The Warden And The Wolf King – CSFF Tour, Day 3

Warden and the Wolf KingI’m going to eschew a formal review of The Warden And The Wolf King by Andrew Peterson, this month’s CSFF Blog Tour feature. I may renege and write one later (I do want to put one on Amazon, so it seems sensible to post it here, too), but today I want to tell you why I gave an unqualified recommendation of the book at the end of my Day 2 post. I mean, I called it a MUST READ book. What makes this one a MUST READ?

For me there are a couple requirements. First, it has to be a good story.

I was a lit major in college and during my four years of study, I read a lot of “must read” books, but not all of them were good stories. Some of them were flat out boring. Some I tried and tried to plow my way through and still came away with only the vaguest idea of what the “story” was about (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad comes to mind. Don’t get me started on Melville’s Moby Dick or Ulysses by James Joyce.)

Another thing that puts a book into the highest category as far as I’m concerned is a character or characters with whom I can relate and for whom I begin to care. In Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga, I came to care for, not one character, but three. And I cheered on several others.

In my review of The Monster Of The Hollows, I gave one particular criticism—for a middle grade book, I was disappointed that the youth at the center of the story didn’t take the active part in bringing resolution to the story question. I’m happy to say, I have no such criticism in The Warden And The Wolf King.

The players who made things happen, who faced the evil head on, were the main characters—the children, the Jewels, the would-be King, Warden, and Song Maiden of Anniera. The cool thing, though, is that despite the presence of a host of adults—who also were fighting—the fact that the children took such a pivotal role was not forced or artificial. It was natural and believable.

So I really liked this concluding volume of the Wingfeather Saga not only because the characters were ones that engaged me, but also because they were active.

There’s more. This story—the whole of it, but particularly The Warden And The Wolf King—made me think. As noted in my previous posts, I contemplated the importance of song and the place of the Church in the broken world. But I also thought about sacrifice and courage and redemption and temptation and kindness and prejudice and unforgiveness and bitterness and responsibility and commitment and . . . well, a host of other topics.

The thing is, nowhere in the book was there a lecture on any of these subjects. Rather, I saw characters living out life in hard, dangerous circumstances. Some chose well—admirably, even. Some chose poorly with disastrous results, though they themselves didn’t know how ruinous the consequences would be.

I love books that catch me up short and call me to a higher standard. They make me wonder if I would be brave enough or wise enough or steadfast enough.

One more. This book made me weep. Yes, I laughed too, in different places. And I read far longer into the night than I’d planned to read, but I cried. And cried. This was not a little tearing up. This was full out, get the snot rag, because I needed to release some emotion this story generated.

I tell you, when a book makes me think AND feel, it’s a winner.

As Jason Joyner mentioned in one of his tour posts, these Wingfeather Saga books are great for reading aloud to kids. There are places to do a pirate voice and others for a Zorro-like rescuer. There’s Troll poetry to read and whispers to dogs and the sad ramblings of the SockMan tortured by memories of the past.

And the books are great for adults to read on their own, too.

So how about it? Are you ready to take the plunge?

Not a fantasy fan, you say? So what? If you’re a reader, these books are for you. They start light, and they become progressively more serious, but that’s the nature of conflict. It builds to a crescendo (I thought a music term would be appropriate here, considering we’re taking about an Andrew Peterson book. 😉 )

But now I’ve probably built up your expectations too high. Why not check them out for yourself and see if you agree with me or not.

Fantasy Friday – Goddess Tithe

goddesstithecoverOne of the best Christian speculative writers, in my opinion, is Anne Elisabeth (don’t call her Anne or Ann 😉 ) Stengl. As it happens, she is also the winner of last year’s Clive Stables Award with her novel Snowflower. She has since released Dragonwitch and most recently, Goddess Tithe, her self-published, illustrated novella.

If you’ve not had occasion to read any of Anne Elisabeth’s works, Goddess Tithe might be the perfect introduction. While the world and characters have some connection to the rich story world of the series Tales of Goldstone Wood, in which all Anne Elisabeth’s other novels are set, this small story can easily stand alone.

The Story. Munny, a poor boy who wants to give his sick mother the gift of life by freeing her from the responsibility of caring for him, goes to sea. As a lowly cabin boy, young and inexperienced, he’s tormented by those older and stronger than he. But an old sailor takes him under his wings and goes about teaching him all he knows about such things as tying knots and why he should always do what their captain says.

