Author Archives: Editor

About Editor

Editor and writer, homeschooling veteran, computer skills teacher, occasional engineer. Mother of triplets, mother of two with Asperger’s.

A winner of Stephen Lawhead’s new book

John C. has won a free copy of Stephen Lawhead’s new book, from my contest. He’s very happy to be getting the book, The Skin Map. Want to know more about it?

http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/2010/11/01/the-skin-map-by-stephen-lawhead-a-review/

Win a free copy of Stephen Lawhead’s The Skin Map

Have you been wanting to read Stephen Lawhead’s new sci-fi/fantasy novel, The Skin Map?  Here’s your chance to win a copy free of charge. I am holding a contest!

Five winners will be randomly chosen from among those who “like” the Christian Fantasy Book Reviews Reviews Facebook page during the contest period AND post or comment on the page. For each time you post or comment, you get a point. You can talk about why you like Lawhead, why you want to read the book, or you can comment about any other book review post on the Christian Fantasy Review Facebook page. No spam comments, please! They won’t count.

Here’s a way to get additional points: post on your own blog or Facebook page with a link to this post: http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/2011/01/25/win-a-free-copy-of-stephen-lawheads-the-skin-map/

Then be sure to email me at info “at” motherboardbooks.com with the link to your post/page so I know to count that entry.

For each point I will assign a number, and then choose the winners using a random number generator. So the more points you have, the more likely it is you will be a winner.

You must have a USA shipping address to win the contest. The contest period ends Sunday, Jan. 30, at midnight, central time. Shipping’s on me.

Tell your friends!

Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul, a review

Dragons of the Valley by Donita K. Paul
Published 2010 by Waterbrook Press, 370 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, middle grade/young adult

This book is a sequel to Paul’s recent book The Vanishing Sculptor. However, I think Dragons of the Valley probably stands alone pretty well, because enough explanation is added.

Tipper, the king’s granddaughter, is trying to help save the kingdom of Chiril from the neighboring country to the north. At first these northerners infiltrate and cause lots of trouble, but the Chiril king makes very poor decisions, and pretty soon the trouble-makers are invading.

There’s a very troubling ally of the bad guys called the Grawl. In a world with 14 races, this guy is a cross-breed and has all kinds of abilities that others don’t have. Consequently he is a very formidable assassin, getting rid of Chiril’s magistrates and other officials one by one. After a while the country hardly functions.

Now the Grawl targets Wizard Fenworth, a key character who has appeared in several of Paul’s novels.  Will the Grawl be able to kill the wizard? What about the Grawl’s other targets, the wonderful, mindspeaking, rideable dragons?

Tipper takes up her first assignment, to confiscate a statue and take off on a quest, hiding it in her belongings.  Dealing with various difficulties, she moves from disbelief toward faith in Wulder, the name for Jehovah God in this world. More assignments test her: is she the selfish teen princess, or the maturing future queen?

And don’t forget Bealmondore, the foppish artist. Much to his surprise, the wizard gives him a marvelous sword that teaches him swordsmanship. After Bealmondore gives his life to Wulder, will he be inspired to heroic deeds?

What do I think?

Some of the characters have amusing cartoonish characteristics: Tipper’s mother suffers from foggy brain, useful for confusing the bad guys. Wizard Fenworth continually drops lizards and mice from his clothing whenever he shakes it out. Meanwhile, the characters that undergo change, Tipper and Bealomondore, are believable and well drawn.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. You will too.

