The Chasm takes place during a sliver of time during the events of Alcorn’s book Edge of Eternity. Like the previous book, it follows Nick Seagrave and is an allegory in which Nick appears in another world. It’s a novella, really, much shorter than Edge of Eternity or any of Alcorn’s other fiction titles. It’s a simple, straightforward story about one man’s inability to cross the great chasm on his own, and all the sins and shortcomings that render him unable to do so, and the only means by which he’s ever getting across: the blood of the Woodsman.
For me it was timely, I suppose, dealing with indecision, insecurity, unwillingness to confront your own sins. With the help of a murky guide named Joshua, Nick passes through something akin to Dante’s Inferno, and instead of Purgatorio on the other side, he finds himself completely lost, and the man he thought his friend instead a foe bent on his destruction. But he’s rescued. Then he participates in his redeemer’s murder.
The story’s very classic, and it’s not attempting to hide its symbolic nature. It felt very much written to a readership of believers who’ve lost their way, forgotten they too were once stranded on the edge of a bottomless cliff that led straight to the pit of Hell, with the City of Light tantalizingly in sight but hopelessly beyond reach: in want of life and light and the city of the Great King, in desperate need of the princely Woodsman who commands armies and worlds and men, in great need of redemption from certain death and forgiveness of sin and treason.
It isn’t a new story, but it’s an eternal one, and for those of us who know what the red road means and forever remember the torn and broken body of the Woodsman hung and cursed on a tree, it’s a stark memorial to who we were and who we are, and why. Alcorn’s style follows that of Edge of Eternity and Safely Home, my favorite of his novels. It’s worth the read, especially this time of year where we’re apt to remember our own moment at the chasm.
— Kaci Hill, reviewer for fictionaddict.com
Randy Alcorn has proven himself as a solid scholar of biblical matters in his recent books. Now, however, he's crossed into that touchier genre: the evangelistic novel. The Chasm proves he's not bad at all with the form. Not verbose as John Bunyan nor given to fantasy as Hank Hanagraaf, Alcorn trades in metaphors and takes the subject matter of Christianity as the exclusive means of salvation head on.
For those already with eyes to see, Alcorn's transposition of Christ's crucifixion and other episodes will strike familiar chords. Just as the author has done with much of his nonfiction, he includes questions in the back for study and meditation. The book could be one that believers would give to the curious and those thinking about Christianity. Wordier than a Chick conic tract, but with a far fuller storyline, The Chasm may well bridge many seekers' gaps.
— Jamie Lee Rake, CBA Retailers+Resources Magazine, February 2011 issue
The Chasm by Randy Alcorn is an allegory about the road to salvation. One day Nick Seagrave, a normal guy, finds himself in an alternate reality -- or is it reality? He has to reach the City of Light, but there is a giant chasm separating him from it. Readers empathize with Nick as he goes through many plights common to us all in his journey.
The Chasm is a fast-paced and easy story to read. The book is driven by the plot rather than by the character and the relationships he forms; it is a narrative of Nick’s thoughts, but the lessons come from his decisions and actions. Right after the character representing Jesus gives his life, the most powerful part in the book is when he explains why he died for Nick. It shows the sacrifice of God in a new light.
Nick Seagrave wants to get to the City of Light, but doesn’t know how to get there because of the vast chasm that separates him from the city. Many paths lead to the city, but Nick isn’t sure which one to follow because they all look promising. After choosing the wrong path and getting injured along the way, Nick finally finds the right path.
Nick’s personality is not developed in depth. His past is mentioned, but the majority of the story is about Nick facing problems and learning to deal with hate, love, envy, loss, anger, and other human emotions and challenges. There are a handful of secondary characters, but none who are prominent; they are used more as devices to help Nick find the right path.
The Chasm has a satisfying finish. Although it is not the equivalent of such allegorical classics as Pilgrim’s Progress or Vanity Fair, it will cause readers to have moments of self-examination. The Chasm is a readable book for all ages and for seekers as well as seasoned Christians.
— Ben Schmitt, on ChristianBookPreviews.com
Randy Alcorn is a beloved evangelical author with numerous bestselling titles in both the fiction and nonfiction genres. One of his strong suits is the great enthusiasm and heart with which he writes every single word. In this newest work of fiction (which reads more like real life), his ability to transcend the lines between what is real versus what isn't simply shines. This skill enables readers themselves to transcend from simply reading another individual's story to personalizing the underlying thematic spiritual takeaways. Alcorn's large reading base will especially appreciate this allegorical storyline as it is based on another of his works, Edge of Eternity, and that book's character, Nick Seagrave.
