God And The Why Game


sleeping catWhen I was little, we kids used to play the “why” game from time to time. It’s not an actual, formalized game, but really a way to get under somebody else’s skin. Why? Because virtually every answer can then be subject to the question “why?” It doesn’t end until the ask-er wants it to end.

Except . . .

Eventually the answer in our house ended up being, because God made it that way, or something similar.

So it goes like this:

Why do cats purr? Because they’re happy.

Why? Because they like to be petted and pampered.

Why? Because cats like comfort.

Why? Because God made them that way.

Of course there can be a lot more questions, depending on the one who is answering and how much time he wants to put in.

I realized the other day that for atheists, they’d never get to the “God” answer. I’m not sure what their end game would be. I suppose it would be something about DNA or the arrangement of molecules, though I think a good ask-er could push the question beyond that point.

But here’s the cool thing I discovered when I started thinking about this. . . well, let me show you with another illustration.

Why is snow cold? Because it’s frozen water?

Why? Because the air temperature drops so low that the water in the atmosphere freezes.

Why? Because there’s low pressure sweeping down from the Arctic and the air there is very cold.

Why? Because God made it that way. [This answerer is in a hurry. 😉 ]

Why? Because He knew our planet would work best with cold poles, not warm ones.

Why? Because He knows everything.

Why? Because He is God.

Or, restated from His point of view, because I AM.

Published in: on February 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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Satan The Ape


Pongo_pygmaeus_(orangutang)Many people associate Satan with a snake and some with a lion. Others familiar with the books of Revelation and Job might even think of him as a dragon. But an ape?

Well, technically, he isn’t actually an ape. Rather he apes, meaning he “imitate[s] the behavior or manner of (someone or something), esp. in an absurd or unthinking way” (Oxford English Dictionary).

I suspect the verb came into being because of the way apes mimic the behavior of humans when given the chance. I’ve never see this activity myself, but there have been a number of sitcoms of old (“I Love Lucy” comes to mind) that played on this propensity of apes to imitate.

As I think about Satan’s work in the world, I see him aping what God does. Which makes sense, Satan not having the creativity God has. Hence, Satan takes something God has created and makes a pale copy. For example, God taught us to love our enemies and to forgive those who treat us badly. Any number of people, such as Corrie ten Boom and Elizabeth Elliott and Gracia Burnham, have done so through the power of Christ, with remarkable results.

So what does Satan do? He twists and perverts so that love and forgiveness become tolerance. He apes God-ordained marriage by inducing “same-sex marriage.” He turns romantic love into lust and a healthy interest in sex into an obsession with pornography and all kinds of perversion.

Satan has refined all this aping and imitating with his propensity to lie, confounding people about the core issues of life. Is it too hard to believe that he’s behind the idea that the universe came from the mind of nothing rather than from the mind of Omniscience? In addition, he twists the truth that Mankind is made in the image of God into belief that Mankind doesn’t have a sin nature.

He also mimics God’s plan to establish His church by planting pale imitations, each with their own sacred texts and their own miracles and their own prophets.

His ultimate plan to ape what God does, will be the Antichrist who one day will arrive among men, appearing as a savior.

The thing Satan cannot copy or twist, however, is God’s grace. It is this aspect of Christianity that makes it unique. Other religions can talk about love and peace, but only Christ went to the cross on behalf of sinners. Only Christ rose from the dead in order to bring new life to those who believe on His name. Only Christ offers to cancel out the certificate of debt against us as His free gift.

Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 6:20 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Prevalence of the Christian Worldview


Police_brutality.svgSome in the US would say the heart of the nation was broken in Sandy Hook when a gunman opened fire on a classroom of kindergartners. That response is only one instance of many that shows the values of our society.

Here in SoCal, the public rose with one voice to demand justice for a homeless man, mentally challenged, who was beaten to death by police officers. Despite the fact that our definitions have become far too murky, we stand against “cruel and unusual punishment.” We decry gang members gunning down a beloved grandmother or the drunk driver who cripples the little old man on his way home. Hospitals pledge never to turn away a sick child, and donors make that promise good. Our government has passed laws to provide the disabled with access to the same venues as everyone else.

Why? Why would we care about the poor, the sick, the weak, the needy? Because we have a Christian worldview.

