Fantasy Friday – The Power of Prayer


First, I’m happy, on this last day of the month, to announce the winner of the October CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award. As you may realized, for the first time this award was voted on by tour participants and visitors, so this is not one person’s opinion. The voting was tight and spread out, as is wont to happen when there are ten people on the ballot (one added in the “other” category). But our deserving winner is Steve Rice. If you haven’t been to Steve’s site, I encourage you to take the time to read his posts. He’s thoughtful, controversial, interesting, creative, funny—and sometimes all of those in the same post! 😉

My subject today is prayer, as you may have noticed in the title of this post. I’ve been thinking about this for some time, and have posted on it in the past, as some of you may remember.

But I’ve started noticing answered prayer recorded in Scripture, and it’s pretty interesting. Today I read about several of Elijah’s answered prayers—one when he healed a sick/probably dead boy (“The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived”), and the other was when God sent fire from heaven to consume his offering … and the stone altar … and the water in the trench around the altar (“Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God … Then the fire of the Lord fell …”)

Interestingly, James in the New Testament uses Elijah as an example of a man who prayed in faith and saw answers. To dispel the notion that somehow, Elijah was the one pulling off miracles, he states clearly “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours …” He then gives a pretty dramatic example of answered prayer.

What does any of this have to do with fantasy?

Here’s the deal. If prayer is really so powerful, if God answers prayer and does the miraculous, why don’t we pray more? Specifically, why don’t we pray for what we care about dearly?

For me, that includes praying that Christian fantasy will spread. I cling tenaciously to this idea that stories featuring good versus evil are already shaped to make God the hero. In other words, they are perfect vehicles for Spiritual Truth. They are constructed in such a way as to point to God and glorify Him. Unless, of course, you are a Philip Pullman type who turns good and evil upside down.

We Christians have a responsibility to use the format that is so designed to point to good and loudly declare, God is that Good.

With such a belief, how can I not pray for the success of books and authors who are striving to glorify God in this way? At the same time, however, I am also praying for more agents and acquisition editors to acquire clients or books that aim high and take the reader deep.

So here’s the cool thing. I happened to glance at a line in my prayer journal and saw where months ago I prayed for a particular editor to acquire a fantasy. Answered before asked. This editor had already done so, but I didn’t find it out until a few months later, when I’d forgotten I’d prayed for such an acquisition. So now I have a chance to praise God publicly for answered prayer. May He receive glory for what He has done! 😀

Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 12:29 pm  Comments (5)  
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Children’s Book Blog Tour – Something Wicked, 3


Last reminder: for those of you wishing to vote for the October CSFF Top Blogger Award, you can find the poll HERE.

I’ve had a lot of fun discussing Alan Gratz‘s young adult novel Something Wicked for the Children’s Book Blog Tour, but as yet I haven’t reviewed the book, so that’s where we’re headed today.

The Story. If you read yesterday’s post here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, you already know this is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Mr. Gratz has a tongue-in-cheek way of writing some of the time. The names of his two villains, for example, are Mac and his girlfriend Beth. A little obvious? Well, I didn’t get it until I saw the names together on one of the other tour participate’s posts. 😮

If you aren’t familiar with the storyline, there’s a good summary over at Wikipedia. Macbeth has more murder and mayhem than Something Wicked, but then it was targeting adults.

Strengths. Mr. Gratz is a skilled writer (he’s also either very thoughtful or quite a savvy promoter because he put a handwritten note addressed to me personally inside the ARC I received for the tour. I have to tell you, that didn’t hurt my thoughts about the book as I turned to chapter one.) I guess my main measuring stick for determining this has two sides. One is based on how I feel about the characters, and the other is connected to whether or not I think about the story when I am not reading it.

