CSFF Blog Tour – Starlighter by Bryan Davis, Day 3

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

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

And now my review of Starlighter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CSFF Blog Tour – Starlighter by Bryan Davis, Day 2

Time, time, there’s not enough time to read all the interesting things CSFF bloggers are saying about Starlighter, Bryan Davis‘s recent release, the first in the Dragons of Starlight series (Zondervan). There are a couple posts, however, you won’t want to miss.

For a wonderful, detailed account of the story, see Jeff Chapman‘s day two post. Also in day two, Fred Warren took a look at how the Starlight dragons compare to others in the dragon tradition. For discussion about the mixture of science fiction and fantasy that seemed to snag some readers, see John Otte‘s day two post.

Me, I’ve been thinking about betrayal.

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

On both worlds featured in Starlighter, Starlight and Darksphere, the leaders seem to be corrupt. While giving the appearance of doing what is good for their people, they are actually trying to achieve some particular personal goals.

At this point in the series, the goals are not clear, but my supposition is that rulers on one planet wish for power and those on the other, for wealth. Whatever the reason, they are willing to do unspeakable things to achieve their ends—enslave a group of people by breaking the wills of children, selling children into slavery and lying about it, working against those who would rescue the lost.

How did such greedy or power-hungry people (or dragons) come to positions of prominence? So far the story doesn’t really go there (nor do I think it necessarily needs to), but on one planet intrigue and deception, suppression and assassination seem to rule. On the other, the pretense of following the law is in place, but this is for appearances only. Lies and manipulation and treachery and rebellion are strong undercurrents running through the power structure.

A few observations.

  • Betrayal makes for intriguing plot elements. Thinking of Starlighter in particular, I soon found myself questioning who was on the side of right and who the protagonists could actually trust.
  • Betrayal is something endemic to human nature, so we can all understand it, we can all abhor it. Consequently, characters in dark circumstances because of betrayal, or a misuse of power, are immediately sympathetic.
  • Abuse of power might be a defining element for a villain. Writing instructors often point out that an antagonist isn’t necessarily a villain. He may simply be someone who wants the same thing that the protagonist does. He isn’t evil, but in his efforts to fulfill his desires, he comes into direct conflict with the protagonist. The villain, however, has something else besides a strong desire. He has selfish motives. And he has power which he uses to achieve his personal agenda—which also comes into conflict with the hero’s goals.

I could go on. Lots to consider in thinking about corrupt leadership. But for other insights, discussions, reviews, and interviews, see what the other tour participants are posting (links to specific posts listed at the end of yesterday’s post).

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

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)  
Tags: , ,

Fantasy Friday – You Might Like to Know …

Lots going on in the world of fantasy.

First, Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper are running a couple interesting promotional events in preparation for the release of their co-authored book, Curse of the Spider King, book 1 of their series The Berinfell Prophecies (Thomas Nelson).

First is a campaign to blitz Amazon on October 7 with pre-orders. This is particularly aimed at readers who are already planning to purchase the book, but I suspect new readers will also be welcome. 😉

Before this first, they launched a forum to discuss the books in this new series — The Underground.

More recently they revealed a huge, giganto, fun, exciting contest they’re running to help get the word out about the book. They’re calling it, Build Your Tribe, Begin Your Quest. Sounds cool! 😎 And one of the prizes? A personal book signing party with lots of freebies for the winner!

And finally, they’re holding several extravaganza-type launch events. In Maryland, they’re speaking, signing, and performing at various places on October 16 and 17. In New York, they’ll be doing the same October 30 and 31.

By the way, the CSFF blog tour will be featuring Curse of the Spider King in November. I’m looking forward to reading this YA fantasy.

Speaking of tours and contests, Donita Paul has announced the closing date of her library contest for The Vanishing Sculptor. From her newsletter:

Library Contest
The library contest finally has an end date:
November 20, 2009

Why November 20? Because it is Mrs. Paul’s birthday, and we think it would be fun to give something away on her birthday. 😀

The Contest Image Gallery is almost complete, but we need more pictures of YOU (and your librarians)!

Remember your camera (or use your camera phone) next time you go to the library and get a picture of you with Mrs. Paul’s books on the shelves. Be creative! We want to see your faces!

NEW CONTEST RULE: You will be entered up to two times for each picture of faces you submit to webmaster@dragonkeeper.us.

If you have already submitted pictures or screenshots–thank you! They have likely been received. Our webmaster is working hard at getting them entered into the gallery, so your patience will soon be rewarded.

What else? There’s a new Christian fantasy forum called Holy Worlds.

Rachel Star Thomson won the September CSFF Top Blogger Award. Congratulations, Rachel!

Marcher Lord Press announced their new line of books/authors with special pricing if you purchase a number together.

Starlighter, first in the Dragons of Starlight series by Bryan Davis (Zondervan), can now be pre-ordered. Here’s the blurb from Bryan’s newsletter:

Jason Masters has heard his older brother Adrian’s tales about dragons kidnapping humans. Supposedly, almost one hundred years ago, a dragon stole away several humans and enslaved them on its own planet. These Lost Ones, as Adrian called them, live terrible lives as cattle. Yet, the Underground Gateway, the portal to the dragon planet, still exists somewhere, and a secret society of the same name has long tried to find it so they can rescue the Lost Ones.

When Adrian leaves to find the portal, Jason takes his place as the Governor’s bodyguard. Although the government has tried to cover up the evidence, he learns that the legends are true, and after being accused of murder and learning that Adrian’s life is in danger, he has to conduct his own search for the portal, a journey filled with danger and intrigue.

Aided by a gifted young lady named Elyssa and an eccentric escapee from the dungeon named Tibalt, Jason ventures into the wilderness to locate Adrian and the Lost Ones. Yet, what he finds on the dragon planet proves to the biggest surprise of all. Koren, a lonely slave girl, is a powerful being called a Starlighter, the slaves’ only hope for survival and rescue, though most refuse to believe that their ancestors ever came from another planet.

D. Barkley Briggs, author of The Book of Names, announced good news about his second (and, sadly, orphaned) book (NavPress is no longer publishing fiction):

UPDATE: I am securing all rights back from Navpress as we speak. Once the paper work is finalized, I hope to locate another publisher soon. How soon? Don’t know, but I’ve had a couple of random inquiries with no real effort on my part, so I’m hopeful. Please be patient. My personal schedule is tied up until at least the first of October. The good news in all of this is that Books 1-3 are complete! They just need a home.

I suspect there is more news in fantasy, but that should do it for today.

%d bloggers like this: