CSFF Tour – The Ale Boy’s Feast Day 2

The end of the journey nears.

Yes, The Ale Boy’s Feast is the last book of the Auralia Thread series by Jeffrey Overstreet, which is the featured book for the CSFF Tour this month. We’ve highlighted each book in the series, and my prior post linked to all of my posts regarding the books. Also check Becky Miller’s blog for all of this month’s tour participants.

The long journey continues for the houses of the Expanse, the land of Auralia’s Thread. House Abascar continues their journey toward the Forbidding Wall under the captain of the guard, since King Cal-raven has gone missing.

The ale boy called “Rescue” has survived the collapse of the Cent Regus Core, the remains of another house where the people had been corrupted into beastmen. He finds an underground river where he tries to lead ragged slaves to freedom.

The beastman Jordam, now free of the Cent Regus curse, also seeks redemption while hiding a terrible secret.

Will the citizens of the expanse survive the worst attack from the disgraced Seers, a Deathweed that strikes without remorse throughout more and more of the land? Will House Abascar find their king and their new home? Will the sliver of hope found in Auralia’s Colors prove to be more than a pretty decoration, or will the life within shine a way for these desperate people?

I’m being a little vague in my synopsis, because there are significant spoilers to the series if I delve too much into the plot. There are a lot of questions in my summary, because Overstreet has been asking a lot of questions throughout his series. The question today is, how does The Ale Boy’s Feast fare in tying together the various strands and capping off such an ambitious series?

The prose of these books continues to be beyond standard fiction fare. He intentionally writes with a poetic flair and uses a lot of description and figures of speech to paint vivid pictures. The style is a unique voice, and it is one of the strengths of the book.

It can also be a weakness, as the book is a dense read. It is not light and easy fare, not a quick read for those pressed with time. It takes some effort, as does the series. Still, the series has been enjoyable in seeing the way he uses words so carefully.

Plot-wise, there are a lot of points that have been introduced all through the series. I think the book does a good job in bringing the major points to conclusion, but there are so many trails that they don’t all get a satisfying resolution. Overstreet is not going to spell out the ending, purposely leaving things up to a reader’s imagination, so this isn’t what I’m talking about. There are just dangling threads at the end that don’t get tied off. Sometimes the action slows and drags in paces, with bursts of excitement interspersed.

The main characters of Cal-raven, the ale boy, and the fate of Auralia play prominently through the book. The biggest complaint I had is that there are so many introduced in the series that I was seriously confused through much of the book. If one is reading the series through without much delay, it shouldn’t be a problem, but after 4 years of the whole set, I couldn’t remember everything. The first third of the book alternates widely between various characters, so even if I had been better on the characters, I believe the wide cast of viewpoint characters would create too much distance for readers to engage.

I’ve said before that the series was important because it tried to do things differently than much fantasy fiction nowadays. I still believe that, but I think the wild trails of the Expanse got a little away from Overstreet in this last book. The questions raised are poignant, the surprises revealed in the end satisfying, but it is like a beautiful English garden that got a little overgrown over time. In my opinion Cyndere’s Midnight, the second book, is the best of the series. The Ale Boy’s Feast was a little frustrating in the density of characters and plot points, but it is an admirable finish to an imaginative tale.

Legal mumbo jumbo: I received this book free from the publisher for review purposes, without obligation regarding my opinion. There you go lawyers.

CSFF Tour – The Ale Boy’s Feast Day 2

The end of the journey nears.

Yes, The Ale Boy’s Feast is the last book of the Auralia Thread series by Jeffrey Overstreet, which is the featured book for the CSFF Tour this month. We’ve highlighted each book in the series, and my prior post linked to all of my posts regarding the books. Also check Becky Miller’s blog for all of this month’s tour participants.

The long journey continues for the houses of the Expanse, the land of Auralia’s Thread. House Abascar continues their journey toward the Forbidding Wall under the captain of the guard, since King Cal-raven has gone missing.

The ale boy called “Rescue” has survived the collapse of the Cent Regus Core, the remains of another house where the people had been corrupted into beastmen. He finds an underground river where he tries to lead ragged slaves to freedom.

The beastman Jordam, now free of the Cent Regus curse, also seeks redemption while hiding a terrible secret.

Will the citizens of the expanse survive the worst attack from the disgraced Seers, a Deathweed that strikes without remorse throughout more and more of the land? Will House Abascar find their king and their new home? Will the sliver of hope found in Auralia’s Colors prove to be more than a pretty decoration, or will the life within shine a way for these desperate people?

