Tour Wrap – Eye Of The Sword

It’s been a long time since the CSFF Blog Tour has had a controversial tour such as we had last week for Karyn Henley’s Eye of the Sword, book two of the Angeleon Circle. While the majority of bloggers participating in the tour agreed that the book was well-written, the story engaging, the characters well-drawn, a good number had trouble with the way angels appeared in the book. It’s certainly a question I felt needed to be addressed, and the side of the issue a person falls probably determines how they reacted to Eye of the Sword.

In all we had 32 bloggers post a total of 48 articles featuring author Karyn Henley and/or the book.

Most enthusiastic award goes to Theresa Dunlap for her fine review. We have a good group of participants who posted all three days of the tour, making them eligible for the Top Tour Blogger Award:

All that’s left, then, is the voting. The check marks beside each post link to a tour article. Take some time this week to pursue the articles that interest you–reviews, an author interview, discussions on the use of angels, personal growth, and more. Then vote in the poll below for the blogger you think deserves the recognition of Top Tour Blogger for August. The poll will remain open until midnight, Sunday, September 2.

Thanks in advance for taking part.

Published in: on August 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm  Comments Off on Tour Wrap – Eye Of The Sword  
Tags: , ,

CSFF Blog Tour – Eye Of The Sword, Day 2

Christian or not Christian, that is the question. Yesterday I made a pitch for reading the angels in Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley as “elves with wings.” In other words, they are not Biblical angels, but beings Ms. Henley has sub-created for her fantasy world. Certainly they are good, though they act very much like humans, even intermarrying and having children. They are separated from heaven because the stairway has been destroyed, and they can even die.

The “is it Christian” question is a logical one to ask, then. Both Shannon McDermott and Chawna Schroeder make a compelling argument against understanding it as Christian. Shane Werlinger, on the other hand, found in a key story event, a parallel to the Christian life. Could it be that “Christian” is in the eye of the beholder?

By that, of course, I don’t mean there is a flexible definition of Christian. But stories that are not overt in their Christianity may be seen by one reader as nothing more than good stories and by another as filled with truth about God.

For Christians looking for overt Christianity in Eye of the Sword, they won’t find it. There aren’t even the clear parallels with Christianity that one can find in the Narnia books. C. S. Lewis specifically set out to answer the question, If the incarnate God came to Narnia, how would He show up?

In this second volume of the Angeleon Circle, God as we know Him–the One True God who revealed Himself in the Bible–is not a player. In many respects, then, Ms. Henley’s series is more reminiscent of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings than of Narnia. Tolkien’s works have also been scrutinized for their Christian content and some find them wanting. God does not show up, though various characters serve as types: “a person or thing symbolizing or exemplifying the ideal or defining characteristics of something” (Oxford English Dictionary).

Could that be true of Eye of the Sword? I’m hoping so. Because this is book two of the Angeleon Circle, and there will be at least one more in the series, I’m withholding judgment regarding what might or might not be representative of God and the way He works in the real world.

I will say, I do not expect to see Him appear in the Three Kingdoms in the same way He appears in the true world He fashioned, and in this, I think Ms. Henley has chosen wisely. Her world, her angels, are as different from our world as Narnia is, with it’s talking animals, or as Middle Earth is, with its dwarfs and dragons.

Aslan we recognized because of his redemptive sacrifice. And yet the Narnia books, when they first came out, were not without detractors. After all, pagan gods appeared in the triumphal scene of Aslan’s arrival. C. S. Lewis, of course, was a prolific writer, and anyone familiar with his non-fiction quickly recognized that he was playing out in his fiction his belief that the story of redemption also redeems mythology. It is the True Myth and therefore gives meaning to those lesser stories that point to the One Greater Story.

And yet, a good number of detractors found their points of disagreement with Lewis, insurmountable. Their number is much smaller today, however. Most Christians accept the Narnia books as part of Christian fiction.

How will Eye of the Sword be viewed twenty years from now? We can speculate, but I will hold off formulating my answer until after I’ve read the entire series.

You might be interested in reading Ms. Henley’s blog if you’d like to know more about her, and she also gave a first rate interview to Meagan @ Blooming with Books. Who knows? Maybe becoming familiar with her entire body of work will help to understand her fantasies.

CSFF Blog Tour – Eye Of The Sword, Day 1

Take a look at the cover of Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley. To me it shouts FANTASY! I mean, eye of the sword? Swords don’t have eyes. And look at that character. Long hair, decked out in armor, leather gauntlets–all quite old world or other world.

On the inside, just behind the title page is a MAP! At once, I decided I was in love. I mean, what’s a fantasy without a good map. And this is a good one. But there’s more. Behind the map is a cast of characters. That says “EPIC” to me. I mean, any story that has enough characters to necessitate a list of them to remind you who’s who, in case you might accidentally lose track, has to have a fairly broad scope.

At this point I’ll admit I checked my enthusiasm. The book isn’t thick, so I did a quick check of the page length. Two hundred thirty-three. I’ve read fantasies that are more than twice that size. Was this book being pretentious? I mean, would such a slender volume really necessitate a glossary?

