All the great fantasy novels of our time take place within a version of our medieval European history. And yet they leave out the single most influential force in medieval European history: the Church.
The Roman Catholic Church defined the medieval period unlike any other influence.
So what if something very much like the Catholic Church–with its bishops, cathedrals, and official pronouncements–had existed in a fantasy world?
What if the Church had to wrestle with whether or not Elves had souls?
For centuries the human race has lived alongside Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, and other “demi-human” races. Each race has carved out its own lands, through bloody wars and ancient hatreds.
But now, through ecclesiastic curiosity and perhaps shrewd maneuvering, it has pleased the Sanctiff to mount an expedition to investigate whether or not Elves may be considered to have eternal souls and thus become a missionary field for the Church. Human strongmen line up on both sides of the debate, for if Elves can be considered not to have souls, then they will be rendered animals–and anyone will be justified to invade their lands and plunder their amassed gold.
To head up the official investigation, the Sanctiff chooses Marcus Valerius, a gifted young priest with a scholar’s mind and a rising cleric’s ambition. Marcus chooses a Dwarven gladiator as bodyguard and heads into the Elven Wood, with no warning of the betrayal, romance, or battle awaiting him. Or the enlightenment.
Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy is philosophical fantasy that borrows as much from the theological thought of Thomas Aquinas as from the fantasy structures of J. R. R. Tolkien.
Summa Elvetica is Theodore Beale’s fourth novel.