Monthly Archives: December 2010

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