I’ll take those in reverse order. Something Wicked moved quickly and it isn’t a big book, so while I was reading it, there weren’t many away-from-the-book moments (except the ones when I was asleep or working), but I was surprised to find myself mulling over aspects of the story during the off hours. This is a mystery, for one thing, and I do love to contemplate the whodunit question. Yes, I was fairly certain I knew, but I couldn’t help wondering if Mr. Gratz would put his own twist on the old story.

As for the characters, they were so well portrayed, so believable, so real-to-life, it’s a little hard to think they aren’t walking around somewhere, finishing up high school while Mr. Gratz works on the next book in the series. 😉

I’m a believer in Donald Maass’s larger-than-life character elements that create engaging characters. In Horatio, Mr. Gratz has concocted one of the best examples of such a character. Here is a young man with decided strenths. He is witty, observant, and able to make intelligent deductions. In addition he ends up having to face an inner conflict he didn’t expect. Along the way, he shows amazing self-awareness, but still stumbles into some heartbreaking pits. Lastly, he has a snarky humorous streak that he unleashes from time to time, especially against bullies and other powerful people. To the kind, he is kind. To the weak he is helpful and compassionate and loyal.

Yes, Horatio is a strong character. Clearly, he makes the story.

Weaknesses. Well, the plot was essentially Shakespeare’s, and the character was brilliant. So were there weaknesses? I think of two, yes. One was the overt sexual material. As Mr. Gratz said in one interview, the sex wasn’t graphic (i. e. “on camera”). And it did serve the story as I pointed out on Monday. But there was some flashing and some grabbing and some bedding (without wedding) that I tend to think let’s teens conclude “everyone’s doing it.” As an adult, I wasn’t disturbed except when Horatio was happy when his friend began making obscene comments because he was back to normal. I don’t like teens thinking obscenity is normal. It’s common, but not normal. One of the mistakes our society makes is in thinking the two are the same.

A second weakness, in my opinion, was in not elaborating on the central greed theme. Maybe because of the economic woes of the past few months, I’d like to see greed exposed a bit more. Here was a story set up to do that, and I think it came across a little soft. This was one guy’s problem, and he went a bit nuts, partly because his girlfriend pushed him and his dad drove him to it. Hmmm, I wish there had been more.

Recommendation. This book is not for everyone. Readers who would rather not see the seamier parts of apparently upright society will probably not like this book. Mystery lovers who mostly like to figure out things along with the protagonist may be disappointed. But readers who love strong characters and who want to think about big issues like fate and parent/child relationships and greed and friendship—well, there’s lots in this book to like.

And of course, take time to read what others are saying on the Children’s Book Blog Tour:
the 160acrewoods, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Book Review Maniac, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Hyperbole, KidzBookBuzz.com, Looking Glass Reviews, Maggie Reads, Never Jam Today, Reading is My Superpower, Meagan.

Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 6:27 pm  Comments (2)  
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Children’s Book Blog Tour – Something Wicked, 2


Another reminder: for those of you wishing to vote for the October CSFF Top Blogger Award, you can find the poll HERE.

Yesterday I left off the discussion of Alan Gratz’s young adult novel Something Wicked (Dial Books) with the suggestion that something besides the sexual innuendo and acting out, something else besides the murders (yes, there is more than one) needs attention when making a determination whether or not to recommend and/or read this latest Horatio Wilkes mystery.

Be aware, in order to discuss this subject, spoilers are necessary. If you know the story of Macbeth, you already have an idea about the plot, so the spoilers are already loose anyway.

The final cautionary item I wish to mention is the part the supernatural plays in the story. Yes, “supernatural.” I know some who have read the book may be scratching their heads wondering what I’m talking about.

Here’s the point. In Something Wicked , just as in Macbeth, the inciting incident is an encounter with a spiritist. In Shakespeare’s original, it was actually three spiritists—three witches who chanted

Double, double, toile and trouble
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble

as a chorus to their prophecies about Macbeth and his friend.

Just so, Horatio, Mac, and their sidekicks visit a palm reader who makes predictions that set in motion the events of the story.

