Christians And Christian Fiction

Novel cover collage2A recent Facebook interchange brought me up short again. Here was a person with a particular opinion about Christian fiction, though he admitted he doesn’t read it and has no plans to start.

In many ways that approach would be like someone coming to me and offering advice about how to care for my Honda, though they’ve never owned a Honda before and have no intention of buying one in the future.

For quite some time, Christian fiction bore the stigma of poor writing. This mantra is still repeated from time to time, but with less frequency. Of course there are examples of poor writing that gets published by a reputable publishing house, but these days, those are the exceptions rather than the rule.

One of the greatest “sins” of Christian fiction according to critics, was that it was preachy. People making that accusation could mean anything from the message was overt, to narrative explaining the theme interrupted the story, or the story dealt with Christian themes. To counter this, a number of writers and conference instructors began to teach that stories shouldn’t have an intentional Christian message–that this was a sure-fire way to create preachy fiction.

Of course that approach completely ignored the fact that fiction, like any other writing, is first and foremost communication, that a writer who has nothing to say will write a vapid, uninteresting story. Many secular writing instructors began to give clear teaching about how to craft a theme and how to weave it into a story, and the “no intentional theme” advocates seem to be losing steam.

The latest round of criticisms of Christian fiction is that the message is too shallow, too predictable. After all, it’s a conversion story. Again. Aren’t all Christian stories conversion stories? How boring.

Well, actually, not all Christian fiction is about conversion. And those that are, aren’t boring because of the conversion. I mean, do people read romance and say, How boring, another love story. I, for one, love to hear how people came to faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t find it boring when we have testimonies in our church. Each person is a witness to the amazing power and love of God. Why can’t life-changing fiction be that same kind of witness? Nevertheless, not every story labeled Christian fiction does have a conversion.

The point is, Christian fiction has something to say about the Christian or about Christianity or about the Christian life. It can be in a contemporary setting or historical. It can be a romance or a supernatural suspense. It can be in outer space or in a world beyond a fantasy portal. It can be overt or allegorical or symbolic. In other words, there is great variety in Christian fiction.

The problem is, these critics who say they haven’t read Christian fiction and aren’t planning to do so, are ignorant of its scope. What’s more, they think Christian fiction writers prefer a limited distribution–from Christian book stores and isolated shelves in Walmart or Barnes & Noble. They think Christian writers want to stay in a niche or a bubble, writing to a subset of believers about subjects that aren’t challenging.

When someone counters this argument by pointing to books about cloning or child abuse or sex trafficking, then the accusations turn on how unrealistic Christian fiction is because it lacks profane or vulgar language and doesn’t include sex scenes. Never mind that virtually every book considered a classic lacks those same things; somehow, only Christian fiction is faulty because of these deficiencies.

Perhaps you can tell–I’m a little tired of people who don’t read Christian fiction hammering it in generalities. Christian fiction is as varied as general market fiction. Hence, you’ll find some that is well written, engaging, entertaining, and truthful. You’ll find some that is less well written or less engaging, less entertaining, and yes, less truthful.

People who lump Christian fiction together as if it is all the same need to spend some time in a Christian book story or surfing Christian fiction on Barnes & Noble’s web site. There simply is no “one size” Christian fiction, and it’s becoming more varied every day.

Perhaps it’s time for all those critics to do the unthinkable and actually read a novel, written by a Christian, and published by a Christian imprint.

Published in: on January 31, 2013 at 5:05 pm  Comments (6)  
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Moral, Religious People Are Not Allies Of Christ

The_Moneychangers001When Jesus lived on earth, He often criticized the most religious, most moral group of people in Judaism–the priests, Levites, and Pharisees. He told parables in which they recognized themselves as the people on the wrong side of right. He usurped their authority to clean out moneychangers from the temple. He called them a “brood of vipers” on more than one occasion, and warned them that they stood under God’s wrath, that they were headed for hell (Matt. 23:26). He called them liars and said their father was the devil (John 8:44).

In spite of this example that Jesus set, many Christians today choose to embrace moral, religious people and call them allies. Fine Christian people are more fearful of the immoral, left-leaning liberals than they are of the legalistic religionist. But Jesus never went after the tax collectors or the Roman collaborators or the prostitutes the way He went after the Pharisees. He never called them names or painted them as uncaring cheats in His stories.

