Tag Archives: christian fantasy book

The Land of Darkness by C.S. Lakin, a review

The Land of Darkness by C.S. Lakin
Published  by AMG Publishers, 2011, 313 pages
Genre: Christian allegory, suitable for middle grade and up

C.S. Lakin is writing what she calls fairy tales, but which I would call well-developed allegory, like Pilgrim’s Progress with more description added. At the same time, there are some elements more common to traditional fairy tales, such as talking toads and a witch casting spells.

Callen, a woodworker’s apprentice, finds an amazingly intricate drawing of carvings on a mysterious wooden bridge. He decides to take a little trip to see if he can find out more about the bridge.

Meanwhile, the master of his woodworking shop has a niece who’s in serious trouble. Her father has married a beautiful woman who’s really, Jadiel suspects, a hag who has bewitched him. The evil stepmother and her two daughters make Jadiel’s life fully miserable. Finally the stepmother tries to kill Jadiel, but Jadiel has good advice from a talking toad. When murder fails, the stepmother sends Jadiel on a fool’s errand.

And so Jadiel, age 12, and Callen, age 31, meet up on the road, each on an impossible quest.  Where will their adventure lead them? What will they learn?

What did I think?

Lakin does a good job of setting the stage, crafting characters, writing believable scenes, and so on, all the tools of the writer’s craft. What I most enjoyed about this book was the central metaphor of a bridge, the bridge that Callen has gone looking for.  What it is and means becomes clear only at the climax of the book, and it’s a beautiful thing, very memorable.  I recommend this book.

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.

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

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

Dragons of the Watch by Donita K. Paul
Published 2011 by Waterbrook, 387 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, suitable for all ages

Set in the world of Amara and Chiril where Paul’s other books take place, this one focuses on a new character, Ellie.  Ellie belongs to the hobbit-sized tumanhofer race; she’s a farmer’s daughter who longs to go to the upcoming royal wedding.

Those of us who have read Paul’s two most recent books, Dragons of Chiril and Dragons of the Valley, will recognize the other main character, Bealomondore, a tumanhofer artist. In the previous books, he was a minor character, a unique and quirky war hero. In this book, he gets the romantic lead. (It’s not necessary to have read the previous two books, I am thinking. This one stands on its own very well.)

Ellie’s actually on her way to the royal wedding with her aunt and uncle when her beloved pet goat appears on a hillside where he shouldn’t be. She climbs out of the carriage to corral him and take him back home, but … he runs the other way! Chasing him, she finds herself falling through what looks like a glass wall. Now she’s trapped in a city built for giants, and inhabited by a rampaging horde of six-year-old giant children and a small troop of helpful kitten-sized dragons who mind-speak with humans.

But wait, there’s another adult present: a grumpy giant librarian. And one more: a tumanhofer, also trapped, Bealomondore. Soon Ellie and Bealomondore are working together to survive. Will the wild giant children kill and eat Ellie and Bealomondore, as they are threatening? And are the tumanhofers stuck in this city forever?

What do I think?

Ellie’s a great character, full of determination, big-sisterly instinct, and insecurities. Bealomondore’s your basic swashbuckling artist. The giant librarian is overwhelmed by his assignment, raising 60 six-year-olds.  I really enjoyed getting to know these unusual characters.  There’s a strong faith element, too. (But I thought the plot could have used some more tension in the middle.) It’s a gentle story, easy on the suspense and violence, and would make a good family read-aloud.

My reviews of the other two books in this series:

Dragons of Chiril (formerly called The Vanishing Sculptor)

Dragons of the Valley

CSFF bloggers like The Monster in the Hollows

Checking around on the websites of others on this blog tour, I’m finding that others really like or love this book too: The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson, Christian fantasy for middle grade and up.

Often, the third book in a sequential series will meet flagging interest. After all, to fully enjoy it, readers should also read Books 1 and 2. But in this case, many readers are saying they really like the book even though they haven’t read the first two books.

It’s the aspect of heroism, I think. The heroic deeds that are mentioned really resonate with us. And of course the book is very well written!

In the words of fellow blog tour blogger Gillian Adams,

“It is a tale of great depth.  … It is a tale that sings… It is a tale that rings true.”

See source

The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson, a review

The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson
Book 3 of the 4-book Wingfeather Saga
Published 2011 by Rabbit Room Press, 348 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, age 10 and up

Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga tells the tale of the widow and three children of the King of Anniera, a blessed island kingdom overwhelmed nine years before by the dreaded fangs of Dang.

Read my review of the first book in the series. And the second book.

We learned in the second book that the fangs, which look like beast-humans, are actually recycled humans. In fact, the bad guys nearly succeeding in turning young Kalmar Wingfeather, the 11-year-old next king of Anniera, into a wolfish fang. He was rescued, but not in time. So he’s not quite a fang, but not quite human either. He looks a lot like a wolf, in fact.

