Tag Archives: marcher lord press

Wind and Shadow by Kathy Tyers, a review

windandshadowWind and Shadow by Kathy Tyers
Published 2011 by Marcher Lord Press/Enclave Publishing, 344 pages
Genre: Christian science fiction (space opera) suitable for YA and up

Twins Kiel and Kinnor Caldwell don’t get along very well. One’s a priest, the other a warrior. But when Kiel, the priest, suddenly goes  missing, Kinnor risks everything to look for him.

The scene of the apparent kidnapping is a desolate planet with no atmosphere, with a small population living in domes or underground. Mikuhr is the occupied planet that is home to the ancient enemies of the Caldwell family.

On this planet, a diplomat named Wind feels her calling is to get warring factions to talking and bring peace.  But no one seems to take her seriously.

Meanwhile, Kiel and Kinnor’s sister Tiala in a faraway monastery accepts an assignment that’s even bigger than her brothers’.

This book has intriguing characters and a strong faith arc and message. Tyers’ fourth book in a five-book sequence set in the same universe carries its own weight with a very good story. I’m looking forward to reading the fifth and final Firebird novel next!

 

 

 

The Firebird trilogy by Kathy Tyers, a review

firebird1I’ve been reading, and re-reading, Firebird lately.

Kathy Tyers’ Christian space opera novel, Firebird,was published in the 1980s and hit the New York Times Bestseller List. Marcher Lord Press, now Enclave Publishing, re-published Firebird and its two Firebird sequels in 2011. I reviewed Firebird in 2012. Now finally I made time to read the two following books, Fusion Fire and Crown of Fire.

These three books have the same protagonist, Lady Firebird, originally fifth in line to the throne of the rich planet Netaia, doomed to die for that very reason. She’s a very cool and skilled pilot of fighter spacecraft. And, in the first novel, she fell in love with and married a man with amazing telepathic skills.

firebird2What happens next? In Fusion Fire, Firebird is pregnant with twins. She discovers she has telepathic gifts too–she has an ancestor who was a rogue from the genetically altered telepathic race. But her gift may be more of a curse. Can she use it to save her beloved, or will it tear her apart?

In Crown of Fire, her beloved planet of Netaia invites her to visit. With the queen abdicated, the queen’s heirs dead, and the next-in-line dead, she’s the only member of the royal family left–along with her twin sons.

Some want her to be queen, though many there call her a traitor and want nothing to do with her. Into this stew step the rogue telepathics, who have chosen Netaia as the next world they will conquer. Will Firebird let her pride lead her forward?

These books are worthy sequels to the riveting first book. There’s a strong faith element, along with unforgettable characters. Lots of food for thought and for the soul in these books.

Now I’m looking forward to reading the two sequels that focus on Firebird’s sons, Wind and Shadow, and Daystar.

Failstate: Legends by John Otte, a review

FailstateLFailstate: Legends by John Otte, Book 2 of Failstate series
Published 2013 by Marcher Lord Press, 455 pages
Genre: Young adult superhero tale, suitable for middle grade and up

Failstate: Legends is the middle book of a three-book series, but it stands alone very well I think. No one who picks it up cold like I did will think this is an unfinished story, and unexplained details from the past just make it seem more realistic.

I found a teenage superhero who’s disarmingly bad at everything. Failstate, also known as Robin Laughlin, finds his super powers don’t obey him always, and almost no one takes him seriously. It might have to do with the fact that he has to cover his face when costumed, making him look more like a thief in a ragged hoodie than anything else. Or it might have to do with the fact that he got his superhero license through a reality TV show.

Zombies are coming out of nowhere. And Failstate is the only superhero on duty, so he has to stop them. Yes, real zombies. But they aren’t possible. So where are they coming from? Will other superheroes from other towns lend their help? Through this struggle, will he win respect, or continue to fail?

The book has a cartoonish cover, but it’s not a graphic novel. It has short, action-packed chapters and great story elements, including strong characters who learn and change over time and a plot that’s full of surprises. It has a strong faith element too. I recommend this book!

Note: I received a free copy for review.

 

 

Numb by John Otte, a review

Numb

Numb by John Otte
Published 2013 by Marcher Lord Press, 395 pages
Genre: Christian science fiction, suitable for teen and up

Crusader, an assassin, feels neither emotions nor pain. His memory reaches back only a few years. He k nows this numbness is a gift from God, the vengeful god whose deacons use Crusader to kill heretics and heathens. Because of it, he’s a better killer.

His bosses send him after a young blonde woman, Isolda. It’s her turn to die. Or is it? For reasons he doesn’t understand, he can’t do it. His long-dead emotions boil up.