Check out my review of the previous book in the series here:

http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/2009/09/21/the-vanishing-sculptor-by-donita-k-paul-a-review/

This is part of the CSFF Blog Tour. To see what others are saying about this book, check here:
Gillian Adams
Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Keanan Brand
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
Amy Cruson
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Amber French
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Emily LaVigne
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Dave Wilson

Author’s web site – http://www.donitakpaul.com/
Author’s blog – http://dragonbloggin.blogspot.com/

The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin, a review

The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin
Published 2010 by AMG Publishers, 272 pages
Genre: fantasy/allegory

“A young blacksmith must undertake a perilous journey to the four ends of the world to rescue his wife, who is held captive by the Moon. Along the way, he befriends a powerful wolf who encourages, protects, and ultimately sacrifices his life to save his human friend. A stirring allegory of God’s love in classic fairy tale tradition.”  This is the short summary of the book used for publicity, and it’s a good summary, except for the God part.

The tale is very well told. Lakin has masterful control of the writing craft, developing her characters and drawing the reader to see the world through their eyes.  Her protagonist, Joran, lives in a world where the line blurs between waking and dreaming. “Joran’s wife, Charris, is trapped in a dream that is manifested and upheld by Joran’s anger.” (from C.S. Lakin’s blog) His wife is taken captive by a nightmare, and he is tasked with traveling to the four ends of a flat earth to be able to rescue her. Joran is no hero-type. He bumbles, stumbles, and misunderstands situations, and in fact he needs no end of rescuing himself. Joran’s rescuing is provided by a large white wolf who becomes his traveling companion, and whom Joran can communicate with in thought. The wolf often spouts wise sayings from a variety of sources.  As the story progresses, Joran gains courage.

What do I think?

I guess I am comfortable calling this a fairy tale, which is what the author calls it. It definitely has fairy tale elements.The wife was kidnapped by the Moon; the Moon is a person living in a strange little house; the hero has task to complete to free his wife; and so on.  But it isn’t told in classic fairy tale fashion; it is shown, as a modern novel is. That’s good. It’s very readable.

However, I don’t care for the blurred line between waking and dreaming. I want my fantasy heroes to be dealing with predictable events, not nightmares. I found the dreaming in waking and waking in dreaming to be too unsettling.

There’s another issue too. Actually it’s not with the book but with what the author says about it. The author calls the book “A stirring allegory of God’s love in classic fairy tale tradition.” The wolf, who gives his life for Joran, is the root of the allegory. But this wolf is no Christ figure for me. It’s behaves like a human, dressed as a wolf. In the author’s words, “a ponderous, funny, exasperating wolf.” Not a majestic, holy God who is reaching out to me with nail-pierced hands.

Examining C.S. Lakin’s blog, it’s clear to me that she and I have different ideas of God. For me, Jesus is more like Aslan, C.S. Lewis’s Christ-figure in the Narnia tales. For Lakin, Jesus is more like her dog, always with her, only better.

“… I had a problem with Aslan, the lion. A big problem.

“OK, we know he’s not a tame lion, but he also rarely shows up in all the books of the series. He makes an occasional appearance, and yes, he does give his mortal life to save humanity. That’s powerful. That’s essential. But I felt it lacking, for the God I know isn’t like that. He is, well, more like my dog, but better. I saw God as someone who stayed right by my side–through trials and joys, through fears and confusion. Watching over my while I sleep, keeping me fed and warm, and teaching me all along the way the things I need to know, even things I really don’t want to know about myself. So that is Ruyah, my wolf.” For her, Jesus is a teacher and provider, always there.

This wolf as Jesus just doesn’t resonate with me. Jesus for me is so much bigger than this wolf. More like Aslan.

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. Check out what others are saying too:
Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler

Earthbow by Sherry Thompson, a review

Earthbow, The Second of the Narentan Tumults, by Sherry Thompson
Published 2010 by Gryphonwood Press, 2 volumes each about 250 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, suitable for young adult and adult

Sherry Thompson’s earlier work in this series, Seabird, set a very high standard.  Earthbow continues the tradition and actually expands it.

This story takes place in another world called Narenta. An “outworlder” from Earth is brought there to spearhead deliverance from the evil lord who is taking over the state of Latimin. This outworlder, Xander, is the brother of the outworlder from Seabird, Cara. Like Cara, Xander starts out bewildered and self-centered.

