The Holy War

by John Bunyan
319 pages, Religion
Reviewed by Jenny

Every bit as inspiring as the Pilgrim’s Progress, an allegory depicting the redemption of the soul.


As the author traveled through many regions, he came upon a place called Universe - a land beautiful and diverse. Among the municipalities there was a city called Mansoul, a city unrivalled under heaven. The people of Mansoul belong to their overlord Prince Emmanuel and his Father, but the spiteful and rebellious Diabolus has his eye on the city and will stop at nothing until it is under his thumb. So a holy war is waged with Mansoul at stake.


Morality is excellent and starkly Christian. There are those among the characters who remain true to the will of Emmanuel and hold fast their faith in the face of disaster, and there are those who are corrupt and hateful, doing all in their power to undermine the sovereignty of their rightful king. As an allegory, The Holy War does are wonderful job displaying the ethics of Christianity and the truth of God’s justice.

Spiritual Content

Being an allegory of the battle over a man’s immortal soul, this is a very spiritual book. As in his other work The Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan’s characters are named for their virtues and vices such as Alderman Atheism, Mr. Pitiless, Mr. Heavenly-Mind, and Mr. Zeal-for-God. Along with that there are Diabolus’ forces, easily construed as the hosts of darkness, and the holy hosts of Prince Emmanuel himself.


The battle of a man’s soul is perhaps the most dire fight of all, and the one least observable. While Bunyan makes such things visible to the mind’s eye and there are deaths, both of the righteous and the unrighteous, nothing is described horrifically or very graphically.

Drug and Alcohol Content

It is implied that the corrupt and evil characters are given over to indulgences of the flesh, specifically to excess.

Sexual Content

Again, it is implied that the wicked display their wickedness, though Bunyan never brings this to the foreground.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

There is plenty of defaming of Prince Emmanuel and his Father among the wicked, but this is elegantly contrasted to the faithfulness of the righteous followers and never condoned.


Forget Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. If you want a good book on the spiritual battle over a soul, this is the book to read. Clean, elegant, easy to understand, and steeped in the old preacher’s knowledge of the Scripture, no liberties are taken while the scene is painted in allegory. While Diabolus tries to take command, it is never questioned that Prince Emmanuel is sovereign. While the city of Mansoul struggles in the clutches of the darkness it has willingly given in to, the redemption of her Prince dawns on the horizon. A picture of beauty and eternal truth for the Christian, this, like The Pilgrim’s Progress, is a must-read among believers.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 5
Written for Age: 13+

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