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Archive for the ‘Fantasy Fiction’ Category

 January’s second book is “Dragons of the Valley”, by Donita K. Paul.  I received the book a bit late, and was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t finish it in time for the review.  Thankfully it was an engaging book, and I was pulled in enough to get all the reading done.

 The book was fun to read.  I was familiar with the characters from the previous book, and wondered what would happen to them.  So it was nice to have another piece of their story.  The characters and plot were interesting, and it was cool to learn about more of the other races in the world Donita has created.  I really like the different creatures she comes up with!

 I’ve found that the depth of Donita’s descriptions is a bit much for my taste, but only a little.  I try to picture a scene while I read so I can experience it, as I’m sure most readers do.  However with Donita’s books I’m pulled from the activity, and into still images of what she describes.  I’ve discussed this with others who’ve read her books, and it seems like my opinion on this is uncommon.  But this was only a minor problem, and I was able deal with it as I read on.

 The only real complaint I have about this book has nothing to do with this novel itself, and more with its “packaging”.  Nowhere does it mention that there is a previous book which ended only days (in this book’s world) before “Dragons of the Valley” picks up.  Had I not read the previous book through the CSFF Blog Tour I wouldn’t have had a clue that “The Vanishing Sculptor” was a “prequel” to this book, and would have likely missed out on the rest of the tale.  There’s no mention of a series, or that the other books she’s written have anything to do with this book or the world it’s written in.  I’m now wondering if there are other books with the same locations or characters that are part of a greater story that encompasses “Dragons of the Valley”.  Hopefully someone can leave a comment here and let us know, and I’m also hoping that future books can somehow state that they are related to these books.

 I enjoyed the spiritual elements of this book.  Truths are brought to life throughout the tale, and are proclaimed plainly as well.  In this book, and in the previous one, the land of Chiril is waking up to the knowledge of the true God in their world, known as Wulder.  I’m eager to read tales from the far away land Amara, where I’ve gotten the impression that the people have a greater understanding of Wulder, and where the miracle worker Fenworth and his librarian are from.

 I would recommend this book to any fan of fantasy, and especially to fans of dragons.  While dragons are not the focus of the story, they’re certainly a central part of the adventure.

 Thank you Donita K. Paul for another fun adventure!

To pick up a copy of the book visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400073405 

And visit Donita K. Paul’s website at http://www.donitakpaul.com/ or blog at  http://dragonbloggin.blogspot.com/

Check out what the other members of the tour had to say:

Gillian Adams
Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Keanan Brand
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
Amy Cruson
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Amber French
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Emily LaVigne
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Dave Wilson

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

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Today is the 3rd and final day of the 1st CSFF Blog Tour of 2010.  The book is “The Wolf of Tebron”, book one of CS Lakin’s “Gates of Heaven” series.  Today’s post will wrap up the internet interview with author CS Lakin, and it will include a quick note on the next book in the “Gates of Heaven Series”… “The Map Across Time”.

    *****     Warning, possible spoilers!!     *****

 You mentioned there were 7 sacred sites.  Was one of these sacred sites in The Wolf of Tebron?

Yes, you see the first sacred site—abandoned at the base of the Moon’s house. Ruyah stands in the center and howls. The site, like some of the others you will encounter, produces a star shape when light hits it from the right angle. This star shape is formed inside the circle of stones. But since most are fallen in spots, the star is never fully formed. You will learn about the significance of the star, its symbolism to the Keepers, in book two—The Map across Time. Each book will show a different site—a Gate of Heaven.

Will we see Joran or any of the other characters from this book appearing in future books?

Yes, you see him again in The Map across Time, when the prince from Sherbourne rides into Tebron and needs a new shoe on his horse. Joran’s brother Callen is the hero of The Land of Darkness. My hope is to interweave all the main characters and past plotlines together in the final book(s) to make one last fight against evil, surrounding the seventh of all the sacred sites (gates of heaven). Each book features a different site, and through the series the reader sees how these protective sites have been abandoned or desecrated to where evil has now penetrated the world of humans.