Interestingly, Horatio considers the palm reader to be a complete fraud and refuses to pay good money to hear her “flimflam.” And later in the story, he pays the woman to recite a script he writes. Yet both times, she adds predictions free of charge, and as it turns out, each one of hers comes true.

So the question is, Was author Alan Gratz making a statement about the supernatural? The more accurate question would be, Was Shakespeare making a statement about the supernatural, for it appears to me, Mr. Gratz was faithfully following the story outline of the great English playwright.

As I see it, the answer is yes, there is a clear, though subtle, statement about the supernatural. The basic assertion seems to be that supernatural influence, whether foreknowledge, understanding, or actual power over events, is real.

At first that may not be apparent because protagonist Horatio Wilkes is a disbeliever and remains so to the end, though others recognize how Madam Hecate’s words about Mac and Banks came true. What no one in the story comments about is how her freebie, unsolicited words about Horatio were true, not once but twice. How her words about Beth were true as well. And most sadly, how her words about Megan were true.

In other words, it’s hard to chalk up Mac’s reaction to what Madam Hecate said as the sole reason her words came true. In Shakespeare the same dual effect of the witches’ predictions is present. One prediction came true, and Macbeth reacted, which seemed to bring about the other predictions—as if the prophecies were self-fulfilling to a degree.

Madam Hecate may have had more of the prophetic touch even than the Shakespearean witches.

My point with this discussion is simple. Here’s where discernment should come into play. Should a book be taboo because it introduces an element of the supernatural? I certainly don’t think so. But I also don’t think that element should be ignored. My guess is, if Madame Hecate had been called a witch, the supernatural would not have been ignored. But since our hero considers her a flimflam artist, it’s easy to slide by what she actually did in the story.

That would be a mistake. Identifying the supernatural element, examining it, weighing it against Truth is what a discerning reader should do.

Stop by the other blogs on the tour:
the 160acrewoods, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Book Review Maniac, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Hyperbole, KidzBookBuzz.com, Looking Glass Reviews, Maggie Reads, Never Jam Today, Reading is My Superpower.

Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 7:37 pm  Comments (7)  
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Children’s Book Blog Tour – Something Wicked


Just a reminder. For those of you wishing to vote for the October CSFF Top Blogger Award, you can find the poll HERE.

Another reminder. I will from time to time be participating in the Children’s Book Blog Tour which features books published by both general market and Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) houses. This month the CBBT is focusing on Alan Gratz’s young adult novel Something Wicked (Dial Books).

I’m not quite sure where to start. A word of caution is in order, I suppose. This book has material—sexual innuendo, primarily—that pushes the edge. And it’s a murder mystery.

Am I saying not to read this book? If you think that, you haven’t been hanging out at A Christian Worldview of Fiction long enough to know that one of my beliefs when it comes to books is that readers all should be discerning, not reactive. In short, I have no wish to tell you what to think. At the same time, I don’t want anything I say to be misconstrued as approval of teens having sexual trysts while off on family outings.

In the case of Something Wicked, Mr. Gratz and his publishers make no secret that the story is connected to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. From the back cover:
“Horatio Wilkes is back in the Macbethian companion to Something Rotten.”

Then in a Gratz quote, also on the back cover:

“The challenge was figuring out how I was going to insert Horatio—a character from Hamlet—into the story of Macbeth.”

And if that wasn’t enough, the epigraph makes the case:

“By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.”
-Macbeth, Act 4, Scene iv

Why do I make this point? Essentially to say that few parents have any objection to their youth reading Shakespeare, though often his stories contained bawdy language, sexual insinuations, and some plain debauchery. Are these acceptable because Shakespeare’s works are considered classics? Because his work is artistry (much the way paintings of nudes are not considered pornographic. And how much spam will that sentence earn me? 😮 )

In Something Wicked, much of the sexual language and acting out, especially in the opening of the book, serve the story. The characters take on their Macbethian roles through those scenes. But since the story, essentially a retelling of Shakespeare’s original, takes place in a modern setting, suddenly red flags go up.