I’m being a little vague in my synopsis, because there are significant spoilers to the series if I delve too much into the plot. There are a lot of questions in my summary, because Overstreet has been asking a lot of questions throughout his series. The question today is, how does The Ale Boy’s Feast fare in tying together the various strands and capping off such an ambitious series?

The prose of these books continues to be beyond standard fiction fare. He intentionally writes with a poetic flair and uses a lot of description and figures of speech to paint vivid pictures. The style is a unique voice, and it is one of the strengths of the book.

It can also be a weakness, as the book is a dense read. It is not light and easy fare, not a quick read for those pressed with time. It takes some effort, as does the series. Still, the series has been enjoyable in seeing the way he uses words so carefully.

Plot-wise, there are a lot of points that have been introduced all through the series. I think the book does a good job in bringing the major points to conclusion, but there are so many trails that they don’t all get a satisfying resolution. Overstreet is not going to spell out the ending, purposely leaving things up to a reader’s imagination, so this isn’t what I’m talking about. There are just dangling threads at the end that don’t get tied off. Sometimes the action slows and drags in paces, with bursts of excitement interspersed.

The main characters of Cal-raven, the ale boy, and the fate of Auralia play prominently through the book. The biggest complaint I had is that there are so many introduced in the series that I was seriously confused through much of the book. If one is reading the series through without much delay, it shouldn’t be a problem, but after 4 years of the whole set, I couldn’t remember everything. The first third of the book alternates widely between various characters, so even if I had been better on the characters, I believe the wide cast of viewpoint characters would create too much distance for readers to engage.

I’ve said before that the series was important because it tried to do things differently than much fantasy fiction nowadays. I still believe that, but I think the wild trails of the Expanse got a little away from Overstreet in this last book. The questions raised are poignant, the surprises revealed in the end satisfying, but it is like a beautiful English garden that got a little overgrown over time. In my opinion Cyndere’s Midnight, the second book, is the best of the series. The Ale Boy’s Feast was a little frustrating in the density of characters and plot points, but it is an admirable finish to an imaginative tale.

Legal mumbo jumbo: I received this book free from the publisher for review purposes, without obligation regarding my opinion. There you go lawyers.

CSFF Tour – The Ale Boy’s Feast, Day 1

One last voyage.

The CSFF Tour is about to finish up a series that we’ve featured since it started. Four books is a lot, and it is cool to see it through to the end. I’m talking about Jeffrey Overstreet’s Auralia Thread series, and the 4th book The Ale Boy’s Feast.

I’ve been involved with each tour, so to give some context, I’d point you to my previous posts about the series.

Book 1: Auralia’s Colors

Book 2: Cyndere’s Midnight – including an interview with Jeffrey Overstreet.

Book 3: Raven’s Ladder

For further information, you can check out Jeffrey’s site Looking Closer. Also, my fellow travelers at the CSFF Tour will have many interesting posts for your perusal. Check them out below.

Gillian Adams
Red Bissell
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Shane Deal
Chris Deane
Cynthia Dyer
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Inae Kyo
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Sarah Sawyer
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson

CSFF Tour – The Ale Boy’s Feast, Day 1

One last voyage.

The CSFF Tour is about to finish up a series that we’ve featured since it started. Four books is a lot, and it is cool to see it through to the end. I’m talking about Jeffrey Overstreet’s Auralia Thread series, and the 4th book The Ale Boy’s Feast.

I’ve been involved with each tour, so to give some context, I’d point you to my previous posts about the series.

Book 1: Auralia’s Colors

Book 2: Cyndere’s Midnight – including an interview with Jeffrey Overstreet.

Book 3: Raven’s Ladder

For further information, you can check out Jeffrey’s site Looking Closer. Also, my fellow travelers at the CSFF Tour will have many interesting posts for your perusal. Check them out below.

Gillian Adams
Red Bissell
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Shane Deal
Chris Deane
Cynthia Dyer
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Inae Kyo
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Sarah Sawyer
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson

CSFF Tour – Raven’s Ladder Day 3

The Review of Raven’s Ladder

I made it. Almost.

I’ve had a little fun for this blog tour as I’ve tried feverishly to finish Raven’s Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet, the second book we’ve featured this month. Thankfully, I’ve participated in tours for the two prior titles in the series, so I had “content” to offer while I furiously flipped pages.

I actually finished late Wednesday at work, but I couldn’t blog about this until Thursday morning. I guess that’s cheating. Anyway, I can offer my thoughts on Raven’s Ladder for what it’s worth.

