All the illustrations in the novel were created by Aron Hommer, a graphic artist and Artistic Director who resides in Freiburg, Germany. The process for creating the illustrations involved a close collaboration between the author and Aron in which Aron first produced multiple sketches of each illustration to establish the major elements and perspective of the illustration. The refined sketch was then converted into multiple colored drafts to capture different color treatments of the illustration. Once the final coloration had been agreed upon, Aron produced the final illustration for the novel. To see more of the art of Aron Hommer, go to his website--www.aronhommer.com.
Illustrations by Aron Hommer
Plate No. 1-- "Thomas and Nana at their Cottage on New Hope."
This illustration is used as the frontispiece of the novel and depicts Thomas and Nana as they begin their morning walk outside their cabin on New Hope. Thomas is obviously intent on some hunting during the walk as he carries his bow and arrows. Nana, eager to begin the walk, runs ahead. In the background we see their modest cabin with the detached wood shop off to the left of the picture. It is late summer and the wingstem is blooming.
Plate No. 2--"The White Stag at the Pond in the Great Wood."
Thomas and Nana's first encounter with the White Stag which occurs immediately preceding their receipt of the letter from Mr. Lamb. In Christian art and literature the White Stag is a symbol for the Christ--https://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/f022-Stag.htm--a creature of awe and power who stamps out the devil.
In the illustration the White Stag stands in a pool of water so that the stream flowing out of the pond seems to flow from the Stag itself. Christ is the living water which wells forth into eternal life. Later, during his imprisonment when he is close to death, Thomas has a vision in which the White Stag appears again in the pond. Thomas drinks of the water flowing from the Stag which seems to "revitalize his entire being."
An almost final version of the Plate of the "White Stag at the Pond in the Great Wood." Can you spot the error that needed to be corrected in the final version?
Plate No. 3.--"Mr. Lamb Behind his Desk."
This illustratation shows the first encounter by Thomas and Nana with Mr. Lamb, the lamb sen-an who hires them to find the Book. Mr. Lamb kneels on a platform behind his desk. The office is in a decrepit state and shows no signs of being occupied. A make-shift sign slipped into the plate on the threshold of the door identifies the room as the offices of "Lamb & Assoc."
Plate No. 4--"Thomas Discovers the Encrypted Book."
Thomas is able to find the Book only by employing a search strategy to find a book whose indexed information is constantly changing--a feature that would only be found in a dynamically encrypted book. As he attempts to focus on the pages of the book, the letters seems to drift off the page and swirl in the air above the Book, constantly mutating and changing. Concluding that such a book would be of no use to anyone unless it was de-crypted, he exits the Mine without removing a copy.
Plate No. 5--"Thomas and Nana Step Through the Light Portal."
The plate depicts Thomas and Nana about to transport to Purgatorio from the DDER station on New Hope. The image captures the moment just preceding transport when the portal has begun to fill with blazing light as the dark energy re-emerges and restores multi-dimensional, adjacent space. Thomas and Nana are outfitted for the winter weather they will encounter during their quest to find Peter Stone.
Plate No. 6--"Peter and Isolde Greet Thomas and Nana from their Porch."
The scene depicts Peter and his non-sen Alsatian canine, Isolde, watching Thomas and Nana descending through the field that surrounds their cottage on Purgatorio. The landscape surrounding the cottage lies in the dead of winter and contrasts with the warmth of the cottage. Peter cradles a shot gun in his arms, betraying his wariness of any visitors to his cottage. This wariness is dispelled when Thomas responds appropriately to the pre-determined greeting--"The Lord Be With You."
At the right of the picture we see the barn housing Peter's animals, where Nana will begin her religious instruction.
Plate No. 7--"Thomas Descended from Valhalla."
This plate depicts Thomas mid-way through his fight with the demon agents of the Collective on the return to New Hope. A condensed cloud of exhalation hangs around Thomas' head which reflects the light of the fire. A dead wolf lies at Thomas' feet; his hands hold the hatchet and knife which are stained with the blood of the attackers. His right arm emits a steady stream of blood from the wounds inflicted during the last assault. Barely visible back in the wood, we see the glowing eyes and fangs of the black sen-wolf which is leading the assault.
