The Circle Series, originally known as The Circle Trilogy, is a series of novels by Ted Dekker, as well as a series of graphic novels. It is a part of the larger Books Of History Chronicles, and was the first series written for it.
One night, Thomas Hunter, an aspiring writer with a sketchy past, receives a severe head injury after being jumped in an alley. Though he escapes with his life, he's knocked out cold, and the next thing Thomas knows, he awakens in another world with no memory of how he got there. This "Other Earth", an idyllic parallel to our own and our world 2000 years in the future consists of two mega-forests, divided in half by a river:
The first forest, consisting of brightly colored trees and healing fruit, is home to Elyon's Children (Humans) and white bats called Roush.
The other, the Black Forest, houses the Shataiki, evil black bats led by the former Roush, Teeleh. Though the Shataiki are less than welcoming when a human tries to enter the Black Forest, Teeleh would like nothing more, so long as the person drank the Elyon-forbidden water within the Forest. If someone did (which Tanis, the first man, eventually does), this would allow Teeleh to cross the river and corrupt the Colored Forest and the people living there.
Every time Thomas goes to sleep in one world, he awakens in the other. As realities begin to blur, Thomas discovers that the Raison Strain, a deadly virus that could wipe out most of our world's population, is about to be released. At the same time, the Other Earth becomes ravaged by evil and teeters on the brink of destruction. Thomas must race against time to save both worlds from the nightmares unleashed upon them, while protecting himself and his loved ones from the forces trying to stop him.
The first book was expanded by Dekker's unpublished short story, "A Song of Eden," and, just like the original, is meant to be an obvious parallel to the Biblical Garden of Eden. While the plot about the Raison Strain adds tension, a sense of urgency, and grounding in the real world, the thrust of the original trilogy is the other world, which is an obvious parallel to the three phases of God's relationship with mankind as detailed in the Christian Bible. Black portrays Eden before the fall of Adam and Eve, right down to the one and only rule (don't drink Teelah's water) and ends with a renewed fall of mankind. Red portrays the nation of Israel prior to Christ and the coming of Christ as a rather unorthodox and unpopular preacher who is executed in what is considered the worst possible fashion, only to rise again. White is a portrayal of early Christianity, despised by the establishment and forced to run and hide from execution.
The biggest part of this parallel is making metaphorical concepts in Judaism and Christianity literal, posing a new perspective on them. Sin is represented as a literal corruption which makes people ugly, sickly, and constantly in pain, and in Red, must be literally washed away with water given by Elyon. It also has the effect of blinding the corrupted to their condition and causing them to view normal humans as ugly. In White, believers must literally die the same way their savior did in order to be permanently cured of corruption. Several others exist, and it's even Lampshaded at one point.
This series includes examples of:
- Action Girl: Mikil, Rachelle, Suzan, and Marie most prominently.
- Aerith and Bob: Tanis, Mikil, Chelise, Johan, Rachelle and Thomas (though this may not be the case, since Thomas is technically from a different world.)
- Back from the Dead: Thomas Hunter (twice!). And also Rachelle once.
- Justin. Even after being brutally beaten, drowned, and stabbed in the climax of Red, reappears at the end of the novel, confirms that he is the adult form of Elyon, and claims his 'Circle' (those that chose to drown in the lake he was killed in to save themselves from becoming Scabs) as his chosen people. It makes sense since he's a Messianic Archetype of Other Earth.
- Bat Out of Hell: Played straight with Shataiki and averted with Roush.
- Body Horror: The description of what the Raison Strain does to the human body.
- And in Green, the scene in which Marsuuv removes Billy's eyes and replaces them with 'slimy black orbs'.
- Canon Welding: Shataiki and Roush are alluded to in a few other of Dekker's books, as are the title's colors. The Forest Guard is mentioned briefly in Skin.
- Color-Coded Characters: Roush and Shataiki, and, on a skin-condition level, Scabs (diseased) and Albinos (washed in Elyon's Waters.)