The story:
After the fall of House Abascar, the loss of a young woman named Auralia, and the transformation of one savage beastman, the third book in the Auralia’s Thread series focuses on the ragtag survivors of Abascar. They are lead by Cal-raven, considered a dreamer by many of his people for his belief in a mystical Keeper and for his willingness to lead from visions and intuition.

In the land of the Expanse, where four Houses (dynasties) were established long ago, two of them are in serious trouble. House Cent Regus has been transformed into horrible beastmen driven by animal desires. House Abascar suffered the loss of their home territory, and as they huddle in cliff dwellings, they are once again driven from their residence out into the wild.

Cal-raven longs to find a new, permanent home for his people. In his quest, he and his people will be swept up in the politics and intrigue of House Bel Amica, a place of outward beauty with a rotting core, and the challenge of the Cent Regus with their hidden secrets. All the while, the amazing colors that young Auralia introduced in the first book are a recurrent theme that offer a new way to all in the story, if they are willing to have faith.

My review:
The problem with trying to read Raven’s Ladder quickly is that Jeffrey Overstreet writes dense. This is not a bad thing. His books are written with a lyrical quality that makes one stop and pay attention to the figures of speech used to paint a picture with the words chosen. I would prefer a more leisurely read, but deadlines are what they are!

The book continues the interesting tale of the Expanse. There is a lot to comment on, from the “prosperity” focus of the Bel Amican moon spirit religion to the more explicit faith shown in the Keeper. I would not recommend a reader try to pick up Raven and start reading – the prior books are required reading at this point. In fact, it had been long enough since reading Cyndere’s Midnight that I struggled some with keeping  plot and characters straight.

I have said before that this series is an important contribution to Christian (specifically CBA) fiction. Overstreet is trying to paint a beautiful picture, and there are patterns emerging that offer some interesting spiritual insight. He has stated before that he is not trying to push some beliefs, but allow an intriguing story make the reader think. Still, there are pictures coming out that offer a glimpse of where he is coming from.

It is a good fantasy series, but as I read it, there is a distance to the characters that make it hard for me to fully embrace. I can relate better to the noble Abascar captain than the main protagonist King Cal-raven. I have felt the distance throughout the series, but it was a little more noticeable this time, perhaps due to the depth of plot and characters from the prior two books that is hard to keep in mind over two years time.

I recommend the series, but if you are a fan of rapid action and quick moving scenes, this book may not be for you. It is more of a slow burn, requiring time to appreciate the different threads moving through the series (it is the Gold Strand of the Auralia series after all). The books are aiming high – they may not make it all the time, but the goal is lofty enough that even in “missing” it is still an entertaining yet inquisitive examination of beauty, faith, nobility, savagery, and finding what matters most in life.

For other thoughts on Raven’s Ladder, be sure to check out other participants listed at the bottom of Becky Miller’s Day 1 post.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of Raven’s Ladder from WaterBrook Press.

CSFF Tour – Raven’s Ladder Day 3

The Review of Raven’s Ladder

I made it. Almost.

I’ve had a little fun for this blog tour as I’ve tried feverishly to finish Raven’s Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet, the second book we’ve featured this month. Thankfully, I’ve participated in tours for the two prior titles in the series, so I had “content” to offer while I furiously flipped pages.

I actually finished late Wednesday at work, but I couldn’t blog about this until Thursday morning. I guess that’s cheating. Anyway, I can offer my thoughts on Raven’s Ladder for what it’s worth.

The story:
After the fall of House Abascar, the loss of a young woman named Auralia, and the transformation of one savage beastman, the third book in the Auralia’s Thread series focuses on the ragtag survivors of Abascar. They are lead by Cal-raven, considered a dreamer by many of his people for his belief in a mystical Keeper and for his willingness to lead from visions and intuition.

In the land of the Expanse, where four Houses (dynasties) were established long ago, two of them are in serious trouble. House Cent Regus has been transformed into horrible beastmen driven by animal desires. House Abascar suffered the loss of their home territory, and as they huddle in cliff dwellings, they are once again driven from their residence out into the wild.

Cal-raven longs to find a new, permanent home for his people. In his quest, he and his people will be swept up in the politics and intrigue of House Bel Amica, a place of outward beauty with a rotting core, and the challenge of the Cent Regus with their hidden secrets. All the while, the amazing colors that young Auralia introduced in the first book are a recurrent theme that offer a new way to all in the story, if they are willing to have faith.

My review:
The problem with trying to read Raven’s Ladder quickly is that Jeffrey Overstreet writes dense. This is not a bad thing. His books are written with a lyrical quality that makes one stop and pay attention to the figures of speech used to paint a picture with the words chosen. I would prefer a more leisurely read, but deadlines are what they are!