By “we” I mean Western culture—the places in the world where Christianity took hold for hundreds of years. Most certainly, we can’t claim to have done Church right. The Dark Ages were called “dark” for a reason. The Reformation happened because there was a need in the Church for reform. People continued to miss what Jesus was about and tried to set up His kingdom on earth using human resources and schemes.

In addition, we are now living in the post-Christian era of Western society. I won’t say “a post-Christian world,” because as it happens, Christianity is spreading rapidly in places where it once was little more than an afterthought.

What, then, am I going on about?

The message of Jesus Christ changed who we in the West are as a people, as a society, as a culture. Love your enemy, forgive those who misuse you, becomes a creed about how to treat prisoners of war, and policy about not discriminating. Give a cup of cold water to the thirsty becomes a Salvation Army of people on a Rescue Mission to provide for the hungry and hurting and hopeless.

And not just Christians do these things, to the degree that some believe the Government should actually step in to insure that no one in America goes hungry or lacks health care or grows old with no means of support. We believe in what Jesus taught, even though many, if not most, have stopped believing in Jesus.

The sad thing is, the Western world seems oblivious to the fact that our core values have come from what Jesus Christ said. And because we’ve lost the basis for these values, it’s only a matter of time before our culture starts looking more and more like the rest of the world (unless, of course, the rest of the world becomes more and more infused with a Christian worldview).

Tolerance slips to tolerance of only those who think like us. Health care applies only to those who don’t inconvenience the rest of us. Forgiveness is supplanted by revenge.

But for now, when those who care little for God rally to provide for widows of police officers slain in the line of duty or work to stop human trafficking or give to a project to stop AIDS in Africa, we’re witnessing the effects of living in a country shaped by a Christian worldview.

Because the nations in the West are unique.

The way we look at the world is still marked by the revolutionary way Jesus lived and by the Power that inflamed His followers, enabling them to go and do likewise.

Published in: on February 26, 2013 at 7:42 pm  Comments Off on The Prevalence of the Christian Worldview  
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CSFF Blog Tour Wrap – The Orphan King / Fortress of Mist


csffbannerThe accomplished novelist Sigmund Brouwer reworked an earlier set of novels to create the books in his new Merlin’s Immortals series, of which The Orphan King is book one and Fortress of Mist is book two. The CSFF Blog Tour had the good fortune to feature both books last week.

Twenty-six bloggers took part in the tour, posting a total of forty-five articles. Among my favorites were Rebekah Loper‘s comparison of the series upon which the Immortals is based with this new iteration. I also loved Stever Trower’s Tuesday Tunes with the new slant toward telling the story with his song selections. Very clever and fun! Several of us discussed magic, and many of us compared book one with book two.

But now it is your turn to determine which articles rose to the top. Here are the bloggers eligible for the February CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award:

Thanks in advance for your help selecting the winner (and can we please bring an end to the ties we’ve been having? 😉 ).

Voting ends midnight (Pacific time), March 4. That’s a week from today.

Promoting And Platforms


empty_stageI’ve been thinking about loving your neighbor, mostly because I was reading Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis, but in the writing world, I’ve come across more and more talk about getting noticed. Somehow a book needs to stand out in the crowd. And believe me, with the ease of self-publishing, the crowd is growing.

These two concepts seem antithetical. I mean, with people in so much need around the world, I’m supposed to concern myself with … ME?

Not to mention that a couple situations of what I’ll call overly zealous advertisement–which is the euphemistic way of saying “spam”–I suggested in a Facebook update that unfriending/unfollowing the perpetrator might be the only answer. I was gratified to see that a good number of others agreed–not so much about severing ties as the solution, but about spamming others in the name of promotion being a problem.

Yet I understand where these aggressive promoters are coming from. They read articles that say they need a platform, the publishers are no longer looking at number of blog followers or even Facebook friends, but at Klout scores. They read other articles that say having a platform isn’t enough on its own. You have to hold contests and bring people together into teams, do book give-aways and participate in blog tours. Promotion. It’s part of the book business, whether a person is self- or traditionally-published.

But in the back of my mind, I hear a quiet voice whispering, But I want you to love your neighbor.

There really are only so many hours in the day to do all we need to do. How’s someone with a day job, a writing career, a family, and church responsibilities supposed to add in promotion . . . and loving that needy neighbor?

I don’t have an answer on the promotion part yet. I figured I didn’t need to face that one until I actually have a book that needs to be promoted. But the loving my neighbor seems to be the larger, more pressing, and urgent task.

