Tag Archives: Christian book review

The Restorer’s Son by Sharon Hinck, a review

restorerssonThe Restorer’s Son by Sharon Hinck, Book Two of the Sword of Lyric series
Published 2012 by Marcher Lord Press, 470 pages
Genre: Christian medieval fantasy

Kieran is angry at everyone. It’s easier to be angry than to have other emotions. A trained warrior, he takes orders from nobody.

God, called the One in his world, is calling him to be the next Restorer. Like Gideon, Kieran is asked to demolish idolatrous temples. Like Jonah, Kieran is asked to speak the words of the One to a land full of ruthless enemies.

But Kieran doesn’t believe.

The book encompasses Kieran’s struggle as God turns him around to face his calling. Will he do it? Can he do it? Can he accept the cost?

This book aims at an amazing transformation in its main character, one you almost never see in fiction. Here’s why: starting the main character out in such a dark place risks losing readers at the beginning of the book. Here it works because this is the second book in a series, building on previous positive and negative information given about Kieran in Book One, where he was a secondary character.

I found this to be a gripping and effective tale, speaking volumes to anyone who has ever wrestled with God.

Men, you’ll like this book. While the (highly effective) protagonist of the first book in the series was a soccer mom, possibly not appealing to male readers, the protagonist of this one is a warrior. The protagonist of the third is also a male. So, dive in, men! If you don’t, you’re missing out!

Read my review of the first book in the series, The Restorer.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, a review

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Published 2012 by Random House, 451 pages
Genre: Secular fantasy,  young adult

I’m taking a look at this secular book from a Christian point of view. If you or your son or daughter is a fantasy fan, they’ll be reading a lot of books published by secular publishers, because that’s where the marketing channels are. If you’re in a bookstore looking for a fantasy book for young adults written from a Christian worldview, I’d advise you to look for books on the secular shelf published by one of the major Christian houses (especially Thomas Nelson and Zondervan/Zonderkids, which are aiming for secular readers). These books won’t have an obvious faith message, but they’ll be consistent with a Christian worldview. Also check out books available online, of course!

So, back to this book. Seraphina is a peculiar young lady living in a world where the dragons and the humans live together in very uneasy peace. The dragons are able to fold themselves into human shape to live among the humans and pursue academic studies, to which they are well suited. The humans are suspicious and occasionally very nasty to the dragons, many of the humans wishing for the return of a time when the two groups were at war.

Seraphina has wonderful gifts of music and is working at the queen’s court. Her mentor is a dragon in human form, Orma. Unlike everyone else, she enjoys dragons and is fond of Orma.  Soon palace intrigue engulfs Seraphina, and she must muddle through the very difficult question of who she is, while war between the two groups threatens.

What do I think? I think the characterization in this book is wonderfully strong, as is the premise about dragons being able to change shape to humans. But I found the plot to be somewhat weak. I am looking for a heroine who’s on fire to accomplish something, but Seraphina is more introspective than that.

As for religion, Seraphina and her countrymen pray to some saints who seem to not be real. Ah, me.  Well, at least Seraphina has some moral sense, knows that lying is wrong, as is hanging out with someone else’s fiance (though she does both).  I judge this book to be fairly enjoyable and not harmful to your average young adult, perhaps good fodder for discussion about right and wrong on those two questions.

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley, a review

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley, Book Two of the Angaleon Circle
Published 2012 by Waterbrook Multnomah, 233 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy/supernatural, suitable for teens and up

Trevin’s a commoner who’s in love with a girl who turned out to be a princess. Now that she’s claimed her rightful place, the prince of the neighboring kingdom has arrived to seek her hand and an alliance. The king, wanting peace, is all ears. But instead of protecting his ladylove, Trevin must head out on a quest to find missing knights and missing magical harps. How can he stand to leave his beloved vulnerable to the advances of this jerk?