Nana is overcome with emotion from this vision of her hero--a "Norse god descended from the halls of Valhalla whose death-dealing skills no mortal could ever match; whose courage would never fail."
Plate No. 8--"The White Stag Joins the Fight."
Just as all seems hopeless, with Nana severely injured and the wolves beginning their final assault, the attackers are frozen in place by a figure appearing on the rocky outcrop above Thomas and Nana's camp. Thomas and Nana turn in amazement to see the White Stag leaping over their fire and landing between them and the attacking pack. The Stag lowers its head and plows into the pack, killing four of its number before the wolves lose their courage and retreat into the forest.
Thomas and Nana soon learn that this is the same stag they encountered in the Great Wood on New Hope. The stag offers their only hope of survival, but survival cannot be assured for all. Nana decides she must stay and create a diversion so that Thomas and the White Stag may escape to complete their mission. Nana faces her fate without fear through her faith in the Good Shepherd.
Plate No. 9--"Thomas Drifts Toward the Gateway of Light."
Thomas escapes imprisonment by the Collective by stepping out into the void through the door at the back of his cell. It is a darkness that no light from the material world can penetrate; a darkness that seeps into his body and causes all his bodily functions to cease. However, as he drifts through the void, he soon perceives a point of light penetrating the darkness which grows larger as he approaches it. Soon, he perceives a doorway into a blinding light. As he attempts to enter the doorway, a force against his chest threatens to push him back into the darkness, but a hand grasps him and pulls him into the light. He is stunned to be greeted by Nana and Peter, with the former vigorously licking his face. He apprehends that he has arrived in Paradise--a place where Nana and he can be together.
Plate No. 10--"Lions Confront the Troopers at the Entrance to the Mine."
As Thomas and Nana attempt to access the Mine to de-crypt and publish the Book, their entrance is blocked by the armed storm troopers of the Collective. However, the soldiers of the Collective are no match for the spirit powers of our heroes who transform themselves into lion and lioness whose fierceness causes the troopers to scatter. Their transformed shapes and the battle cry they shout as their begin their attack--"ASLAN!!"--is a tribute to one of the author's sources of inspiration for this book, "The Lion , the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C. S. Lewis and its hero, the lion, "Aslan", another Christ-figure in the literature of fantasy and adventure.
Plate No. 11--"Nana Leaps into the Vortex."
On the verge of completing their mission, Thomas falls into the trap cleverly laid by the Collective and is transported to the "super-max" prison prepared by the Collective--a super-massive black hole. The black hole is a version of hell itself for all who enter must abandon all hope--the infinite curvature of time/space at the heart of the black hole has caused time itself to stop--and with no time there is no future and therefore no hope of escape.
Peter solicits the intervention of the Creator to save Thomas. The creator engineers two micro black holes which will throw Nana back in time and enable her to stop Thomas from falling into the Collective's trap. The illustration depicts Nana at the moment she leaps into the event horizon of the black hole.
Plate No. 12--"Citizen Lucy Disputes Thomas and Nana from the Dais."
The plate contains our only image of Citizen Lucy in the book, Thomas and Nana's chief antagonist. Citizen Lucy is a sen-goat, a member of the hereditary caste that runs the Collective. Can you guess who Citizen Lucy represents? Her name and symbols used in this drawing provide broad hints.
Plate No. 13--"Peter, Thomas and Nana Toasting Success in Front of the Fire."
Truly all is well that ends well. The toast echoes the words of Pippa's Song--"God's in His Heaven, All's Right With the World" from the poem by Robert Browning. The final image partakes of eucharistic thanksgiving with our heroes back in Paradise and drinking of the "most marvelous wine Thomas and Nana had ever tasted."
When the artist initially produced this illustration, I was concerned about the eucharistic wine sloshing from Peter's goblet as a result of the enthusiastic toasting. Then I thought, imagine a place where the blood of the Savior is so free and abundant that it can be freely--even carelessly enjoyed? That place must be heaven.