I glanced at the cover again. At the top: “Angeleon Circle, Book Two.” So the cast of characters encompasses an earlier book. Pretentious concern alleviated. But … larger concern, confirmed by another glance at the cast of characters. This book is about angels.

Generally speaking, I don’t like stories that feature angels. They so rarely live up to the Biblical record or else they are flat and unrealistic. Except, I read a terrific angel story earlier this year.

Besides, if I tell concerned readers that wizards such as those in Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are imaginative creatures, not the historical and very real beings the Bible warns against, shouldn’t I be willing to consider angels in the same vein? Must they be real in stories? Reluctantly, I set that concern aside and forged ahead.

How happy I am that I did so! A few pages in, and I was engrossed in this story. I’ll give my full review later in the tour, but for now, I wanted to elaborate a little on fantasy angels.

Granted, I haven’t talked to Ms. Henley about this. I should have taken up her offer to do an interview, but since I didn’t I’m left to surmise what she intended. (At her web site she has a page on Angelology which confirms my conclusions, however.) There is so much inventive material in this story, I have to believe the angels of the Angeleon Circle are equally inventive.

First, the map I mentioned shows readers a wholly other world made up of three kingdoms: Eldarra, The Dregmoors, and Camrithia. In this imaginative world, readers learn that a once-existent stairway to heaven has been closed, cutting off a group of angels from returning. Yes, there is a hint of Jacob’s dream of angels in that element, but in the Angeleon Circle, the stairway to heaven emanated from the Wisdom Tree which has been destroyed. This is not Biblical fiction! These angels–not fallen ones–live like men and intermarry with humans. They are trapped, after all, in the Three Kingdoms world.

At any rate, I treated the various types of angels in Eye of the Sword as purely pretend beings, not intended to show readers what real angels are like. As such, I enjoyed the story immensely and could focus on what was happening and what the theme was saying.

Mine is but one view. See what other participating members of the CSFF Blog Tour are saying. Note, the check marks below link to
articles that have been posted featuring Eye of the Sword.

Fantasy Friday – Introducing Karyn Henley

In case anyone isn’t noticing, young adult (YA) literature is hot right now, especially fantasy. Following this trend, any number of writers who published adult fiction now write for the YA market. Of late I’ve learned of several children’s book writers who are making the switch too. They may be well-known in one arena, but when they write for a new audience, they, too need an introduction. Such is the case with today’s author — Karyn Henley.

If her name sounds familiar, it isn’t surprising. Karyn is the author of the original The Beginner’s Bible which sold over five million copies during the fifteen years it was in print. She’s also an accomplished and award-winning song writer and has some 100 books to her credit — picture books, easy readers, curriculum, and parenting books. Throw in the numerous articles she’s written and the CDs she’s made, and it almost seems like Karyn’s should be a household name!

Karyn is a native Texan, though she now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Growing up in Abilene, she was a great reader, even reading as she walked to her grandmother’s house from school. Her love of books carried into adulthood. After graduating from Abilene Christian University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, she became a preschool teacher, and her favorite time of the day was story time when she read aloud to her children.

Her migration to YA fiction came as a direct result of her continuing education. She received her Masters of Fine Arts Degree from Vermont College in 2004. One of her advisers, Kathi Appelt, became a great supporter and encouraged Karyn to grow as a writer. She accepted the challenge and began to write a novel. It soon became apparent from the language and the issues the protagonist faced, that the story was most suited for young adults.

Writing fantasy seems to be a natural fit, too. Karyn’s early reading included a generous dose of myth and fairy tales. She also appreciates specific aspects of writers such as Ursula LeGuin and Orson Scott Card. Consequently when she started writing, she naturally gravitated toward fantasy.

Some may think of her work as paranormal romance, but Karyn differentiates because her series, The Angelaeon Circle (Waterbrook Multnomah), takes place in an ancient time where an acceptance of the supernatural was … well, more natural. Consequently, she considers her work to be high fantasy.

I like ancient and medieval settings for fantasy, because the worlds are slower and very different, and I don’t have to know the latest technology. Besides, when I go into the world of a book, I like to be transported far away. Working within an ancient world allows me to explore very different ways of life and places where the rules are different. For me, characters in ancient settings can be closer to the earth, rawer in their emotions, more deeply connected to the big struggles of survival that fantasy addresses so well. (excerpt from “Blog Tour Interview: Author Karyn Henley“)

Karyn was literally transported far away this summer when she traveled to Norway to attend her son’s wedding. She planned to do a little research for the third of her series.

Book one, Breath of Angel, debuted last June, and the second, Eye of the Sword, is due out in March.

Besides writing, Karyn lists reading as one of her hobbies. She also bakes bread, gardens (though she doesn’t have a green thumb), and bird-watches. She loves chocolate, prefers spring and fall to either winter or summer, and finds inspiration for her writing in Greek and Roman mythology.

To learn more about Karyn, visit her Facebook page, fiction website, and blog. To read an excerpt of the upcoming release, visit her publisher’s Sneak Peek page.

Published in: on January 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: