Pittsburgh, 1841: Jamison Pike has been accepted at Harvard. His judgmental pastor father is opposed to him attending that den of vice and dangerous ideas, but Jamison goes anyway, relieved to shake off his parents’ dismal form of Christianity. There he meets Gage, a wealthy Easterner, Hannah, a medical student, and Joshua, also a pastor’s son but one who, unlike Jamison, has kept his faith.
These characters, subjects of the three previous novels in The Circle of Destiny series, appear throughout The Quest, but this final novel concentrates on Jamison, who becomes a journalist after Harvard, journeying to the West and abroad for stories that he later turns into bestselling books. But there’s an emptiness in him that he refuses to see as God-shaped, despite the messages he receives during his travels. This seems rather churlish of him, given that some of the messengers die gorily for their trouble. But Jamison gets saved, so that’s okay. (I don’t think I’m spoiling any surprises here.) It would have been altogether more satisfying if his conversion had been harder won–if he’d struggled more with himself and against God. The “fiery intellect” described in the press release isn’t evident in the story. Indeed, Jamison seems passive throughout.
I’m not sure whether this type of novel is intended to preach to the converted or make new ones. The Quest is earnest, sincere and will give Christians a warm feeling. But its glib plot and one-dimensional characters are unlikely to bring the rest of us to Jesus.