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Forsaken Kingdom: City of Prophecy by Peter J. Dudek, a Review

Forsaken Kingdom: City of Prophecy by Peter J. Dudek
Carnation City Press 2008, 311 pages.

Worldview: Christian

The kingdom of Arvalast, which has a medieval flavor to it, has a seemingly absent king. It was once a kingdom of light, but the forces of darkness have gradually overtaken it. When the story opens, the dark forces are targeting the remnant who oppose them.

Woodend is a town at the north side of Arvalast where many of the remaining faithful live. They carry phials of light called illumina, which call to mind the phial of Galadriel carried by Frodo in Lord of the Rings. The illumina serve as means to communicate with the king, who influences events based on that communication. Because times are dark and the faithful are being drawn away, many of the phials emit only a bit of light and seem worthless. But that’s really because the heart of the bearer has turned away from the king.

But there is a (forgotten) prophecy that three servants of the king will arise, and that after them three warriors of the light will follow.

One of the main characters in the fight against dark forces is the governor of Woodend, Willardon, who is a weak-willed fence-sitter at the beginning of the story. Another is Tarin, a teenage boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome traits (doesn’t like to be touched, is overly fearful and avoids company of others). Tarin likes to eavesdrop.

The footsoldiers in the army of evil are physical beings (orc-like?) and also spiritual beings. Tarin has a “gift” and can see the spiritual beings, smoke-like wraiths, who have sharp teeth and weird eyes and who pass through walls. The orc-like beings are gathering in the forest for an assault on Woodend. In fact, the wraiths have already entered and are poisoning the hearts of many of the people of Woodend.

As the story unfolds, Willardon remembers to call on the power of the king. With this help, he is able to defeat the evil wraiths using light. Meanwhile, Tarin and a friend find themselves lost in the woods, and Tarin must put his trust in the king in order to save himself and his friend.

The king isn’t ignoring the situation. He sends his helper, Gildareth, to help the people of Woodend stand fast.

The book ends abruptly. It’s clearly not intended to be an ending, but instead leaves the reader in suspense waiting for the next installment.


My opinion: The characters are well-drawn and consistent. The dialogue reveals their idiosyncrasies well. Dudek has a gift for this.

I did have some trouble bonding with Tarin, who starts the book as a main character. He’s doing stuff I don’t approve of, such as eavesdropping. Now, I do have two kids with Asperger’s, so I see some of their traits in him. Whether the author intended that, I don’t know. If so, this is undoubtedly the first novel starring an Aspie! As the story goes on, it gets easier to like Tarin. That’s a good thing.

Another thing I had trouble with was the number of situations that I found to be frightening. This book might be better categorized as Christian horror. There are just too many really scary beings in it for my taste. But then, I have never liked horror.

The best thing about this book is the personal relationship that characters have with the king. They ask for help (using the illumina) and they get help. When they stop being self-centered, communication using the illumina improves. This models the Christian walk in a way I haven’t seen yet in Christian fantasy.

Dudek, a homeschool graduate, spent five years on this work. The book is self-published but nevertheless reasonably well-polished. Dudek says he is a big-time Tolkien fan. I can see plenty of similarities to the Lord of the Rings in his book, including the way the first book ends: abruptly.

However, a personal relationship with the king is something Tolkien didn’t attempt. I’m really glad Dudek did. It forms the backbone of a great story. –Phyllis Wheeler

Peter Dudek’s Web site: http://www.forsakenkingdom.net

If you want to buy this book, help pay the expenses of this Web site and buy it from this link:

The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs, a Review, Part 1

The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs, a review

Book 1 of Legends of Karac Tor, NavPress, 2008, 379 pages

Worldview: Christian.

The story starts in Missouri (my adopted home state) where a family of four boys grieves for their mom, who died of cancer. The kids are four boys, the oldest 15. They have just moved to the country north of St. Louis with their dad.

Hadyn and Ewan, the older two, are clearing a briar patch and discover an arched stone scrawled with Viking runes. Suddenly, four mysterious ravens drop messages at their feet and disappear through the arch. The messages, signed by “A,” are four identical scrolls calling them to the Hidden Lands. Soon the two boys are following the ravens through the arch.

They find themselves in the land of Karac Tor, which is at war. Magic is commonplace here, including some magic familiar to our ears, such as fairy folk and Arthurian mystery, and other unfamiliar magic. The boys, who really just want to go home, are drawn into a massive conflict between godly monks and an evil sorceress who is turning all the teenagers in the land into zombies under her command. Hadyn and Ewan discover they have some special magic powers of their own in this land.

The monks are looking forward to the ninth and final coming of Aion, the son of the father God. But plenty of tribulation is happening first. Hadyn is captured by the sorceress and is on his way to becoming a mindless follower. Younger Ewan finds he has the courage to lead a rescue. Both brothers prove their loyalty and courage in a battle with the sorceress.

Then Hadyn and Ewan discover that their younger twin brothers have come through the portal too, leading into the next book, where the conflict is with the evil power behind the sorceress, the Deceiver himself.

The Book of Names is a keeper. It weaves action together with metaphorical descriptions. Characters are fully drawn and believable. The two boys are full of faults and fears at first, but they learn courage because they have to, facing the sorceress and her slaves. Briggs brings his fantasy world, Karac Tor (a place to build character, I get it!!) to life.

I did find this fantasy world to be rather dark. I wish it had more islands of light in it. Nevertheless, I am really looking forward to the next book, Corus the Champion, coming out in March 2009.–Phyllis Wheeler

If you want to buy this book, you can help pay the expenses of this blog by buying it through this link:

This review is part of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour. Check out other participants of the tour. We’re all looking at the same book for the next three days.

Sally Apokedak
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Alice M. Roelke
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Timothy Wise