And yet, it also seems as if I may be overlooking the obvious. It came to me today as I listened to a tribute on the radio program Family Life Today for Dr. Howard Hendricks, former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, who passed away this week.

He taught for sixty years and continued to mentor seminary students even after his retirement. But what difference was he making in the lives of widows and orphans and strangers? How was he reaching the unreached with the good news of God’s good and free gift of His Son? In short, how was he delivering the cup of cold water or feeding the hungry or visiting the sick or imprisoned–the things Jesus said would be like doing those needful things for Him?

I have to believe that all the students–thousands and thousands, many of them in positions of leadership–who Dr. Hendricks taught may have learned from him the importance of loving their neighbor. His role, then was to love them by giving them not just a cup of cold water, but the whole well–or more accurately, the means by with they could go out and dig the well themselves.

And what about the rest of us who aren’t seminary professors? What about writers who are jammed up with edits and dirty dishes and stacks of laundry and grocery shopping and taxes and birthday parties? And promotion?

I think we’re simply to love the person in front of us. Whoever that might be. Whatever he might need.

Loving our neighbor isn’t going to look the same to each person. We’re not all going to travel half-way around the world to find a needy someone to love.

And the needy God puts in our path may not need medical care or bus fare or escape from an abuser. They might. But they might need someone to listen. Someone to cry with. Or even someone to sit beside. They might simply need us to stop talking about our book long enough for them to be noticed.

The Best Defense


KissesFromKatie cover“The best defense is a good offense” sports pundits say, but either parents don’t believe it or they don’t think it applies to raising their children.

Of late I’ve seen two general styles of parenting. One is protective and the other permissive. I suspect most parents are tempted to be permissive. Nobody likes to say no to a beautiful little child you love with all your heart. But some choose to be protective instead.

Permissive parents seem to believe in the Humankind-is-good idea so prevalent in Western society. They want to encourage their children, nurture them, educate them, and let them know they can do whatever they put their minds to.

The problem, of course, with this approach is that children can not do whatever they put their minds to. No matter how much they want to be butterflies, they aren’t going to become butterflies. No matter how much they want to be like LeBron or Kobe, they (most of them, anyway) aren’t going to become the next great NBA basketball player. Nothing wrong with trying hard and doing your best, but why lie to kids and give them false expectations?

Besides, giving kids their head puts them in danger. They can try things they’re curious about that will become addictions or involve themselves with people who want to use or abuse them. They themselves might even become the one who bullies or who abandons (after all, life is, they’ve been taught, all about what they want).

Parents who take the protective route tend to be the ones who see Humankind as sinful by nature. Hence, there is much to protect children from–the stranger, the kid next door, his liberal teacher, his ungodly classmates, shysters selling things outside grocery stores, the homeless, frauds coming to your door selling things, people of a different religion, from a different part of town, who speak a different language, who vote differently. The list is endless, and the means by which these parents try to protect their children can be exhausting.

Interestingly, the Bible gives lots of advice to parents, none particularly aligned with either the permissive or protective approach. Here’s one key passage, originally written by Solomon to his son.

For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.
For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you,
To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things;
From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
Who delight in doing evil
And rejoice in the perversity of evil;
Whose paths are crooked,
And who are devious in their ways
(Proverbs 2:6-15a – emphasis mine)

Notice, this passage says God is the one who will protect our kids. He gives wisdom, is a shield, and preserves their way. At some point then, after being infused with God’s wisdom, kids can discern which way to go. They’ll know what they need to know about justice and righteousness, and that knowledge will protect them against those who would harm them.

The perfect example of this kind of God protection is Katie Davis, author of Kisses from Katie. I don’t know how her parents raised her except for the fact that I see the outcome. At eighteen, Katie left her comfortable home in Tennessee and went to Uganda to teach. After a short time she began adopting children, decided to stay in Uganda, and started a ministry called Amazima to provide the means for children to get an education.

Clearly, she was not acting like a child who had been protected from all that could be dangerous. She faced the dangerous every day–people with TB, who had ringworm, were HIV-positive, had infections and open sores. She dealt with rats and cockroaches and malaria-carrying mosquitoes. She was a single white woman, a teenager, who didn’t speak the local language, and yet she simply went about showing people the love of Jesus by loving them herself.

Why would she? How could she? Here’s how she explained it:

Jesus wrecked my life. For as long as I could remember, I had everything this world says is important. In high school, I was class president, homecoming queen, top of my class. I dated cute boys and wore cute shoes and drove a cute sports car. I had wonderful, supportive parents who so desired my success that they would have paid for me to go to college anywhere my heart desired. But I loved Jesus.