Red flags should go up, but not at the story. The problem isn’t with Something Wicked but with a society that has created the climate in which this story takes place. In that regard, this novel actually throws some light on that society. But just a little.

But beyond the sexual innuendos and acting out, beyond the murder, and even the societal woes that created the compost heap in which the story germinated, there is something else to consider that might be the biggest red flag of all. Something … well, wicked.

Discussion for next time.

Check out what other bloggers are saying about this book:
the 160acrewoods, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Book Review Maniac, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Hyperbole, KidzBookBuzz.com, Looking Glass Reviews, Maggie Reads, Never Jam Today, Reading is My Superpower.

Fantasy Friday – (And It Really Is)


First, I almost didn’t want to post because I don’t want to bury the poll for the October CSFF Top Blogger Award. So far there’s been good participation, but I tend to adhere to the out-of-sight-out-of-mind theory.

Of course I had the option of putting the poll on a static page, but I don’t want regular visitors to think there was no new content, since I’ve never gone the static-page route before. A second option was to put the poll in the sidebar, but I should have done that when I first posted it. Since I haven’t experimented with doing that, and didn’t have the time for that, I discarded that idea as well. So that brings us to me including the poll link for the rest of the week, to make it easy to find for those wishing to vote.

Are you ready? You can find the October CSFF Top Blogger Award Poll HERE.

And now, on to fantasy. I’ve subscribed to Google Alert, so I receive an email notice when the term “Christian fantasy” comes up in a blog. This week another Christian author wrote about Christian fantasy, and the conclusion wasn’t flattering. I’m referring to Timothy Fish’s post, Is This Christian Fantasy? And his conclusion:

There are many people who think Christian Fantasy would sell if the publishers would publish it. Some publishers are moving in that direction, but could it be that the problem isn’t the lack of fans or the unwillingness of publishers to meet the demand, but a deficiency in the quality of manuscripts authors are submitting?

Ouch! 😮 Since I’m a proponent of Christian fantasy, I hate it when the genre takes a hit. The truth is, like any other genre, there are some well-written stories, some poorly written stories, and lots in between (but when it comes to Christian fantasy “lots” is relative). I’ve read all three. Apparently Timothy, who admittedly hasn’t “seen the body of Christian Fantasy,” stumbled upon a book he found to be weak in plot … or perhaps characters, as the post the following day would suggest.

Do such Christian fantasies exist? They do. Would that we Christian fantasy authors were all better writers. But the conclusion is unacceptable, in my opinion. Does one poorly written cozy mystery mean all cozy mysteries being submitted for publication are poor? Or one poorly crafted historical? Or one poorly crafted romance? In that vein, a person could conclude that all Christian fiction must be terrible because one book was terrible. Or, for that matter, that all novels, Christian or otherwise, are terrible because one novel is terrible.

The point is, drawing a damning conclusion from one sampling of whatever doesn’t seem to be a wise course. Unfortunately, this is the kind of fire-quenching scuttlebutt that can create negative buzz just when Christian fantasy is beginning to be noticed and accepted.

On the plus side, kudos to Zondervan for accepting science fiction and fantasy in their contest (co-sponsored with Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference). Happily, they seem to be moving forward in producing speculative literature. May their tribe increase. 😀

October CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award – Your Vote Counts


Since I now have this handy-dandy poll option, I thought I’d take advantage of it. During the next week, vote for the CSFF Blogger you think is deserving of the October Top Blogger Award. The only requirement is that this blogger must have participated all three days of the tour for Beyond the Reflection’s Edge.

I’ve added the “other” space in case I missed someone who also is eligible. And for the record (not saying any of you were thinking this), I’m not eligible. (I’ve never felt good about groups that have awards, then present them to the organizers. 😮 )

Thanks for taking part! 😉

Published in: on October 22, 2008 at 6:57 pm  Comments (1)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Beyond the Reflection’s Edge, 3


I just came upon the YouTube trailer for Beyond the Reflection’s Edge, so if you’re looking for more information about this month’s CSFF feature, you might want to take a look.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the second book in Bryan Davis’s Echoes from the Edge series, Eternity’s Edge, which released this month. The real plus is, if you read the first book, you don’t have to wait to delve into the second. I know some people who refuse to read continuing series until the final book is in print.

I’ve never done that. In fact my most enjoyable reading experience may have been a series (not Harry Potter) where I had to wait to get the next book. The tension that resulted hightened my anticipation and made an event out of finally reading the next book and the next and the next and the next.

I will say, when I have the entire series available, I don’t hesitate to dive right in (Lord of the Rings), so I’m not saying I only choose to tackle them in one manner alone.

Some series seem to hold readers in tension better than others. I tend to think those are the stories that have readers connecting with the characters more deeply. It’s why continuation TV programs have become popular, why movies have become serial. Viewers, like readers, become invested in the characters and want to know if they will not only survive but thrive. Will he get the girl or the gold or the glory? What will he have to give up? Will the cost ruin his life? Or prove his heroism?

These ties with the character drive readers on to the next book much more than plot points do, in my opinion. And one test of a reader’s investment is how much his anticipation builds because he has to wait for the next book. At least that’s my theory.

And now, a reminder. I’m posting a poll later today that will invite you to select the October CSFF Top Blogger Award. Those eligible are the participants who posted all three days in our current tour. I’ll announce the results next Wednesday, which means we’ll have a full week to vote.

So on to the other blogs participating:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
√√√ Keanan Brand
√√ Kathy Brasby
√√√ Valerie Comer
Courtney
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
√√√ Shane Deal
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
√√√ Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
√√ Kait
Mike Lynch
Magma
√√√ Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
√√√ John W. Otte
√√√ Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
√√√ Chawna Schroeder
√√ Greg Slade
James Somers
Speculative Faith
√√ Steve Trower
Robert Treskillard Not on the original list
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

“√” indicates I know a blog post is up.

Published in: on October 22, 2008 at 12:26 pm  Comments Off on CSFF Blog Tour – Beyond the Reflection’s Edge, 3  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Beyond the Reflection’s Edge, a Review


Beyond the Reflection’s Edge, by Bryan Davis (Zondervan), is categorized as adventure fantasy (for a definition, see my post yesterday at Speculative Faith). That’s fairly accurate, though I think it is considerably more. It’s contemporary, has an element of science fiction and another of supernatural suspense. In short, it is the Bryan Davis genre.

The Story. Protagonist Nathan Shepherd, a sixteen-year-old high school student, discovers the bodies of his parents, with the apparent murderer standing over them. He escapes for his life, eventually seeking refuge with another family where he meets Kelly, a girl close to his age.

Together they discover strange happenings in his room connected with the wall-sized mirror and the smaller square mirror his dad gave him shortly before his death. These mirrors, alone and in combination, lead to high adventure as the two teens, not knowing who they can trust, work to save the cosmos from calamity.

That’s all I’m telling, and that’s more than I usually give. 😉 Actually, I think that’s enough for readers to get a flavor of this story and should give them an idea whether or not it’s one they would enjoy.

Strengths. There’s much to like in Beyond the Reflection’s Edge, not the least being the characters. Bryan has portrayed a realistic teen grieving for his parents. He’s also done a good job creating Kelly as a distinct girl who has some bitterness about her own parents. The adults, in my opinion, seem much more true to life than in past Davis books.

The story is intriguing. There are appropriate twists and turns, and just about the time I thought something didn’t work, Bryan provided a plausible explanation. The action doesn’t feel too fast paced. There are times for the reader to get to know the characters, but that’s still through action.