Why did Jesus seem so abrasive when He dealt with these Jews who were meticulous about keeping the law, and we twenty-first century Christians wink at the legalism of our new-found moral friends?

I’m referring specifically to Mormons and the Christians who are willing to “look past” their legalism, their false teaching, their lies, their distortion of God’s revelation and of His Person.

How heinous it is that we have a President who embraces abortion and gay rights, who reinterprets the Constitution. But why would we turn to a Mormon instead? Do we not care about the normalization of Mormonism as much as we care about the normalization of homosexuality? Do we think a man who believes in an invented religion with a prophet who has greater authority than the Bible, would actually think twice about reinterpreting the Constitution too?

It seems to me, Mormons have buffaloed Christians … and others, by their moral front. They want very much to be treated as just another Christian denomination, not as the cult that they are. The problem is, their founder’s and prophets’ writings show otherwise. Here are just a few points of Mormon belief many may not realize.

About God and Jesus (source for these excerpts,

  • “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man…”(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345)
  • “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangilble as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Spirit has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit…” (Doctrine and Covenants, 130:22)
  • “As man is, God once was: as God is, man may become” (Prophet Lorenzo Snow, quotedin Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages, 105-106)
  • Remember that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, and mortal like we ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until He has arrived at the point where He now is” (Apostle Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, 1:123)
  • When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one his wives, with him. He helped to make and organized this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! About whom holy men have written and spoken—He is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom we have to do” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:50)
  • Jesus is the brother of Satan this is revealed in the Pearl of Great Price, Book of Moses 4:1-4 and affirmed by Brigham Young in the Journal of Discourses, 13:282)

About history in America (source of this quote is Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry):

  • The Book of Mormon is supposed to be the account of people who came from the Middle-East to the Americas. It covers the period of about 600 B.C. to 400 A.D. It tells of the Jaredites, people from the Tower of Babel who came to central America but perished because of their own immorality. It also describes some Jews who fled persecution in Jerusalem and came to America led by a man called Nephi. The Jews divided into two groups known as the Nephites and Lamanites who fought each other. The Nephites were defeated in 428 A.D. The Lamanites continued and are known as the American Indians. The Book of Mormon is the account of the Nephite leader, Mormon, concerning their culture, civilization, and appearance of Jesus to the Americas.

latter day cipher coverFor a more comprehensive look at Mormonism, check out The Mormon Mirage by Latayne Scott. For a look at Mormonism through the personal means of a story, see the murder-mystery Latter-Day Cipher also by former Mormon Latayne Scott.

Published in: on January 30, 2013 at 6:29 pm  Comments (5)  
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CSFF Tour Wrap – Angel Eyes

csffbannerWhat an interesting group of posts we had for the Angel Eyes tour. This first in the trilogy by the same name, written by Shannon Dittemore, comprised 39 posts by 21 participants.

We had everything, from one of our members losing (nearly) his man card for admitting that he had read the Twilight books (cough, Jason) to a thoughtful discussion about healing and a scholarly look at the history of halos.

As always, we now have the enjoyable task of choosing a winner of the CSFF Top Tour Blogger–this one the first in 2013. The cool part about this is that it gives us a chance to revisit some of the articles. Here are the eligible candidates and the links to what they wrote:

The poll will be open until midnight Tuesday, February 5. Thanks for your participation.

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 2:27 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Connection Between Humility And Obedience

sad_snot-nosed_kid“Fool! You fool!” the five-year-old shouted. As it turned out, he was talking to his mother. She didn’t reprimand him for the name calling or for the disrespect. Instead she asked him if his father gave him sugar that morning. He growled in reply. She asked again and he growled again. Finally she asked him why he was making those noises. He said, “I’m a monster,” and proceeded to growl a few more times. At last his mother told him to stop being a monster. He growled in reply.

Is there a connection between this five-year-old’s disobedience and his disrespect for someone in authority? I think absolutely. Philippians tells us that Jesus humbled Himself by becoming obedient (2:8), and Hebrews tells us He learned obedience through suffering.

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. (5:8)

Jesus was not disobedient until he learned obedience. Rather He was sovereign, the One others obeyed. Being God, He was not in a position to obey anyone else. So when He came to earth, He needed to learn.

