If you are looking for a thrilling adventure, something comparable to Tolkien’s MiddleEarth, or Lewis’s Narnia, look no further than the kingdom of IlIf you are looking for a thrilling adventure, something comparable to Tolkien’s MiddleEarth, or Lewis’s Narnia, look no further than the kingdom of Illustra and Patrick W. Carr’s “The Staff and the Sword” series. "A Draw of Kings" is third and final installment of this series and is satisfying in every way. The setting of this tale is a medieval kingdom where the crown and the church hold sway over the lives of its people. But mythic tales of antediluvian monsters turn into stark reality as evil threatens to overtake the good kingdom of Illustra. The hero of the books is an unassuming misfit, Errol Stone, who rises from a lowlife drunken teenager to become a true hero of the land. He learns he is a reader, one who can cast lots in wood or stone. But he isn’t just any reader, he is a special "omne" and can read any other reader’s lot. In "A Draw of Kings", Errol faces his destiny, throwing himself into the desperate quest for some boon to save the land from sure defeat. No one knows who will be the next king, and every attempt to find out by casting lots ends in bewilderment. Without a king they are surely doomed. Their God’s blessing depends on the barrier made with blood, and that barrier is weakening. Stone must rescue a lost treasure and restore it to the kingdom. Then he must look his love in the eye and forsake her to save the realm. Will he have courage? Is his destiny to die? Will Illustra be spared a cruel demise? These questions are answered in a compelling way in the thrilling conclusion to this saga. The books in this series are superbly written, the tale is engrossing. This is a page turner with a surprising amount of depth. It isn’t a direct allegory like at times the Chronicles of Narnia seem to be. Nor does it have its own language and ethos completely, as does The Lord of the Rings. But this series is in the same vein. Carr crafts a Christian world, with a sacred history, and a classic good versus evil fight. The hero must sacrifice his own desires and beyond this there are even more parallels with Christian themes. A doctrine and tradition-oriented church cannot accept the religion of the mystics and their faith in the Spirit of God, and an ancient book of the sacred history of Illustra has been lost. Sound familiar? I appreciate though, that the book never comes off as a direct allegory and doesn’t preach a moral or lesson to learn. It is a story first and foremost. I would compare the power and beauty of the story to the "Sword of Shanarra" series by Terry Brooks, or any of several series written by Stephen R. Lawhead – both favorite authors of mine. Patrick W. Carr joins them as this is the best fantasy series I have read in years. If you are looking for some new fiction to add to your shelf, this is the series for you. Preview the first 40 pages of this book, or pick up the first book in the series on Kindle for free (for a limited time). And be sure to enter a contest to win one of two free sets of all three books in the series. Disclaimer: This book was provided by Bethany House via Chapter-by-Chapter.com. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a positive review....more
From the very first page, Brock Eastman’s new book "Taken", grips and pulls the reader into its fast-paced, adventure tale. "Taken" is the start of PFrom the very first page, Brock Eastman’s new book "Taken", grips and pulls the reader into its fast-paced, adventure tale. "Taken" is the start of P & R Publishing’s “The Quest for Truth” series, and focuses on a group of four children (Oliver – 17, Tiffany – 15, and the twins Mason and Austin – 11) whose parents (the Wikks) are archeologist-explorers. Their parents get captured by a secret society called the Ubel, and the children are forced to embark on their parents’ planned space voyage without them.
They soon discover that the world as they know it is not as it seems. Their parents have found an ancient book from Ursprung, the humans’ home planet which has been lost for centuries. And on the edge of the galaxy, they learn that the Federation may not merit their allegiance after all. With their world crumbling around them, the Wikk children resolve to take on their parents’ quest for truth, in hopes of finding and rescuing their parents.
The quest takes them to a forsaken planet on the edge of the galaxy where they meet their parents’ benefactor and try to outfit their ship. While on this planet, the twins stumble upon a mysterious blue people and are taken captive. I won’t give away too much more of the plot, except to say that by the end of this first book, you’ll be hooked. I can’t wait for the next installment of “The Quest for Truth”, to find out what happens to the Wikk children as their exciting quest continues.
