Lord of the World by Msgr Robert Hugh Benson
Lord of the World is one of my new favorite books. It was recommended to me by a friend and I was not disappointed. It is a 1907 dystopian sci-fi novel written by Msgr Robert Hugh Benson. I listened to the audiobook read by Simon Vance. His excellent reading style also helped to enhance my experience.
It is a future world where religion and faith in God have been replaced by secular humanitarianism. Catholics are the only religion left standing, and they are soon to be knocked down. Many people (including priests) have left the Church and they fear there is no hope left.
Fr. Percy is one of the last of the faithful. He struggles day in and day out to fulfill his priestly duties, but finds himself in times of hardship. Things start to escalate when a powerful politician, Julian Felsenburgh, rises to power in Europe.
Felsenburgh is quickly loved and accepted by the people and eventually they begin to worship him and solely humanity. Percy is then forced into hiding, afraid for his life. One event leads to another and then Percy soon finds himself in the Papal chair, trying to develop a plan to put an end to the powerful Julian Felsenburgh.
Lord of the World is an exciting classic. Msgr Benson’s writing style is clear and engaging. The story had a steady pace; nothing moved too slow/fast. Some people are turned away by the confusing, extensive prologue even though Msgr Benson himself encourages readers to skip it if they don’t wish to know more of the backstory. There was no suggestive content or profanity.
My favorite element in Lord of the World was how Msgr Benson didn’t only write about Fr. Percy’s experience and how Catholics were being persecuted. He shared the other side of the story through a couple: Oliver and Mabel Brand. It showed ordinary people who were for this new religion of following Julian Felsenburgh. One firmly believed what they were doing was right and offers their claims for the fact. The other is speculative and confused; unsure of what to believe. Seeing both sides of the story is important for the writer to decide what side they’re on. They can decide why one religion is true and the other is not.
I also loved how Msgr Benson paralleled Fr. Percy and Julian Felsenburgh. It was always mentioned how the two of them were so similar in appearance and nature, yet their ideology was entirely contrary. It was a great portrayal of that the anti-christ wouldn’t appear as a disgusting, terrifying person yet as someone who confuses the people into believing he is their salvation and redeemer.
Again, this is one of my new favorite books: five stars definitely. It is dystopian (one of my favorite genres), it is engaging, and it is filled with important messages. It is the kind of story that was prophetic to our times now. So many elements in the story reflect what we experience today. This book is a great read for everyone, religious or not. Highly recommend and would read again.