Suffering was the means by which He learned, and humility was the outgrowth of this obedience.

So here’s a thought. If suffering leads to obedience that leads to humility, then it makes sense that withheld punishment leads to increased disobedience that leads to pride. Consequently, when parents withhold punishment from their children who are disobedient, they are missing an opportunity to teach them humility. In short, they are enabling their child’s pride.

Ah, yes. Pride. Satan’s plaything. He loves to convince children they know as much or more than their parents, that they don’t have to listen or obey, that their way is as good or better than the way they’ve been instructed.

Those prideful little people, when left uncorrected, end up becoming prideful adults who may tell God they are nicer than He is, that they think He’s wrong to send people to hell, that His Word is outdated, irrelevant, intolerant. In other words, pride is at the heart of much of the apostasy in the western Church. Unlike Jesus, twenty-first century westerners have not learned humility through what we have suffered.

May God have mercy so that we learn humility at the hands of our parents rather than through the consequences a prideful people can accrue.

Published in: on January 28, 2013 at 6:24 pm  Comments (2)  
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Fantasy Friday – Introducing Patrick Carr

Patrick W. CarrA new addition to the list of fantasy authors comes to us from the field of education. Patrick W. Carr, the author of the soon to be released A Cast of Stones (Bethany House), teaches high school geometry in Nashville, TN.

He hasn’t always been in the classroom, though.

In one sense, Patrick started life on the road. He was born in West Germany into an Air Force family which relocated every three years. As an adult, he continued to see the world because of a “somewhat eclectic education and work history.”

Eventually he graduated from Georgia Tech. His work experience includes that of a draftsman at a nuclear plant, design work for the Air Force, work for a printing company, and consultation as an engineer.

Patrick didn’t come to writing until he turned 40. Like a number of other authors, he got the idea as he read to his children. He is the father of four boys–Patrick, Connor, Daniel, and Ethan–and he decided to write a book for them in which they were the main characters.

Creativity runs in the family, though at this point his sons show it most clearly through music. Two play the piano, one the sax, and the other, the cello. Patrick himself has aspirations to become a jazz pianist some day.

I’m not sure where that leaves his wife Mary who works as the infection control nurse at Alive Hospice. 😉A-Cast-of-Stones

A Cast of Stones is the first in a trilogy, so readers have the chance to jump in at the beginning. Here’s the descriptive blurb of the story:

In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone’s search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who has arrived with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them – only to find himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could determine the fate of a kingdom. Amidst mounting dangers, Errol must leave behind his idle life, learn to fight, come to know his God – and discover his destiny.

An interesting set up, I’d say. Who generally makes a drunk his protagonist? I’ll be interested to see how Errol Stone becomes a character readers care about.

If you’d like to learn more about Patrick and his writing, you can follow him on Facebook, and you can drop by at Spec Faith next Friday when he appears as the guest blogger.

Published in: on January 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – Introducing Patrick Carr  
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The Life And Times Of Manti Te’o

Tmz_headquarters_and_officesIt took President Obama’s inauguration to move Manti Te’o off the lead-story slot on most news programs. Now he’s back. I’ve been amazed—not so much about the dead-girlfriend hoax but about so many people’s fascination with it. Did Manti know that “his girlfriend” wasn’t a real person? Was he a victim or the mastermind?

Who cares!

Well, obviously millions must because radio talk shows discuss it, nightly news anchors discuss it, national TV news personalities discuss it, Facebook friends discuss it.

But why?

Apparently we have become a vampire society, living off the lives of other people–movie actors and sports figures, singers and celebrity dancers, bachelors and survivors.

Once people ridiculed the tabloids; now the tabloids are us. We care more about whether or not Manti Te’o was part of the dead-girlfriend plot than we do France’s involvement in Mali or what the rebels in the Congo are doing.

We’ve been TMZed, some say. But before TMZ, the TV show that prides itself in passing along celebrity gossip, there was Inside Edition and before Inside Edition was People Magazine. In reality, there’s been a steady climb toward the frivolous and vapid in our news.

The bottom line is, we have become a society that lives to be entertained. We want our news to be sensational, our commercials to be either amusing or easily bypassed, our entertainment to be constant. We live for the weekend and only endure the time in between that isn’t lived in front of a screen.