At one point the book speaks of Joran finally waking up, yet I didn’t see anything that changed at that point.  Was there something I missed?

Joran’s wife is trapped in his dream. When he finally enters his dream and saves her, he can then “wake up.” The theme of dreaming is a metaphor. The book shows how we are like a dream in the mind of God, yet he also made us dreamers. We “wake up” when we see how God has given us life and dreams and as Joran realizes in the end, he can now (being awake) be both the dreamer and the dreamed.

….

Again, thank you CS Lakin for your time on this interview and for bringing us the adventure found in “The Wolf of Tebron”. 

If you, my dear reader, would like to ask CS Lakin more about her books visit her website at http://www.cslakin.com/ or her blog at http://cslakin.blogspot.com/.

Book 2 in the “Gates of Heaven” series is called “The Map Across Time”, scheduled for a 2011 release… 

“The kingdom of Sherbourne is plagued by an ancient curse which must be halted before devastation results. The King’s twin teenagers, Adin and Aletha, use a magical map to go back in time to discover the origin of the curse and its cure, but everything goes awry. Can Adin manipulate events in the stream of time to assure the salvation of his kingdom?”

To pick up a copy of “The Wolf of Tebron” visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0899578888

Here’s what others from the CSFF Blog Tour had to say:

Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler

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

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So for our 1st book of CSFFBT 2010, “The Wolf of Tebron” by CS Lakin, I had the opportunity to do an internet interview (email Q&A) with the author.  I’ve split the interview into 2 parts, this first part should be spoiler free.  The possible spoilers should be in Wednesday’s post, along with some info on the next book in the “Gates of Heaven” series… “The Map Across Time”.

Why did you pick a wolf for this book?

I wanted to portray God’s loyalty and availability in a way Aslan didn’t represent. I love dogs a lot and feel they teach us so much about God. The wolf is a loyal companion, sticks by Joran’s side through everything he goes through. He is a provider, encourager, and teacher. Yet, the wolf can be fiercely protective, and Ruyah rails against his enemies to save Joran. That’s how I see Jesus—as fighter for us, as he’s the lover of our soul and he will not let the evil one snatch us from his hand.

Does the world this book is set in have a name?

 Fairy Tales do not “name” a different world. It is assumed to be the natural world, or any land in general, but of course, when magic comes into play, the average world is transformed.

Will there be a map put out for the lands in the “Gates of Heaven” series?  

I really dislike maps in fantasy books. They smack of trying to copy The Lord of the Rings by giving their locale some huge importance. If a reader must use a map to understand where his characters are going, then the writer hasn’t done a good enough job in her writing to make the lay of the land clear.

Joran wants to turn down animals when they give him his name, but there’s no Biblical principle to support this attitude.  Why do you think Christians struggle with accepting gifts?

Well, in our world animals don’t do this, so of course there wouldn’t be anything in the Bible to counsel us on that. But Joran’s attitude stems from a respect for their privacy and a feeling that if he’s done a kindness, he needn’t be rewarded. It shows his humility and his good character. It’s not that he doesn’t want a gift; in giving Joran their name, they are relinquishing power to him—so he can summon them at will, as he is unsure he wants that kind of power.

Are we going to learn the story behind the ancient city of Sherbourne?

Sherbourne  is central in The Map across Time, so you will learn much about it and its history in the second installment.

How many books do you think there will be in the “Gates of Heaven” series?

I’ve just completed the fourth tale. I’ve kicked around the idea of possibly ten books in the collection but I supposed we’ll make some decision this year. The Land of Darkness, the third book, should release this fall.

Briefly, what’s the difference between a fantasy story and a faery tale?

There’s a huge distinction between the various subgenres of fantasy and a fairy tale structure. I have some great articles that go into length about this at my website: wwwgatesofheavenseries.com for those who want to examine them. But basically, fairy tales have very specific rules. There is always a task that must be done—usually something nearly impossible, that if gained, will lead to what Chesterton calls “an incomprehensible happiness.” Fairy tales are not just imaginative stories set in other worlds—they are stories that should feel like they begin in our world, an ordinary world, but then transport the character into a world of magic with a very specific end in mind. Think of many of the fairy tales you know—like Jack in the Beanstalk or Cinderella and you will see a pattern like this.

Was one of these sacred sights in The Wolf of Tebron?

…see the answer to this question in tomorrow’s post!

…..

Thank you CS Lakin for your time on this interview, and for a great book.  I’m looking forward to the rest of the “Gates of Heaven” series!

For any readers who have questions for CS Lakin, visit her website at http://www.cslakin.com/  or her blog at http://cslakin.blogspot.com/

To pick up a copy of “The Wolf of Tebron” visit http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0899578888

Be sure to come back tomorrow for more from CS Lakin!

To read what other bloggers had to say, visit the CSFFBT members at:

Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler

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

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This round of reviews for the Christian Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog Tour (CSFFBT) is for C.S. Lakin’s “The Wolf of Tebron.  It’s the first book in the “Gates of Heaven” series.  I was honored to have the chance to review this book back in August, and you can find my original review here.

Since then I’ve read through the book again, done an internet interview with C.S. Lakin, and gathered some more thoughts on the book.  I’ll be doing 3 posts during this tour, Lord willing.  Tonight’s post is on some additional thoughts I had after re-reading the book, examining further the experiences of Joran.  Tuesday’s post will be the 1st portion of the internet interview with the author.   Wednesday’s post will be the last part of the interview with the author which includes possible spoilers, as well as a sneak peek mention of the next book in the “Gates of Heaven” series… “The Map Across Time”.

Now onto the book…

There are a lot of things the main character, Joran, experiences as a direct result of his jealousy.  Those experiences do a good job of describing what we really go through as a result of our jealousy.  Jealous people often close themselves off from possible realities that might truly heal their pain.  Instead they embrace a goal of vengeance that promises a peace, yet it only causes more pain for everybody.  Rage takes over, and the spirit and mind become blind and imprisoned.  It’s a horrible experience, and sadly people don’t considered how their own actions can cause others to suffer through this.  I myself have had major struggles with jealousy, and they completely sapped the life out of me for many years.  I couldn’t believe how well “The Wolf of Tebron” brought those experiences to life in Joran.  I felt every single bit of his pain!

At one point in the book Joran is so self-absorbed that he’s angry about his companion Ruyah having fun on their journey, and he considers it to be at the expense of his own self.  He thinks others are taking joy in the very things that he feels are ruining his life, and that they are somehow making it worse for him.  And in that, he is not only ignorant of the hearts and goals of others, but Joran is unable to see the joy set before him.  It’s the nature of a focus on self.  We were made for God, all things were made for God.  We’re supposed to suffer when we lose sight of God, it helps bring us back to Him.  It is able to wake us up from the nightmares we make of our lives, and direct us back to the reality which is the very base of our earthly experiences.

This book is good for those struggling with jealousy and rage ruling their lives.  It can help the reader take a step back and watch somebody going through the extremes of what the reader is going through.  The reader will likely wonder how someone was able to so accurately capture all the feelings they’re struggling with because of jealousy.  It will help the reader see not only how it sucks their lives away, but also see that there is indeed a true escape available to them in Christ.

To check out the book for yourself visit   http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0899578888

Also visit the author’s webpage at http://www.cslakin.com/ 

Or her blog at http://cslakin.blogspot.com/

Check out what the others in the tour had to say:

Noah Arsenault
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Nikole Hahn
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Shannon McDermott
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
John W. Otte
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler

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

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Before getting into this month’s book, I have to apologize for being a little late on the reviews this summer.  There have been a lot of things going on, and I’ve not been able to live life in the ways I’ve planned.  I’m really hoping things turn around in the next couple months, because my body is telling me it cannot continue this way for very long.  Please pray for me.

Last month I did get a post in, but because I missed the July dates my name was (rightfully so) dropped from the August list.  So here’s a link for the August post for those who missed it… https://crisjesse.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/csffbt-august-favorites/

Ok, now on to some good stuff!

