CSFF Tour – Martyr’s Fire

Hey. Is it that time again?

Yes it is. Time again for the Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy Tour. Speculative fiction at its finest.

This month’s feature is Martyr’s Fire by Sigmund Brower. This is the third book in the Merlin’s Immortals series. The Orphan King  and Fortress Of Mist are the two previous books.

From Amazon:
Will this dangerous quest lead the outcast Orphan King toward an ancient secret—or to certain destruction?
 
Posing as a beggar, Thomas escapes Magnus after fifteen men, who are calling themselves the Priests of the Holy Grail, arrive and take control of the castle through wondrous acts and apparent miracles. With the help of his longtime friend Gervaise, Thomas sets out on a journey that leads him to the ancient Holy Land. Unaware that Katherine and Hawkwood are watching over him, Thomas is tested in his beliefs and comes face to face with the ancient power that the Merlins and Druids have long been searching for.

Enter the world of Merlin’s Immortals, where ancient secrets and evil conspiracies take you on a breathless adventure of discovery, intrigue, and hidden knowledge. 


I didn’t get this book, but there are people below who have and can give you more info on it. For a summary of all of the posts of the week, check out Becky Miller’s post for the latest and greatest. 


Red Bissell Beckie Burnham Theresa Dunlap Emma or Audrey Engel April Erwin Victor Gentile Nikole Hahn Becky Jesse Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Rebekah Loper Jennette Mbewe Amber McCallister Shannon McDermott Meagan @ Blooming with Books Rebecca LuElla Miller Writer Rani Nathan Reimer Jojo Sutis Steve Trower Phyllis Wheeler Deborah Wilson Rachel Wyant

CSFF Tour – Merlin’s Blade Day 1

Welcome to medieval England for the May feature of the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy Tour. We are featuring our own member Robert Treskillard and his debut YA novel, Merlin’s Blade

Robert’s been with us a long time, and I’ve enjoyed interacting with him throughout the years. More importantly, I’m so excited that we are able to feature him after so much hard work.

From Amazon:

In Robert Treskillard’s take on the Arthurian legends, young Merlin is faced with the challenge of saving his country and those he loves when a mysterious, and dangerous, stone falls from the sky. 

Partially blinded years ago, Merlin is a timid swordsmith who wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and win the hand of Natalenya, the beautiful and kind daughter of a magistrate. But after he and his friend Garth encounter a strange stone in the wood, one protected by druids, Merlin receives a series of visions and prophecies that he is to save his land and his Christian faith from a dark force. As the power of the stone grows and threatens his family and friends, Merlin is forced to embrace his calling—for he may be the only one immune to the stone’s power.

Touching on multiple elements of the classic Arthur story—from the Lady of the Lake, the creation of Excalibur, the sword in the stone, and the rescue of Arthur himself—this fantasy tale will appeal to young adults looking for adventure and a hint of romance, as well as adults who enjoy the classic tale this series is based on.

I’ll have more on the book tomorrow, but I want to point you to his blog for a special contest he’s having. The grand prize winner gets a sword created by Robert himself. Wow. I might have to learn how to spin cloth or something. Oh, you’ll have to see this post for the rules.

You can find more information at his blog or author site, and see my tourmates below for their thoughts as well.

   Noah Arsenault Beckie Burnham Keanan Brand Jeff Chapman Laure Covert Pauline Creeden Emma or Audrey Engel April Erwin Victor Gentile Ryan Heart Timothy Hicks Jason Joyner Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Shannon McDermott Meagan @ Blooming with Books Rebecca LuElla Miller Joan Nienhuis Nathan Reimer Chawna Schroeder Kathleen Smith Jojo Sutis Robert Treskillard Steve Trower Phyllis Wheeler Shane Werlinger Nicole White

Book Review – Daughter Of Light

On this fine Writing Wednesday I need to highlight a friend of mine.