Manti Te’o is only the latest and certainly not the last person marked out by the media for constant, overwhelming attention–his fifteen minutes of fame. He’s a high profile athlete from a high profile school coming off a high profile season, and his story seemed too sad to be real.

Lost in all this is the fact that Manti’s grandmother really did die, though the pretend girlfriend did not. But real grief doesn’t quite live up to sensationalized deception, and the story has become, who lied? Who commandeered the “girlfriend’s pictures,” and set up the fraudulent scenario?

Why should anyone care?

But already there’s been talk about lawsuits, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a book deal is in the works. I mean, strike while the iron is hot!

All this simply makes me think, How the mighty have fallen.

Published in: on January 24, 2013 at 6:49 pm  Comments (2)  
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CSFF Tour – Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore, Day 3

Broken Wings coverI don’t know if I’ve actually come out and said it before in my posts about CSFF’s January feature, Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore, but here it is: I love this book! And in a few short weeks, book two of the trilogy, Broken Wings, is scheduled to release. I can hardly wait!

As I mentioned in my Day 1 post for this tour, I was fortunate enough to have received Angel Eyes earlier, so reviewed it then. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to recommend the book and series to those interested in a supernatural story written from a Christian perspective.

Here are my top seven reasons, in reverse order, for liking Angel Eyes:

7 The writing is excellent. It drew me into the story immediately. Here’s the opening:

The knot in my throat is constant. An aching thing. Shallow breaths whisper around it, sting my chapped lips, and leave white smoke monsters in the air.

6 The storytelling–the way the events unfold and the presentation of the characters–is equally strong.

5 The main character has a quirk and believable motivations that make her seem unique, not a plastic cutout of an angsty teen.

4 Our protagonist develops in a gradual, realistic way.

3 Intrigue pulls the reader forward into a plot that grows much larger than the opening might suggest.

2 The supernatural elements, rather than contradicting Scripture as so many angel/demon stories do, uses Scripture to undergird them, starting with a fictionalized account of Elisha opening the eyes of his servant so that he could see the army of God’s angels ready to protect them from the enemy surrounding the city (See 2 Kings 6:15-17).

1 And the number one reason I love this book: God wins! And He does so in a believable way, properly foreshadowed, and without any preachiness. What some call preachy is reality, given who these characters are. They act and speak naturally, based on their beliefs, doubts, fears, faith, or whatever, prompted by the demand of the circumstances.

Our tour is bringing out some interesting discussion. Megan opened with a thoughtful article about brokenness: What does broken mean? And what does the Bible say about broken people?

Shannon McDermott gave a thorough comparison of the angels in Angel Eyes with angels in the Bible.

Several people addressed the comparison of Angel Eyes with the Twilight books, none better than Jason Joyner: I do not believe Angel Eyes is the Christian Twilight. It stands on its own, with some shared conventions since they are both YA, both romance, and both supernatural in nature.

Jeremy Harder concludes that Angel Eyes “has it all”: I totally love well-written books that feature scenes of good colliding with evil, angels battling demons, and, of course, happy endings, and fortunately Angel Eyes has it all!

Phylis Wheeler, like me, enjoyed the book so much she gave a second endorsement after having reviewed it months ago.

And perhaps my favorite so far, Beckie Burnham highlights the truthful theme of Angel Eyes: The message of Angel Eyes is profound. God exists, His plans are eternal, and our choices and circumstances matter to Him and His economy. Dittemore doesn’t pretty up the evil in this book. Its real and real scary. But neither does she downplay the ultimate victory that will be God’s.

Of course, not everyone sees books the same way, so I suggest you stop by the other participating sites (list available, with check mark links to the articles, at the bottom of my Day 1 post) and see what each of them has to say.

You can also visit Shannon Dittemore’s Facebook page or follow her on Twitter.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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CSFF Tour – Angel Eyes By Shannon Dittemore, Day 2

Angel Eyes coverThis month CSFF is featuring Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore, and as you might guess, it can be classified as an angels book. Or supernatural. I don’t think those two are the same or that angel books are a subset of supernatural, but Angel Eyes would fit into both.