The book is written for younger readers, upper elementary age through high school, but parents are sure to enjoy it as well. The siblings fight with one another and have to learn to trust each other, living for the common good, instead of their own desires. The plot is intricate and unexpected, and the world that is created is entirely believable and yet unlike anything else I’ve read. It is not a dark or evil story and is safe for all readers.
“The truth” which is sought has to do with “eternal life” and the book sounds a lot like the Bible, but this is no simplistic allegory or anything. It is a well-written adventure tale with a fascinating science fiction world that is sure to enthrall readers. I expect the series will ultimately have a moral lesson to be learned which can be drawn out by conscientious parents; but if you’re worried about the potential for a cheesy Christian production that overdoes the Christian themes to the detriment of the story, then I’m with you. And this book is nothing of the sort. I expect this series will draw a faithful following of readers who fall in love with the futuristic world that Brock Eastman has created. If you pick up this book, I’m sure you won’t regret it.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by P & R Publishing. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review....more
Step forward several hundred years into a post-nuclear apocalypse future. Earth has lost most of her technology and a new feudal age is in full swing.Step forward several hundred years into a post-nuclear apocalypse future. Earth has lost most of her technology and a new feudal age is in full swing. In this world, the Christiani are hunted down and nearly exterminated, and even the very message of the New Testament has been lost and nearly forgotten.
This is the story that Bryan M. Litfin crafts for us in his Chiveis Trilogy. "The Gift: A Novel", the second book in the series, follows Captain Teofil and Anastasia as they journey through new lands in search of the lost New Testament. Along the way, their adventures are many as they narrowly escape imprisonment, torture and death at every turn. The physical dangers aren’t the only obstacles in their quest, they battle temptation to fit in to the spirit of the world they inhabit, too.
The book comes off feeling a bit like a fantasy work, yet there are no fantastic characters. It’s actually more similar to a tale from a long lost medieval age, with the twist of people trying to search out the true meaning of Christianity. The character development is excellent even if the plot at times seems too good to be true. The quest to find the true nature of Christianity and to uncover the lost New Testament makes for a great story line, however. And the book moves along at a quick pace.
Without having read the first book, I was still able to enter the story easily: enough of the backstory was retold that I didn’t feel lost. This book also comes with 15 study questions in the back which would allow it to serve as a class assignment for a study of literature, or equally well as a discussion guide for talking over the story and the moral dilemmas which faced its characters with your teen-age children.
This story was both unique and well-written. And what is vital for a fictional tale, it was ultimately satisfying. Yet the book offered even more, it was a work about our Christian faith and the struggle to live it out faithfully in whatever age we find ourselves in. I recommend the book highly. It would make for great summer reading. I’ll be keeping my eye out for the conclusion of Litfin’s Chiveis Trilogy, too.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Crossway Books for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review....more
The appeal of fantasy fiction is wrapped up in its other-worldliness. On film, Peter Jackson captured this well in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Of cThe appeal of fantasy fiction is wrapped up in its other-worldliness. On film, Peter Jackson captured this well in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Of course, the books themselves are more effective at transporting the reader to another time and place.
In the "Knights of Arrethtrae" series, Chuck Black takes the grand Biblical story of redemption and crafts an allegorical, fictitious world to match it. Following John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress legacy, Black interweaves Christian themes into his fantasy tale.
The series is based on his earlier 6 part Kingdom series, and offers vignettes of followers of the King across the Sea. "The King reigns and his Son!" is the rallying cry of the Prince's Knights in the Kingdom of Arrethtrae. Shadow Warriors and evil knights battle Silent Warriors and the Prince's knights, in a battle for the souls of men.
In Lady Carliss, we find a fascinating tale of treachery, deceit, a dark plot and mystery. Carliss battles more than just the dark forces, as she must master her heart and its attraction to her brother's best friend Lord Dalton. Along the way, she faces the dreadful choice of saving the life of one she can't help but love, or saving the lives of friends who count on her.
At the end of the book, a discussion guide is included with pointed questions about the allegory and the story, chapter by chapter. The peril of a pleasure-inducing substance that sends people into an alternate reality provides a platform for addressing the problem of escapism in today's world. The questions also come with answers and make this book, and the ohters in the "Knights of Arrethtrae" series, ideal for parents to read with their teens, or for youth groups to read together in a church-based book club.
