Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Michelle Griep’s Undercurrent

 So this is a book of time travel where once again I hesitate to completely call it fantasy, but for this week I will. This novel starts off with Cassie Larson who is a professor leading a tour for her undergrad students in England. She falls into the water….and ends up in the late tenth century in Norway. Fortunately for Cassie, she studied this language and is not completely at a loss when she is rescued by a Norse man. I really enjoyed this book because it wasn’t what I expected. Of course there was romance and mystery, but it wasn’t done in the same cut and dry fashion of a lot of novels. Griep doesn’t just focus on Cassie but develops some strong secondary characters. Also, the hero is really something. He’s not a man you come across in every novel. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that Cassie was constantly using American slang, even when she was speaking Norse and it seems like she would know that that wasn’t going to work. Other than that I thought this book really took me to Norway with Cassie.

Spiritually, this book was deep. You’ve got the hero who has turned his back on paganism for Christianity and is ridiculed for it by his family, and yet his love never fails. It’s a beautiful portrayal of Christ. And the story he tells that led to his salvation is so moving. It challenges me to realize that sometimes I’m the only Christ people will see and so I better be a good representative! Ms. Griep has another time-travel called Gallimore (which is good), and I look forward to anything else she writes.

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Karen Hancock’s Arena

I have already featured Karen Hancock, but I didn’t discuss her novel Arena. Arena kind of reminds me of Tron even though it’s not the same. The novel starts of with Callie Hayes who volunteers for a psychology experiment…and ends up in the Arena. The Arena is an alien world that Callie has to learn how to navigate using “a field manual” (The Bible). Along the way she meets some other humans who have been there longer than her. Some are good, some are bad, and some change her life in ways unexpected (enter hero). Does she ever get out of the Arena? I’ll never tell. This book was really good and the reason I read her other books.

One of the things I appreciated about the book was the heavy emphasis the novel placed on following the “field manual”. Callie couldn’t survive without it and I think that is so reflective of our Christian life. I don’t know how anyone expects to live this life for God and not read the Bible. If you don’t know what it says you won’t survive the Arena.

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Linda Wichman’s Legend of the Emerald Rose

Fantasy week would not be sufficient without at least one tale of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, and so I present to you my favorite: Legend of the Emerald Rose. While King Arthur and Queen Guinevere only play a passing role, there are other equally famous characters in this book (knights of the round table anyone?). Calling this book a fantasy might be reaching. It’s more a historical novel with fantastical elements, but still it had to be featured. The novel introduces Shadoe un Hollo Tors, the son of Merlin, who once served the famous king and queen until their deaths, but has since become embittered. Merlin, who is dying, extracts a promise from Shadoe, that he would protect the heir of King Arthur. Shadoe reluctantly sets off to find this heir and so starts a tale of romance that is both sweet and humorous, a land of mysteries and dreams (literally!), and men of nobility and character (could they be any other?).

In this novel, Wichman conveys the strong importance of having a relationship with Christ not only for salvation but to fight against the wiles of the enemy. One of my favorites!

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Kathy Tyer’s Firebird Series

 If I had to pick what the Firebird Series reminded me the most of, I would say it’s a kind of Christian Star Wars. To a Star Wars lover like me that’s a good thing. In my opinion, the first and the fourth book are the best. Clearly, those two are the most romantic of the five. That said, all books must be read in order. So let’s talk about Firebird. If you’re not a sci-fi reader, I still think you would enjoy Firebird. The first book is amazing. Firebird is the third daughter of the Queen of Netaia which means she has to die. Third born children are not allowed to live. Firebird has known this all her life and wants to die as a fighter pilot in the Netaian army. But. There is Brennan Caldwell of the Federation who also has the unique ability of reading people’s minds, controlling their thoughts, picking up things with his mine (very-Jedi ish). Of course he doesn’t use these powers for evil. He is immediately drawn to Firebird. And though their countries are at war, he does everything he can to save her (both physically and to bring her to God). Great Series!