And the fact that I loved Jesus was beginning to interfere with the plans I once had for my life and certainly with the plans others had for me. My heart had been apprehended by a great love, a love that compelled me to live differently.

Katie went on to explain that at twelve or thirteen she began to “delve into the truths of Scripture.” In short she turned to God for wisdom and found “knowledge and understanding.” She knew well before the adults in her life that she didn’t have to protect herself or rely on the protection her parents could provide. Instead, she could travel half-way around the world and live with and love people who knew poverty and deprivation that most in the Western world can’t even imagine. And she could trust that God would shield her and preserve her way.

So maybe there’s a third way for parents to raise kids–putting them on the offensive. If children learn early that God is the source of wisdom, that He is their shield, that He will preserve their way, then they can disarm people with love and fill them with truth.

We are not called to be safe, we are simply promised that when we are in danger, God is right there with us. And there is no better place to be than in His hands.
― Katie J. Davis, Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

Published in: on February 21, 2013 at 6:23 pm  Comments Off on The Best Defense  
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CSFF Blog Tour – The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist, Day 3


Fortress of Mist coverAs I mentioned Monday, I decided to review The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist together because they are parts of one grand young adult fantasy story–Merlin’s Immortals by Sigmund Brouwer.

The Story. Young Thomas is an orphaned boy growing up in an out-of-the-way abbey where he is treated more like a slave than a charge of the church. His nurse, who he discovered was actually his mother, cared for him until he was eleven, teaching him to read and pointing him toward his destiny–one day he would conquer the unassailable fortress of Magnus and reclaim the throne taken from his father.

Goaded once too often by one of the monks, Thomas makes a violent break from the abbey and begins his quest. As part of his plan, he frees a Knight Templar from the executioner’s noose. In the process he also frees two other prisoners–a pickpocket and a beautiful young woman who appears to be deaf and mute.

As Thomas struggles to gain control of Magnus, he discovers there are those who promise to help him, even empower him, if he will but join their ranks and turn over to them the legacy left to him by his mother–books of knowledge that give him a decided edge over his enemies. But are these Druids enemies or friends? And who are the Immortals? On what side is his new friend, the apparently disfigured young woman serving in the candle shop who he defends?

Strengths. Sigmund Brouwer is a wonderful writer. He has created intriguing, believable characters. Thomas is wise beyond his years, an observer of human nature, kind-hearted. The secondary characters are equally interesting and well-drawn.

The plot has lots of intrigue and avoids the fantasy curse of predictability. There are surprises and twists and (unfortunately) cliffhangers. And romance for those of us who think a good romance belongs in every story. 😉

The setting is well drawn, with sufficient sensory detail to transport the reader to England during the Middle Ages. There is also a distinct thread running through the story exploring faith in God at the same time that it exposes the corruption of the church during this period.

Weaknesses. The Orphan King started slowly. It had moments of suspense, but drifted into confusion too often, I thought. Rather than opening with the main character and grounding the reader in what he wanted, one of the factions vying for his allegiance made the first appearance.

Much of the story involved William, the Knight Templar who didn’t trust Thomas, though they appeared to build a bond. His unwillingness to give Thomas any information that would help him understand what he’s up against was galling.

The story picked up in the latter half and continued at a crisp pace throughout Fortress of Mist. Anyone interested in this series should not judge it by the beginning of Book 1

I mentioned yesterday that this is a fantasy series that, so far, is missing one of the main fantasy tropes–magic. Rather, scientific activity that may have appeared as magic in that day, replaces traditional fantasy magic. So the prediction of such a thing as an eclipse appeared to those without knowledge about the way the sun and moon work, as though the person making the prediction had the power to darken the sun. Mr. Brouwer’s use of science in a superstitious age instead of magic was innovative and clever. Some readers may find it a refreshing departure from supernatural power. Others may be disappointed that the speculative elements are so thin.

Recommendation. If you lean toward historical fiction, you’ll especially enjoy The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist. I quickly connected with Thomas and wanted to see him succeed at every turn. I was most frustrated when people I believe to be good refused to help him because of their own doubts. Thomas rightfully had doubts, I thought, but those who were in a position to help him … not so much. Still, that bit of frustration is in no way a deal breaker. I’m happy I found these books and recommend them to fantasy fans and highly recommend them to fans of historical fiction.