Morgan Busse is a pastor’s wife and one of the authors of the well-regarded Marcher Lord Press. She also plays a mean game of Fiasco, so you have been warned. She’s been a member of the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy Tour in the past, and that’s how we connected at the ACFW Conference in Dallas last year.

Her first book released last year, called Daughter Of Light. I recently had the chance to read it.

Synopsis:
Rowen is an orphan girl left on the doorstep of a military hero living outside a small village in the Ryland Plains. She grows up as an outcast from the tight-knit community, but when her father is killed in the war, it seems they are finally opening up to her. However, a strange mark appears on her hand, and when she touches someone with it, all of his dark secrets are revealed to her.

She is forced into exile as a witch, narrowly escaping being burned at the stake. Her only option is an offer from the White City, where as a favor to her father she is given the chance to become the bodyguard of Lady Astrea, daughter of Lord Gaynor. She hides her mark under a leather glove as she trains under the guidance of Captain Lore, a seasoned veteran who remains a follower of the Word, even as most of the culture has forgotten Him.

As Rowen wins the title of varor, there are forces building that will challenge her to the core. In the east, the dark Shadonae have risen once again, with a lone scribe fleeing for her life to reach the White City. From the south an invasion force mounts, and the assassin Caleb Tana is pursuing a bold plan that would free him from the banality of the army and allow him to retreat to his comforts back home.

Rowen plunges into the chaos swirling around her, wrestling with her own trials from her abandonment, exile,  and unwanted curse on her hand. Somehow she must discover the mystery of who she is and her strange calling before the world around her collapses.

Review:
Marcher Lord Press has cultivated a reputation for turning out the best in Christian speculative fiction, one that is well-deserved from what I’ve read from them so far. I’m pleased that Morgan continues in this tradition with a strong fantasy adventure that also challenges the heart.

Her characters make good heroes – they are determined to pursue what needs to be done despite their wounds and weaknesses. The drama from the plot is heightened by the internal conflict Rowan, Lore, and Caleb face. They are believable and sympathetic. I would have liked a little more about their habits or other desires, a quirk that grounds them, but otherwise they were well done. The secondary characters didn’t stand out very much, but there aren’t many of them to track.

The plot keeps the reader guessing. The conflict and suspense builds, and I never felt like the book dragged. There were no stretches of boring detail. The prose was crisp and kept the momentum growing. The best part of the book though is the heart. The theme of being damaged and dealing with what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you, is a powerful message. The book is by no means preachy, but there are touching passages with opposing characters that make for a brilliant contrast. Rowen’s damaged soul is an obvious point for this, but a surprising actor also plays a part in this. I was very impressed with how the theme was handled.

One of the best things was also the most frustrating. Morgan built up enough suspense that the one book couldn’t contain it. There are questions at the end of the book whether certain characters are even alive. I wondered about the threat from the Shadonae, the war against the White City, and what would happen to Rowen. I liked that it didn’t draw things together into a neat bow. There was enough resolution to the book, but I need to read the next one now. That’s the frustration. I want it now.

Thankfully I don’t need to wait long. The second book in the series, Son Of Truth, is set to release in a few weeks. I’ll be adding it to my reading pile very soon.

Overall, Daughter Of Light is a very enjoyable and thoughtful read and an excellent debut. Yes, Morgan is a friend, but I’ve read enough fantasy that I’m picky, and I wouldn’t say this without meaning it. With some more layering of the character traits this book could be approaching 5 star range. However, I would say it is 4 stars because a debut author always has room for improvement. Morgan’s only problem is that she set the bar pretty high from the get-go!

CSFF Tour – The Orphan King

A month has flown by already? It seemed just yesterday we were doing the tour for Shannon Dittemore and her book Angel Eyes (BTW, her next book in the series, Broken Wings, just released).

But we are now two months in to 2013, and it is time for another CSFF feature. This time we’re doing The Orphan King, a new series by Sigmund Brouwer.