In The Chasm: A Journey to the Edge of Life, Nick finds himself climbing upward amidst sharp inclines of rocks and shale to reach an overlook in hopes of spying the "shining city" he absolutely had to reach. He finally stands upon the ledge and is utterly dismayed; it is even worse than what he had been told. There lies the chasm, completely unavoidable and unimaginable, before Nick's eyes and below his feet. Sucking all hope from his heart, Nick mentally compared standing in front of the Grand Canyon with his family years earlier. He then recalled how this chasm was similar to the grave he had dug for his dog's burial when he was only 10 years old. He still had to get to Charis, that shining city, but how?
Revisiting his journey so far with his fellow travelers, Nick began mentally summarizing the challenge before him as he assessed his own strengths as a successful businessman and entrepreneur. Confidence was one thing Nick wasn't lacking, but being honest with himself—truly honest—was indeed a problem. Interestingly, in order for him to move toward this city of lights, he had to take various (and frequently painful) paths in and through his own mired past. He was reminded, none so gently, of losing his family by making selfish, self-centered choices that ended up costing him and them dearly. Confronted also with intellectual pursuits, false idols and religions, hidden lusts, and more, Nick is continually challenged to discern between good and evil at every step. Throughout this story, he is escorted on various roads by different characters as well, each of whom represent a person of religious significance to him. By journey's end, Alcorn pulls all the symbolic threads together and unveils a strong message that is both timeless and timely.
Another bonus is the 12 black and white line drawings included here, which give a strong visual representation to readers as they imagine the varied circumstances in which Nick finds himself. Alcorn also offers a Reader's Guide that will encourage individuals to dig deeper into each chapter's symbolism and meanings.
The Chasm is an excellent companion to Edge of Eternity that allows readers to continue to explore the same life challenges faced by everyone who inhabits planet Earth.
— Michele Howe, on faithfulreader.com
If J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Peretti were able to collaborate on a short story, the result would look very much like The Chasm. An adventurous journey is combined with invisible spiritual warfare, and the result is a powerful read. I found myself identifying with the traveler in this allegory and was convicted of the times I have wandered off the road that leads to life. I appreciate the fresh perspective on grace shared by the Woodsman: "I'm a carpenter. I make things and I fix things. I made the universe. And soon I am going to fix it." The 109 pages fly by. This story would make a great study for an older youth group or a book club.
— Schuyler Peterson, on amazon.com
He entered a cave, but when he left it American businessman Nick Seagrave is bewildered because he doesn’t know where he is. In the distance he sees a glitter of light as he walks with other travelers on the Red Road. One of his caravan members elderly Shadrack mumbles Charis is the City of Lights on the other side of the Chasm. Malacki the African claims to hear music. Tired of his companions on the seemingly endless trek, Nick leaves with benign Joshua who promises to show him other roads where he can learn the truth.
On a Gray Road, Nick is stunned to see his wife and two kids who watch him cheat with another woman. Ashamed by his mistreatment of them, he finds his daughter swaying on stage disconcerting. On another Gray Road, he watches a battle between two armies. A bird grabs him and dumps Nick in the midst of the hostility. One of the Commanders slices off Nick’s arm and prepares to kill him, but he survives the hidden battle that has opened up his eyes. Nick now sees Joshua for what he really is and yearns to return to the Red Road so he can reach the Chasm hoping to cross over to the City of Lights on the other side.
The Chasm is difficult to comprehend at first but is a well written parable as Nick seeks eternal truths. Much of what he learns about himself he does not like; he drifts away from the Red Road and fears never crossing the Chasm to the light beyond. A readers’ guide with questions for each chapter enables the audience to better understand the journey by encouraging readers to wear Nick’s shoes on a self-discovery trek into our own souls. Complex yet in many ways simple; Randy Alcorn provides a terrific allegory of the journey of life.
— Harriet Klausner, book reviewer for Amazon.com
The Chasm by Randy Alcorn is an allegory, which does make it harder to write a review for. I myself am not a huge fan of allegories. They must be well written and capture my attention almost from the beginning. Otherwise I lose interest and then I lose track of what the author is trying to do and it stops making sense and so I stop reading. I actually had the nerve to think I wouldn't like this book. I have read all of Randy's fiction books and have yet to find one I didn't like, but I just wasn't sure about another allegory.
The main character here is also the main character in Edge of Eternity. It actually doesn't matter which you read first, they makes sense no matter which order you read them in. In fact the ending (don't worry I am not giving anything away) says, "Nick Seagrave's full story—all that happened before and after he came to the Chasm—is told in the novel Edge of Eternity."
Nick is on a strange and wonderful journey that has/had taken him through a strange land. It is full of characters that are hard to tell the good from the bad and yet it is never the one you think of that will lead you astray.
That is all I am really going to say about this book. I enjoyed it, but know it is not written for you to keep on your shelf, I believe it is written to be shared with all that are around you. To understand you will have to enter the strange land of Nick Seagrave.
