Review- Raven’s Ladder, by Jeffrey Overstreet

So from the start I was excited about reading this session’s book for the CSFFBT, Raven’s Ladder, mostly because I had seen good reviews around the web.  But I was especially excited because I had seen good reviews of Jeffrey Overstreet’s latest work from authors whom I admire for their own books.

First off, this is a book that truly does give honor God.  As far as I can tell, it supports very well the heart of Christ.  There’s much to gain spiritually from Raven’s Ladder.

The characters in this story are very well done.  The plot lines are solid.  The world in which it is set is awesome, and with that the story behind the story is spectacular.  It fully came to life for me when it was told as a story within the story.  If that sounds confusing, then I will only say that the answer is found… you guessed it… in the story.  You’re more than welcome to dive in and grab ahold of it for yourself!

I had a feeling this was part of a series, but I couldn’t tell right away.  It wasn’t until after I did some looking around that I found out there are 2 previous books in the series… Auralia’s Colors and Cyndere’s Midnight.  Raven’s Ladder stood well as an individual work.  Only the ending let me down in this regard… not because it wasn’t an ending of a book, but because it was also a beginning of the next.  Whether or not it should have been done differently I cannot say, but I can say that I would have been much happier if this book (the 3rd in the series) had also included the 4th book.  It’s not fair beginning a new work without first warning the reader Mr. Overstreet! ;P

 This work is bound together wonderfully, as if all its subplots secretly run along a vein of a precious metal in a dark and deep tunnel.  Nothing seems especially unrelated at any point, but certainly everything becomes very much related and important as the story goes on.  The elements of the story are rich, and, as should be expected from any good book, they were especially rich when woven together.  Let the reader understand, Raven’s Ladder strikes a true and shining chord within us all.

It does seem to me that Jeffrey could do a bit more with the world he has created.  But because I have not yet read the first two books, I wonder if I’m mistaken.  Looks to me like I only have one way to find out just how far Jeffrey pushes the limits throughout his world.

No matter the reader’s age, Raven’s Ladder will provide an engaging adventure that will, if the adventurer allows, bring new colors to their life.  I’m looking forward to seeing even more new colors in the rest of this series.

Here are some direct links for the book and author:

Raven’s Ladder http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400074673
Author Web site and blog – http://lookingcloser.org/category/journal/

And the following are links to other bloggers participating in the CSFFBT of Raven’s Ladder:
Brandon Barr
Rachel Briard (BooksForLife)
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
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

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

Book of Names book review

A review of:

The Book of Names, by D. Barkley Briggs (NavPress, 2008 )

From the Legends of Karac Tor

The book started off slow.  Honestly I found it hard to keep reading.  But after a few chapters I found I was beginning to enjoy the story. 

I started to remember what it was like to be a boy in a rural Michigan town, intrigued by the mysteries of Native American culture.  We would get all excited when we found arrowheads in the fields.  But what these boys encounter is something that would have blown my mind as a kid.

The book makes a good transition as it gets further into the story.  I didn’t feel like any of the elements were forced upon me, they seemed to flow as they should have.  And as with any good book I read, I was inspired over and over again to imagine new things that I could write about.

The villains in the story were set up pretty good.  A few things that were said made me question who the real villains might be, keeping me on edge until the last.

The allies were well thought out as well.  Very believable.

Overall I really enjoyed the book.  I’m looking forward to reading the next novel in the Legends of Karac Tor series.

A couple of things did bother me though.  The first, which I will keep in this paragraph, may be a bit of a spoiler.  Go ahead and skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to read it.  The way that Briggs mixes Christianity with other religions in our reality really didn’t set well with me.  I understand that these other worlds are fantasy worlds.  But taking their mystical elements and combining them with the world we live in and yet trying to hold the Christian world view… there’s a line that’s crossed there.  It’s good to open people’s eyes to the realities of Christianity which we do not normally recognise.  It’s another thing to add actual magical elements to a truth that rejects those very things.  I’m hoping that Briggs has something planned out in future novels to rectify this problem.  Though he writes well, I will truly be surprised if he finds a good way to pull it off (I don’t think there is one).

The other thing that bothered me was the use of cussing at the end of the book.  The problem I listed in the last paragraph is one that Briggs may have an ace up his sleeve to rectify in another volume (though I doubt it’s a direction he’s even considering).  But this cussing thing, there is no ace for that.  One representing a Christian view has no excuse for using that language anywhere.  It’s something that Christ had to die to forgive.  The need to represent the world the way it is… that’s no valid excuse for sin (there is no valid excuse for sin).  The world has been far better portrayed by the Lord Himself in the Bible than by any other writer, and that without a single cuss.  We owe the Lord better than this relying on the world.

These two problems and the slow start aside, I found that I really enjoyed the book.  Don’t let the size of the paragraphs that I complained in deceive you.  I just don’t want to accidentally spoil the experience of the read.  The story was very enjoyable, well written, and seems to be very well thought out.  Briggs created a world with great depth, and I’m eager to see the rest of it.

I would caution against suggesting this book to non-Christians, unless non-Christians are informed of what the Bible says about these two problems.  For any Christians who struggle with mysticism, paganism, wicca or magic… I would advise against reading this book.  For those who look to justify foul language, this book (though only in one part near the very end) will place a stumbling block before their feet.  For any other familiar with the truth of the Lord, as long as they are conscious of and reject the offerings of these issues, I don’t think they’ll have a problem reading this book.  And if they are fantasy fans, I’m guessing they’ll really enjoy it!

Thank you Briggs for your creation.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of what you have to offer.

Featured book, The Book of Names http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/160006227X
D. Barkley Briggs’s Web site –
http://hiddenlands.net/index.php?Itemid=49&id=19&option=com_content&task=view
D. Barkley Briggs’s blog –
http://hiddenlands.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=23&Itemid=79

For more reviews of this book, check out the following blogs:
Sally Apokedak
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Magma
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Alice M. Roelke
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Timothy Wise