But leave her he must, or he’s no knight. The world has been cut off from heaven. Angels are stranded here, and souls of the dead are stuck here too–in the same kingdom of Dregmoor that the prince comes from. The earth sickens. If Trevin can find the harps and give them to Princess Melaia before the upcoming alignment of stars, she is supposed to be able to fix the stairway to heaven, according to prophecy.

The missing knights–do the Dregmoorians have something to do with that too? How will Trevin find them and release them?

What do I think?

Trevin is a hero with feet of clay, a past that comes back to haunt him again and again. It’s refreshing to see him working to overcome his own worst enemy, himself.  He figures out he’s half angel near the beginning of the book, but the people who raised him died when he was young, and he never got a chance to ask them any questions. Many surprising facts about his identity keep coming out as the book rolls forward. It’s refreshing to see a hero who struggles with guilt and temptation just as we struggle.

Any Christian element of the story is in the deep background. This book is clearly intended to appeal to nonChristians as well as to Christians. The author has a ringing statement of faith on her website, so it’s clear she is a Christian. And who better to sate the curiosity of nonChristians about angels than a Christian?

Starting with Book 2 in a series may seem foolish, but I did it, and it worked out okay. There was a compelling story at the beginning of the book, told without referring to the previous story. And the previous story was summarized in snippets throughout the book, providing the needed background without long boring passages.

So, read this book!

In conjunction with the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book.

Author’s Web sitehttp://www.karynhenleyfiction.com/Karyn_Henley_Fiction/welcome.html
Author Bloghttp://www.maybeso.wordpress.com/
Author Facebook pagehttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Karyn-Henley/140411189331787?v=wall

Please check out what others on the tour are saying about this book.

Julie Bihn
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Jackie Castle
Brenda Castro
Jeff Chapman
Christine
Theresa Dunlap
Cynthia Dyer
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Janeen Ippolito
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Karen McSpadden
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Mirriam Neal
Nissa
Faye Oygard
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Rooms by James L. Rubart, a review

Rooms by James L. Rubart
Published 2010 by B&H Publishing, 382 pages
Genre: contemporary supernatural

Micah Taylor’s a driven man, a young software multimillionaire. He’s got a great girlfriend, an 80-hour-a-week job, and opportunity to travel. But something is missing.

He finds out that his great-uncle Archie, who died years before, had set a plan in motion to build him a house, a large beautiful beach-front property–achingly close to the spot where his mother drowned when he was nine years old. The house is ready to go, and a letter arrives at his office telling him about it, including a key. The house is on the Oregon coast, a few hours’ drive from his life in Seattle.

It’s no ordinary house. Doorways and hallways appear, leading to rooms that contain feelings, experiences. These show him that some things have been missing from his life. Does he reach out for the missing things, or does he retreat to the comfort of Seattle? And what does he want the most? He has to figure that out. Who does he look to for guidance? And which woman does he want to spend his life with–the one from Seattle, or the one from Cannon Beach?

What do I think?

I enjoyed this book. The characters are fully rendered and believable. There’s a strong and reassuring faith element. The book skates from the normal into the supernatural and beyond, into parallel universes. But it doesn’t come across as a fantasy tale, because it seems so rooted in the here and now. It’s an inner journey full of consequence. Rubart did a great job.

Firebird by Kathy Tyers, a review

Firebird (The Annotated Firebird) by Kathy Tyers
Published 2011 by Marcher Lord Press, the first 353 pages of a combined volume
Originally published in 1987 by Bantam Spectra Books
Genre: Christian science fiction, adventure-romance

This book, a bestseller that kicked off the genre of Christian science fiction in 1987, has now been published three times, each about 10 years apart. The volume from Marcher Lord Press contains not only Firebird but two sequels.

Well, it’s always best to read a classic if you’ve never read it, so I picked up Firebird and found a heartstopping adventure-romance. It reminded me in some ways of Star Wars, but with a Christian worldview. I only read the first book in the series, but I’m planning to read more. Plainly the tale has an epic sweep to it, reaching down at least a generation as well as across worlds.

