Tag Archives: christian

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.

The Last Toqeph by Yvonne Anderson, a review

Lost and FoundThe Last Toqeph by Yvonne Anderson, Gateway to Gannah Series #4 of 4
Published by the author, 2014, 402 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy/sci-fi, young adult and up

Adam, heir to the throne of the new settlers of the planet Gannah, sees a fairly smooth road before him. Though he’s only one-half native Gannahian, no one is more qualified to succeed his mother, the ruling toqeph.  At least, that’s what he thinks until he goes on a lonely quest and meets a young man in a desolate corner of the planet. This young man may have a better claim.

But, since all native Gannahians except Adam’s mother were wiped out in a plague, this young man isn’t supposed to exist.

Does Adam report the existence of the young man? Or just let things ride?

Gannahians believe they are by nature full of integrity. But Adam discovers that’s not so. He personally has the opportunity to right an ancient wrong, at great cost to himself. Will he do it?

This book caps the four-book Gateway to Gannah series, which winds through a large cast of characters and situations. I really enjoyed reading this series, and I am sure you will too.

Read my reviews of this series:

Book 1

Book 2

Book 3

Book 4

 

Ransom in the Rock by Yvonne Anderson, a review

Lost and FoundRansom in the Rock by Yvonne Anderson, Gateway to Gannah Series #3 of 4
Published by the author, 2014, 295 pages
Genre: Christian fantasy/sci-fi, young adult and up

It’s time for Lileela, age 15, to return to her home planet. But she’s disgusted with the parents who sent her away to the planet Karkar ten years before. Karkar’s a civilized place. Why would she want to go back home to backward, underpopulated Gannah?

Soon after the rebellious Lileela returns, she learns that her parents have paid a king’s ransom for her return. And she learns that the people accompanying her from Karkar are planning to conquer and colonize Gannah. Where do her allegiances lie now?

Meanwhile, a crack special forces team from Earth is handed the assignment to kidnap a Christian evangelist and his family and send them into prison and slavery. Problem is, the leader of the team, Faris, was secretly evangelized himself by this man a year earlier. Can he obey his orders? Should he? If he does, where can he flee?

This book continues the tales of Gannah, a richly imagined world where natives can communicate telepathically with each other–and with the Yasha, the Lord. While Jesus died on Earth for sins of Earthers, his death covers the sins of others too, the people of Gannah have discovered. Gannahians are particularly in tune with the Yasha, because they know the ancient language of Gannah is the same language as that of the ancient children of Israel on earth, no coincidence but a work of the creator God.

I enjoyed this book. I really enjoy the richly imagined planet and its history, along with its colorful characters.

Read my reviews of this series:

Book 1

Book 2

Book 3

Book 4

The Fatal Tree by Stephen Lawhead, a review

The Fatal TreeThe Fatal Tree, final book of the five-book Bright Empires Series, by Stephen R. Lawhead
Published by Thomas Nelson, 2014, 335 pages
Genre: Multiverse/alternate history/time-travel written from a Christian worldview, for teens and adults

Former novice Kit Livingstone is a seasoned ley traveler now. He’s been using a method of walking along natural energy-filled “ley” lines in the earth’s crust to travel to alternate, but similar, universes, following in the footsteps of other ley travelers like his late great-grandfather, Cosimo, and the ruthless Lord Burleigh. They’ve all been looking madly for the Skin Map, which they think will show the ley-travel way to the Spirit Well: what seems to be the fountain of youth and life.

In this book Kit and friends discover that the stakes are far higher than they thought, and the Spirit Well is something different from what they thought. The multiverse is getting more and more unstable, and quickly. Ley traveling doesn’t take them where it used to, but to strange and dangerous places.  Napoleon’s soldiers appear in 1930’s Damascus. Kit’s friend Mina runs into a duplicate of herself.

And the key to it all, the Spirit Well, is beyond their reach, because an enormous yew tree has planted itself in the portal leading to it, a tree that zaps to death anyone that reaches for it. If they can’t get around the tree, the multiverse will quickly unravel. The world and all its clones in the multiverse have only a few weeks to live, but only some scientists and some ley travelers know it.

And the key to the tree belongs to the one person none of them wants to trust.

What do I think? I’ve gotten pretty fond of some of the newer characters in this series, the ley-traveling Italian priest Gianni especially. Gianni brings a Christian flavor to some of the book, which is sold in the general market and therefore is very delicate about conveying its worldview, lest non-Christians put it down. I think having the sunny priest convey certain ideas works very well.

The fully-drawn characters, the well-described locales all around the world spiced with those critical details, and an intriguing plot that brings a whole epic series to conclusion make this a winning book.

Read my reviews of all five books in the series: one, two, three, four, five.

This review is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour.