This book features a highly complex plot with several subplots and and plenty of well-drawn and believable characters. Harone, a young wizard initiate (one of the good guys), brings Xander into Latimin from the neighboring country and then sets out on a strange mission: to convince at least one of the extremely evil powerful sorcerers, imprisoned for ages by Alphesis (Jesus), to turn to the light.

Another subplot revolves around a young knight, Coris, who starts out a man-at-arms. He works in the guard for Cenoc, one of the chiefs in Latimin. Coris realizes that Cenoc is torturing innocents, asking Coris to break his noble vows to aid weaker folks. So he flees Cenoc. Meanwhile, Cenoc is gathering evil power to himself and turning into the extremely awful chief bad guy of the book.

And of course Xander, with his strange weapon the Earthbow, which Alphesis has given him. How does it work? It’s a bow, the kind that shoots bows and arrows, and Xander learns to do a bit of shooting with it. It also sings to him. Part of Xander’s assignment is to get to know and love the trees, other plants, and animals of the forests of Latimin. How does that figure into all this?

Cenoc, gathering power like a hurricane, extorts cooperation from the Pannians who look like something with tentacles and eye stalks. The Pannians become Cenoc’s troops, and things look very bad for the good guys. These Pannians are sorcerers, so any normal good guy who doesn’t have a wizard with him for protection is dead.

What do I think?

I think this is a wonderful book. Sherry Thompson does a great job of pulling the reader into the character’s emotions, pulling the reader through a tale that’s massive in scope. The book is a wonderful Christian witness as well, with Alphesis (Jesus) exerting a commanding but loving presence even when unseen. I vote that Sherry Thompson get a regular publisher, rather than an idie publisher, (and a few minor edits) and become more widely known. She deserves to be famous.

The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers, a review

The Charlatan’s Boy by Jonathan Rogers
Published 2010 by Waterbrook, 305 pages
Genre: middle grade/young adult Christian fantasy

The main fantastic element in this Mark Twain-ish book is the setting. The setting is an island somewhere that sounds like a part of the American South. There cattle drovers and farmers work for their wages and then get fleeced by flim flam operators.  It seems less like fantasy to me than like supreme inventiveness.

By far the best thing about this book is the voice of the narrator, Grady.  He’s an orphan who sounds a lot like Huck Finn. Poor Grady has absolutely no idea what his true origin is, since he can’t trust the charlatan Floyd who raised him to tell the truth. The two of them tour the island with one confidence scheme after another, and some of the time Grady wishes he had a family and a village of his own to live in.

The first and most successful confidence scheme involved Grady pretending to be one of the Feechie folk, and charging admission to see him. But the islanders have stopped believing that the Feechie folk exist, so the lucrative scheme doesn’t work any more.  Grady and Floyd set out to make them fear the Feechie in order to revive the scam. That’s when things get more interesting. Feechie folk, by the way, are skinny little people who may or may not live in the marshes. Inciting Feechie fear involves inventing wind-powered moaning machines, and so on. A scare is born! It’s hilarious how gullible these simple folk are.

What do I think?

I am delighted with the character Grady, the orphan who doesn’t know what to think about himself.  He shares more than a voice with Huck Finn, also basically an orphan.  But the book lacked overarching suspense in the middle, as the tale went from obstacle to obstacle. The ending was satisfying and surprising, and I won’t tell you what it is!

The Christian plot points involve praying for help and receiving it, without mentioning who is prayed to.  Honesty is a big theme for Grady, who has been taught to lie but who manages to have an honest heart anyway. Your kids will enjoy this book.

The author, Jonathan Rogers, invited people to create and submit Youtube videos on the subject of Feechies, and he posted them on his blog. Inventive folks created all kinds of new scary characteristics for Feechies in these videos. Take a look.