CSFF Blog Tour – The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist, Day 2


csff buttonYesterday I introduced Books 1 and 2 of Sigmund Brouwer‘s Merlin’s Immortals series–The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist–as classic epic fantasy. The only problem is, one of the key fantasy tropes is … well, sort of missing. What we have is a fantasy with the promise of magic but no actual magic.

The protagonist sets his sights to conquer a secretive, fortified city built by none other than the wizard Merlin and rumored to protect magical secrets. There’s the promise of magic.

But throughout the story there is largely a scientific explanation for anything that looks to the people in the story as magic–potions, acid, technology, acrobatic trickery, scientific knowledge. It’s interesting, but I have to wonder if Mr. Brouwer is intentionally skirting the kind of magic the wizard Gandalf displayed in J. R. R. Tolkien’s books for fear of offending his Christian readership.

I suppose I’ll never know. Still, I thought it might be appropriate to re-post my thoughts on magic from two years ago, largely answering the question, Is magic un-Christian? Here, then, is “Standing Up For Magic,” a re-do.

The first definition for magic in the Oxford American Dictionaries is this: “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.”

My question, then is, Do we Christians not consider God “supernatural”? But … but…but … God’s work is miraculous, not magic, someone may well say. And the Oxford American Dictionaries would agree that God’s work is miraculous: “occurring through divine or supernatural intervention, or manifesting such power.”

But isn’t miraculous simply a more narrowed term, specifically referencing the divine? Magic, on the other hand, does not exclude the divine.

However, I don’t want to get too caught up in semantics. Let’s agree that the Bible does warn against magic and witchcraft and other sorts of divination sought from powers other than God Himself.

In contrast, God’s powerful works are called miraculous and prophetic.

The point that is noteworthy for fantasy writers and readers, however, is this: the Bible makes it clear that both God and Satan have power. Not in equal measure. Satan is no more omnipotent than he is omnipresent, though I suspect he’d like Man to think he is both.

Make no mistake. God’s power trumps Satan’s, and it’s not even a fair comparison. Satan may not get this because it seems he keeps trying to go up against God, as if he can outmaneuver Wisdom or out-muscle Omnipotence.

Moses_rod_into_snakeBe that as it may, we can’t deny that he has power and it is supernatural—beyond Man’s abilities. Pharaoh had his magicians and so did Nebuchadnezzar, and seemingly they were used to these conjurers producing what normal folk could not. Their power was not from God, however.

Moses, with the rod of God, went head to head with Pharaoh’s magicians, if you recall, and God’s power dominated. Nebuchadnezzar’s sorcerers could not tell their king his dream, let alone the interpretation of it, but God’s man, Daniel, could.

But back to fantasy. If supernatural power—good and evil—is real, then why should Christian fantasy writers pretend that the evil forces in their stories don’t have real supernatural power? Why should we pretend that those siding with good have no supernatural power?

Fantasy, after all, gives a story-long metaphor for the real world. Why would we want to give Christians—young adults or adults—the idea that there isn’t actually supernatural power of any kind by doing away with magic in our stories?

It seems to me it’s important to address the source of power and the reality of power and the proper attitude toward power—all which fantasy can address. Unless, of course, a Christian story must be scrubbed clean of supernatural power.

CSFF Blog Tour – The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist, Day 1


orphan-king-coverThis month the CSFF Blog Tour has the privilege of featuring both books 1 and 2 of Sigmund Brouwer‘s young adult fantasy series, Merlin’s Immortals: The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist. What a deal! Especially because as many fantasy series are, Merlin’s Immortals tells one story in numerous phases.

Originally I’d considered posting separate reviews for each of the two books, but I’m rethinking that idea. It’s hard to separate one from the other. Yes, there is a degree of resolution at the end of The Orphan King, but there are as many questions as there are answers. Continuing on with Fortress of Mist is natural.

Merlin’s Immortals will delight fans of classic, epic fantasy. Swords, knights, castles, a journey, mysterious magic, and the wizard Merlin. And yet, despite the familiar, The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist read like no others.

It is this ability to create a new story with familiar tropes, that makes for great fantasy, from my perspective. But more on that in my review. For now, I encourage you to see what others participating in the CSFF tour are saying about Merlin’s Immortals.