Lady Firebird Angelo was born the third daughter of the queen of her world. That sounds like she might have had an easy life. But the warped rules on her planet dictate that she must die as soon as she drops down to fifth in line to the throne. It’s not just those in the royal family; this happens to the heirs of all the major houses on her planet. She’s a “wastling,” born to be wasted. Her time comes, and Firebird, a pilot, is sent on a suicide mission along with other wastlings. But her enemy saves her life. What can she do now?

Her enemy, Brennan Caldwell, is a telepath. Humans have populated the galaxies, but one group took the liberty of altering the genetics of their children, and he’s one of the results. How can he hope to fit in? And what can he do with his attraction to the woman he rescued, who isn’t a telepath?

What do I think? I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters were unusual and compelling, the faith element strong and wonderful, and the plot unpredictable. You’ll like it too, and I expect you’ll dive into the sequels. Which is what I am about to do. Not only are two of the sequels contained in this volume, but Marcher Lord Press has published a third, Wind and Shadow.

But guess what, folks, there’s another book in the series, Daystar, never before published! And that’s just come out from Marcher Lord Press.

Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock, a review

Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock, first in the Legends of the Guardian King series
Published 2003 by Bethany House, 433 pages
Genre: Christian epic fantasy, for young adult and adult

Abramm is calling himself Brother Eldrin, and all he wants is to be left alone by his family. But his family isn’t happy about it, not the least because it’s the royal family, and he’s now second in line to the throne.

Soon Abramm discovers that the holy orders that have been his life for the past eight years are a front for evil people who want to use him as a puppet. When he doesn’t cooperate, he’s sold into slavery. A sniveling weakling, he won’t last long at the oars. Or will he? Does Abramm find enough courage to persevere and even prevail? And how about his twin sister Carissa, trying to find and rescue him? Is there any hope for her quest?

I found this book to be full of great characters, broad conflicts, very evil bad guys, and the light of the Lord (Eidon). It’s a great read for lovers of Christian fantasy. Plus, it’s free as an ebook on Kindle. And it’s the first of a series, so there’s more!

Kindle link: http://www.amazon.com/Light-Eidon-Legends-Guardian-King-ebook/dp/B005UFURVW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Divine Summons (Windrider Saga Book 1) by Rebecca P. Minor, a review

Divine Summons (Windrider Saga Book 1) by Rebecca P. Minor Published by Diminished Media Group, 2011 Currently available only as an ebook (99 cents on Amazon or B&N) Genre: Christian fantasy, suitable for young adults and adults Captain Vinyanel Ecleriast, an elvish warrior, nearly loses his life rescuing a chalice from the enemy, a group of dragons who practice sorcery and demon worship. But a despised half-elf who styles herself a prophetess resuscitates him.

Soon Vinyanel finds out that the king has assigned her as his teacher in spiritual matters, though Vinyanel couldn’t care less about such things. But he does love the massive silver dragon who’s now his mount and companion.Can Vinyanel put aside his habits and pride enough to learn what he needs to learn?

What do I think? I enjoyed this book–it was full of cliffhangers and action, definitely hard to put down. Unique personalities conflicted with each other’s quirks. It was very well plotted and characterized. It could have been improved in two ways, however. The backdrop story was never explained, leaving me wondering. And in some cases, the setting details were too spare, and I was having trouble imagining a scene taking place as she described.

All in all, I highly recommend this book. You’re in for a thrilling evening! And I’ll love to read the next book. Note: the next book is now out! A Greater Strength can also be found on Amazon Kindle or at Barnes and Noble.