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. Check out what others are saying in the next three days on this book:

Sally Apokedak
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Katie Hart
Bruce Hennigan
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Allen McGraw
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Donita K. Paul
SarahFlan
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Donna Swanson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Elizabeth Williams
Dave Wilson

The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead, a review

skinmapThe Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead
Published 2010 by Thomas Nelson, 398 pages
Genre: Fantasy, suitable for adults and teens

Stephen Lawhead starts off his new Bright Empires series with this book, The Skin Map. The title refers to a grisly artifact: a parchment made from the skin of a man. This man was an experienced time/space traveler across alternate universes who had his torso tatooed with markings that served as a map in case he would get lost. (I was put off by the grisly part, but decided to forge ahead anyway, and I am very glad I did. There was nothing gory about this book.)

An alternate universe, by the way, is spawned by decisions made differently at a key point in history. For example, two of the characters go back to 1600s London and purposefully wake someone up so as to prevent the Great Fire of London. So from that point on, history is different in that universe.

The alternate universes idea is a favorite of physicist Stephen Hawkings, and it has made its way into literature before, most notably in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and following books. Pullman argues that God is either dead or irrelevant, so I, a Christian, found reading those books the opposite of edifying. Lawhead, on the other hand, is a Christian, though his books these days are subtle about their underlying worldview. I did enjoy reading this book.

Many fantasy books start with the protagonist living a humdrum existence. Then the protagonist finds himself  swept into an alternate fantasy world somehow. In The Skin Map, the main characters find themselves swept not into a fantasy universe, but into medieval Europe in the early 1600s.

Kit Livingstone is a young contemporary Londoner leading a boring life, trying to please a boring girlfriend, when he suddenly meets his great-grandfather in an alley. His great-grandfather,  a stranger who is a vigorous old man, invites Kit for a bite to eat and leads him to the other end of the alley–which opens into a medieval fishing village elsewhere in England.

Kit is shocked by the strangeness of the experience and runs back to his humdrum circumstances. He tries to tell his girlfriend about it. She doesn’t believe him, so he brings her to the alley, which runs along a “ley line” or joint line between alternate universes. The ley line returns him to his grandfather’s fishing village, but the girlfriend, Wilhelmina, vanishes into somewhere else. So now Kit and and his great-grandfather have to rescue her–she could be in deep trouble somewhere. But where? And when?

Kit also finds himself enmeshed in his great-grandfather’s struggle against the bad guy, Lord Burleigh, who is crossing time, space, and alternate universes looking for the Skin Map. The great-grandfather has part of the map squirreled away in Oxford, or thinks he does. So Burleigh’s men, armed with a huge saber-toothed cat from the Pleistocene, attack him whenever he uses ley travel.

Meanwhile Wilhelmina finds herself dumped into Prague in the early 1600s. A baker, she is picked up on the roadside by a German baker.  Together they start a bakery business. Soon Wilhelmina is actually doing well. She even runs into Lord Burleigh and gets by unscathed.

But things are not going so well for Kit and his great-grandfather in modern Egypt. Together with some allies, they seem to face certain defeat and death at the hands of the evil Burleigh. I will stop here–read the book to find out more!

What do I think?

Lawhead does a great job with his characters. I especially like how Wilhelmina transforms from a catatonic city dweller to an energetic and enterprising businesswoman. Kit grows too, of course. It’s funny when he, a thoroughly modern guy, tries to make friends with a wagon driver from medieval England, who is in a lower social class and gets very uncomfortable.

The story is told through the eyes of four different characters: Kit; Wilhelmina; Arthur, the man with the skin map; and Lord Burleigh.  Only a bit is told of Arthur and Lord Burleigh. The sole chapter from Lord Burleigh’s point of view informs us that he is a shady antiquities dealer from the present era, leaving much untold about his motives and designs.  But in later chapters it becomes clear that the atheist Burleigh is after information on the mysterious Well of Souls, which may have something to do with reviving the dead.  I am wondering now whether there will be an Indiana Jones-like collision of stupid atheists and the raw power of God at the crux of the series, which will run to five books.