The book continues the interesting tale of the Expanse. There is a lot to comment on, from the “prosperity” focus of the Bel Amican moon spirit religion to the more explicit faith shown in the Keeper. I would not recommend a reader try to pick up Raven and start reading – the prior books are required reading at this point. In fact, it had been long enough since reading Cyndere’s Midnight that I struggled some with keeping  plot and characters straight.

I have said before that this series is an important contribution to Christian (specifically CBA) fiction. Overstreet is trying to paint a beautiful picture, and there are patterns emerging that offer some interesting spiritual insight. He has stated before that he is not trying to push some beliefs, but allow an intriguing story make the reader think. Still, there are pictures coming out that offer a glimpse of where he is coming from.

It is a good fantasy series, but as I read it, there is a distance to the characters that make it hard for me to fully embrace. I can relate better to the noble Abascar captain than the main protagonist King Cal-raven. I have felt the distance throughout the series, but it was a little more noticeable this time, perhaps due to the depth of plot and characters from the prior two books that is hard to keep in mind over two years time.

I recommend the series, but if you are a fan of rapid action and quick moving scenes, this book may not be for you. It is more of a slow burn, requiring time to appreciate the different threads moving through the series (it is the Gold Strand of the Auralia series after all). The books are aiming high – they may not make it all the time, but the goal is lofty enough that even in “missing” it is still an entertaining yet inquisitive examination of beauty, faith, nobility, savagery, and finding what matters most in life.

For other thoughts on Raven’s Ladder, be sure to check out other participants listed at the bottom of Becky Miller’s Day 1 post.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of Raven’s Ladder from WaterBrook Press.

CSFF Tour – Raven’s Ladder Day 2

The race continues – the race to be relevant for the April (part deux) CSFF blog tour, featuring Raven’s Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet.
While my mad page-turning continues, in “honor” of the recent Earth Day, here are some recycled posts!
Last year’s interview with Jeffrey Overstreet (tried to update it to 3D, didn’t work – but you can put on some red and blue goggles if you want).
Did you notice it placing in this notable list of top books of 2009?

Finally, here’s some people who have finished this race!

We’ll see tomorrow if I make it…

CSFF Tour – Raven’s Ladder Day 2

The race continues – the race to be relevant for the April (part deux) CSFF blog tour, featuring Raven’s Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet.
While my mad page-turning continues, in “honor” of the recent Earth Day, here are some recycled posts!
Last year’s interview with Jeffrey Overstreet (tried to update it to 3D, didn’t work – but you can put on some red and blue goggles if you want).
Did you notice it placing in this notable list of top books of 2009?

Finally, here’s some people who have finished this race!

We’ll see tomorrow if I make it…

CSFF Tour – Raven’s Ladder Day 1

Join me, if you will, in a race.

A race comprised of great hurdles, twists and turns to throw off many a competitor. A race to join my compatriots in joyous celebration of another successful trip.

A race to see if I can finish in time…

Welcome to the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy Tour for April (part deux). We are featuring the latest book in the Auralia Thread series by Jeffrey Overstreet: Raven’s Ladder.

My eyes were too big in picking books for the month of April, and I’m trying to finish Raven for this tour. Forget food, who needs personal hygiene, when I have a book I must finish! (Don’t worry, I’m in a dramatic mode).

Still, I have some tasty morsels to tide you over while my wheels spin furiously.

Curious about the first book in the series, Auralia’s Colors? Then visit here.
What was my review of Auralia?
What were some other thoughts expressed about this book?
And finally, were there any people who managed to do their homework? Check the list below to see!
Rachel Briard (BooksForLife)

Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

CSFF Tour – Raven’s Ladder Day 1

Join me, if you will, in a race.

A race comprised of great hurdles, twists and turns to throw off many a competitor. A race to join my compatriots in joyous celebration of another successful trip.

A race to see if I can finish in time…

Welcome to the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy Tour for April (part deux). We are featuring the latest book in the Auralia Thread series by Jeffrey Overstreet: Raven’s Ladder.

My eyes were too big in picking books for the month of April, and I’m trying to finish Raven for this tour. Forget food, who needs personal hygiene, when I have a book I must finish! (Don’t worry, I’m in a dramatic mode).

Still, I have some tasty morsels to tide you over while my wheels spin furiously.

Curious about the first book in the series, Auralia’s Colors? Then visit here.
What was my review of Auralia?
What were some other thoughts expressed about this book?
And finally, were there any people who managed to do their homework? Check the list below to see!
Rachel Briard (BooksForLife)

Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher