Tag Archives: Christian fantasy fiction

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse, a review

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse
Published 2012 by Marcher Lord Press, 464 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy/supernatural, suitable for teens and adults

Rowen Mar discovers a strange white mark on her hand and loses her soldier father on the same day. Her father was her only friend and protector in her village of suspicious folk, who can’t forget that Rowen is adopted–and that no one knows anything about her parentage. After a strange power in her flares up and terrifies both Rowen and a man who tries to attack her, she finds herself kicked out of the village. But somehow there’s a place for her to go: she gets a job offer to be bodyguard to the royal family in the capital city.

Soon those that work with her, including the captain of the guard, find she’s a healer. She realizes she’s an Eldaran, sort of an angelic race that had been thought to die out on the earth. And not just any Eldaran, but one with the power to reveal the darkness in the human heart. It’s a gift she doesn’t want.

The captain of the guard realizes he’s falling in love with her. But she’s not a follower of the Word, as he is. What will he do?

And how about Caleb, a lord of the southern kingdom intending to conquer the north where Rowen lives? Caleb’s got uncanny gifts in his chosen field: that of assassin. And he plans to strike close to Rowen.

What do I think?

This is a terrific book, one you just can’t put down. I loved the characters and the well-crafted plot. It’s Morgan Busse’s first novel, but don’t let that put you off–it contains a high level of sophistication and polish. I’m really looking forward to more.  I hope I don’t have to wait too long.

My review of Book 1, Daughter of Light

My review of Book 2, Son of Truth

My review of Book 3, Heir of Hope

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson, a Review

williamson1

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson, a Review
Book 1 in the Blood of Kings series
Published 2009 by Marcher Lord Press, 490 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy, suitable for teens and adults

The kingdom of Er’Rets is pretty hard on its orphans. It calls them “strays” and beats them up. So Achan grows up a stray in the household of a minor nobleman, picked on and beaten regularly.  The nobleman, Lord Nathak, makes sure he takes a red herbal potion drink every day. But one day, Achan doesn’t take the drink. Then he hears voices in his head, and is mightily puzzled. He figures out how to hold the voices at bay: think of his favorite refuge, the shade of a huge tree.

Achan’s household is fostering the spoiled brat who will be king–an orphan about Achan’s age. The prince intends to marry a young woman, Vrell, daughter of the duchess of the northern part of the kingdom, for political reasons.

Vrell, though, will have none of it. In fact, she puts on the clothing of a boy and goes into hiding.  Circumstances bring her to the same city where the prince is to be crowned; the prince has chosen Achan as his bodyguard, so Achan goes too.  We discover that both Achan and Vrell are able to communicate telepathically, a gift given to few. Disguised as a boy herbalist, Vrell tends Achan’s battle wounds. Making friends with him, she teaches Achan to control and use his “bloodvoicing” telepathic gifts.

In this city, some startling news comes to light, and Achan’s circumstances change forever. I’ll let you read the book to find out more.

What do I think?

Vrell is a very engaging character, full of courage and pep. Because of her, I was happy to dive into this story and stay engaged. Achan deals well with his awful circumstances, although occasionally his reactions are too noble to feel true–for example, rescuing an ungrateful person from some bullies, and rescuing the ungrateful prince from attackers.  The fantasy world is well drawn; I can easily enter in.  Although by the end of the book much is revealed, plenty of mysteries remain, such as why exactly half the country is covered in darkness, and why exactly half of Lord Nathak’s face is withered and under a mask.

It’s a Christian book, clearly; Achan is raised praying to an idol, but he learns to recognize that the one true God speaks to him in his thoughts. Vrell is already one of the relatively few followers of this one God, and Achan is becoming one.

This book was very hard to put down. In fact, I didn’t! I read it all the way through on a Sunday afternoon and evening.  It’s quite a page turner. It’s a wonderful book, one that is sure to draw readers into the Christian fantasy genre.–Phyllis Wheeler

This post is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour, meaning a number of other bloggers are writing about this book too during the next three days. Please take a moment to check out what they are saying too~

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Gina Burgess
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
R.L. Copple
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Sarah Flanagan
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

AND last but not least, the author’s blog: http://jillwilliamson.wordpress.com/

Nominate a book for Clive Staples Award!

All you Christian fantasy and sci fi lovers out there, it’s time to nominate a book for the annual Clive Staples award. Clive Staples being, of course, what C.S. stands for in C.S. Lewis.  The award, administered by several major players in Christian fantasy-sci fi, is nearly new–the first award went last year to Dragonlight by Donita K. Paul.

For the 2010 award nomination, a book must be published in 2009 by a royalty-paying publisher. The actual selections will be made by reader’s choice. You might want to put in an email subscription to the Clive Staples Award blog so you’ll know when the polls are open! In order to vote, you have to have read at least two of the books which have been nominated.

What’s the point of all this? Why, to generate buzz and admiration for our favorite genre, of course!  The more buzz and admiration, the more sales, and the more books will be published. So readers like us will be happier with all the books to choose from.