I didn’t have time to read this book, but here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

The future of the Immortals is in the hands of an orphan

 My greatest fear was that they would find us and make of us a sacrifice beneath a full moon. Now you, Thomas, must help us destroy the circle of evil. 

The last words of a dying woman would change the life of young Thomas. Raised behind monastery walls, he knows nothing of his mysterious past or imminent destiny. But now, in the heart of medieval England, a darkness threatens to strangle truth. An ancient order tightens their ghostly grip on power, creating fear and exiling those who would oppose them. Thomas is determined fulfill his calling and bring light into the mysterious world of the Druids and leaves the monastery on an important quest. Thomas quickly finds himself in unfamiliar territory, as he must put his faith in unusual companions—a cryptic knight, a child thief, and the beautiful, silent woman whom may not be all she seems.  From the solitary life of an orphan, Thomas now finds himself tangled in the roots of both comradery and suspicion. Can he trust those who would join his battle…or will his fears force him to go on alone?

It sounds intriguing, but the folks below will have more information on it. I was able to read Gillian’s overview of book one, and she’s writing about the second book in the series next (Fortress Of Mist), so definitely check her out.

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

Review – Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland

What happens when you dream?

This question has made men wonder for millenia. Leave it to a woman to answer it for us all.

Author K.M. Weiland of the popular Wordplay blog for writers has taken this idea and weaved it into her latest fantasy book Dreamlander.

Chris Redston is a down on his luck writer who has always dreamt of  far away lands and amazing battles. Lately he’s having a dream that scares him: a beautiful woman rides up to him on a horse, pulls out a firearm, and warns him not to come – right before shooting him between the eyes.

If that didn’t make him paranoid, he’s being called by a strange man who knows Chris is having weird dreams. When Chris is finally able to confront his stalker, the man is shot. Chris is knocked out and awakens to meet a psychologist who promises to help Chris get rid of the dreams. All he needs to do is sleep, do what he’s told in the dream, and it will break the cycle.

Allara is a princess of Lael and is also the Searcher – the one person tasked with finding the Gifted and guiding them through their world. The Gifted is the one person who can remember both lives on Earth and Lael. Everyone else thinks they are dreaming. Allara was a young girl when a Gifted came to Lael and betrayed everyone for the treacherous Mactalde. Even though that Gifted and Mactalde were killed, the prophecy that Mactalde would return has her on edge. Especially now that a new Gifted is about to cross over, which shouldn’t happen again in her lifetime as most Searchers only ever have one Gifted a generation. She tries to warn him away, but he keeps appearing closer and closer to fulling coming over.

Chris didn’t realize that the psychologist was Mactalde still living on Earth. Chris unwittingly brings Mactalde back over, sparking a war between Lael and Mactalde’s army. Even worse, by bringing someone across the boundary, both worlds are stretched to the breaking point by unusual storms wreaking havoc on both sides.

As Chris and Allara are thrown together, they must overcome her mistrust and his cluelessness about their world to find Mactalde and end the chaos before two worlds crash down. But the shifting alliances and strange ways of Lael may prove too much for even the Gifted to handle.

An epic fantasy needs a strong plot, a deep world, and compelling characters. Dreamlander has all three aspects in full force here. The fish-out-of-water part of the story with Chris trying to survive and deal with a fantasy realm is not new, but it is handled deftly in the author’s hands. The tension builds steadily on both sides of the dream as Chris tries to avoid death on Earth and trains in Lael. There is no dull moment as every part of the steps taken pull the reader deeper into a grand conflict.

Chris and Allara are appealing characters that battle internal demons along with the dangers that Mactalde’s invasion brings. They both grow and develop throughout the story and anchor the story well. The secondary characters are also well done. Instead of being cardboard place holders, they are all 3-D figures that occupy their own space in the story and add to the mix.

