CSFF Tour Day 3 – The Realms Thereunder

I left off yesterday’s post with somewhat of a cliffhanger.

I was still trying to finish the book we are touring.

I received a couple of exhortations (thanks Keenan and Eve). I managed to finish this morning on the commute. No, I wasn’t driving.
However, I have one more confession. I have avoided most posts on our feature book, The Realms Thereunder, by Ross Lawhead. One of the best parts of the CSFF Tour is the camaraderie and intelligent discussion on the various books. However, sometimes I find my opinion shifting in reading other blogs. I didn’t want to do that this time, to see if my feeling is unique and to keep it honest.

Unfortunately, my honest opinion is that I didn’t really like the book.

I wanted to. I was very excited for this tour, and jumped right into it when it arrived. Yesterday I mentioned that Ross’s father is acclaimed fantasy author Stephen Lawhead. I’m a big fan of the elder Lawhead, so I knew I had some expectations going in. I tried to keep them under wraps, but I’m also giving the full disclosure here.

As with most stories, there are elements that were enjoyable. Ross is as imaginative as his father, and he pictures a series of realms connected to our own, with the passages that connected the worlds starting to open and bleed into each other. He uses an Anglo-Saxon base for his main underground realm, which is different enough from the common Celtic fantasy troupe to make it stand out, yet familiar to fantasy fans.

He uses a varied structure that others on the tour have commented on. He tells the story of Daniel and Freya both in modern times and when they were 13 and lost as schoolkids for months while in an underground realm. The back and forth of time was not difficult for me to follow.

In particular, 13 year old Freya is encouraged in an encounter with an elderly woman who acted like one of the Fates weaving everyone’s destiny into a grand tapestry. The language and ideas presented there were a real high point for me.

There was just too much that distracted me from his overall story thrust. I think a major problem was that I didn’t enjoy his “voice,” the way he writes. This is very subjective, and his voice never won me over. We’ve all had authors we love, but when we recommend them to friends, we are disappointed when they don’t enjoy it as much as we do. That may be the main problem, so take it for what it is worth.

Other aspects of the writing were more objectively an issue for me. He shifted point of view between his main characters all the time. I’ve heard many say this is something only another writer would complain about, but I’ve seen omniscient POV done in such a way it wasn’t a distraction, but it constantly threw me here. There were large sections of the book that I don’t feel added much to the story progression or world-building. I would argue that some of these sections could be curtailed and tighten the flow of the plot. Perhaps they become significant in later books, but I didn’t detect any of that occuring.

I didn’t even have much empathy for the characters. They were not developed deep enough, so I didn’t have much connection to them.

It disappoints me to give a negative review. I enjoy fantasy and I really wanted to like this book. I also feel that an honest opinion is better than papering over my differences with the book to go along with the crowd. I hope any readers today will check out Becky Miller’s blog, where she keeps tabs on all of the posts for this tour, and read what others are saying. I am only one voice, and I plan on checking them out now myself.

Legal Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book without obligation for a positive review in return, which I think is evident.

CSFF Tour Day 3 – The Realms Thereunder

I left off yesterday’s post with somewhat of a cliffhanger.

I was still trying to finish the book we are touring.

I received a couple of exhortations (thanks Keenan and Eve). I managed to finish this morning on the commute. No, I wasn’t driving.
However, I have one more confession. I have avoided most posts on our feature book, The Realms Thereunder, by Ross Lawhead. One of the best parts of the CSFF Tour is the camaraderie and intelligent discussion on the various books. However, sometimes I find my opinion shifting in reading other blogs. I didn’t want to do that this time, to see if my feeling is unique and to keep it honest.

Unfortunately, my honest opinion is that I didn’t really like the book.

I wanted to. I was very excited for this tour, and jumped right into it when it arrived. Yesterday I mentioned that Ross’s father is acclaimed fantasy author Stephen Lawhead. I’m a big fan of the elder Lawhead, so I knew I had some expectations going in. I tried to keep them under wraps, but I’m also giving the full disclosure here.

As with most stories, there are elements that were enjoyable. Ross is as imaginative as his father, and he pictures a series of realms connected to our own, with the passages that connected the worlds starting to open and bleed into each other. He uses an Anglo-Saxon base for his main underground realm, which is different enough from the common Celtic fantasy troupe to make it stand out, yet familiar to fantasy fans.

He uses a varied structure that others on the tour have commented on. He tells the story of Daniel and Freya both in modern times and when they were 13 and lost as schoolkids for months while in an underground realm. The back and forth of time was not difficult for me to follow.

In particular, 13 year old Freya is encouraged in an encounter with an elderly woman who acted like one of the Fates weaving everyone’s destiny into a grand tapestry. The language and ideas presented there were a real high point for me.

There was just too much that distracted me from his overall story thrust. I think a major problem was that I didn’t enjoy his “voice,” the way he writes. This is very subjective, and his voice never won me over. We’ve all had authors we love, but when we recommend them to friends, we are disappointed when they don’t enjoy it as much as we do. That may be the main problem, so take it for what it is worth.

Other aspects of the writing were more objectively an issue for me. He shifted point of view between his main characters all the time. I’ve heard many say this is something only another writer would complain about, but I’ve seen omniscient POV done in such a way it wasn’t a distraction, but it constantly threw me here. There were large sections of the book that I don’t feel added much to the story progression or world-building. I would argue that some of these sections could be curtailed and tighten the flow of the plot. Perhaps they become significant in later books, but I didn’t detect any of that occuring.

I didn’t even have much empathy for the characters. They were not developed deep enough, so I didn’t have much connection to them.