So, take a minute to think about it, and then go to this link:

http://clivestaplesaward.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/clive-staples-2010-accepting-nominations/

Let’s Take a Look at the Lost Genre Guild Web Site, Part 3 (final)

This is the last day of the CSFF blog tour of the Lost Genre Guild Web site.

I decided to evaluate the site based on its main objective:  to increase interest and awareness on the part of potential buyers of this type of fiction. Let’s see how easily someone interested in this type of fiction might find this site.

The first thing I am looking at is its Google Page Rank.  This is 3 out of 10. This is fairly good but could be better. I would like to see a 4, which is attainable for a site like this. (My own MotherboardBooks.com has a 4.)  A higher Google Page Rank will bring the site higher in the free Google search listings for any particular relevant keyword.  (I can find the Page Rank of any site using my Google Toolbar, which I installed to my browser.)  The way to bring up the Google PageRank is to get more incoming links to the site, especially links that highlight keywords that people search on, such as “Christian book reviews.”

Next I am looking at the description in the HTML code for the site. This description is what someone searching on Google will see first.  Here it is:
“Home page of the Lost Genre Guild. a web community of writers, artists and readers of Biblical
speculative fiction, founded by Frank Creed.”

This isn’t really addressed to the seeker on the Internet, who has no idea what Biblical
speculative fiction is or who Frank Creed is. Let’s imagine this is one of my teenage sons looking
for fantasy works with a Biblical worldview. He is very likely to move on. Here’s a better
one to consider:

“Looking hard for fantasy or science fiction with a Biblical worldview? Tolkien and CS Lewis fans need
look no farther. There ARE books being written in this vein and you CAN find information about them here.”

A set of words that many people use to search for this type of info is “Christian book reviews.”
It would be good to work that into the title of the page, to help the Google rankings. You can
find more using the Google Keyword Tool; just Google to find it.

So, how about the blog posts? Do they further the Web site’s goal?

Here’s an admission that the earlier ones didn’t, at
http://blog.lostgenreguild.com/2008/11/and-were-back.html In this post,
Grace Bridges said the blog posters had ceased posting for a time, but that it
had just been decided to start up again with a new goal.
“Where beforehand this blog contained essays by writers and for writers,
henceforth it shall bear tidings of the world of the Lost Genre…for readers.

“Lord willing, this will be a place for fans of Christian speculative fiction to find
what they’re looking for, and even what they weren’t looking for but will definitely enjoy,”
she wrote.

I am glad for the redefinition of direction for the blog, and hope it will be very useful
to readers looking for this type of work.

Check out other posts on the CSFF blog tour:

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Courtney
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Lost Genre Guild
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Mirtika
Hanna Sandvig
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Timothy Wise

Let’s Take a Look at the Lost Genre Guild Web Site, Part 1

The Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour for December is examining the Lost Genre Guild Web site.  I’m taking part. So I took a look at the Web site blog, starting at the beginning, in 2006.

One of the earliest posts is by Frank Creed, who is the individual keeping the Web site going. In a 2006 blog post, he coined a new phrase:  Biblical speculative fiction.  This term is more precise than “Christian fantasy/science fiction.”  The new term can be used to distinguish the product, Christian-worldview science fiction or fantasy, from the producer, who may be a Christian writing secular fiction, for example Stephen King.  Here’s Creed’s definition:

“Biblical speculative fiction [Bib-spec-fic], noun: stories with settings or races that are significantly unlike our own, told through a Scriptural world-view and framework. “(From a post on 10-11-2006)

I think having a new term for Christian fantasy is a good idea.  For example, the title of my own blog which you are reading is the Christian Fantasy Review. But I actually am reviewing secular books as well as Christian worldview books, all from a Christian perspective.

The purpose of the Lost Genre Guild blog is to promote Biblical speculative fiction, or Christian-worldview fantasy and science fiction, using a number of voices and viewpoints.  Promoting Biblical speculative fiction is also the purpose of the blog you are reading, and of the many participants in this blog tour whose blogs are listed at the bottom of this post.

You may ask, Why does this genre need boosting?  How come it is “lost”?

If you just go into a library or a secular bookstore, you won’t see much of this Christian worldview fantasy and science fiction.  If you’re like me and my kids, you would conclude that no one is writing it.  How strange, we think, because of the towering examples of JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, both recently re-envisioned for the big screen.

In fact, there are people writing it.  That much is clear from what I have learned writing the Christian Fantasy Review, and from what I can see reading the early posts of the Lost Genre Web site.  Clearly there are plenty of people out there who love to use this set of tools to be creative and to convey some of God’s great truths.

But there are plenty of potential readers out there who are wary.  Are science fiction and fantasy writers promoting evil?

A Lost Genre blog post on 10-12-2006 posted by Steve Rice provides some guidelines to help wary readers identify works from the dark side.  Rice suggests avoiding a work if it contains 1)detailed instructions on how to do witchcraft, or 2) preaches a false gospel, or if it glamorizes witchcraft or psychic powers. “Tolkien and Lewis didn’t; witches in “Narnia” are a loathesome lot,” he adds.  If these two warning signs are missing, any magic is just a plot device, he suggests.