So for September’s CSFFBT book we get to finally read the second installment in Wayne Thomas Batson’s and Christopher Hopper’s “The Berinfell Prophecies”, and the book is called “Venom & Song”.  I’ve been looking forward to this book since we went through the first book… “Curse of the Spider King”!

Book 1 was great!  It started off kinda weak to me, but by the end I was completely impressed.  I was a fan. 

And now this book comes out!  It’s getting even better!

In Venom and Song we learn a lot more about the world of Allyra.  The world building is very well done in Venom and Song, bringing to life not only the populated lands but even the lands of the past.  The stories of the past.  Long lost stories and places are brought to the forefront of what our young heroes must face.  Stories that were prophesied about long ago unfold before our eyes, and anticipation is built up for the prophesies not yet seen.  And I have a feeling there’s more to be revealed (past, present & future) that hasn’t even been hinted at yet.  I hope our authors do not let Allyra get away from us before it is fully explored.

The main characters are also developed well in this book, good and bad guys alike.  Some real surprises on all sides will keep the reader eager for the next chapter, and the chapter after that one as well.  Most of the characters were very well done and easy to get into.

The pace of the story is great.  Even the “slower” parts didn’t seem slow.  Nothing felt like it was being forced upon me so other parts of the book would make sense or be exciting.  Every part of the book stood well on its own and added to everything around it.

I still haven’t explored much of the “out of the book” material the authors have drummed up.  The book itself contains teasers for these extras.  I hope they are enjoyed by the readers!  If you’re interested, check out www.heedtheprophecies.com.

From beginning to end (including the amazing job Thomas Nelson did on the cover!), Venom & Song is a book that stands on its own.  It also meshes so very well with the first book in the series.  I have no doubt that the next book will be just as good as the first two.

Now for my only real complaint… why didn’t you guys include a chapter for book 3 at the end of Venom & Song?  I really liked that the first book had a teaser for book 2, and was sad when I got to the end of book 2 and found nothing for book 3.

;(

Ok, I’m done whining now.

Thanks again for another great adventure Wayne and Christopher!

No matter who you are, if you enjoy fantasy fiction then I highly suggest you pick up this book… “Venom and Song”, you can get a copy at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400315069

You should also make sure to check out the authors’ sites at:

Wayne Thomas Batson  – http://enterthedoorwithin.blogspot.com/
Christopher Hopper – http://www.christopherhopper.com/blog/

And finally, check out what fellow blog tour members had to say:

Angela
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Amy Browning
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
James Somers
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

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

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So normally the Christian Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog Tour features a new book each month for the group to review.  For August this year we’re doing “Favorites”.  Favorite books, favorite authors, or other works related to the subject matter regularly covered by the tour.  One of the choices was to post on our own book.

I’ve debated whether to put this out to the world or not for a while now.  Looks like it’s time.

So for the first time to the general public, here’s an unedited copy of the prologue of my first book in the “Cutblade” series… “Rise”!

(At the end of the post you will find links to the other members of the tour.  Be sure to check out their favorites too!)

_________________

 

           The sun was shining bright, and the day was still early.  The music, which had been very lively, was now hushed.  All was quiet.  The people were focused.  Anticipation was thick in the air.  They couldn’t believe their eyes.  It was almost there!

 He grunted loudly, with a final burst of energy.   

            CLANG!

            The ends of the bar connected loudly. 

            Wild cheers began to rise up through the crowd.  People applauded and whistled.  The strong men were howling deeply in pride.  The children screamed happily in amazement, as they circled around each other in victory dances and songs.

            “No way!” a man yelled out.

            “The bar really bent!” said another.

            “He actually did it!” screamed a woman in joyful surprise.

            Ivan Cutblade bent the iron bar, 2 feet long and 5 inches thick, with his bare hands.  There on that stage, in front of all the competitors and many of his fellow townsfolk, Ivan met the challenge.  The brothers in the church he preached at would have the trophy for years to come. 