It disappoints me to give a negative review. I enjoy fantasy and I really wanted to like this book. I also feel that an honest opinion is better than papering over my differences with the book to go along with the crowd. I hope any readers today will check out Becky Miller’s blog, where she keeps tabs on all of the posts for this tour, and read what others are saying. I am only one voice, and I plan on checking them out now myself.

Legal Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book without obligation for a positive review in return, which I think is evident.

CSFF Tour Day 2 – The Realms Thereunder

Welcome back for day 2 of the CSFF Tour featuring The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead.
I introduced the book yesterday, and mentioned the author may have a familiar name to speculative fiction fans. Ross Lawhead is the son of Stephen Lawhead.
I wondered in approaching this tour whether having a famous name and a legacy would be a help or a hinderance to an author. I suspect it is a little of both. I came to Ross’s book expecting some mythical elements (this is the first in the Ancient Earths trilogy, so I was justified), but I tried to come to the book without expectations of it being a Mini-Me experience.
I tried to resist…
 Ross has his own body of work already. He has collaborated with his dad on another book as well as Hero, a comic book adaptation of a modern day retelling of the gospel. As you can tell by his attire in the above picture, he enjoys his comics. Nothing wrong with that on this blog!
So what does this speak for The Realms Thereunder? Well, I’m not sure. Still working on finishing the book!
I know, that’s so rare for me to be racing to finish in time for the tour…
In the meantime, Becky Miller always keeps tabs on all the other posts for the tour, so check her link out here. I will endeavor to bring you a review tomorrow.
I’d better get moving. Pages, I mean.
Ahem.

CSFF Tour Day 2 – The Realms Thereunder

Welcome back for day 2 of the CSFF Tour featuring The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead.
I introduced the book yesterday, and mentioned the author may have a familiar name to speculative fiction fans. Ross Lawhead is the son of Stephen Lawhead.
I wondered in approaching this tour whether having a famous name and a legacy would be a help or a hinderance to an author. I suspect it is a little of both. I came to Ross’s book expecting some mythical elements (this is the first in the Ancient Earths trilogy, so I was justified), but I tried to come to the book without expectations of it being a Mini-Me experience.
I tried to resist…
 Ross has his own body of work already. He has collaborated with his dad on another book as well as Hero, a comic book adaptation of a modern day retelling of the gospel. As you can tell by his attire in the above picture, he enjoys his comics. Nothing wrong with that on this blog!
So what does this speak for The Realms Thereunder? Well, I’m not sure. Still working on finishing the book!
I know, that’s so rare for me to be racing to finish in time for the tour…
In the meantime, Becky Miller always keeps tabs on all the other posts for the tour, so check her link out here. I will endeavor to bring you a review tomorrow.
I’d better get moving. Pages, I mean.
Ahem.

CSFF Tour Day 1 – The Realms Thereunder

Welcome back to the CSFF Blog Tour, the premiere blog resource for Christian science fiction and fantasy. I’ve missed delving into the mysterious and speculative side of faith-based fiction, so I am excited to have the Tour back.
We’re featuring a new book with a name that may seem familiar…

In the isles of Britain there are connections to an underground, unseen world, protected by knights who slumber. No one knows about this long-forgotten realm.

Except for Freya Reynolds and Daniel Tully.

As youth they stumbled into an adventure that shaped and scarred them. As adults they have gone their separate ways, with Freya studying at Oxford and battling OCD, while Daniel is homeless and waging a war against a foe that he hoped never to see again.

They had hoped the forces from their first journey were behind them. Now they are awakening and finding strength enough to cross into our world. Now Freya and Daniel will have to find a way to re-engage and confront worlds they left behind. Places that are The Realms Thereunder.

This is the first in the Ancient Earth Trilogy by Ross Lawhead. I’ll talk more about the author tomorrow.

But don’t go anywhere! Well, if you’re going to go, check out one of my tourmates below. They’ll tell you more, I’m sure.

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

Gillian Adams
Red Bissell
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
 Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
 CSFF Blog Tour
Theresa Dunlap
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
 Tori Greene
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
 Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
 Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Rebekah Loper
Marzabeth
Shannon McDermott
 Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Joan Nienhuis
Crista Richey
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Shane Werlinger
Nicole White
Rachel Wyant

CSFF Tour Day 1 – The Realms Thereunder

Welcome back to the CSFF Blog Tour, the premiere blog resource for Christian science fiction and fantasy. I’ve missed delving into the mysterious and speculative side of faith-based fiction, so I am excited to have the Tour back.
We’re featuring a new book with a name that may seem familiar…

In the isles of Britain there are connections to an underground, unseen world, protected by knights who slumber. No one knows about this long-forgotten realm.

Except for Freya Reynolds and Daniel Tully.

As youth they stumbled into an adventure that shaped and scarred them. As adults they have gone their separate ways, with Freya studying at Oxford and battling OCD, while Daniel is homeless and waging a war against a foe that he hoped never to see again.

They had hoped the forces from their first journey were behind them. Now they are awakening and finding strength enough to cross into our world. Now Freya and Daniel will have to find a way to re-engage and confront worlds they left behind. Places that are The Realms Thereunder.

This is the first in the Ancient Earth Trilogy by Ross Lawhead. I’ll talk more about the author tomorrow.

But don’t go anywhere! Well, if you’re going to go, check out one of my tourmates below. They’ll tell you more, I’m sure.

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

Gillian Adams
Red Bissell
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
 Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
 CSFF Blog Tour
Theresa Dunlap
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
 Tori Greene
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
 Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
 Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Rebekah Loper
Marzabeth
Shannon McDermott
 Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Joan Nienhuis
Crista Richey
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Shane Werlinger
Nicole White
Rachel Wyant