Dragons of Starlight by Bryan Davis, Books 1-3

Dragons of Starlight by Bryan Davis, made up of:

Starlighter, Book 1, Zondervan, 2010 (I reviewed it here)
Warrior, Book 2, Zondervan, 2011
Diviner, Book 3, Zondervan, 2011
Book 4: yet to be released

Genre: Christian fantasy/sci-fi, young adult, appealing also to adults

Bryan Davis’s four-book fantasy series Dragons of Starlight tells a tale of heroism across two planets, Starlight and Darksphere. Jason Masters, a teen from Darksphere, realizes that people from his planet have been enslaved on the other. He takes it as his mission to rescue them. After all, he’s a warrior. And he wants to find his brothers, who have gone to Starlight before him to free the slaves and haven’t returned.

Once there, he meets Koren, a human enslaved by dragons on Starlight. Koren’s got some unusual gifts–she’s a starlighter, or “magical” storyteller. Can she help save her people? Does she want to?

After all, she’s enslaved by the prophesied new king of the dragons, who has just hatched from a black egg. He needs her because he is blind, and through a telepathic link he can see through her eyes. Plus, he can torture her at will if she turns away.  But the Creator seems to be calling her in a different direction.

Jason’s childhood friend Elyssa accompanies him. She finds that she’s got some starlighter gifts too. Is she willing to risk everything to free these people whom she has never met?

And what about Arxad the dragon? Does his allegiance lie with his overpowering twin brother, or with the humans he knows need his help? Is he a friend or a foe of the slaves?

What do I think?

This is a well-told sprawling tale, with unforgettable characters and surprising plot turns. It’s pretty cool to have two races of sentient beings, one being dragons. With intervention from the Creator at several points, it’s a Christian book. I’m enjoying reading it.  I suspect you will too.

Corus the Champion by D. Barkley Briggs, a review

Corus the Champion by D. Barkley Briggs
Book 2 of the Legends of Karac Tor
Published 2011 by Living Ink Books (AMG Publishers), 411 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, middle grade and up

Corus the Champion starts right where the previous book, The Book of Names, left off. I had read The Book of Names last year, so I plowed into Corus the Champion. Big mistake. I soon got confused, not remembering details, and had to backtrack and re-read Book 1.  Book 2 does not stand by itself! But it does contain the story arc of an individual, Corus.

Corus had been mentioned in Book 1 several times as the missing champion, the person betrayed by one of the major characters, Sorge, a monk. But I get ahead of myself. In Book 1, four boys from Missouri get four invitations from four ravens. These invitations, dropped at the feet of the two older ones in the vicinity of a weird old stone arch, talk about coming to the Hidden Lands.

In Book 1, the older two boys, Hadyn and Ewan, crawl through the arch at dawn and find themselves in Karac Tor, the Hidden Lands. They help the faithful in the land defeat a sorceress. But she’s not the root of the evil–she’s human. The root is Kr’Nunos, a Satan-like figure. Then the two younger boys, twins Gabe and Garrett, crawl through the stone arch into the Hidden Lands, clutching their invitations, and the story gets vastly more complicated. This is the start of Book 2.

The humans landing in Karac Tor arrive with gifts that they didn’t have back on earth. Hadyn can control rope and metal, a useful skill if you’re tied up or locked up. Ewan can play hypnotic music on his flute. Gabe can speak to birds. And Garrett finds himself learning all kinds of new things from the person we know as Merlin, a “merling” or visionary from Karac Tor named Tal Yssen (Taliesin). They find themselves stepping into the sequel to the Arthurian legend. It’s the story that concerns what happened to the dying King Arthur, whisked away to Avalon. Soon Ewan is asked to give up his gift to save his friends. Will he do it?

And what of Corus? He’s the Champion of Karac Tor, betrayed by his best friend Sorge 20 years before over a woman (the defeated sorceress). He was held captive 13 years by the Fey, cold and calculating fairies, who then sold him to the devil Kr’Nunos. Since then he’s been in torment, wanting to die but held to life by the fact that he’s the Champion, and he has no heir. Sorge learns Corus is still alive and determines to rescue him, single-handedly if need be. But does Corus want to be rescued?