These classifications are significant, I believe. Supernatural stories encompass a broad range–pretty much anything that isn’t “natural.” Generally speaking, however, the supernatural elements are central to the story. This category includes fictitious supernatural creatures such as vampires and zombies as well as real supernatural agents such as demons and angels. Ghosts fit here, too–whether a person views them as real or pretend.

Other supernatural creatures such as faeries, witches, and wizards generally fit into the fantasy category rather than the supernatural category because they are viewed, as most stories use them, as make-believe.

Of course witches and sorcerers do exist, but usually stories with these creatures are not referencing beings that claim power from an evil source. Rather, they can, like regular humans, choose good or evil (e.g. the witches in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the wizards in Lord of the Rings and in Harry Potter). Their power is most often innate, though they can learn to use it more effectively.

I mention this particularly because angel books have the same issues as witch and sorcerer books–angels do actually exist, but writers can, and have, treated them as mythical beings with their own tropes.

Anne Rice may have started the latest surge of angel books when she declared at the beginning of her Songs Of The Seraphim series back in 2009 that angels were the new vampires. At any rate, following in the tradition of such films as It’s a Wonderful Life and TV programs such as Highway to Heaven, books have popped up with angels that bear little resemblance to the actual, factual beings mentioned in Scripture.

As a result, I’ve become … shall we say, cautious, about angel books. I have less trouble with those that bear no resemblance to Biblical angels than I do with quasi-accurate ones. The former I simply write off as make-believe creatures, little different from elves or hobbits or faeries.

Imagine my surprise when I read Angel Eyes and discovered a story that represented angels in a way consistent with Scripture.

Of course, there is still speculation–this is fiction, after all. For example, in one interview, author Shannon Dittemore said she developed the idea for the story by thinking, what if angel halos were actual solid objects? [And I’d add, what if angels actually had halos? 😉 ] From this key piece of pretend, the Angel Eyes story grows.

There’s more coming, too. The second book in the series, Broken Wings, is scheduled to release next month, and the third, Dark Halo is due out in August, I believe.

Take time to visit other CSFF tour participants and see what they’re saying about the book. You can find the entire list (with check marks providing links to the posts) at the bottom of my Day 1 article.

CSFF Tour – Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore, Day 1

shandittyAt last! This is a tour I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I reviewed Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore some months ago and was happy when the CSFF administrators added it to the list of books we’d feature. Our tour was scheduled for November, then chaos broke loose. OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I have to say, it makes you wonder when a book about angels, with a distinctly Biblical worldview, is mired in unusual circumstances that delay its tour.

But I’m putting that aside.

What I’d like to address today is something I read in a couple Amazon reviews–that Angel Eyes is a Twilight wannabe or the Christian answer to Twilight or some other comparison to Twilight. Here’s one:

I’ve never actually read any of the “Twilight” books, but even I can see the resemblance in the underlying “romance” thread in the book. I can certainly see that this book is geared toward the “Twilight” crowd, just with a Christian slant.

And then this:

I was struck immediately by the similarities to Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Unlike some of my readers, I was a huge Twilight fan, reading and rereading them multiple times. Angel Eyes struck me as a Christianized version of the popular series with angels and demons as our stars instead of vampires and werewolves.

Since I haven’t read any of the Twilight books but have heard some specific criticisms, this comparison shocked me. I could see, perhaps, the idea that the Twilight vampires had been switched out for angels and that both stories involved a teen romance, but from what I’ve heard, there were no other similarities that I knew of. Besides, the angels and vampires were not “switched out.”

Add in the fact that the main character in Angel Eyes has a lot more on her mind than an obsessive relationship with a “bad boy.” Further, there is no love triangle. In reality, Angel Eyes is more of a mystery than a romance.

I received a little more insight about reviewers making the Twilight/Angel Eyes comparison from the post of one of the CSFF tour participants, Anna Mittower:

The first chapter and indeed the set-up of the story in the rural town of Stratus reminds me of the first few pages of chapter one in Twilight. And that’s not a good thing. Both have a girl who’s not happy moving to a small, dreary town in the middle of nowhere. And both are complaining about it. Dreading it in fact.

Ah, OK. Similar openings. I suppose for someone who read Twilight, the opening would immediately put you in comparison mode, thinking of the other book and hating this one because it make you think of the other one.