- Cold-Blooded Torture: What happens to Justin at the end of Red.
- The Corruption: Scabs are people infected with a disease that makes the flesh look decayed and rotten, and corrupts a persons heart into turning away from Elyon.
- Defector from Decadence: One of the people living in the oases in Red used to be corrupted, but voluntarily washed himself one day, only to find out that it really does make you feel better.
- The Dragon: Carlos Missiran to Valborg Svensson for awhile at least.
- Downer Ending: At the end of Green where Thomas is allowed to go back in time to save his son, but has no memory of it. Since this series was written as a circle . . .
- Eldritch Abomination: Teeleh, Marsuuv, and the Shataiki. Marsuuv and the Shataiki are described as bat-like with wolf heads, claws, beedy red eyes, and all that fun stuff. Teeleh's description is more straight forward and horrific. He is described as a large, bat/snake/dragon hybrid with wings, red eyes, large claws, a wolf-like head, and fangs.
- Expy: Marsuuv to Marsuuvees Black (the main villain in The Paradise Novels).
- Face–Heel Turn: Tanis, Ciphus, and Samuel.
- Fantastic Racism: In Red and White, the Horde, a disease-ridden version of humanity, despise the Albinos, or people who bath ritually in Elyon's lakes, and the Albino hate the Horde. Further pushed in Green where the Horde are divided into two racial variants, the full breed Horde and the Half-Breeds. In this case, Horde, Half-Breeds, and Albinos all hate each other despite being human.
- Flat-Earth Atheist: Scabs (corrupted humans) won't believe anything the Albinos (normal humans) tell them about cleansing themselves, even though it's pretty obvious they find each other attractive, don't think they smell bad, and have a clear and tangible military advantage caused by them not suffering constant joint pain. Justified in that the corruption affects your mind.
- French Jerk: Armand Fortier. (Although he's a bit worse than a jerk...)
- Garden of Evil: The initial Shataiki-ridden Black Forest.
- God: Elyon for Other Earth, who appears in the form of a child. He is also implied to be the God from our world.
- It's confirmed in later books that Other Earth is really Earth 2000 years in the future, so both Elyon and God are one and the same
- Happily Married: Thomas and Rachelle, later Thomas and Chelise. Among many others.
- Heel–Face Turn: Carlos, and Chelise, among others.
- Here We Go Again!: Green, when Elyon agrees to let Thomas go back in time and try to save his son, but without the memories of what happened.
- History Repeats: The Other Earth is thousands of years into the future, but the events mirror similar events in the Bible; implying that evil, sin and the need for redemption will always be present in some form.
- The Horde: All Scabs who refuse to bathe in Elyon's lakes (which cures their skin disease) are called this.
- After Justin is killed, everyone who does not drown in the lakes will become a Scab and join the Horde.
- Messianic Archetype: Justin. Full stop. Heck, the title of the second book is meant to refer to him.
- Killed Off for Real: Rachelle.
- The Multiverse: Other Earth and the modern-day world.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The entire plot of the first book involves the protagonist attempting to save two worlds and, consequently, bringing about the disasters (developing a biological weapon in one, letting evil back into the world in the other) he intended to stop. Nice job dooming two whole realities, hero.
- One Character, Multiple Lives: Thomas Hunter receives a head injury and wakes up in another world. The action is then split across "our world" and that other world: every time Hunter falls asleep in one, he wakes up in the other.
- Our Presidents Are Different: Robert Blair is an interesting mix of President Iron and President Personable.
- The Plague / The Virus: The Raison Strain.
- The Power of Blood: This trope is a driving force throughout the series, especially in Green.
- Notably, injuries that shed blood are the only physical things that can cross the dimensional barrier.
- Satan: Teeleh.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Carlos averted this happening to him by doing a Mook–Face Turn on his former boss(es) by blowing them to pieces with an anti-tank missile.