The story moves along at a fast clip and includes surprising twists and turns. The style is straightforward and action-oriented, suitable for teen-age readers and a shorter sized fantasy book. The allegory is at times very direct, and detailed descriptions of the meaning are included at the end. Still the story stands on its own right, and entering the world Black creates is both enjoyable and instructive.
The meta-narrative or grand story of the Bible is indeed alluring. We need to remind ourselves that an alternate reality has nothing on the redemptive plan of our Savior. We, like Carliss, need to learn to trust the Prince and follow him in spite of our feelings and uncertainties. And our Lord will prove True and Faithful, every time. ...more
The best fiction transports the reader into the setting of the book. The adventure written becomes an adventure experienced. Characters aren't just deThe best fiction transports the reader into the setting of the book. The adventure written becomes an adventure experienced. Characters aren't just described by the author, they are befriended by the reader. This is when reading becomes an engrossing, consuming experience, and books become a work of art rather than a mere production. Jeffrey Overstreet wields this kind of book magic in his "Auralia Thread" series.
Raven's Ladder (book #3) was my first encounter with the series, and as the story developed I felt like I had stepped into a well-developed, alternate world. The members of a fallen House are struggling to survive in a wilderness, and a mysterious danger lurks below ground. A young king believes in childish myths about The Keeper and risks everything to follow his mystical guides. A group of devious seer-types control an economic stronghold where the people worship moon spirits and follow their own pursuits and pleasures wholeheartedly. And a malady which turns men to beasts has destroyed another House and threatens all the land.
The tale is so different it takes a while to feel comfortable in the story. And when you begin to sense the grandeur of the tale, glimpses of connections to Christianity make the tale all the more alluring. Auralia's vivid colors mesmerize all who remember them, and visions of beauty stand out all the more starkly against a pervasive and widespread ugliness. Whispers of The Keeper and the mystery of a long forgotten past make figuring out this world much less easy than it seems.
As the tale progresses, high and low points ebb and flow. The conclusion will leave you begging for more, and wondering what is in store for young King Cal-raven and the other heroes of the book. And after finishing this book, you may feel the urge to read the first two books to enjoy the world Jeffrey Overstreet has created to its fullest extent....more
Faerie tales and adventure stories have long held our imagination. Tales of far off lands with exotic beauty, of hair-raising dangers and evil warlordFaerie tales and adventure stories have long held our imagination. Tales of far off lands with exotic beauty, of hair-raising dangers and evil warlords, of bravery and skill in the face of overwhelming odds -- such tales awaken our spiritual thirst for meaning and fulfillment in life. We've been blessed with fantasy authors steeped in a Christian worldview, great men such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis have bequeathed a rich heritage of inspiring tales that Christians can embrace. Others have continued that legacy and in "The Binding of the Blade" series, L.B. Graham had picked up the mantle of Tolkien and Lewis.
Beyond the Summerland, the first book in "The Binding of the Blade" series, contains all that's best in fantasy fiction. Written by a Christian trained in a reformed worldview (who's even contributed articles to IVP's Dictionary of Biblical Imagery), it doesn't have the baser elements that modern fantasy fiction often includes. But more than a clean work of fantasy, Beyond the Summerland is a well-crafted, tale that's sure to keep you riveted until its very unexpected ending.
The world of Kirthanin is a beautiful place with a scarred and ugly past. A fallen angelic figure has brought war and desecration to the land, but all that seems so far away now. But the peace of Kirthanin may prove to be an illusion.
Graham takes us on a journey through the length of the land with an assortment of interesting and many sided characters. Prophetic visions and hints of danger combine to add suspense and wonder to the tale. And the beauty and courage on display is almost palpable.
His tale is no copy cat, and the world he creates is believable and unique. The tale seems like it will go on forever, which it almost does. And by the end of the book, you are begging for more. Fortunately, there are four additional titles in the series, and if they are all as exciting and fast-paced as this book, I will certainly be picking them up.
More than a good story, a Christian view of the world pervades the tale. The characters struggle with making wise and right choices, a creator God is worshiped and the world is seen as his gift to men. The vision for the future is of a restored holy mountain and communion with the Creator in newly reborn world. The story lines intersect with our Christian faith in several key places. This adds to the value of the book and makes it an inspiring read that can help orient one's mind and heart appreciate the wonder of the Greatest Fairy Tale of all, that we are a part of. Jesus Christ and His restoration of our fallen world, is certainly the greatest fantasy tale of all. Graham's work helps us taste a tiny bit of the wonder of it all.