Interestingly, Ms. Dittemore, in a style that reminded me of chick lit, made a number of pop cultural references, including a couple about Twilight. I thought those deflected any comparison–as if the character’s own awareness of the Twilight story made it abundantly clear that this was not that story, retold.

It’s clearly not. But I’ll have more to say about what it is as the tour continues.

For now, check out what the other participants are saying.

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm  Comments (10)  
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Fantasy Friday – A Review: The Sword Of Six Worlds

sword of six worlds coverMatt Mikalatos, known for his humorous quasi-autobiographical contemporary adult fantasies, Imaginary Jesus and Night of the Living Dead Christians, has shifted gears, proving yet again how talented he is. His latest book, released last December in paper, is a middle grade fantasy entitled The Sword of Six Worlds, Book One in the Adventures of Validus Smith series.

The Story. Validus Smith and her best friend Alex Shields know something is seriously wrong when their substitute teacher takes the side of the class bully. When he changes into a creature with fangs and tries to attack Validus, they escape by following two new students through a hole into a different world–one in which animals talk.

The “new students,” in fact, are animals–a tiger and a horse–who only took human form to bring Validus back to their world. They have been informed that she is the new paladin, and they desperately need her help in fighting the Blight which is bent on turning a series of worlds into dead planets. And so the adventure begins.

Evaluation. The Sword of Six Worlds is a delightful story. Both Validus and Alex are well painted. In their own world they are smart, obedient, polite, and survivors of the constant torture Jeremy Lane inflicts upon them with his words and his fists. In other words, they are sympathetic characters.

They aren’t perfect, and they have quirks. For example, Alex doesn’t text Validus to let her know he’s coming over, or even ring the doorbell. He tosses rocks at her window. Validus’s mother is always checking her temperature, worried she has a fever, and her dad is constantly reminding her not to lose her temper at school.

While Validus discovers she is the paladin, Alex discovers he is unique as well. They both have larger-than-life callings and they grow into their roles as events demand. They’re also fiercely loyal to one another, in spite of fears, and end up making other friends that are just as faithful.

The plot moves at a quick pace, with lots of tension. The story is not predictable, until perhaps towards the end–but then, it’s the end, so you can hardly say the story is unsurprising. As a matter of fact, I thought there were several unforeseen events.

I also like the cool fantasy elements. The talking animals worked, and Mikalatos played with them at times to give the story a bit of his humor.

The armadillo settled his monocle onto his needle nose, giving him an enormously magnified right eye. He twiddled his claws together in a nervous gesture, then motioned for the rat to climb back up with the scroll. Just as the rat reached the top, Benjamin [the tiger] cleared her throat and said, Yorrick.” The armadillo was so startled he knocked the poor rat to the ground again. The rat squeaked his displeasure and then lay on the ground, wrapped in the scroll like a toga. The armadillo slowly peeled his fingers from his eyes and peered out at Benjamin. “Ah,” he said. “You must learn not to use someone’s name without warning him.”

Better still was the Rock of Many Names and the things the rock mage could do. In all, the setting adds to the enjoyment of the story.

The plot certainly held my attention, but there were a couple places where I could see a need for improvement.

One is a situation that arose because Validus didn’t speak up. She was asked to speak up and she gave an answer, but when it became apparent she’d been misunderstood (and it should have been apparent right away), she did nothing to correct the mistake. This not speaking up continued for several chapters and actually led to a major plot point. Characters that don’t speak up generally irritate me, and I was feeling frustrated with Validus because a major dangerous situation could have been avoided if she’d answered the questions clearly, or at all.

The other point I thought could be strengthened was the climax. Up to that point, I had abandoned myself to the story and it proved to be as believable as discovering a world inside a wardrobe or having tea with a Faun. I loved it. The end, however, seemed a tad rushed, which made some of the elements seem not as believable as those at the beginning.

Recommendation. I’m excited to find this wonderful story that introduces the Architect who created the passageways between worlds and who guides the paladin. It’s a delightful tale middle grade children will enjoy, whether they read the book themselves or whether an adult is reading it to them. I highly recommend The Sword of Six Worlds to parents who want a fast-paced fantasy for their middle grader. This one will hold their interest and entertain from start to finish.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher free of cost.

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