Gillian Adams
Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
Janey DeMeo
Theresa Dunlap
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Jeremy Harder
Ryan Heart
Janeen Ippolito
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Megan @ Hardcover Feedback
Anna Mittower
Eve Nielsen
Nathan Reimer
James Somers
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler

Fantasy Friday – New Books On The Horizon


It’s always fun to get a sneak peak at books that have just release or that will come out shortly. Here are the newest Christian speculative novels I know of.

a hero's throne cover

A Hero’s Throne by Ross Lawhead, Thomas Nelson (January 2013)
YA fantasy
Ancient Earth Trilogy, Book 2

Deep beneath the streets of England lies another realm . . . one few in our modern world know exists. Daniel and Freya, however, know it all too well. Eight years ago, these friends first journeyed through portals into the hidden land of Niðergeard—discovering a city filled with stones, secrets, and sleeping knights that serve to protect the world they call home.

But Niðergeard has fallen to dark forces, overrun by its enemies. Gates are being opened between the worlds that should have been kept closed. The battle lines for the war at the end of time have been drawn, and opposing forces are starting to gather.

Having served for centuries as the first and last outpost at the borders to other worlds, Niðergeard must be reclaimed and the mystery of its fall discovered. Daniel and Freya, along with an ancient knight and a Scottish police officer, must return to the legendary city, rally the surviving citizens, and awaken the sleeping knights—knights who are being killed, one by one, as they sleep.

But time is running out faster than they know.

the crystal scepter coverThe Crystal Scepter by C. S. Lakin, Living Ink Books/AMG (Jan 2013)
Fifth in the Gates of Heaven series
YA Fairytale

When Pythius, the wicked young king of Paladya, learns of the hidden realm of Elysiel and the crystal scepter that protects that northern land, he journeys to kill the Keeper and steal the scepter. But his defiant act unleashes a terrible curse, and the Seer foretells his death one day at the hand of his son, now a newborn babe. To thwart the prophecy, he attempts to murder his child, but the queen escapes and sends the babe off in a trunk across the sea, where he is found and raised by a humble fisherman.

Years later, Perthin, the cast-off babe now grown, hears his call of destiny, and is visited by a specter who tells him of the land of Elysiel and of the Gorgon—the evil creature fomenting war in the Northern Wastes. Perthin’s village of Tolpuddle is being ravaged by a monstrous sea beast sent by this enemy, and Perthin accepts the challenge to kill the creature by cutting off its head—although anyone who looks upon it turns to stone. Armed with magical shoes and a legendary sword, Perthin arrives in Elysiel, where the trolls lead him to the ice cavern where the sacred site made of crystal slabs awaits him to show him his future. Perthin feels a strange connection to this land, unaware that he is the heir to Elysiel’s throne.

With the help of heaven’s army, Perthin bests the enemy and returns to stop the sea monster as the beast is ravaging the kingdom of Paladya. He rescues the princess, who has been set out in the harbor as a sacrifice for the beast, and then stops the sea monster by exposing it to the Gorgon’s head, yet through his heroic efforts he unknowingly fulfills the prophecy foretold by the Seer. He returns to Tolpuddle a hero, where many surprising revelations await him as to his heritage and legacy, for he learns he is not truly a fisherman’s son but a king foretold.

the darker road coverThe Darker Road by L. B. Graham, Living Ink/AMG (February 2013)
Wandering Series
YA fantasy

The empire of Eirmon Omiir, king of Barra-Dohn, couldn’t be stronger. He rules all Aralyn with an iron hand. Meridium, the metal alloy that is both the source and currency of power throughout the world was discovered in Barra-Dohn and Barra-Dohn remains dominant because of it.

The family of Eirmon Omiir couldn’t be more fractured. Eirmon cares for little beyond the power of his throne and his own personal pleasure, and the sins of the father have had generational consequences. Eirmon’s son, Kaden, has reaped their bitter harvest. His marriage is in shambles, a deep divide separating him from both his wife and his son.

A series of mysterious visitors begin to converge on Barra-Dohn, each with their own secrets and motives. There is the elderly Devoted, with his impossible prophesy that the mighty Barra-Dohn will fall within 40 days, the pair of Amhuru, legendary wanderers, who have come to take back what was stolen, and the Jin Dara, who brings an army and an ancient thirst for vengeance.

