CSFF Blog Tour—Landon Snow, Day 2

OK, I’m going to rant a bit today. I didn’t realize I even had strong opinions about this subject until I started reading some of the posts on the CSFF Blog Tour for November. Our feature is Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum by R. K. Mortenson (Barbour Publishing), released last month.

    Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum

So what has me steamed? It is not anyone on the tour. (No fire-fights here—or flame wars, if you will 😀 ) However, some folks have quoted other reviews or descriptions. I’ve read that the Landon Snow is a cross between Alice and Wonderland and Narnia, that it is a Christian Harry Potter, that it shows influences of The Phantom Tollbooth (a book Mortenson has yet to read).

The thing is, why do we (is it just Christians?) feel the need to compare Mortenson’s work to someone else’s? I understand when a writer pitches the book to a publisher, this identification can serve as a sort of shorthand so the aquisitions editor understands the premise. But this seems like something more to me.

Was J. K. Rowling up against this when she first published? Were people saying, At last a secular Narnia, or some such vacuous comment? I might have missed it, but I heard no such label. Is this because her world of Hogwarts was so fresh, so new that it reminded readers of nothing? I don’t think that either. I actually couldn’t help thinking about Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion ride from time to time when I saw the first movie.

So what’s my point? Writers borrow all the time—from the news reported in the paper, from the classics, from the people in their own world. And in all the borrowing, if the writer puts the material through the wash of his own life, out comes a brand new creation. That’s what I believe R. K. (Randy) Mortenson has done.

I mentioned in my post at Speculative Faith yesterday that I think Randy has a unique “voice,” that nearly intangible something that makes a writer so unique that a reader, without knowing the title of a book, could still identify it as one of his.

Randy’s voice is fresh and fun; it’s his strongest quality, in my opinion. Listen to a little section from Landon Snow and the Auctor’s Riddle.

The Weigh Down. These letters didn’t brush off [the sign on the top of a hill which Landon and his new buddy, Melech, a chess-piece knight newly rendered “live,” have fallen onto and wish to leave]. In fact, they looked as if they’d been printed on the board years ago and had faded over time. Landon grabbed the board from beneath and tried to lift …

“What does the sign say?” said Melech.
“The Weigh Down,” said Landon. Hadn’t he told him that before?
Landon looked at him. “Hmm, what?’
“Well,” said Melech, “if weigh means to find how heavy something is, and down is down, I’m wondering why you are trying to lift it up. Merely a casual observation.”

I could go on and on, but I’ll let you discover the delights of Randy’s use of language, of his unique voice for yourself. Is he like Lewis Carroll or C. S. Lews or J. K. Rowling or …? In my book, he is uniquely R. K. Mortenson and well worth discovering.

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If you drop over at Mirtika Schultz’s site and leave a commnt, you will be eligible to win the first three books of the Landon Snow series. As always, Mir has made some truly engaging, informative observations. Well worth your time.

Others on the tour this month are these fine bloggers:

Published in: on November 14, 2006 at 1:05 pm  Comments (14)  
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