And how about Kr’Nunos’ plan to take over Karak Tor with zombie dirt monsters? It certainly looks like he’s going to win.

What do I think?

Pros: It’s a large, wild story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The four brothers have distinctly different personalities that come through to the reader. Sorge, another main character, also is refreshingly real, a sinner who has repented and is determined to right the wrong he did, whether it kills him or not.

There’s a strong Christian faith element woven in, and plenty of heroism and brave deeds. It’s got lots of battles in it, so it’s a book that should very much appeal to boys, but has touches that will appeal to girls too.

Cons: Being a large, wild story, it was occasionally confusing to me. This book has numerous points of view. Each of the four brothers from Earth (Hadyn, Ewan, Gabe and Garrett) has a story and point of view. Then there are occasional chapters with other points of view: Corus, Sorge, Kr’Nunos, Brodan, Reggie (for a total of nine) and also once in a while an omniscient point of view.

I think would be best to read this book when you don’t have to put it down very often. That’s my plan for the next book, which I very much want to read.

This is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog tour. To see what others are saying, follow these links:
Gillian Adams
Noah Arsenault
Beckie Burnham
CSFF Blog Tour
Carol Bruce Collett
Theresa Dunlap
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Marzabeth
Shannon McDermott
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Sarah Sawyer
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Rachel Wyant

Author’s Web site  – http://hiddenlands.net/index.php?Itemid=49&id=19&option=com_content&task=view

Blood of Kings: From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson, a review

From Darkness Won, Blood of Kings Book 3 of 3, by Jill Williamson
Published 2011 by Marcher Lord Press, 661 pages

To Darkness Fled, Blood of Kings Book 2 of 3, by Jill Williamson
Published 2010 by Marcher Lord Press, 680 pages

By Darkness Hid, Blood of Kings Book 1 of 3, by Jill Williamson
Published 2009 by Marcher Lord Press, 490 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, young adult and adult

The third and final book in the Blood of Kings series wraps up the many strands in this sprawling tale. The first book in the series, Christy Award winner By Darkness Hid, introduced us to the main characters, Achan and Vrell. Achan lives in a society that seriously mistreats its orphans, calling them “strays.”  But Achan at age 16 isn’t just any stray. He discovers he has an amazing gift–bloodvoicing, the ability to speak to others using only his mind. His gift is so vast that others who have the gift are in awe.

Vrell is a young noblewoman fleeing a detested suitor dressed as a boy. She too has this bloodvoicing gift, which seems to run in some of the noble families only. She gets herself into all kinds of scrapes and eventually meets and helps Achan.

The powers controlling the realm of Er’Rets are evil sorcerers. The king was murdered a while back and his infant son lost. Pretenders are running most of the kingdom. But there’s a remnant of good guys who look for the return of the rightful king. And eventually they find him. He’s Achan, the lost son, switched at age 3 with another child.

Can they put him on the throne? The forces of evil seem too powerful. In fact, half the kingdom lies in total inky darkness, like the deepest night. And the darkness is spreading. Lord Nathak is clearly one of the bad guys, but he seems conflicted. He knowingly sheltered the rightful king as a child in his stronghold but allowed the boy to be severely mistreated.

Why is Nathak’s face half withered? And will Arman, the Lord of Hosts, rescue the kingdom from darkness and restore the rightful heir? What is Vrell’s role in all this? Achan, when he figures out she’s a girl, falls in love with her. Does she love him? And in the war, should she sit aside as a noblewoman, or take up her masquerade as a boy and fight?

The tale winds across three fat books, all of them a delight to read. Williamson draws the reader right into a character’s head and emotions in a very compelling way, and convincingly describes the world she has created.  I can’t recommend this series enough. It’s my favorite, of all the tales I have read since starting the Christian Fantasy Review three years ago.

See my review of By Darkness Hid: http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/blog/2010/05/17/by-darkness-hid-by-jill-williamson-a-review/