The events that follow and the crisis that emerges offer both Eirmon and Kaden a chance at restoration, to rise above their past failures, even as the world around them falls apart. Kaden seizes this chance, a small mercy in the midst of a greater judgement. Eirmon does not, and his fate is sealed. And so is the fate of the world, for the end of Barra-Dohn is the beginning of The Wandering, and everything hangs in the balance.

broken-wings-coverBroken Wings by Shannon Dittemore, Thomas Nelson (February 2013)
YA supernatural
Book Two of the Angel Eyes Trilogy

Angels with wings of blade. Demons with renewed sight. And a girl who has never been more broken.

Brielle has begun to see the world as it really is, a place where angels intermingle with humans. But just when she thinks she’s got things under control, the life she’s pieced together begins to crumble.

Her boyfriend, Jake, is keeping something from her. Something important.
And her overprotective father has turned downright hostile toward Jake. Brielle fears she’ll have to choose between the man who’s always loved her and the one who’s captured her heart.
Then she unearths the truth about her mother’s death and the nightmare starts. Brielle begins seeing visions of mysterious and horrible things.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s been targeted. The Prince of Darkness himself has heard of the boy with healing in his hands and of the girl who saw through the Terrestrial veil. When he pulls the demon Damien from the fiery chasm and sends him back to Earth with new eyes, the stage is set for the ultimate battle of good versus evil.

Brielle has no choice. She must master the weapons she’s been given. She must fight.
But can she fly with broken wings?

A-Cast-of-StonesA Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr, Bethany House (February 2013)
Adult epic fantasy
The Staff and the Sword, Book 1

The Fate of the Kingdom Awaits the Cast of Stones

In the backwater village of Callowford, roustabout Errol Stone is enlisted by a church messenger arriving with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Eager for coin, Errol agrees to what he thinks will be an easy task, but soon finds 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 change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty nears its end and the selection of the new king begins–but in secret and shadow. As danger mounts, Errol must leave behind the stains and griefs of the past, learn to fight, and discover who is hunting him and his companions and how far they will go to stop the reading of the stones.

the ravaged realm coverThe Ravaged Realm by D. Barkley Briggs, AMG/Living Ink (February 2013)
YA fantasy
The Legends of Karac Tor, Book 4

With the Nine Worlds facing a judgment of fire, Karac Tor stands on the brink of civil war and despair. A true prophet must be found, but he’s lost…somewhere in North America.

Determined to fight for the land, Arthur and Corus take their case all the way to the White Abbey, hoping to receive a blessing for their efforts. But time is of the essence, and Cassock, having delivered the deceptive gift of the Lost Oracle to the High Synod, has cleverly begun sowing the Devourer’s lies and confusion into the fabric of the Three Holy Orders. Has the sacred Book of Law really been expanded, or annulled? And if the Nine Gifts are to be abandoned, does the White Abbey finally reign supreme above all others?

Gabe, dramatically increasing his power to communicate with animals, ventures into the forbidding Highlands to find and rescue Flogg from the dreaded Stone Moot. Little does he understand the series of events this will unleash. Meanwhile, Arthur, refusing to play politics, discover that a small army has been secretly waiting for him to finally take charge. Setting out to make trouble for Kr’Nunos, Arthur and Corus finally confront the strange, beastly Ravers that are wreaking havoc across the land. Driven by enemies within and without, the Royal Kingdom of Karac Tor is swiftly unravelling, standing on the brink of civil war.

Meanwhile, back on earth, Reggie, Odessa and her children find themselves thrown across the Nine Worlds on a desperate quest to find and rescue the mysterious Lost Prophet, a great bird whose legendary power is woven into the history of our own world. Forced into hiding among the Native tribes of pre-Columbian America, Rianor is the last messenger and signal-bearer, whose final cry will usher in the War of Swords, and hopefully, summon Aion to return and save his people. But first they must find him and free him, before the Devourer brings ruin to all.

CaptivesSafeLandscoverCaptives by Jill Williamson, Zondervan (April 2013)
YA Dystopian Science fiction
The Safe Lands, Book 1

One choice could destroy them all. When eighteen-year-old Levi returned from Denver City with his latest scavenged finds, he never imagined he’d find his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed by enforcers, and many—including his fiancee, Jem–taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Land, a walled city that seems anything but safe.

Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away to Denver City, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land like nomads and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Land has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams. Meanwhile, Jem is locked in a cell, awaiting the Safe Landers’ plan to protect their future by seizing her own. Can Levi uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Land’s facade before it’s too late?

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