            And what better place to so mightily champion the Friendly Brotherhood Games, than in front of the biggest crowd the games had ever seen, right here in his hometown village of Scottsbluff?

            It had been 10 years since they last hosted the games, and Scottsbluff had not seen much victory in that time, except in the spearing competitions.  All of their hunting and fishing was by spear, and the guard had a handful of elite throwers, able to strike targets up to 100 feet away in the open with deadly accuracy.  They were thankful for their skills in spearing, but it seemed that they could not find any victory outside of this category of games.

            But it would be different now, and everyone knew it.  Ivan had entered the games, and the competitors for the next ten years would worry about the strongman events, trying to escape the shadow of IronBender Ivan.

            And what better time for such a victory than on his son Floriken’s 5th birthday?  This attempt of strength was mostly a birthday present for Floriken.  Now his son stood on stage with his dad.  Well, Floriken would be standing, except that when he went to lift his dad’s hand up in victory, Ivan grabbed the boy’s hand lifted him up into the air.  Ivan held his son up high, bellowing out a deep joyful laugh at his boy’s excitement. 

            Floriken hung there by his upraised hand, with as happy of an expression as a boy could ever have.  He pointed to all his friends, bragging at the top of his lungs “That’s my daddy!  IronBender Ivan!”

            This had to be the best birthday ever!

            Then Floriken was dropped to the ground by the weight of something falling from the sky.  He heard the crowd go silent in shock.

            As Ivan looked down to his son, there he saw his wife on top of the boy… bloody, broken, and dead.  She had two holes in her head; it looked like she had been gorged by bull horns.  He watched as his son, still pinned to the stage, began to shake the body, crying out to her “Wake up mommy!” 

            Then Ivan looked up just in time to watch a foot long bone spike fly into his belly.  He looked down at the spike, and his face contorted in confusion.  As he began moving his hands to grab it, three more spikes flew through his gaze, thudding deep into his large chest.  A moment later the floor pulled him to his knees.  Then he fell forward, the darkness swallowing him up.

            A loud, horrible shriek shattered through the sky, and the crowd screamed in reply.  There in the sky hung four black Boneshard Dragons, vicious dragon demons that love, above all else, to dramatically strike terror into human souls.  These four in particular were very skilled at doing this, and now they were drunk on the fruits of their labors, the crowd below screaming and scattering in a frenzy of fear.

 

–…— 

 

            Nobody needed time to figure out this surprise attack.  Everyone knew as soon as they saw the demons what was going on. 

            Ivan and his family had been fighting for the freedom of human souls as long as they had been married.  They returned to Scottsbluff a few years back, having helped defeat a great evil far to the North West.  Ivan and his wife had heard of the growing evil in the East, and how it was creeping slowly towards their hometown that they so dearly missed.

            After returning, they believed the only way to keep the demon horde out of Scottsbluff was to push into the corrupted territory with the gospel.  So they began a missionary work over the northeastern border of their country, where the darkness was very deep.  It was very dangerous, but the couple would not be deterred by any fear.  Their lives had been given over to God a long time ago.

            Unfortunately their work, though still very small, had somehow caught the ears of a great demon general in the east.  The village had been warned that this might happen.  But they supported the ever loving and helpful Cutblade family anyway.  Some of the villagers were Christians, also willing to sacrifice themselves for the Lord’s work.  Most of the rest of the villagers were kindly people; they thought the cause noble and worth while.

            But now the worst was upon them.

            The Demon Empire of the East has come to conquer new lands.

 

–…—

 

            Suddenly, a massive, dark red demon leaped over the crowd, 700 pounds of bulging muscle crashing loudly next to the dead man.  Many of the floorboards exploded where he landed, destroying the large, and once beautiful stage. 

            With its oversized back to the people, the demon reached down and moved the body of the dead woman, looking for the boy she had landed on.  Finding nothing, the beast grabbed the woman’s corpse in anger.  It uncurled its back as it slowly straightened up, towering 10 feet tall.  Suddenly, the demon jerked its body into a spin as it threw the bloody and limp body of the woman into the still dispersing crowd.  The demon belted out a horrifying roar, louder than anything any of those people had ever heard. 

