The most beautiful theme in the story, one which drives the whole adventure, is the friendship between Cardinal Severo, Palinor the atheist and Beneditx the theologian. And this is in spite of their theological-ideological differences. All three love the truth. And because they place intellectual integrity above their own beliefs they respect and love one another. That is the common ground that precedes and supersedes their respective theologies, that unites these men ... and seal their fate.
It is such a utopian paradigm for what it could be for us--a communion of humans subordinating even our most cherished worldviews to a more transcendent principle of love of truth and understanding. The love that binds these three men is nothing less than godlike. If Christians, atheists, agnostics, Muslims, New Agers, ... could come together and live and converse and relate with one another with but half the integrity and intensity these three do then God may yet commit the sin of envy and ask to be invited into our community.
In the end Palinor's apothegm 'Things just are' wins the day but his sagacity and integrity earn him not an eager congregation but Grandinsula's villagers gathered to see him literally go up in smoke.
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