The fantasy world of Lael is an intriguing one, as it isn’t all swords and horses. Those elements are there of course, but this world has some mechanical, almost steampunk type elements. There are tram cars enabling quick travel across lands and fantastical firearms that operate with a special energy. These are cool factors that make Dreamlander stand apart from a typical fantasy.

I’ve enjoyed following K.M. Weiland’s blog posts for writerly advice and videos. Now reading Dreamlander I know she has the skill and talent to back up her training. She doesn’t just teach – she can ply the craft as well. I really enjoyed Dreamlander as one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in a while, and I can highly recommend it for a great Christmas gift for a loved one – or even a treat for yourself.

Full disclosure – I did receive an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review – and I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t really like it.

CSFF Tour – Eye Of The Sword

Guess what’s back?
After a summer hiatus, the Christian Sci-fi/Fantasy Tour (CSFF as it is affectionately known) is back. This month the focus book is Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley.
Unfortunately I didn’t read this book, as I’m preparing for a special event that I’ll talk more about tomorrow. I hate to miss out on books, because the CSFF Tour usually features the best in Christian fantasy or science fiction. Here’s what Amazon has to say about it:

Where angels walk the ground and the future is told in song, does a man of low rank have a chance at love with a princess?


In Camrithia, a land of shadows and mystical secrets, Trevin lives to serve King Laetham. But his heart belongs to the princess, Melaia. When the King sends Trevin on on a dangerous quest to find the missing comains—captains in the king’s army—he must leave Melaia to the advances of a swaggering Dregmoorian prince.

Challenged to prove his worth, Trevin throws himself into his quest. Striving to prove his love, Trevin undertakes a second mission—find the harps Melaia seeks in order to restore the stairway to heaven. Through fire caves, rogue winds, and murderous threats, Trevin remains steadfastly dedicated to his quest—even when he is falsely accused of a heinous crime. As Trevin’s time runs out, he realizes he must face the shame and horror of his own past and the nightmare that has come to life. Will he have the courage to finish what he has started?

If this interests you at all, you can get more information at Karyn’s blog or Facebook page. Of course, my other partners on the tour I’m sure have a lot of intriguing feedback, so be sure to check them out as well.
Until next time, when I have more time…

Julie Bihn
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Jackie Castle
Brenda Castro
Jeff Chapman
Christine
Theresa Dunlap
Cynthia Dyer
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Rebekah Loper
Shannon McDermott
Karen McSpadden
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Mirriam Neal
Nissa
Faye Oygard
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Jessica Thomas
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

CSFF Tour – Corus the Champion Day 2




The Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy tour is highlighting D. Barkley Briggs  and his book Corus the Champion from the Legends of Karac Tor series. It is the second of five books. The first book is The Book of Names, and the third is also available, The Song of Unmasking. Anyone who leaves a comment through December 9 will have a chance to win Song.

I’m disappointed that I haven’t had time to read the books yet. Too much going on lately. However, I bought the first three for my boys, and they are working their way through the series. My oldest is reading Corus right now, while my middle son has started Names.

We featured The Book of Names a couple of years ago. In the meantime issues with the original publisher arose, and the series was put on hiatus until this year, when the first three found release and new life.

I can’t comment on the books themselves, but I was willing to buy the first three at once because of what I see of the author, D. Barkley Briggs. I’ve not met him, but from what I’ve gathered online from his blog, Twitter feed, and biography, he is a man with a heart to challenge kids toward a great adventure in the Kingdom.

After losing his wife of 16 years, Briggs decided to tell a tale his four sons could relate to in their own journey through loss. Thus was born The Legends of Karac Tor, a sweeping adventure of four brothers who become enmeshed in the crisis of another world and along the way, must find their courage, battle overwhelming odds, face their pain, and never quit searching for home. (From his bio)

My boys and I have a tradition of reading at night before they go to bed. I am so thankful that even my 11 year old wants to continue this. I am looking forward to reading the Legends of Karac Tor to them, and to keep their love of story going, and stoke the fires of seeking God’s adventure for their lives in all they do.