            It turned back and picked up the body of Ivan, then turned again to the crowd.  The demon held the man’s dead body up to terrorize the village some more, though most were running for their lives and not daring to look back.  The few that did turn looked to see an angry demon, devouring the body of the mighty IronBender Ivan.

            Ivan, the great Christian warrior of Scottsbluff, was now a martyr.  He fought for his God.  He knew Morax would eventually come.  They all knew.  But in his faith he did not fear the death that he came to receive.

 

–…—

 

            A score of Boneshard dragons came flooding into the sky from the northeast, joining the four that had announced the coming doom.  Boneshards came raining down from the tails of the dragons, laying many people low.  With well over 8,000 people present, it was too hard for the people to quickly vacate the city center’s large gathering grounds that they had all come to for the festivities.  The demons were glad for that, having as a result a thick crowd for target practice.

            When their quills were spent, the invaders formed a circle above the town, filling the air with their horrid stench and frightful noise.  They hung there for a minute, enjoying the chaos they were causing. 

            Then suddenly, as one, they dropped down into the confused villagers.  They began to snatch the children and young women from the grips of their protective parents, and then fly back up into their circle 60 feet above the ground. Three of the demons were cut down, but none of the rest went up with empty claws.

            The men of the crowd, driven by the protective love they had for their children, began to organize when they saw the first dragons flying back up with prisoners.  They realized that if they didn’t fight back now, they may not get a chance to save their young.

            Jobo, the leader of the village guard, took the lead and called out orders.  “We need our best spearmen armed now!”  Before he even finished, the arm bearers were already struggling to work their way through the crowd to the weapon racks.  He thought he should’ve been frustrated by their slowness, but he wasn’t sure how slow they were going.  The sense of urgency and the fear Jobo felt seemed to make everything move in slow motion for him.

            But he would not succumb to the fear.  “All strong hands to the drapery” he called, pointing to the large thick curtains surrounding the gathering grounds.  “We’ll need them to safely catch the children.”  The men responding to this call seemed to move a little quicker, possessing enough strength to force their way through the diminishing crowd.

            Jobo’s mind began to clear a little now, thanks to the progress of the stronger group.  After a few moments, he was no longer seeing things in slow motion.  He became more confident in his impromptu plan, seeing both groups of men at their supplies.  It wouldn’t be long till those makeshift safety nets were guarding the children from the ground.  And once his men got their hands on their spears, not even the agile Boneshard demons would be able to escape their wrath.

            But then every ounce of Jobo’s determination melted away when he looked up in response to the screaming humans in the sky.  All at once, the large and frightening demons forcefully threw all the children even higher into the sky.  The poor kids painfully smacked together above the center of the dragon circle, their bones snapping from the impact as they screamed even louder in pain and terror.

            The crowd stopped and watched helplessly as their children dropped in a screaming cluster, falling over 70 feet to hit the ground with sickening slaps and thuds.   There, in the middle of town, was the future hope of the people. 

            A mangled mound of death.

            Jobo sank down to his knees.  The wickedness he just witnessed stole all of the desire to live from his heart.  The agony of seeing those helpless children, desperately reaching out to him for their very lives… with such terror in their eyes… it was more than even he could bear.  Overwhelmed by grief and despair, he passed out.

            The other men began to shout “Retreat!  Everyone flee for their lives!”  The brave men, who had once stopped to fight, were fleeing now, not even taking up the spears for a throw.  There was too much fear in the mob now, and no one was willing to lead them out of the fear.  There were too many tears of sorrow, and none had the strength to fight past them.

            They all ran for shelter.  Every building was packed, and though the demons appeared to pursue, they were merely corralling the villagers.  Every person they saw alive they chased inside somewhere.

            This flock of Boneshard dragons, whose biggest joy by far was to terrorize people, was the perfect group of demons to send in for this mission.  They put the village off guard, and into a complete fear that drove these hardy people into hiding. 