The lives of all the sailors on the Kulap Kanya are put in jeopardy, however, when they discover a stowaway on board . . . and when their revered captain does not at once throw him overboard as the tithe justly due the goddess Risafeth who rules the sea. Rather, he puts the stowaway under Munny’s care and protection. And then the goddess comes to claim her tithe.

Strengths. Anne Elisabeth has created an incredible world, less obvious in this short novella, which makes this story the perfect entry point for someone wondering what kind of writer and stories they’ve been missing. The character’s the thing, you might say. Munny is wonderfully drawn (with words and with . . pencil, or whatever the media Anne Elisabeth used for her illustrations). He is sympathetic, well motivated, heroic, not free of prejudice, but able to grow and develop. He shows greater strength because of his belief in his captain, prompted by his aging mentor.

Best of all is the end when . . . heheh–you didn’t really think I was going to tell, did you?

Anne Elisabeth masterfully tells the story using the old time fairytale-style point of view–the omniscient voice. It’s so well done, and so necessary to this story, that no intimacy with the protagonist is lost.

The story is short and not complicated, but it packs a punch as all of the Tales of Goldstone Wood do. This is not allegory, not even symbolism in the normal sense of the word, and there is no preaching. Rather, the Christian theme becomes apparent as the characters live out what comes naturally to them as Anne Elisabeth has depicted them. She’s masterful at showing Christianity.

Weakness. I had one point of contention with this story. I thought Munny’s motivation for leaving home was weak. It’s the one place where I didn’t think he came across as smart. He left hoping something would happen, but the fact is, if it didn’t happen, he would have made the situation he was trying to improve so very much worse. I thought it too obvious even for a poor uneducated peasant boy to miss, and thought he should never have left home without some assurance that what he wanted would in fact result from his decision.

Recommendation. For all the macho male readers who have stayed away from the Tales of Goldstone Wood because they thought they were, you know, fairytales, and romance (could there be a worse combination for a macho male reader?), well, here’s the chance to find out for yourselves what all the buzz is about. Goddess Tithe is a nearly all male cast of characters, despite the title. Munny’s mother does make an appearance, but the goddess is like no other goddess you’ve read about.

This is a wonderful story, short, mildly fantastic, more about character than fast action. In short this book is for any reader who likes quality literature.

I’m happy to say that at the writing of this post, the Kindle edition of Goddess Tithe is on sale for $.99. What a great buy!

Also watch for Anne Elisabeth’s next novel, Shadow Hand, which releases March 4 in both print and e-book versions.

Published in: on February 7, 2014 at 6:02 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – Goddess Tithe  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Outcasts by Jill Williamson, Day 3

Outcasts cover

A Review

This month the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring the young adult dystopian novel, Outcasts, second in The Safe Lands series by Jill Williamson. Several of our tour participants have remarked about dystopian fiction and its predilection for gloom.

In my view, this genre is one of those that can show how the Christian worldview stands in stark contrast to that of a view that ignores God.

My introduction to the genre was Brave New World, followed soon after by 1984. I believe I came to understand the world better for having read those books, yet I wouldn’t want a steady diet of that kind of literature. It is, quite frankly, so hopeless, it’s depressing. Until a person realizes there are key components of truth left out.

Jill Williamson has not left those out. The picture she creates in her Safe Lands series, of a hedonistic society literally rotting away, could be depressing, but there’s more to the story. There are characters working to escape, bring down, and cure the corrupt society. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Story. Continuing the story begun in Captives, Outcasts features the three brothers from Glenrock–Levi, Mason, and Omar–as they deal with their present circumstances. They have rescued their women from the harem and now must do the same for their children who are either in the state boarding school or nursery.

Omar and Mason continue to live as nearly normal lives as possible while plotting with the people of Glenrock who live in hiding. Levi has taken up the mantle as elder and leader of his community, though he’s finding the role much more challenging than he could have imagined.

Who is he to trust? How can he get everyone on the same page, with Omar making his own superhero plans and constantly vapping and consorting with Safe Land women, even as Shaylinn is carrying his baby; with Mason bent on finding a cure for the disease the flakers carry. What hope does Levi have to reunite all his people and get them to safety?

Strengths. I’m not sure where to start. The characters are so strong in this book–with complex motives and heartfelt struggles, both internal and external. They are captivating, so much so that when I finished reading the book, I found myself planning to go back to the story in the evening, only to realize that I had to wait until the next book comes out. The point is, I wanted to know what happened to the characters I’d come to care about.

But just as strong is the worldbuilding. The Safe Lands have their own entertainment, society celebrities, fads and fashions, slang, cliched greeting, technology, political system, and state secrets. The place feels real!

Which brings me to the plot. So much is going on in this story. There is the overarching question–can the Glenrock citizens escape? But there are relational questions for various characters, too, and then there is the greater question about the Safe Lands and what they are hiding, what they are doing to their citizens, and who might be behind the whole thing. It’s intriguing on some level on every page.

More importantly, Outcasts and the other books in the series are addressing important issues, without preaching. Rather, the choices the characters make show all that a reader needs in order to discern what worldview addresses the pressing problems best.

Weaknesses. I have no serious complaints. I’m sold on this series and find myself lost in the world and engaged with the characters and the ideas presented in the story. It’s entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time.

But there was one place where I felt the story could have been stronger. Without giving spoilers, it’s hard for me to discuss in detail. Suffice it to say, one character seemed to act in a surprising, if not uncharacteristic, way, with consequences that turned the story (and still must be dealt with in the next book). Perhaps a little more foreshadowing or a closer look at this character’s development would have made the story stronger at that point.

Recommendation. Outcasts and The Safe Lands series are must reads. Not just Christians can embrace this story because it is one of struggle between two distinct ways of life that anyone can understand and appreciate. It is also about how the gulf between the two can be bridged and how the leadership of the two sides can go astray. It’s a big story, a powerful story and shouldn’t be missed.

It’s also clearly targeting older teens, but adults can appreciate the story just as well. The third book in the series, Rebels, is due out in June, so I suggest you read Captives and Outcasts between now and them so you won’t be left out.

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

CSFF Blog Tour – Outcasts by Jill Williamson, Day 2


Second Books

Most fantasy series are actually one story told in multiple books. The Safe Lands series by Jill Williamson is no different. The story opened with Captives, continues with Outcasts, and concludes with Rebels, due out this summer. Which makes the January CSFF Blog Tour feature the second book in the series.

More often than not readers find second books to be a bit of a let down. In writer parlance, some suffer from “sagging middle” syndrome. Often times the pace seems slower, with nothing of particular note taking place, and/or a “been there, done that” feel to the plot.

For example, the second book in the Hunger Games series, once again threw the heroine, Katniss, back into the games she had just conquered.

None of this is so for Jill’s Outcasts. This book two is a different story while still moving toward a resolution of the greater question.

For one thing, the protagonist is a different character. Yes, there are multiple points of view and the same characters that appeared in Captives are also in Outcasts, but this is predominantly the story of a different individual than was the first book.

In addition, there isn’t any territory covered in the first book that’s repeated in this one. Sure there are similarities. After all, the story is about escape, and there are many people who need to get away. But the circumstances are different, the people are different, the methods are different, the dangers are different.

In short, rather than sagging, this second installment of the Safe Lands series ramps up the tension. I haven’t gone back to compare ratings or comments with the reviews CSFF participants gave Captives, but the comparatives I’m reading would indicate that Outcasts is an even stronger book than Captives.

Here’s a sampling:
* “Outcasts is a first-class dystopia – realistic characters in a riveting but believable world that brings all sorts of ideas into play against each other. I am planning to continue with the Safe Lands series; this is a world still to be explored – beginning with what, exactly, it means to be liberated.” Shannon McDermott

* “If Outcasts is any example, this series should end in a fantabulous manner. . .” – Meagan @ Blooming with Books

* “I actually really like Mason, Shaylinn, and even Omar, as well as the rebel Zane–so much that I actually very much care what happens to them, something I don’t feel at all in maybe half the books I read.” – Julie Bihn

Clearly, there’s no drop off with Jill Williamson’s book two. Readers are in safe hands!

But again, don’t take my word for it. Check out what the other tour participants are saying. You might want to read Nissa’s insightful comparison between The Safe Lands series and Hunger Games.

Or how about Julie Bihn’s revelation of Safe Land SimTag technology, or something quite similar, in existence today.

There are others (see all links at the bottom of my Day 1 post) you won’t want to miss.

You also might enjoy exploring the Safe Lands site. Lots to see and do.

Published in: on January 21, 2014 at 7:01 pm  Comments (6)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Storm by Evan Angler, Day 1

SWIPE_coverThis week the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring a middle grade apocalyptic dystopian Storm, third in the Swipe series by Evan Angler. Except . . . Evan Angler is a fictitious character and actually a part time character in the book. In fact, the books are also part of the story. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I read the blurb about the first book in the series, Swipe, I have to admit I pigeonholed the story as “typical end times fiction.” As innovative and intriguing and popular as Jerry Jenkins Left Behind series was in the beginning, the sheer length of his story wore people out, I think. At any rate, even I, who never read the Left Behind books, have some end-times weariness. I wasn’t looking to read someone else’s idea of what the end times will be like.

Well, surprise. The Swipe books are not your last generation end times stories.

They are, first of all, featuring young people, not adults. Most noticeably, however, is the fact that the cataclysmic events central to the story are handled as part of a natural chain of circumstances. No one is pointing to Scriptural parallels or calling for repentance. Spiritual things are a part of the story, to be sure, but primarily the characters are concerned with how to survive.

Add in the recent news events surrounding identity theft, government surveillance (also called “spying programs” by some), national security leaks and the global manhunt for Edward Snowden, the Benghazi incident with the government’s release of false information and what appears to be a positional reward for the ambassador who took the heat, and the story of Swipe suddenly seems more plausible than fictitious.

Here’s a part of the description of Swipe that explains the key element in the book:

Set in a future North America that is struggling to recover after famine and global war, Swipe follows the lives of three kids caught in the middle of a conflict they didn’t even know existed. United under a charismatic leader, every citizen of the American Union is required to get the Mark on their 13th birthday in order to gain the benefits of citizenship.

The Mark is a tattoo that must be swiped by special scanners for everything from employment to transportation to shopping.

For more about this intriguing series, I encourage you to stop by Evan Angler’s site and view the trailers for all three books. Also be sure to visit the blogs of the other CSFFers participating in this tour (reminder, check marks link you to articles I have found):

Fantasy Friday – More Good Books

Some visitors here at A Christian Worldview Of Fiction may have noticed that I don’t write as many “for writer” posts as I once did. I haven’t mentioned it often, but I have a second blog.

I realized recently I need to make this clear. I was conversing with another blogger who I thought had abandoned the blog I’d subscribed to. Turns out she’d just started a new one where she was talking about different things. I would have happily followed her to her new blog, but I didn’t know about it. Horrors, I thought, I’ve done the same thing! 😮

So now it’s out. Once a week (usually Saturday) I post writing tips over at Rewrite, Reword, Rework, my editing blog.

Fantasy stays here, though. Fantasy is for us all, writers, readers, thinkers. It’s just the best genre! (But I might be a tad partial in that assessment 😉 ).

At any rate, I thought it was timely to put up a Fantasy Friday post because there’s a lot happening in fantasy/speculative fiction land.

First, AMG Publishers/Living Inc has several books out or coming out.

Scott Appleton may be a new author to you, but he’s about to release his second book this summer. He created a small press and published his first novel in the Sword Of The Dragon series, Swords Of The Six. The book sold well, and now AMG has picked up the entire series. The first title is already available.

Also new to the AMG family is D. Barkley Briggs who first published The Book of Names, first in the Legends of Karac Tor, with NavPress. When the company decided to end its fiction line, the rest of the series was homeless. Until now. The first book re-released last month and the second, Corus the Champion, is due out in two weeks!

In addition AMG is continuing the series of fan favorites — C. S. Lakin, whose second book in The Gates Of Heaven series, Map Across Time, released in March, and Bryan Davis who returns to the world of Billy and Bonnie Bannister in the Children Of The Bard series. Book one is due out this summer.

For the middle grade/YA crowd, in January the Miller Brothers and Warner Press released book three of the Codebearers Series, Hunter Brown and the Eye of Ends.

WaterBrook Press has a key adult fantasy release. Jeffrey Overstreet‘s conclusion of the Auralia’s Thread series, The Ale Boy’s Feast hit bookshelves last month and happily the CSFF Blog Tour will feature it in May.

Finally, today is the day the next set of Marcher Lord Press books is available:

Christy Award winning author Jill Williamson’s From Darkness Won, book three of the Blood Of Kings series, Mitchell Bond’s Hero In Hiding, second in the Hero Complex Series; and well-known science fiction author Kathy Tyers’ re-release of Firebird, complete with newly created maps and annotations.

If all that wasn’t enough, popular YA author (The Door Within series, two stand-alone pirate fantasies, and co-author of The Berinfell Prophecies) Wayne Thomas Batson has new series with AMG. The first book in The Dark Sea Annals Series, The Sword in the Stars, came out last fall. Now there is a contest involving his completion of book two, The Errant King. It’s a dual of sorts, with his co-author Christopher Hooper.

There you have it. Lots of books to enjoy, now and in the days ahead.

Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 7:16 pm  Comments (8)  
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CSFF Blog Tour – Starlighter by Bryan Davis, Day 1

I love introducing new Christian fantasy/science fiction, and especially the first in a series. It seems to me, the best time for a reader to start in is at the start. 😀 Ironic that I seem to be a late-to-the-party reader.

One of the trilogies that captured my imagination was Stephen Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. In those days, books came out in hardback, then months later (perhaps as long as a year later) the paperback released. I missed the hardback and only bought the paperback at the insistence of a friend. That was probably the best I’ve done at getting in on the ground floor of a literary phenomenon that took hold of the culture.

I missed the Left Behind series completely, was late to Harry Potter (didn’t read any of the books until the first movie came out), ignored the Twilight series intentionally.

All that to say, I’ve learned that the best is to be in the “first wave,” those readers who are the discoverers, the ones who start the buzz. Therefore, I delight in introducing not only new releases but first books of a series.

The CSFF Blog Tour has that opportunity this month as we feature Bryan Davis‘s Starlighter, Book 1 of the Dragons of Starlight (Zondervan).

Having released in March, Starlighter has fans raving about it. Fortunately it’s not too late to join in. For more info, readers might be interested in viewing a book trailer or reading the first chapter. (These are things I’ve learned to look for as I prepared the various introductions to the Clive Staples Award 2010 nominations 😉 ). The genre is young adult Christian fantasy, though the book spans a wide age range. The story can be enjoyed by guys and girls alike.

Of course, the best way to decide if a book or a series is for you is to see what other people are saying—which is pretty much why we have a blog tour in the first place. Here are the other CSFF members who will be discussing Starlighter in the next three days. Let’s do a little Amazon-style rating—leave a comment to let us know which posts you thought were especially helpful.

Published in: on July 19, 2010 at 10:02 am  Comments (9)  
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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
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
√√√ Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Eve Nielsen
√√√ 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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Landon Snow and the Volucer Dragon-A Fall into Reading Review

Callapidder Days My fall reading list, which I posted as part of Callapidder Days’ Fall into Reading challenge, is as follows:
Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (WaterBrook).
Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead.
Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins (Zondervan).
The Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin.
Wish list:
DragonFire by Donita Paul (WaterBrook).
Landon Snow and the Volucer Dragon by R. K. Mortenson (Barbour).
Restorer’s Journey by Sharon Hinck (NavPress).
Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by J. K. Rowling.

So, yes, I actually got to read a book that was on my wish list. And I’ll probably get another one or two in these next couple weeks. I’m still waiting for a review copy of The Restorer’s Journey. I don’t think it will release in time for me to buy it before December 20 which is when the challenge ends, I think.

I did want to do a review of sorts of Randy Mortenson’s Landon Snow and the Volucer Dragon.

Landon Snow and the Volucer DragonI have to say, this is by far my favorite Landon Snow book. Randy captured my interest from the beginning and held me the whole way through. The pages flew by. And what was especially intriguing to me was the fact that he began to weave in elements from his first book that had seemed random and disjointed—very Alice-and-Wonder-ish. in this fourth installment of the Landon Snow series, Randy skillfully brought threads together, some for the first time. And still there are questions, many, many questions left open at the end. This book reads less like a stand alone than the others.

The thing is, I already love the characters and am committed to rooting for them. I especially like Landon and his uncertain wisdom. But Bridget takes a more significant role in this book, and I found her more and more endearing.

Randy’s imagination continues to impress me, as does his ability to bring in spiritual truth as a natural part of the story.

Wonderfully, the final book, Landon Snow and the Auctor’s Kingdom, is also out, so anyone interested in buying the entire set for Christmas has that opportunity. The books are so nicely packaged. They really are the kind a reader would love to have on the bookshelf.