I wish I had my own review, but I’m hoping that my oldest will do what he was asked and write up a little plug for Karac Tor. There are many more thoughts from my tourmates below. Becky Miller always collects all of the posts for your perusal, so check those out for more!

Gillian Adams Noah Arsenault Beckie Burnham Morgan L. Busse CSFF Blog Tour Carol Bruce Collett Theresa Dunlap April Erwin Victor Gentile Nikole Hahn Ryan Heart Bruce Hennigan Christopher Hopper Julie Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Marzabeth Shannon McDermott Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen Sarah Sawyer Kathleen Smith Donna Swanson Rachel Starr Thomson Steve Trower Fred Warren Phyllis Wheeler Nicole White Rachel Wyant

CSFF Tour – Corus the Champion Day 2




The Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy tour is highlighting D. Barkley Briggs  and his book Corus the Champion from the Legends of Karac Tor series. It is the second of five books. The first book is The Book of Names, and the third is also available, The Song of Unmasking. Anyone who leaves a comment through December 9 will have a chance to win Song.

I’m disappointed that I haven’t had time to read the books yet. Too much going on lately. However, I bought the first three for my boys, and they are working their way through the series. My oldest is reading Corus right now, while my middle son has started Names.

We featured The Book of Names a couple of years ago. In the meantime issues with the original publisher arose, and the series was put on hiatus until this year, when the first three found release and new life.

I can’t comment on the books themselves, but I was willing to buy the first three at once because of what I see of the author, D. Barkley Briggs. I’ve not met him, but from what I’ve gathered online from his blog, Twitter feed, and biography, he is a man with a heart to challenge kids toward a great adventure in the Kingdom.

After losing his wife of 16 years, Briggs decided to tell a tale his four sons could relate to in their own journey through loss. Thus was born The Legends of Karac Tor, a sweeping adventure of four brothers who become enmeshed in the crisis of another world and along the way, must find their courage, battle overwhelming odds, face their pain, and never quit searching for home. (From his bio)

My boys and I have a tradition of reading at night before they go to bed. I am so thankful that even my 11 year old wants to continue this. I am looking forward to reading the Legends of Karac Tor to them, and to keep their love of story going, and stoke the fires of seeking God’s adventure for their lives in all they do.

I wish I had my own review, but I’m hoping that my oldest will do what he was asked and write up a little plug for Karac Tor. There are many more thoughts from my tourmates below. Becky Miller always collects all of the posts for your perusal, so check those out for more!

Gillian Adams Noah Arsenault Beckie Burnham Morgan L. Busse CSFF Blog Tour Carol Bruce Collett Theresa Dunlap April Erwin Victor Gentile Nikole Hahn Ryan Heart Bruce Hennigan Christopher Hopper Julie Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Marzabeth Shannon McDermott Rebecca LuElla Miller Eve Nielsen Sarah Sawyer Kathleen Smith Donna Swanson Rachel Starr Thomson Steve Trower Fred Warren Phyllis Wheeler Nicole White Rachel Wyant

CSFF Tour Day 3 – The Monster In The Hollows

Today is the last day of our feature of Andrew Peterson’s wonderful series The Wingfeather Saga and the latest book, The Monster In The Hollows.

What do I know though? I’m almost a greybeard.

How about we ask some of the intended audience?

Two thumbs up!

I have been reading this series to my boys Nathan (11) and Matthew (9 1/2) for three years (Caleb is starting to get into it, but he has the attention span of Kalmar on a bad day). They have eaten up the antics and adventures of the Florid Sword, Peet the Sock Man, Oskar N. Reteep,the Durgan Patrol and even Sara Cobbler (a girl!).

Nathan has recently read the first two books again, so he wrote up a summary of the series.
On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness:
“I like how they think they’re normal kids with a normal life, until everything changes in a few days. Then they find out Tink (Kalmar) is a king, Janner is a Throne Warden, and Leeli is a Song Maiden.”


