CSFF Blog Tour – Starlighter by Bryan Davis, Day 3


One of the fun things about blog tours is the chance to learn more about the author through interviews. We’ve enjoyed a couple this week in our tour of Starlighter by Bryan Davis. For a quick, six-question interview, stop by Fantasy & Faith with Dona Watson. For a longer edition (only eight questions, but Bryan’s answers are more in depth), visit Inklings Blog with Rachel Starr Thomson. Jill Williamson also interviewed Bryan for her day two post—interesting set of questions.

Something else I think important to mention during this tour. Bryan has a short companion adult series coming out with Living Ink (AMG) called Tales of Starlight. The first book, Masters & Slayers, releases September 14. If you’d like to learn more, check out what Nicole, an early reviewer (and not part of the blog tour) has to say about this part of the Starlight story.

And now my review of Starlighter.

The Story. Two planets in the same system share something that could have been wonderful—a portal allowing inhabitants to step from one to the other. However, one group, the dragons of Starlight, used the portal for their own purposes. Some time in the past, they kidnapped children from Darksphere and enslaved them.

When one of these Lost Ones escaped and returned to his world, no one believed his story. To protect the rest of his people, he devised a way to lock the portal.

As years passed, people came to believe the story of the Lost Ones was nothing but a myth. Meanwhile, the dragons of Starlight told their captives a different story about their origins. However, the humans had an oral tradition telling of the portal and the enslavement. But who believed in “old wives’ tales” any more?

On Darksphere, a boy named Jason and on Starlight a girl named Koren both desire something better for the Lost Ones. Jason comes to believe the story of the hidden portal and sets out to find it. When he does, his path and Koren’s intersect, and the real conflicts begin.

Strengths. One critiquer commented that this story is clearly a Bryan Davis novel. In other words, Bryan’s voice is strong, and his stamp is all over this story, from plot to themes to characters.

The central figures, Jason and Koren, are heroic, sacrificial, noble, altruistic. (For an excellent commentary about creating such characters for young people to emulate today, see Fred Warren‘s day 3 post.)

The plot moves at a rapid rate. Dangers on the left, dangers on the right, and difficult decisions to make at every turn. Without a doubt, this plot will keep Bryan Davis fans holding on or holding their breath.

The themes develop from the character qualities of the protagonists. They are not exclusively Christian but mirror biblical attributes Christians are called to live out.

Weakness. I notice things in fiction now that I am a writer that I would not have noticed earlier, at least not consciously. And as it turns out, the area I’m considering a weakness is a direct result of a decision Bryan has made in his writing process. As a self-styled computer geek, Bryan undoubtedly has an organized mind, but instead of outlining his plots, he utilizes the “seat-of-the-pants” method of writing fiction.

The method itself is not a weakness, but I think it leads to one—a lack of foreshadowing. Because Bryan doesn’t know ahead of time what will happen, he doesn’t tip off readers. This can work against believability, but it can also dampen reader reaction.

* * * SPOILER ALERT – Of necessity, some discussion of plot points ahead * * *

For example, when a group of slaves are trapped in a small cluster of mining tunnels, the dragons release a swarm of particularly deadly bees. It’s a tense moment, but I suggest it could have been rendered more so if the bees had been foreshadowed. As it is, readers understand the danger but don’t feel it. We could have been worried about the bees for chapters. (Not the bees! Anything but the bees! NO! They’re NOT releasing the BEES! Woe, oh woe! How will they ever escape the deadly, deadly BEES?)

I doubt if one out of a hundred Bryan Davis fans notice something that is not there. But I suspect the power of foreshadowing would have vaulted the tension so much higher that readers wouldn’t be able to stop talking about the story.

Recommendation. I highly recommend Starlighter for all Bryan Davis fans. It’s sure to move to the top of many a favorites list.

Be sure to see how my review stacks up with others posting on the tour (see participants’ list at the end of Monday’s article).

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of review.

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