Because The Skin Map is part of a larger story, it leaves many issues unresolved. So finishing it is not entirely satisfying. But I am expecting more great characters, plot thickening, and resolution in the next book, and I hope it’s not too long coming out! Lawhead does a great job of spinning a yarn.  I recommend this book for teens and adults.

Read my reviews of all five books in the series: one, two, three, four, five.

This review is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog tour.  Take a minute to check out what other bloggers are saying about this book:

Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
George Duncan
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Allen McGraw
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Gavin Patchett
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Donna Swanson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Elizabeth Williams
Dave Wilson

Author’s website:  http://www.stephenlawhead.com/

Venom and Song, what others are saying

I went through many of the other posts on the blog tour for this book (Venom and Song by Batson and Hopper), and I’m going to try to summarize.  Here’s the summary: those who love fantasy fiction loved the book. That was just about everyone, of course.  I thought it was great too, by the way.  Let’s have more books like this one, please!

Here are some excerpts:

* Keanan Brand “I liked the idea of the amusement-park-ride-on-steroids that was “the good guys'” journey via an underground river.”
* Amy Browning “This story takes us through so many exciting twists and turns that it’s almost like riding a cavesurfer to Nightwish Caverns. And if you have no idea what that means, read the book.”
* Beckie Burnham
* Morgan L. Busse “One part of the book I really liked is when the seven teenagers… err… elves are learning how to use their powers together as a team. Imagine the Danger Room for the X-Men elf style.”
* Melissa Carswell “these books need to be put into movie form, plain and simple. Put in the right Director’s hands, and they could be made into a move that rivals those of Lord of the Rings….Therefore, these books are more than entertainment. . . they are a catalyst for stirring the soul into wondering, ‘What is my gift? What was I created for?'”
* Jeff Chapman Spoiler alert for this post! “Early in their training at Whitehall, Tommy emerges as the natural leader of the seven. He is an unlikely candidate, a misfit back on Earth with little self-confidence.”
* Amy Cruson “I couldn’t put it down! I mean it was consuming me until I finished it… I needed to know what was happening!!! It reminded me a bit more of Lord of the Rings with a touch of Narnia in it – but still holding a uniqueness of it’s own.”
* CSFF Blog Tour
* April Erwin “These authors know how to weave a tale that keeps you up at night turning pages frantically.”
* Tori Greene
* Ryan Heart
* Bruce Hennigan “Overall, the tone of the book is somewhere between a Harry Potter type coming of age and a Lord of the Ring encounter with the forces of fantasy.”
* Bruce Hennigan “And, we also learn that a people who may seem so righteous may also have their darker side buried in rewritten history!”
* Timothy Hicks “Venom and Song is filled with action, plot twists, and more action. The teenagers may survive their coronation ceremony, but will they survive drill camp and train enough to face more of the Spider King’s troops?”
* Jason Joyner “And if you’re going to read to your kids, then the Berinfell Prophecies is a great place to start! Maybe I’m too much of a ham, but I enjoy reading these books because there are a lot of characters to give variety.”
* Krystine Kercher“And what would a good fantasy novel be without a secret weapon? In Venom and Song, the weapon is an artifact called the Rainsong.”
* Leighton “The book is an absolute blast with a strong plot as well as believable characters. If you are considering getting this book, or are interested in any kind of fiction, this is for you. Buy it by all means! ”
* Rebecca LuElla Miller “…these seven teens learn they must work together to accomplish what they need to do. It’s a wonderful point, one made clear through the plot elements. I couldn’t help but think a lot of adults need to read a book such as this to learn about working together rather than pulling apart.”
* Nissa
* John W. Otte“I really enjoyed this book almost from the beginning. It sucked me in completely.”
* Sarah Sawyer “In addition to some “standard” fantasy races (elves, gnomes, etc), the authors have created their own unique creatures and cultures, such as the assassin race of drefids, armed with deadly claws. They also sprinkle throughout the story unusual plants, animals, and places that help bring the world to life.”
* Chawna Schroeder
* Tammy Shelnut “It has a Lord of the Rings feel to me.”
* Kathleen Smith
* Rachel Starr Thomson
* Robert Treskillard “…excellent young adult novel.”
* Steve Trower
* Fred Warren
* Jason Waguespac “And as aside, I loved that one of the teens suggests going back to Earth and getting modern day guns and ammunition to fight the Spider King. So many of these fantasy worlds are only at a medieval level of technical development, so swords and arrows are typically your only bet. Of course, if you could manage to bring some sweet firearms with you, you might have a leg up on things. Of course, the kids are told that inorganic material cannot pass through the portals, so the idea of an 80s action movie montage where the elves enter an armory and stock up on machine guns is nipped in the bud.”
* Phyllis Wheeler
* Jill Williamson “If you love teen fantasy novels, be sure to check out this series. It’s a lot of fun.”