 
North! Or Be Eaten
 From the Glipwood Forest to the Stranders, Dugtown, the Fork Factory, and the Ice Prairies there are challenges wherever the Wingfeathers go, and with all that excitement, why can’t you love this book!” (Why indeed?)

The Monster In The Hollows:
“The Wingfeathers think they can be safe in the Green Hollows but they immediately run into problems. When they seem to have a normal life, Janner finds out that his little brother is stealing animals and the Hollowsfolk aren’t happy. As they’re about to be hanged (as my brother and I go crazy), the surprise is actually the [removed for spoiler purposes!]”

Matthew focused on Monster.
“The Monster In The Hollows is really exciting. It has a lot of mystery, which I really like about it, and is one of the reasons it’s my favorite book in the Wingfeather Saga. I really like how it has a lot of cliffhangers, because my brother and I went coo-coo on a lot of the cliffhangers. I really also like the part where Janner found out that Kalmar was gone in the middle of the night and went and tracked him in the snow!

But my favorite part of all was when they figured out [a major spoiler]. I was really surprised because we thought he was [spoiler], so I was really shocked. I did also like the chapter “Artham and the Deeps of Throg”. So I am looking forward to another book.”

Ok, I had to provide a little redacting to not blow some great surprises. I hope the words of some true boys who enjoy good books will encourage you to pick this up, especially if you have kids. Even if you don’t, it is a great series to read for kids of any age!

See what else the inmates are saying for the CSFF Tour at Becky’s blog.

CSFF Tour Day 3 – The Monster In The Hollows

Today is the last day of our feature of Andrew Peterson’s wonderful series The Wingfeather Saga and the latest book, The Monster In The Hollows.

What do I know though? I’m almost a greybeard.

How about we ask some of the intended audience?

Two thumbs up!

I have been reading this series to my boys Nathan (11) and Matthew (9 1/2) for three years (Caleb is starting to get into it, but he has the attention span of Kalmar on a bad day). They have eaten up the antics and adventures of the Florid Sword, Peet the Sock Man, Oskar N. Reteep,the Durgan Patrol and even Sara Cobbler (a girl!).

Nathan has recently read the first two books again, so he wrote up a summary of the series.
On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness:
“I like how they think they’re normal kids with a normal life, until everything changes in a few days. Then they find out Tink (Kalmar) is a king, Janner is a Throne Warden, and Leeli is a Song Maiden.”


 
North! Or Be Eaten
 From the Glipwood Forest to the Stranders, Dugtown, the Fork Factory, and the Ice Prairies there are challenges wherever the Wingfeathers go, and with all that excitement, why can’t you love this book!” (Why indeed?)

The Monster In The Hollows:
“The Wingfeathers think they can be safe in the Green Hollows but they immediately run into problems. When they seem to have a normal life, Janner finds out that his little brother is stealing animals and the Hollowsfolk aren’t happy. As they’re about to be hanged (as my brother and I go crazy), the surprise is actually the [removed for spoiler purposes!]”

Matthew focused on Monster.
“The Monster In The Hollows is really exciting. It has a lot of mystery, which I really like about it, and is one of the reasons it’s my favorite book in the Wingfeather Saga. I really like how it has a lot of cliffhangers, because my brother and I went coo-coo on a lot of the cliffhangers. I really also like the part where Janner found out that Kalmar was gone in the middle of the night and went and tracked him in the snow!

But my favorite part of all was when they figured out [a major spoiler]. I was really surprised because we thought he was [spoiler], so I was really shocked. I did also like the chapter “Artham and the Deeps of Throg”. So I am looking forward to another book.”

Ok, I had to provide a little redacting to not blow some great surprises. I hope the words of some true boys who enjoy good books will encourage you to pick this up, especially if you have kids. Even if you don’t, it is a great series to read for kids of any age!

See what else the inmates are saying for the CSFF Tour at Becky’s blog.