 

–…—

 

            Huddling under every roof, the villagers waited and listened.  Soon, the only sounds they heard were the agonizing cries of their own scared people.  They began to hope that this episode was over, that maybe this was just a warning to reject people like the Cutblades.  Maybe the demons would bargain with them, and somehow this horrible situation would leave some hope at least for survival.

            Then the horns came.

            The sound was not a natural one, the horns mixing in high pitched shrieks and deep resonating booms.  Vibrations began to travel along the ground, and buildings began to slightly shake.

            Then the sound of marching could be heard, and it too vibrated the ground.  An army was coming.

            It all slowly intensified.  But the frightened people now shook more than the ground did.

            Those horrible horns blew again.

            Some of the men braved looks outside, but were not able to find the voice to tell those near them about what they saw.  Never had they seen this many demons.  Many of the kinds of demons present had never even been seen by people before.  They had the town surrounded.

            Again, the wicked horns blew.

            Then, in a low pitched demonic harmony, the horde began a slow chant. 

            The people could hear it.  Fear intensified.

            The chant gradually picked up to a slow to medium pace, but never faster than that.  And then some of the demons began to dance.  More people were looking outside now, and more than a few fainted at the sight of their town’s doom.  The number of dancing demons grew, and in short order the whole town was filled with demons.  If any of the villagers thought before that there was any chance of escape or fighting back, they knew now that nobody would live through whatever had come upon them all.

            Sounds of shattering glass rang out in the center of town.  The building that the sounds came from released the screams of the tightly huddled women inside it.  Smoke began flowing out of the windows.  Then flames started to shoot out of the windows too, and shortly behind them the women came running out, fire devouring their bodies.

            But as if that wasn’t a horrible enough sight, some were unfortunate enough to see what happened to the women when they came upon the demons outside.  They couldn’t believe that things could continue to get worse.  But as they witnessed the tortures upon the women, they knew new limits of horror.

            The ritualistic dance of destruction continued through the whole town.  Some were so horrified by the tortures of the demons that they chose instead to die in the burning buildings.  Some of those found no reprieve though, as more than one flaming home was invaded by demons not caring if they themselves were burned.  They wanted to torture humans.

            There were a handful of men who somehow found the courage to come out fighting, and a few of the invaders were indeed cut down by them.  But the demons made examples of those brave men.  They killed them and cut them up, throwing their mutilated body parts into the houses where the demons thought other men of arms might also be thinking courageously.

            Eventually all the buildings were burned down, and all the animals and crops were even destroyed.

            The terrible horns blew one last time

                                               

–…—

 

            Four evil locals watched excitedly from the appointed safe place, applauding the carnage that they saw unfolding.  They were a wicked bunch, and they especially hated Christians.  The four men had informed the minions of Morax that this village was supporting the evangelist who dared to come into Morax’s territory.

            Shortly after the town’s destruction began, Morax came to meet them as agreed.  As he came near, they became giddy.  At least, they were as giddy as they could be in the presence of such an evil being.  They were anticipating being brought into this wicked flock of the mighty demon.  They bowed down, worshipping the demon.

            “You are my worshippers?” Morax asked, the demon’s deep double voice vibrating down to their very bones.

            “Yes!” the youngest of the group stated.  “We do all that you bid, my lord!”

            The other three cheered.

            “Let us test you then!” the demon said with a wicked smile, its long tightly braided beard adding to the demon’s sinister look.  “I happen to have the ability to read minds, and am disturbed by what I’ve found.  I’m disturbed, because only one of you is truly faithful to me.”

            He paused, as the men looked around at each other, scowling at their comrades for ever considering betraying the new mighty leader.  “I know who you are, my faithful friend.  And what glory and power you shall receive from my hand!  However you must show your zeal to these… imposters.  You must show them the punishment of treachery” Morax said, looking back and forth to all of them.  None of them caught the double meaning.

            He threw a pile of knives onto the ground before them.  The knives were not simple blades.  They were made for torturing, having jagged spikes sticking out in random places.  “I have foreseen… that the one who is faithful to me will be the only one who will survive.  He will kill you other backstabbers here, before me… NOW!”