Venom and Song by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper, a Review

venomsong

Venom and Song, Book Two of the Berinfell Prophecies, a Review
by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper
Published 2010 by Thomas Nelson, 401 pages.
Genre:  Middle-grade Christian fantasy

I reviewed Curse of the Spider King, Book One of the Berinfell Prophecies, last year.  It told the tale of seven elf lords from the world of Allyra, adopted and raised on Earth. At about the age of 13 special powers for each were becoming apparent, such as the ability to walk on air, read minds, shoot arrows accurately, shoot fire from hands and feet, and super strength.

In that book, the young elf lords are told of their heritage at about the same time that horrible beings from Allyra begin pursuing them and their families. It’s clear that living a regular life on Earth isn’t going to be possible, and all seven decide to go to Allyra to see if they can help the elves.

As Book Two opens, the teens are arriving in Allyra, against opposition from the Spider King and his minions. They manage to make it safely to the underground home of the elves, and then they spend several months training to work together and to use their individual special powers.

They learn more history: that the Elves have strayed far from their creator and God, Ellos, and had even at one point enslaved the gwar, the race to which the Spider King belongs. At the end of their training, the seven follow a prophecy and learn an amazing song, a song that calls the hearers back to Ellos.

Finally it’s time to attack the Spider King.  The elves mount an assault on the Spider King’s fortress, Vesper Crag.  It’s a long and complicated battle, where the Spider King matches elven ingenuity with his own, again and again.  Will the seven lords make the difference? And what will be the cost?  Do the elves call on Ellos? Does He answer? And who is the Spider King, anyway?

My thoughts:

What I really like about this series is the waywardness of the elves, the supposed good guys. They remind me of the children of Israel during the time of the prophets, having abandoned their loving God, doing their own thing. In this case they had even enslaved the other major race in their world–and then changed the history books to delete that part once it was over.

The elves have paid a steep price, the loss of their land and city and the deaths of their seven lords who had special powers. (The teen lords are the unexpected survivors.) The elves must hide underground, in a situation particularly difficult because elves require exposure to sunlight to stay alive.

The story opens at a time when the elves are not really aware of how much they have strayed from loving their God. We the readers become gradually aware of the situation at the same time as the elves do.

Now, portions of this book reminded me of the X-Men and similar works, where a group of teens with special powers is receiving instruction in using them.  Another difficulty I had was keeping track of all seven protagonists.  But each is given a unique and memorable personality, along with a unique and memorable gift, and I expect my difficulty has more to do with my age (over 50) than anything else.

I’ll be very interested to read more books in this series. I recommend this book for fantasy lovers of any age.

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour, and I received a free copy for review.  Check out the links below to see what others are saying about this book.

Angela
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Amy Browning
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
James Somers
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Also, here are the blogs for the authors:

Wayne Thomas Batson  – http://enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com/
Christopher Hopper – http://www.christopherhopper.com/