I think that’s very good advice for potential readers.  The successors to Tolkien and Lewis are out there.  Let’s find them!  And enjoy the seeking!  — Phyllis Wheeler

Check out the other blogs on the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour:

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Courtney
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Lost Genre Guild
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Mirtika
Hanna Sandvig
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Timothy Wise

Worlds Unseen by Rachel Starr Thomson, a Review

worldsunseen

Worlds Unseen by Rachel Starr Thomson
Published 2007 by Little Dozen Press (self-published), 328 pages.

Worldview: Christian.  A moral universe with good and evil elements, and a benevolent deity/king glimpsed afar off.

Rachel Starr Thomson is a homeschool graduate who is becoming a serious writer.  Her fantasy trilogy, the Seventh World Trilogy, begins with this book. The second installment, Burning Light, has just been published.

Maggie Sheffield lives in a dark medieval world which is like our world in many ways, but dreadfully twisted.  It is dominated by an evil empire which has all but stamped out the memory of better times, which included a benevolent supernatural king who left when people turned their backs on him. A prophecy says he will return one day.

The story opens with teenager Maggie, an orphan, whose foster parents are murdered. She goes to live with another foster parent. All three were members of a Council for Exploration into Worlds Unseen that had dabbled in the occult 40 years before and then split up.

As the story unfolds, Maggie agrees to carry an enemy scroll across Europe to another former Council member. On this journey she meets a large cast of others: a gypsy boy who can talk to animals, a blind seer, a witch, a princess, a man who is tempted to join the dark side, and someone she falls in love with.  Maggie learns she is capable of heroic deeds.

The struggle culminates in an enormous battle, when the heavens open and supernatural forces come to fight alongside humans in a revolution in eastern Europe.  Maggie’s love interest dies. Many questions are left unresolved for the next book in the series.

Thomson has a great imagination, full of a variety of characters. She is able to tell a rousing good story. This book does have a certain unfinished quality to it, because of the self-publishing and consequent lack of tight editing. For example, Maggie’s falling in love isn’t described in a convincing way.  But this is a small drawback.  I enjoyed this book as well as its sequel, Burning Light. —Phyllis Wheeler

If you would like to buy this book, consider buying it here to help pay the costs of running this blog.

Convincing librarians to buy Christian fantasy fiction

How can we help our librarians choose more Christian fantasy fiction?

The children’s librarian in my library, Webster Groves Public Library, says she will buy a book I suggest:
* if it is published by a mainstream publisher
* if she can find a favorable nonbiased review in a publication she trusts such as Publishers’ Weekly, Library Journal, or similar publications,
* if there is money in the budget,
* if she perceives demand.
She will watch the track record of my suggestions to see whether to take me up on more of them. I suspect her policies are fairly typical.

(In fact, she is in the process of making a couple of purchases I suggested that meet her guidelines! I am very happy about that.)

The stumbling blocks for the Christian fantasy genre are the requirements that the purchased book be published by a mainstream publisher and reviewed in a journal like Publishers’ Weekly.

As I have mentioned before, mainstream publishers have been leery of this genre and haven’t picked up much of it. It doesn’t sell well at Wal-Mart and in Christian bookstores, where other more female-oriented Christian genres can be found. As a result, plenty of interesting works are out there that aren’t published by the mainstream publishing houses. They are being effectively sold over the Internet and through word of mouth, though. The genre has even got a moniker now: the “Lost Genre.” (See http://arjaybb.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=886 for more info on the “Lost Genre.”)

Many of the works being sold on the Internet are self-published. Publishers’ Weekly doesn’t review self-published works, and in fact reviews only a fraction of the books sent to it for review. So it’s pretty likely that at least some of the books I would like to suggest for my library would not be mainstream published and/or would not be reviewed in Publishers’ Weekly etc.

That doesn’t mean you can’t suggest these for your library though, dear reader. Your library may actually be more flexible than this. For example, I have a friend who buys books (for adults) for another municipal library in the St. Louis area, Dawn Y. At her library, Christian works are quite popular. In fact, I am wondering whether the popularity of Christian works at her library might have something to do with the increasing popularity of homeschooling. When I homeschooled, we spent a LOT of time at the library. Many homeschoolers are Christians.

Dawn answered my questions:

How do you choose which books to buy? I take into consideration the majority of our reader population, their likes and dislikes, the appropriateness of the material. I also look at reviews in 4 different main stream publications. I also am open to authors sending their own solicitations. I also check Fantastic Fiction.com, and Amazon and Barnes and Noble for upcoming works.

Do you ever choose a book that is self-published? Yes, if the author sends a good summary, etc. I have been approached a few times and have purchased them if I feel they have a market with our readers.

Do you ever choose a book that is available only on the Internet (Amazon etc.) but not in bookstores? I am somewhat restricted in that area, because we get our books through a book jobber and have a discount policy. We seldom get books from outside that system.

Roughly how many times must a book be requested by patrons before you decide to buy it?
There are a few variables with that—how many other libraries may have it, if I feel there will be enough call to warrant the cost.

I am particularly curious about the genre of Christian fantasy fiction. Are you aware of this genre at all? I have seen a few authors who might fall in this category. We have a couple of them and the genre is increasing in popularity. It seems anything Christian goes at our library.