— Chris Jager, Baker Book House fiction buyer
What is the best way to describe Randy Alcorn’s The Chasm? A modern man’s pre-conversion Pilgrim’s Progress, maybe? It is allegorical, fantastical, and emotionally rich. Light reading, it’s not; this is a book that makes you think.
The Chasm is adapted from Alcorn’s earlier story Edge of Eternity. Both follow protagonist Nick Seagrave in his spiritual journey to (as the subtitle tells us) “the edge of life.”
Nick is your basic modern man who finds himself on a journey in another world. Is it a dream? Or is this reality instead of his “real” life? The book doesn’t explain how Nick gets to this unnamed land; we pick up the story as he travels through the strange world trying to get to a city called “Charis, the City of Light.”
Along the way, Nick meets up with various characters who in true allegorical tradition tend toward titles rather than names. There’s the Woodsman, the Shining Warrior, and so on. One of the exceptions to this trend is Joshua, who guides Nick through much of his journey. There’s a sneaky little twist in Joshua’s story. He’s not who Nick—or the reader—thinks he is.
That’s only one of many lessons The Chasm has to offer. Nick learns the way to Charis is via the “Red Road” but there are so many interesting roadside attractions to try. Alcorn does a marvelous job describing these temptations both before—when they seem so appealing—and after, when the underlying degradation and horror becomes all too clear.
Eventually Nick does find himself at the end of the Red Road facing the chasm of the title, an “abyss of staggering proportions” that cannot be crossed. There’s no way for him to get himself to the other side. Someone will have to make a way for him. Someone does. The “crucifixion” scene is particularly hard-hitting, making the whole thing highly personal. (Which, of course, it was.) And after the resurrection? I defy any thoughtful reader to get through the following declaration of love from the Chasm Crosser without tears in their eyes: “I did it for you ... I would have done it for you alone ... And if there was need, I would do it for you again.”
Alcorn’s style is more C. S. Lewis than John Bunyan, but (naturally) more modern than both. Calvin Miller’s The Singer is the closest example that springs to mind, though I must confess Nick’s fixation with Charis occasionally reminded me of Dorothy’s quest to reach the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz. Fortunately for Nick, there’s no “man behind the curtain” in this story. Instead, he finds a King, a calling, and a road home.
The book includes twelve original drawings by Mike Biegel. They’re good reminders to stop and ponder the action illustrated and what it all means. You’ll probably want to stop and ponder a lot; The Chasm is deep in more ways than one.
— Susan Ellingburg, Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
“…not all is as it appears. Are you ready to walk the red road to the chasm?” Shadrach spoke of the road to “Charis, the City of Light,” the road before death, not after.
After a foolhardy detour when he left the cave, Nick Seagrave returned to the red road Shadrach first directed him to, which brought him to the chasm and the “bottomless pit.” Where multitudes of terror-filled voices filled with “…sorrow…regrets and bitterness…” rose into the air. They sounded like “voices of the damned” to him.
Eyes burning with unshed tears, fear and a familiar longing within, Nick entered a “dark night of the soul,” and questioning despair. Would he reach the “City of Light” across the chasm or the “City of Darkness” below?
Then he saw the Woodsman dressed in a white robe striding toward him in the distance seeming to float above the chasm. His melodious song rang out and he grasped a great sword in roughhewn hands, adorned with ancient inscriptions in an unknown language.
He told Nick about things he’d never heard or thought of, eternal truths—”about himself…life” and about Nick. Then he said, “I offer a joy that will cost you everything…but gain you everything that matters.”
Join American businessman, Nick Seagrave on an intriguing journey of self-discovery, to a strange land of light, darkness, hidden motives and dangers, where two worlds collide. There Nick meets Joshua, who says, “Welcome” and offers to be his guide on a grey road he cautions is “not safe.” Nick soon questions if Joshua is who he appears to be.
Readers also meet Shadrack, “a white-haired, craggy-faced man dressed in tattered rags,” who trusts the shimmering light far ahead. “Mailaiki, a young African woman” who dances to music she alone hears in “a thousand languages…of life…learning…pleasure and adventure.” Where Nick’s own wife and children watch him shamefully cheat with another woman, before a large bird carries him to a battlefield, a Commander takes off his arm then tries to kill him.
This imaginative, allegorical journey portrays man’s lifelong journey. Mike Biegel’s twelve black and white allegorical drawings combine with “compelling narrative” to illustrate a modern day Pilgrim’s Progress. Nick’s character is drawn from the fiction pages of Alcorn’s 1999 novel, Edge of Eternity. I read the book in one sitting, could not put it down and plan to savor it many more times. Long my favorite author, Alcorn has written a classic that will stand the test of time.
— Gail Welborn for thesuspensezone.com