He’s made his choice. In refusing to kill her, he’s become a target himself. Crusader and Isolda flee together. Can this unlikely team find safety? Can they find answers? Or will the bounty hunters turn them in?

And what about the winsome faith that Isolda displays? Isn’t it heresy?

I found this book riveting, full of action and insight. The main character starts out a psychopath, but it’s not long before he starts on the path to change in a way that’s believable and speaks to the heart.

His bosses at the Ministrix spread twisted jihad Christianity, providing me great food for thought. In what ways do we try to make our faith a set of achievable objectives and bury our sins? How do I personally distort Jesus’ words?

This review is in conjunction with a number of bloggers at the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. Check out what others are saying:

Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Faye Oygard
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White

Author Website – http://johnwotte.com/

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.

Son of Truth by Morgan Busse, a review

Son of Truth by Morgan L. Busse, Book 2 of Follower of the Word series
Published 2013 by Marcher Lord Press, 442 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy

Caleb Tala, prince of Temanin, has lived in luxury all his life, but he’s no spoiled brat. He’s taken his job seriously. He’s an assassin for his cousin, the king, and he’s the best of the best.

Caleb has gone so far as to assassinate the ruler of the neighboring kingdom to the north, Ryland Plains, where the previous story in this series took place. But being at the top of his profession gives him no peace. His many victims invade his dreams. Guilt consumes him.

In the invasion of Ryland Plains, his Temanin army is mysteriously defeated by a barrage of light at the gates of the main city. Caleb meets  the Word, Savior of the world, who asks him a question. Does Caleb want forgiveness for his crimes? Does he want it so much that he will step into the guardian role abandoned by his mother, an Eldaran–a being with supernatural powers?

Caleb spends most of the rest of the book coping with his choice. Can he now be someone entirely different, a Son of Truth, or does he fall back into his previous self-centered habits? He struggles with his and others’ expectations.

The Word is equipping Caleb and Rowen, two Eldarans, to fight the two Shadonae, evil beings with supernatural powers, who have taken over the city of Thyra on the other side of the  mountains and will surely move eastward. Rowen’s story is told in the previous book (Daughter of Light) and continues in this one.

Will these flawed and fragile beings be able to save the world? Or will they succumb to temptations, snares, and opposition?

I couldn’t put this book down. It moved from crisis to crisis, putting these wonderful characters through all kinds of conflict. There’s a strong faith element, providing a very satisfying read. While Caleb goes through some substantial change in this book, the plot doesn’t resolve. But then, it’s not the last book in the series, is it? I can’t wait for the next one!

My review of Book 1, Daughter of Light

My review of Book 2, Son of Truth

My review of Book 3, Heir of Hope

The New Recruit by Jill Williamson, a review

The New Recruit by Jill Williamson, Book 1 of the Mission League series
Published 2012 by Marcher Lord Press
Genre: young adult Christian suspense, with a touch of the supernatural

Fifteen-year-old Spencer Garmond just wants to play basketball. He’s got a reckless streak, which gets him into trouble with the local bullies pretty often, but basically he’s not out looking for it. Turns out trouble is looking for him, though.

Suddenly he finds himself under pressure to join a secret missionary spy organization. His grandmother’s behind it–if he doesn’t cooperate, she’ll send him to military school: no more basketball. So he joins. The spies in training meet before and after school, getting ready for a summer field trip abroad. This summer, they’re going to Moscow. And they’re a bunch of goody-goodys, in Spencer’s opinion.

Spencer starts having visions. They seem so real. Could they be real? The missionary spies tell him he has the gift of discernment. What does that mean? Will the terrifying events he’s foreseeing happen to him? to others? Who is this chilling woman named Anya? What’s with the gang of homeless teenage boys? And how’s a nonbeliever to handle all of this?

What do I think?

Spencer’s an endearing and memorable character; I am guessing that Jill Williamson has pretty well nailed the way teenage boys think and feel. The other characters are memorable as well–she does a great job. I found the plot unpredictable, the conflict something I could relate to. I really enjoyed reading this book, and am looking forward to the next four books in the series. If you have teens wanting something to read, I’d certainly recommend it. Plus, they’ll enjoy her goofy scavenger hunt, see below.

Author’s website: www.jillwilliamson.com

Website for The Mission League Series: http://themissionleague.com/

Enter the “go undercover scavenger hunt,” a zany challenge from the author for those interested in winning a $100 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble.

Jill Williamson is an author of all things weird. She grew up in Alaska with no electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of mosquitoes. Her Blood of Kings trilogy won two Christy Awards, and she recently released Replication, a science fiction teen novel from Zonderkidz. Jill lives in Oregon with her husband and two children and a whole lot of deer.

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

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/

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/