Monthly Archives: May 2013

Merlin’s Blade by Robert Treskillard, a review

Merlin’s Blade by Robert Treskillard, Book One of The Merlin Spiral
Published 2013 by Zondervan, 411 pages
Genre: Christian Arthurian tale

In Treskillard’s take on the Arthurian saga, Merlin begins as a bashful, gawky teenager, son of a blacksmith, nearly blind. Some unknown druids come to his tiny town in post-Roman Britain, bringing with them a mysterious, demonically mesmerizing stone.

The townspeople can’t help themselves–they worship the stone, abandoning the town’s Christian monks. Soon High King Uther’s battle chief Vortigern comes to town, bringing treachery with him, finding a friendly welcome from the wayward town.

How can young Merlin get the attention of the upper-class girl he loves? Can he deliver the town from its slavery to the stone? And what of the fate of the tiny prince Arthur in this time of upheaval?

I found this book to be intricately plotted, with plenty of interlocking subplots. Characters are finely drawn with believable backgrounds, and it’s all laced together with suspense projected against a Christian worldview. I can’t wait for more!

This post is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. Take some time to check out what others are saying about this book:

Noah Arsenault
Beckie Burnham
Keanan Brand
Jeff Chapman
Laure Covert
Pauline Creeden
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Shane Werlinger
Nicole White

Author blog
Author’s website

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner, a review

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner, Book 1 of The Keepers Trilogy
Published 2010 by Delacorte Press, 312 pages
Genre: Secular middle-grade fantasy

Goldie is protected, so much that she has never been in any kind of danger, never petted a dog, never seen a snake, and … never been off a leash. She lives in a city, Jewel, which is under the heavy “protection” of some super-controllers. It’s a dire situation — when she responds to an emergency and runs away, her parents are thrown into prison.

There’s a strange museum in this city that’s full of shifting rooms and staircases. It’s a terrifying place, hiding plague and murder, unless you’re one of its keepers. And Goldie finds that she is called to be one of its keepers, keeping the city of Jewel safe from the horrors.

Meanwhile, there’s a power-hungry man who wants control of Jewel so badly that he’s willing to do anything–including unleash the horrors. Can Goldie and her friend Toadspit stop him?

This book is stuffed with imaginative constructions. Although the museum of horrors might sound terrifying, it doesn’t come off that way because Goldie isn’t scared, at least most of the time, following her training by the other museum keepers. After all, she has some new skills, including sneaking around in plain sight without being seen. This book has no faith element that a Christian would grab onto, but it does have moral lessons, such as courage in the face of injustice, and the virtue of being bold. I do recommend this book. I enjoyed reading it.

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.