Playing with Hellfire: The Christian Mythology behind The Grigori Legacy

While The Grigori Legacy series is not (and was never intended to be) religious in nature, it’s no secret that I built its world on Christian angel mythology. I must admit to having some trepidations about basing my back story so closely on foundations that are familiar—and precious—to so many. Trepidations, incidentally, which were not helped by my Catholic-reared husband’s only half-joking accusations of blasphemy! Oh, I know that controversy sells (case in point: Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code), but I tend not to be much of a fan of conflict…especially one that involves me. 😉

So why did I choose to forge ahead with the idea? I could have created a whole other world for my angels instead, so why play with the fire of people’s strongly held beliefs?

The obvious reason is that this was how the story unfolded for me, of course. But if I gave that as my only reason, it would be a cop-out on my part. The truth is, while I avoid conflict wherever possible, I’ve never backed down from a challenge, either. And the challenge of creating a world that was both thought-provoking and respectful of others’ beliefs was enormous. It meant following a millennia-old storyline closely enough to keep it familiar, while at the same time overwriting that storyline enough to make it my own. I did a lot of picking and choosing about what stayed and what went: Lucifer’s fall from grace, in; Hell as a place, in, but as a place of punishment, out; the angel hierarchy of choirs, in; strict adherence to the biblical descriptions of angels, out; and so on.

Most challenging of all was my decision to make the One (God) female—and to have her relationship with Lucifer be something more than simply that of God and angel. While I was aware that I could be stepping on a lot of toes, I wanted to explore the possibility of a more fallible side to humanity’s deity…a closer link between our human state of mind and that of a creator…and the enormous potential for things to go terribly wrong as they sometimes do when it comes to love and jealousy.

My efforts to walk the fine line between fiction and fiercely held tradition seem to be working. No one (other than my loving husband!) has accused me of blasphemy, and readers genuinely seem to appreciate the One as a woman. With two books still remaining, we have a ways to go in the overall story arc, of course, but so far so good. In fact, as this review shows, more than just good…and that makes me very happy (and yes, maybe just a little relieved! 😉 ).

So here is a question for you (because I’m curious this way): If you’ve read either/both of the first two books in The Grigori Legacy, did you find the angel mythology aspect appealing or disturbing? And if you haven’t read the series yet, does knowing the basis of my world-building make you more or less likely to pick it up?

 


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10 responses to “Playing with Hellfire: The Christian Mythology behind The Grigori Legacy”

  1. Gary Patry Avatar
    Gary Patry

    Linda, I am just fine with the way you portrayed God and the rest of the Choir. LOL indeed you have to be extremely careful on this touchy subject. But you made it very interesting. Starting book 2 now, already looking just as good as the first book in the Grigori Legacy. You got me hooked.

    1. Linda Avatar
      Linda

      Thanks, Gary! 🙂

  2. Heather Mitchell Avatar

    Straight answer. I like your website, for one thing, and, whilst I haven’t read the first book, your post has enticed me. I’m not a religious person but someone who has a fascination for the eternal themes of: good -v- evil, spirituality, myth and the seven deadly sins. I currently have a dangerously tottering TBR pile but will be reading your first book when I can!

    1. Linda Avatar
      Linda

      I’m glad I’ve been able to entice you, Heather! Let me know what you think of Sins of the Angels when you do find time to read it! 🙂

  3. stephanie Avatar
    stephanie

    I read both of your books and I love them both. I find the whole basis of the story fascinating. I would like to know when the next book will be coming out and how many will there be total?

    1. Linda Avatar
      Linda

      Thanks so much, Stephanie! I’m so glad you enjoyed the books. No word yet on a pub date for the next, but rest assured that I will announce it loudly when I have one! Oh, and there are a total of four planned. 🙂

      1. stephanie Avatar
        stephanie

        Thank you

  4. J.M. Bray Avatar

    Linda, I haven’t read your books, but now I want to! 🙂 I don’t have a problem with God being female as he is as much that as male since both sexes were “created in His image.” The issue I might have is the fallibility you mention.

    I’m also interested how you work with the angels, having mentioned using Biblical sources. Because while there are many traditional church (Catholic and other) traditions, there are not a ton of actual “Biblical” ones.

    I’ve put you on my TBR list. 🙂

    J.M.

    1. Linda Avatar
      Linda

      I’m so glad I’ve piqued your interest, J.M.! You’ll have to let me know what you think…bearing in mind, of course, that the books remain fiction! 😉

  5. Elissa Stark (@elissastark) Avatar

    Hey Linda! Finally getting around to commenting on this. Super excited to see you post on this!

    I’m often concerned about twisting angel mythology in my own world building. But I’m less concerned about religious backlash than I am academic. I adore religion and mythology — I studied Religious Studies and Classical Civilization in college, with an emphasis on textual analysis and focused on parallels in the stories. So I love the ancient middle east, Greece, Rome, all of that. I also have this perfectionist bent where I want to do so much research to make it as “accurate” as possible from an academic stand point. And while I wasn’t raised in any religion, I don’t want to come off as disrespectful.

    After much fretting, I caved under the weight of all of that pressure and said screw it. I’m drawing what aspects of angel mythology (and mythological stories) I like while trying to make it something different for my world’s cosmology — as if you could see how legend and myth came from this cosmology but were mistranslated. I specifically wanted to wanted to explore angels as no better than us, just a different species with heavier burdens and that jealousy of humanity. Same with other groups in my cosmology like demons and djinn, how that might be translated in this set-up.

    As for your take, I’m really fascinated by the female God and would love to know how you explored her relationship with Lucifer. I have your first book somewhere around here in my boxed-up life (sigh, temporarily living somewhere) but I will definitely need to check that out. Some of my favorite stories explore very mortal relationships that could occur with the divine and I love that inherit tragedy.

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