And just now, I discovered they are also out in paperback, which makes them appreciably affordable. I highly recommend this series. You’ll find it builds to a wonderful crescendo, with each book toping the one before it.

CSFF Blog Tour – The Return, Day 3 (And a Little More)

Well, once again I have some announcements to make before we get to our content. Thing is, that’s ANNOUNCEMENTS.

First, as you know, Merrie Destefano has been running an interview with me over at her blog, Alien Dream. Today she kindly included an excerpt from one of my novels. Now if you’ve explored here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, you may have stumbled upon the first chapter of Return to Efrathah, book one of The Lore of Efrathah. Then too, you may have read the opening scene of book two Journey to Mithlimar which Nicole posted over at Into the Fire as part of her “Saturday Sample” some weeks ago.

So, when Merrie asked for an excerpt, I thought, do I give something that’s a repeat? Do I give the opening of book three, Battle for Revín (which, in my opinion would give too much away)? Or do I offer something outside The Big Project.

I opted for the latter, so if you stop by Alien Dream, you can read the opening of The Only, a 2006 Genesis contest finalist entry.

Speaking of contests, we’re on to the other announcements. The winning entries of the Harvest House Talk Like a Pirate contest (and I think today might actually be The Day, the National Talk Like a Pirate Day) are being posted over at George Bryan Polivka’s blog, the very cool Cap’s Pub.

And that reminds me, Bryan has his Web site up. WOW! This one is very kewl—a worthy fantasy site, to be sure. I suggest you take a peek at Nearing Vast. (This actually reminds me of some of the ideas I have for my some-day Web site. 😀 )

One more announcement, and this another contest. Wayne Thomas Batson, in offering books for my next Fantasy Challenge, thought up an idea for his own contest, and he doesn’t mess around. This one is a good one! And the sooner you start, the more you can win. You have to read it yourself to get all the details. I suggest copying off the Treasure Tasks Key (you’ll understand when you stop by Enter the Door Within) and keeping it handy so you don’t miss an opportunity.

And now, at long last, back to The Tour. I am of course referring to Austin Boyd‘s The Return.

Here’s where I have to come clean. I am not finished reading The Return. I have something like 150 pages yet to go. At first I thought I would offer a partial review, but then realized there was a better option. The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, of which I am a member, is featuring The Return October 10-12, so I can post my complete review then.

Anyway, I still have more to say about the Mars Hill Classified series, so the final review will have to wait.

As I was stopping by a number of other blog tour participants’ sites and reading their comments, I realized I have said very little about the Christian part of these books. The thing is, they are VERY Christian in a completely natural way, so the Christianity doesn’t stand out as a thing separate from the story. It fits into the story because the protagonist is a Christian. His wife is a Christian.

These Christian characters then do what Christians do—they struggle, pray, trust, fear, obey, grieve, depend, love, sacrifice, hope, stumble, believe, endure, share. In other words, their Christianity is a part of them and therefore it comes out in the way they deal with life, just like the need for air makes one breathe.

The world that astronaut John (Hawk) Wells lives in, whether it is Mars, the Space Station, Earth, the Epsilon space ship, is not a “Christian” world. Most of the people he relates to are not believers. Occasionally he’s chided for his faith, and he’s “accused” of being “such a Boy Scout” as if this is a bad thing. At one point, he’s even left off the final selection for the Mars mission primarily because of his beliefs.

Hawk takes the negative in stride and doesn’t back down from what he believes. He even finds ways to tell those who want to listen more about his faith. And when he can’t—when it is too late for some he cares about—he grieves and feels remorse.

In other words, I believe Austin has written these characters in a thoroughly believable way, which translates into him writing about Christianity in a thoroughly believable way. It is definitely one of the strengths of the novels.

I’ve kept you long enough. Explore (notice the space theme there 😛 ) what others are saying about The Return.

Trish Anderson Brandon Barr Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Karri Compton Lisa Cromwell CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis D. G. D. Davidson Janey DeMeo Merrie Destefano or Alien Dream Jeff Draper April Erwin Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Christopher Hopper Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Terri Main Rachel Marks Karen McSpadden Eve Nielsen John W. Otte Lyn Perry Deena Peterson Rachelle Cheryl Russel Chawna Schroeder Mirtika Schultz James Somers Speculative Faith Steve Trower Laura Williams Timothy Wise

Published in: on September 19, 2007 at 11:56 am  Comments (8)  
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