Now the Wingfeather family is fleeing for refuge across the ocean to the Green Hollows, original home of their mother. The folk of the Hollows live in fear of the neighboring fangs, but somehow have managed to stay free, thanks to a mechanical barrier in their harbor and natural barriers at the edges of their lands. Because Kalmar looks like a fang, the Wingfeathers don’t get a welcome.  But because the mother agrees to take any punishment that Kalmar earns alongside Kalmar, the Green Hollows grudgingly lets them stay.

In this hostile land, will Kalmar be able to behave himself, or will he push the tolerance of the Hollows folk too far? And what of the monster that lurks at their house?

What do I think?

The Wingfeather series is getting better and better with each book, in my opinion. The series with this book has moved its center from humor toward serious themes. The book is fast-paced and contains lovable characters and great plot twists. Heroic deeds make it an emotional read, too. And it’s so cool to have such a flawed young hero as Kalmar. The book has a solid Christian foundation, a creator God who loves his people. You’ll love this book. I did.

This post is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) blog tour. Please take some time and look at what others are saying about this same book, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Gillian Adams
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Cynthia Dyer
Amber French
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Eve Nielsen
Joan Nienhuis
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Rachel Wyant

Series Web site – http://www.WingfeatherSaga.com/
Author’s Web site – http://www.andrew-peterson.com/

Treespeaker by Katie W. Stewart, a review

Treespeaker by Katie W. Stewart
Ebook published by Katie W. Stewart, 2011
Genre: Fantasy, suitable for 12 and up

Jakan has been a leader of his people, the Arrakeshi who live peacefully together in a forest. Specifically, he’s the treespeaker of his tribe–the one who communes with the benevolent spirit of the forest, Arrakesh, and tells the others what they need to do. It is Arrakesh who has set up the Veil protecting them from the Carlikans nearby who have cut down their own forests and engage in plenty of petty thievery, not to mention slavery.

Jakan has a terrible vision of disaster to come at the hands of a tall stranger. Nearly immediately the tall stranger shows up, having somehow passed through the Veil from Carlika. Soon Jakan’s wife is dead, and the powerful stranger has convinced the tribe to cast Jakan out.

Jakan starts on an impossible journey, because Arrakesh has commanded him to find Varyd, someone he knew 20 years ago. This person lives in Carlika, and not close by. Why does he need to find Varyd? He doesn’t know. Nor does he know how he will survive leaving the Veil, because treespeakers, bound to the forest, die when they leave. And finally, his treespeaker ability to commune with Arrakesh has left him. He’s just like everyone else now, asking Arrakesh for help and wondering whether he will receive it.

A way is found to keep him alive on the trip and he sets out, leaving his son Dovan to cope with the powerful stranger who is desecrating sacred sites in the village. Will Jakan find Varyd, or die first? Will Dovan, now secret treespeaker for the village, be able to protect the people and survive?

I liked this book. It’s got a good plot line, always thickening and leading the reader forward, and the characters are complex and conflicted. I found Arrakesh and Carlika to be believable places.

The author has tagged this book as Christian fiction. If it is Christian fiction, the one thing that bothered me is that the characters believe Arrakesh, the God-spirit, to be the God for the Arrakeshi people and not the Carlikans. Of course we know this is not true of the one true God. But I am thinking this belief on the part of the Arrakeshi people may change over the course of future books!

This book is a 99-cent ebook published by the author, who obviously had some editing done to her manuscript–I didn’t see any errors, and the plot works well. I wonder whether this will be the way of the future, opening up the market to many more readers. The author is an Australian, by the way.

Website: http://treespeaker.blogspot.com/

Future Savior Book One: Conception by Jennifer Hartz, a review

Future Savior Book One: Conception by Jennifer Hartz
E-published by Desert Breeze Publishing, 2010
Genre: Christian fantasy romance suitable for teens and adults

This book concerns Christina, who is somehow zapped from another world into ours as a fetus of four months. When she is born after five months’ gestation at 8 lb, everyone thinks it’s strange, but they just shrug. Funny she doesn’t look like her parents at all. They’re blonde, she’s not.  They’re short, she’s tall. So she grows up and becomes a high school physical education teacher. At the age of 30, she finds herself whisked to the other place, Meric.  The people of Meric figure out who she is, a princess, and expect her to save them because of a prophecy about her.  At first she rejects the idea, but comes to accept it. She does, after all, have some unusual powers–ability to move things around just by waving her hands, and premonitions of things that are just about to happen.

Of course there is a romantic interest, her bodyguard Shaw, who had shadowed her even in our world. And there is a very creepy bad guy with greater powers than hers who plans to kill her.

What do I think?

This book is not as polished as the books from mainstream publishers, but I don’t find that a big drawback for a good story. As the beginning of a series, it ties up one story thread and then begins another, ending with a cliff-hanger. I guess I can live with that. And Christina’s faith journey is not very evident yet, but the author assures me it will continue.

The story unfolds with good pacing and great characterization. There is a mystery at the root: where is the land of Meric, and how is it related to our world? Pretty cool. So, I recommend this book and would love to read the next one.

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