Monthly Archives: January 2011

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/blog/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/blog/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