The book is written with young adults in mind, but I found it suitable for all adults and youth alike. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to continuing this series.
My thanks go out to P&R Publishing for supplying a review copy of this work. I was under no obligation to give it a favorable review....more
This is the finale of Lawhead's Dragon King series. This book does two things. It first brings out a more direct spiritual element in the work. QuentiThis is the finale of Lawhead's Dragon King series. This book does two things. It first brings out a more direct spiritual element in the work. Quentin is enthroned as the Dragon King who aims to bring in the kingdom of light, and to facilitate the worship of the One True God. Perhaps this directness turns some readers off. No attempt at allegory remains it is a direct Christian tale now.
On the other hand, this book gives hints of what's to come in Lawhead's writing. The tale is quite dark and handles suffering and despair quite well. The hero looks quite unheroic, human even. I saw hint's of some of the Arthurian tales that Lawhead takes on in his masterful Pendragon cycle. Quentin's rage and despair reminded me of Merlin's hopelessness.
This tale is perhaps the most believable and even-handed in the three part work. It is the best written book, and brings to a satisfactory conclusion the Dragon King series. ...more
I always enjoy Stephen Lawhead's books. This one continues a series I first started as a teen. I never did finish the whole series. I found this a gooI always enjoy Stephen Lawhead's books. This one continues a series I first started as a teen. I never did finish the whole series. I found this a good book, but not as deep and involved as some of his later works. The excitement of knights and medieval dangers, a story with lots of danger and a hero you can believe in. This tale has it all....more
Book 2 of the Shannara Trilogy doesn't disappoint. Set 50 years after Terry Brook's bestselling initial work: The Sword of Shannarra, this sequel brinBook 2 of the Shannara Trilogy doesn't disappoint. Set 50 years after Terry Brook's bestselling initial work: The Sword of Shannarra, this sequel brings a new perilous threat to the very existence of the world. And the adventure in this one is even more fast-paced then in Book1.
This book really displays Brook's talent as a writer because from the beginning the plot is laden with twists and full of the unexpected. Yet the development of two of the main characters is quite full, and his dealing of their emotions and thoughts adds greatly to the success of this story.
By the end of this work, you're ready for anything else Brooks might send your way. I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the Sword of Shannara trilogy. I give this book 5 stars....more
If you like C.S. Lewis, and especially if you've read both the Narnia series and his science fiction trilogy, you have to read this book. With an encyIf you like C.S. Lewis, and especially if you've read both the Narnia series and his science fiction trilogy, you have to read this book. With an encyclopedic knowledge of everything C.S. Lewis, Michael Ward develops a fool proof case for a unifying theme to the Narniad. He takes Lewis' poem The Planets, and traces Lewis' understanding of the medieval concept of the 7 planets, throughout his works, and from this he builds a case that each Narnia book represents the themes of one of the 7 medieval planets. Ward really makes his case, and by the end of the book you feel like you've solved a 50 year old mystery. No matter what, you'll come away from this book with a better understanding of literature in general, the Narniad specifically, and Lewis' thoughts in many respects. I recommend this work to everyone....more
Terry Brooks creates a wonderful fantasy world with this classic work. Although at times the plot or writing quality may seem mediocre, the book reallTerry Brooks creates a wonderful fantasy world with this classic work. Although at times the plot or writing quality may seem mediocre, the book really does deliver. The story thickens, the characters separate, and what at first may have seemed like another ho-hum fantasy work, turns out to really provide some thrills.
I appreciate Brooks sticking with more of a Tolkien-esque nature when it comes to how much sensuality he allows. The book is very clean. Also following Tolkien's lead, he develops plenty of depth to the tale.
The stage to the story adds interest. The world is ours, only thousands of years after a global nuclear war. The races of our legends have become reality, and you'll encounter Trolls, Dwarves, Elves, Men, and Gnomes galore. And plenty of other fantastical creatures.
If you don't want to get swept away in an epic battle of good versus evil, don't try picking up this book. I give it 4 stars....more