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|Series||The Circle Series|
|Genre||Christian, science fiction, fantasy, thriller|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Preceded by||Black: The Birth of Evil|
|Followed by||White: The Great Pursuit|
In Red: The Heroic Rescue, Thomas has spent fifteen years in the "dream world," having been persuaded by his wife Rachelle to eat the "Rhambutan" fruit which will prevent him from dreaming. Only seven hours have passed in the world of Earth, but the plague has been released in several cities. Followers of Elyon live in the seven forests. The deserts outside of the forests are home to the Horde, with a much larger population than the forests. Members of the Horde (individually referred to as "Scabs") are subject to the degenerative skin disease of the fallen world and are constantly trying to conquer and destroy the inhabitants of the forest. They worship Teeleh, carrying banners with images of the Shataiki. Thomas is referred to as "General Thomas of Hunter" and is commander of the Forest Guard, and a legendary figure among the Forest Dwellers and the Horde alike. However, as the story unfolds, it is revealed that the Horde also have a legendary General emerging known as Martyn. One whose strategies are bolder and cleverer, and have yet to be seen by the Forest Guard.
In the forests, the people keep Elyon's seven rules but have added to them, scrupulously trying to make it as difficult as possible to violate the actual rules. Interpretation of the rules is vested in a priest-like figure named Ciphus, from the Southern Forest. Members of the Horde are allowed to come and become part of the forest dwellers, but this is actively discouraged as Ciphus has determined there is not enough water in the lakes to support a much larger population. This is generally not an issue, as the skin disease of the Horde makes any contact with water agonizingly painful, and the Horde view themselves as "normal" and the forest dwellers as "defective." Occasionally, however, a Horde member will be washed, as is the case with a wise village elder named Jeremiah. Also, forest dwellers who go too long without bathing in Elyon's water begin to develop the skin disease, eventually losing the ability to think rationally and becoming members of the Horde. The Forest Guard has developed extensive procedures for carrying bathing water with them while on patrol in order to try to prevent this.
Justin is a former member of the Forest Guard under Thomas. When Thomas offered him the rank of second in command, Justin declined and left the Forest Guard entirely. The young woman Mikil become Thomas' second in command. Justin begins to anger the leadership of the forest dwellers by his unorthodox ideas. It is revealed that Justin always seems to be clean of the disease even when he seems to have been unable to bathe.
Justin attempts to broker a peace between the Horde and the forest dwellers, on one occasion speaking with Martyn in the middle of a battle to secure the safety of the Southern Forests Guard and their leader Jamous, (who is in love with Mikil) and to encourage good will between the two cultures. However, Justin is betrayed and sentenced to death by the leadership under Ciphus. Initially he is forced into a Gladiator-style face off against Thomas of Hunter. Justin exhibits equal if not superior skills in sword and hand-to-hand combat though he never harms Thomas. As Justin emerges the victor he leaves the arena and greets a waiting Martyn at the crest of the arena to a shocked audience. As Thomas signals his guard to move in on Justin and Martyn, Thomas himself confronts them face-to-face. When he draws his sword on Martyn he is horrified to discover Martyn to be the once innocent Johan, Thomas' brother-in-law. Johan had once been part of the guard under Thomas' command and was assumed to have been killed in battle when in fact he became stranded and the disease took him. Later, it is shown that Justin is Elyon in an adult form. Thomas doesn't makes a deal with Johan to pretend that Justin had betrayed both the Forest and the Horde, so that they can have him killed.
A Horde Army is encroaching on the Forest, and demands the right to carry out the execution as they consider Justin to have betrayed them, too. Justin is sentenced to death with the Horde's most feared form of execution: drowning in water. He is first hung over the lake and beaten until his bones are broken and he is severely disfigured. Mysteriously, during his drowning, Justin's body begins to be covered with the Horde skin disease. Upon his death, Johan in a fit of rage attacks Justin and thrusts his sword into him. Justin's blood pours into the lake, violating Elyon's prohibition about blood entering the water.
The next day, the water itself has turned blood red and the forest dwellers are all completely infected with the skin disease. Yet Justin's dead body cannot be found in the depths of the lake. Thomas's wife Rachelle remembers a command Justin had once given her to "follow me". First she, Thomas, Johan, and then others including both forest dwellers and members of the Horde, give up their lives in the red water, finding that they, too, are returned to life and completely cleansed of the skin disease. In fact, these new followers of Elyon through Justin discover that they need never be cleansed again: they are immune to the skin disease.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the former forest dwellers have been corrupted by the disease and merge the religions of Elyon and Teeleh, inviting the Horde to come dwell in the forest. The sacrifice of drowning in the red water is unthinkable to those infected with the disease, and they view the cleansed people as defective "albinos." The "albinos" flee for their lives into the desert. On the way, however, Rachelle is shot with three arrows and dies.
There, Justin himself meets them and excitedly proclaims his happiness over them. He proclaims the new group to be his "Circle" (a symbol of marriage dating back to the days of the colored forest) and to be his "bride," and ecstatically thanks his father for what he calls his "beautiful bride," referring to God as his "father." Justin reveals to the Circle that they will find more red pools hidden in the desert and that for the rest of their lives they will be his and will be charged with the mission of saving as many members of the Horde as possible by inviting them to drown in the pools.
The title "Red" thus refers to the color of the blood shed by Justin to redeem his followers from the Fall, and to the blood-red pools in which his followers give up their lives in order to be reborn as Justin's people.
Major themes that are included in red are much like C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and in the Christian Bible in the following ways:
Good v. Evil: Followers of Elyon must deal with and combat against the Horde.
Sacrifice of Messianic Image: Justin is much like Jesus from the New Testament of the Christian Holy Bible. Jesus is killed and betrayed by the ones he has come to save, but after dying to their own desires and following Him, people are able to obtain true freedom and eternal life in heaven. He is also similar to Aslan and similar to Aslan's sacrifice in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Justin's sacrifice is indicative that he is out to redeem the entire other earth.
Freedom from Law: The adding to the seven commandments is much like the Jewish practicing. In this case it becomes incredibly hard to do what is said, because of all other interpretations. Justin's drowning dissolves this.