Please check out what others are saying:

Julie Bihn
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Karri Compton
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Jason Joyner
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Author Websitehttp://www.stephenlawhead.com/
Author Facebook pagehttp://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephen-R-Lawhead/84503526872

I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

 

Robert Treskillard’s Merlin’s Nightmare, more thoughts

merlinsnightmareIs the King Arthur saga so well-worn in our imaginations that we don’t have room for something more on it? Becky Miller has raised this question.

I say there’s room for new imagination. In Robert Treskillard’s trilogy The Merlin Spiral, concluding with Merlin’s Nightmare (which I reviewed here), the author has got some fresh new takes on the characters. Merlin is a blind, lovesick teenager, and Gwenivere is a gypsy. The sword in the stone … well, I won’t spoil it for you. There’s something really wild about that stone, too!

He is able to take us back to Britain in the years after the Romans withdrew, based on a vast foundation of historical research that makes the settings and situations ring true. His Britain is a far cry from the false medieval setting envisioned by early writers of these stories.

In Merlin’s Nightmare, we see a disaster for the Britons unfold. Where they had lived as a majority, many or most of them are overcome by enemies including the Saxons, leaving the survivors a rag-tag band. This group, we expect, will seek to regain their place under King Arthur in future books.

But we know how the story ends: the Anglo-Saxons took over all the Britons’ lands except for Wales and (in France) Brittany.  That’s the thing about writing the Arthurian legend: we know the main characters, and we know how it all ends. But … do you have room for new imaginings here? I do.

Here are the two movie trailers for the first book (and thus the trilogy). The first is from Zondervan, the publisher; the second from the author:

Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard, a review

merlinsnightmareMerlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard, Book 3 of the Merlin Spiral
Published 2014 by Blink, an imprint of Zondervan, 431 pages
Genre: Arthurian fantasy, suitable for young adult and up

Robert Treskillard concludes his terrific Merlin trilogy with this book, leaving some threads open for starting a new work focused on Arthur.  Read my review of the first book. Read my review of the second book.

I’m really enjoying Treskillard’s re-imagining of Merlin as a non-magician. Merlin is a Christian who occasionally has visions. As the book opens, Merlin, in hiding in the North, has married his beloved Natalenya and has two children. They have also raised the young Arthur under a different name, withholding from him his true identity. But now that Arthur is 18, it’s time to tell him who he is and let him start making decisions.

The winds of war are blowing. Two summons to fight arrive. Where will they fight? The Britons (led by the traitor Vortigern) find themselves attacked by major enemies on three sides: the Picts from the North, the Saxons from the east, and Merlin’s witch sister Ganieda (Morgana) and her wolf-men from the west.  Merlin is inclined to fight in the North, but Arthur slips away south to aid Vortigern against the Saxons, not knowing Vortigern will probably recognize him and kill him. Can Merlin reach him in time?

And how can Merlin protect his family in the North, if he isn’t anywhere nearby? Can he convince Arthur that the most important enemy is Merlin’s sorcerer sister, who orchestrates the others? And how on earth could they defeat her and her savage wolf-men?

I found this book to be quite the page-turner with plenty of unexpected plot points. Merlin’s character goes through a learning curve, which I won’t spoil for you. I enjoyed the fresh take on Gwenivere and the idea of a novel use for Stonehenge. It’s a terrific book; put it on your reading list, and be sure to give it to the young people in your life, especially the guys. Note: I am astounded at the amount of research Treskillard has put into these books, detailed in the appendix.

This review is in conjunction with the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. For more opinions, check out the other participants listed below. I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in conjunction with this tour.

Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams

Author website: http://www.KingArthur.org.uk

Dreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson, a review

DreamtreadersDreamtreaders by Wayne Thomas Batson, a review
Published 2014 by Thomas Nelson, 289 pages
Genre: Middle grade fantasy fiction

Archer Keaton, age 14, serves humanity as a Dreamtreader. In his dreams, what he imagines becomes “real.” So, in a battle, he can call amazing weapons into being (such as a bulldozer blade to mow down the opposition). But the bad guys can too, when they’re not trying to deceive him. It’s fun and kinda scary.

Archer seeks to make repairs in this lovely fantasy place, the world of dreams, where things are beginning to turn dark. It becomes apparent that even his life is at risk, and the lives of his loved ones in the real world.

Speaking of the real world, there are strange things going on there too. Can it be that the troubles in the dream world and the real world are connected? Can it be linked to his best friend who seems to have abandoned him? What about the new boy at school? Is he a friend–or not?

It’s a great story (first in a series) that should appeal to a variety of ages, but particularly to boys who are squeamish about reading. It’s full of action with a well-constructed plot, and characters we can all identify with. It has a reasonably subtle faith element, so nonChristians should enjoy it too, and maybe even find some food for thought. I’d be happy to share this book with others.

This post is part of the Christian Science-Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour, and I received the book from the publisher free of charge. To see what others are saying, take a look at the following:

Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Author Website – http://www.enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com/

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/