There is sufficient tension and the stakes are certainly high—both the external stakes and Nathan’s personal ones—so I was drawn through the story by the questions the events raised.

The setting was clear. It was apparent Bryan did his research. He knew the places, so it was easy to trust him with the logistics. Rarely did I feel lost or like I needed to backtrack to figure out where the characters were in relation to one another.

Weaknesses. I have two main concerns, and I think in explaining them, I’m forced to give spoilers, so a SPOILER ALERT is in order.

First, in the climax, Nathan finds his parents alive, in another dimension, and must decide to pull them back into their correct dimension or save Kelly who has fallen into the hands of the villain who wants to kill Nathan and his parents. The problem here, as I see it, is that Nathan, should he decide to bring his parents into his dimension, will essentially be handing them over to the killer who no one so far has been able to stop. Consequently, the internal tension—should he save Kelly or save his parents—seems false to me. It was never a good idea to bring his parents within reach of the killer, no matter how much Nathan may have wanted to be back with his family, because then they would surely have died.

The other problem I saw has to do with the “faith elements.” I don’t like that term, as some of you may remember from another post. But here’s the thing: if a character is established as a Christian, it seems to me, he should have some evidence of having a relationship with God. Nathan has a strong moral code, he indicates he wants to go to church, he tells Kelly to pray when they’re in trouble. But when she says all she knows is the Our Father, he says that’s good enough (or something to that effect), and later tells her it’s time for another Our Father. At one point he says a quick prayer before starting off to do something dangerous. But there is no thought about God creating different dimensions and how or why, there’s no curiosity about sin or wondering if Christ came to all the places, no thoughts about his parents being in heaven that I recall. In other words, in the really big issues and during the critical times when I would expect a Christian to think differently, Nathan seems very much the same as his non-Christian friend.

END SPOILER ALERT

Of course, some of these issues may be addressed in later books, for clearly this story continues in Eternity’s Edge. In addition, this latter “faith elements” poin does not detract from the surface level story.

Recommendation. I found Beyond the Reflection’s Edge to be an intriguing story with good, believable characters. It was enjoyable. I highly recommend the book to those who prefer contemporary over other-world fantasy.

Take some time now to see what other bloggers on the CSFF tour have to say about Beyond the Reflection’s Edge:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
√√ Valerie Comer
Courtney
CSFF Blog Tour
√√ Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
√√ Shane Deal
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
√√ Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
√√ Kait
Mike Lynch
Magma
√√ Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
√√ John W. Otte
√√ Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Chawna Schroeder
Greg Slade
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Steve Trower
Robert Treskillard Not on the original list
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

“√” indicates I know a blog post is up.

CSFF Blog Tour – Beyond the Reflection’s Edge, Day 1


The CSFF Blog Tour is featuring Bryan Davis’s Beyond the Reflection’s Edge this month. I “met” Bryan Davis back in 2003. We were both members of an email group, the Christian Writers Group (now the Christian Writers Group International) and exchanged an email or two because we both wrote fantasy. Eventually I began critiquing Bryan’s first manuscript, the story that became Raising Dragons, first in the Dragons in Our Midst series. One thing led to another, and I ended up editing Bryan’s next four books.

In 2005 we met in real life when Bryan came to the West Coast in early December for a book signing. As I recall, he went to four schools and a bookstore while he was in my area. A friend of mine and I met him one evening for dinner at a local restaurant, and I caught his presentation at several of the schools, then went to the booksigning.

This past year I met Bryan’s wife, Susie for the first time when they both came to the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference (where I took the picture above).

All this to say, Bryan has been influential in my own writing. We have discussed writing technique and writing purpose and what Christians can do through the fantasy genre. These give-and-take exchanges have helped form my own writing philosophy. To illustrate the point, I pulled the following quote from an email Bryan sent soon after he finished the revision of The Candlestone in 2004.