            They were at the blades at once, and swinging at each other with wild abandon.  Each man was faithful to the demon.  So each man considered himself to be the one who would live, and figured that the others would die by his hand.  The demon was clear about that, after all.  So they all fought with reckless abandon.  Morax laughed wickedly, watching intently with bloodlust filled eyes.  None of the evil men could survive their terrible wounds.

            Being very please with the little charade, Morax turned and watched the rest of the attack on the town.  The demon was so very glad the Cutblades crossed the path of Morax.  This was a great way to begin the push into new lands.  And all because the foolish evangelist and his family dared to face the mighty Morax.  Morax knew that soon the only sound that would be left, other than that of the howling demons, would be the crackling of the fires they were setting.  The destruction of the town would be complete.

                                               

–…—

 

            Almost complete.

            Deep below the ground, a man and a boy were riding in a small cart, quickly and roughly, down a dark mining shaft that eventually emptied far from town.  The boy was in shock, with visions of his dead parents dominating his thoughts.  He thought he was still with them.

            The man wasn’t in the least oblivious to his surroundings though.  His eyes were wide open, watching for any obstacles.  He was frantic and hurried, though he did a good job at keeping his overwhelming worry hidden from the distant boy.

            When they were a few minutes away from town, the man activated the tunnel collapsing mechanisms.  The man made sure that they were far enough away from the town that the murderous invaders wouldn’t notice the ground rumbling.  The tunnel was filled with a crash of boulders, and the path behind them became impassable.

            Many of those tunnels were collapsed by the man that day.  Some were not even on their path, tunnels leading only to abandoned mines and gathering chambers.  But he hoped that if somehow they were followed, it might mislead their pursuers. 

            Late that evening they came to the end of the path.  They were in a cave, far from the village, on the other side of the Choy-Tzu Mountains.  But the man would not take any chances of being caught.  They stayed in the cart that night.  None pursued.

            The man couldn’t sleep.  Too many tears flowed down his face as he watched the boy.  He tried not to watch.  He tried not to listen.

            Little Floriken spent the rest of the night shaking the air, crying desperately to his parents.

            “Mommy?…  Daddy?…  Wake up…”

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Brandon Barr
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Jeff Chapman
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
George Duncan
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Mike Lynch
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Jason Waguespac
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

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So I finally finished the CSFF Blog tour book for May, By Darkness Hid… and I’m finally getting a “proper” review done.  The book is the first of Jill Williamson’s “Blood of Kings” series.  I have to start by saying I’m not surprised this book won the 2010 Christy Award for the Visionary Category!

The book follows the stories of a few young heroes, and the characters Jill creates are amazingly engaging.  I think Achan, one of the main characters, is one of my favorite characters in all the fiction I’ve ever read.  Even the supporting characters are great, and not a second spent on them is wasted.  And this review would not be complete without a nod to another of my favorite characters, Jax.

Again, I’m a huge sucker for quality crafted fantasy worlds, and the world of Er’Rets has definitely captured my interest.  Level upon level of depth is added to this world in the book, and I hardly think we’ve seen all Er’Rets has to offer. I’m looking forward to seeing many other cultures, lands, and plots played out in the stories Jill can so obviously tell.  I’m ready for a series of series in Er’Rets, and hopefully the main characters of By Darkness Hid will play a big part in many of them.

The story of redemption is an obvious influence in this work, as is the importance of every soul to God.  There are many other spiritual aspects brought to life by Jill.  Job well done!

Thank you so much for this book Jill!  I pray you will be able to write many more books, and that God will be glorified through them.  Hopefully as a fellow fantasy fiction author from Oregon we’ll cross paths someday.

You can pick up a copy of the book here!

Check out Jill’s website at http://jillwilliamson.wordpress.com/

 Here are some more reviews…

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Gina Burgess
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
R. L. Copple
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Sarah Flanagan
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Leighton
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
Andrea Schultz
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
KM Wilsher

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