I want heroes. I want people to challenge me to be great. I want to argue in court with Atticus Finch and feel his gentle strength. I want to go into battle with Joan of Arc and live her tremendous faith. I want to sing in chains with the apostle Paul and watch the walls crumble at the hand of an almighty God … And I want to challenge others to walk that path with me.

This goes along with the impassioned defense of fantasy Bryan delivered at the Huntington Beach Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour event earlier this month. I’ll need to check on this with organizer Merrie Destefano, but I think there might be a CD of that entire evening (sans the booksigning 😉 ) which would be well worth acquiring.

Merrie has mentioned the idea of a fantasy/sci fi writers conference in the past, and I’m starting to think that has real merit. In the mean time, I encourage you to visit the blogs of others posting about Beyond the Reflection’s Edge. Also, I invite you back on Wednesday to vote (using WordPress’s new PollDaddy addition 😀 ) to select this month’s CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award. (Those eligible are bloggers posting all three days of the tour).

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Courtney
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Mike Lynch
Magma
Terri Main
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Chawna Schroeder
Greg Slade
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Steve Trower
Robert Treskillard Not on the original list
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

“√” indicates I know a blog post is up.

Fantasy Friday—the Saturday Edition—on Characters


I don’t know if the protagonists in fantasy are particularly different from the protagonists in fiction at large. Maybe. There is some “hero” quality a fantasy reader may expect, but I’m not sure that readers of other fiction don’t want that as well.

Here are some thoughts about fantasy protagonists from The Writer’s Guide to Fantasy Literature, edited by Philip Martin (The Writer Books):

The hero has a complex dual role to play: to be human and to be larger-than-life. In many ways, Harry Potter and Bilbo the hobbit are like us, their readers. They are shy, quiet, reluctant to take center stage, not seeking fame or heroic stature. Yet they also have special powers, and when called upon, draw on their inner strengths to perform feats of great courage and personal sacrifice.

p. 98

I started thinking about the fantasy heroes I have loved. There is Taran from The Book of Three and the other stories in the Chronicles of Prydain. He was a young pig-keeper—apparently not a particularly good one—who wanted to be a knight. He was “relatable”—”human” as the quote above terms it. But he became larger than life, in part because of his desires to be greater than he was, but more so because he learned what that meant, learned how incapable he was, and then he did the really heroic.

There was Fiver from Watership Downs, the weakest rabbit in the warren, but with amazing powers that ended up saving them all. He was “human” because of his weakness and his inner strength. What mattered wasn’t just the exterior—the vulnerable part. He was more.

An obvious one is Lucy from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She was the youngest of the four Pevensies, which put her at a disadvantage. But when she found Narnia and came back telling her brothers and sister, their disbelief made her a sympathetic figure—more human. She was right but misunderstood and disbelieved. She became heroic because her belief was a cornerstone to their relationship with Aslan.

Speaking of C. S. Lewis fantasy, there is Oruel from Till We Have Faces . She was the unloved and unlovely princess, save for the special place she had in her sister’s heart. She too was sympathetic because of her humanness—her weaknesses, disadvantage, frailty, and her longings, her hopes. She didn’t become heroic until the end, which I won’t mention because I don’t want to spoil it for any who haven’t read the book yet.

This leaves me with a question, however. If the hero doesn’t become heroic until the end, will readers lose their interest in him (or her)? I mean, Till We Have Faces is not a well-known or popular work of Lewis’s. Is Oruel, perhaps, too human, and not enough larger than life?

What about some of the contemporary Christian fantasy? Billy and Bonnie in Dragons in Our Midst, Susan Mitchell in The Swords of Lyric series, Abramm in Karen Hancock’s The Guardian-King series, Kale and Bardon in The DragonKeeper Chronicles, Aidan in The Door Within series or Aidan in The Bark of the Bog Owl. Your thoughts?

Published in: on October 18, 2008 at 10:48 am  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday—the Saturday Edition—on Characters  
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