This is probably the only genuine sci-fi Christian book I’ve read. Does anyone know of any others?

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Jennifer Hartz’s Future Savior Series

 So I discovered Jennifer Hartz through Twitter. And what a find! This series spoke to my fantasy heart. If I had to tell you what it was like, I would say its a combination of a fairytale, time-travel (world-travel?), and Lord of the Rings (great combination!). I was one of those people who saw Lord of the Rings and said what’s the big deal? no romance. Well this book has added plenty of the romance factor. The story begins in the land of Meric and a great king has just been killed by an evil queen. The king’s daughter needs to be hidden or she’s next. Where do they hide her? In the USof A. I loved the idea. That way when Christina finally makes her way back to Meric, you can see the oddness of the land through her eyes. And Shaw, what a hero. I really like that Shaw is not just some He-man, he’s a fleshed out character with weaknesses and strengths that only make him more endearing. Interwoven throughout these novels is the Creator who Christina initially denies, but  slowly comes to realize is there. I think (the series isn’t over) that as the books keep going she will come to know him personally.

So I remember going on Amazon, seeing three books out and thinking if I love this series at least all the books are already out. Wrong! Two more are coming out and boy does Ms. Hartz leave you with some cliffhangers. So if you read the first one, you’ll be wanting to get the next one (impatiently waiting for book 4!)

And on that note: Ms. Hartz has graciously offered to giveaway 3 copies (kindle or pdf) of the first book: Future Savior Book One: Conception. To be entered in this contest, you must leave a comment (with your email address) on one of the previous fantasy posts or on an upcoming post. The contest ends June 8th and the winner will be announced and contacted within 48 hours.

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Jill Williamson’s Blood of Kings Trilogy

Jill Williamson’s Blood of Kings Trilogy is a great series (I know I’ve said that before, but I can’t help it). This book has a more medieval feel to it, but certain people have special abilities. Achan Cham is a young servant kitchen servant who is one day asked by a knight if he would like to train to be one. Thus, starts the epic tale of Achan Cham. This series has all of the key components of a good medieval series: secrets, mystery, romance, friendship, black magic, good vs. evil, knights and fair ladies, and learning to trust God after coming out of a pagan society. I couldn’t put it down. I really enjoyed though how layered the book was. Each character has their own story that interweaves with another person’s tale. Her characters are fully fleshed out, you see their weaknesses and their strengths and love them the more because of it. The books are hundreds of pages and go by in hours. I didn’t want it to end.

One thing about fantasy novels is that there usually isn’t much black and white about following God. You either do or you don’t. And that relationship completely defines who you are. Loved it!

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Karen Hancock’s Legend of the Guardian King

Karen Hancock’s Legend of the Guardian King is a great fantasy series. It has it all: secrets, betrayal, romance, mystery, battles. The series starts off with Abramm who is the fifth son of a king. He figures his chances at being king are slim, and as a sickly, small boy he decides to join a religious order. But then his two older brothers die in a tragic accident. His next oldest brother, in an effort to protect the crown sells Abramm into slavery. And he sets Abramm on a journey that changes his life. It’s not American slavery, but Roman-times slavery so envision gladiators and whatnot. And that’s only book one. I can’t tell you too much or I’ll give it away but I reread this series regularly (some books more than others). The romance is on point. I can’t say too much about it except that it’s good.

The author completely takes you to another place with different customs and people, but it works. Abramm grows from a man who had an interest in basically the occult, to a man with a strong faith in Eidon (God). It’s a really good series and highly recommended.

Posted in Interview

Interview of R.J. Larson

Ms. Larson, what inspired you to write Prophet?

Believe it or not, I was inspired by a snatch of a dream hit me just before I woke up one morning. A dark-curled young woman in a dim room, facing a glowing bit of a branch (vinewood). She was in trouble, and I couldn’t forget the image, no matter how hard I tried, and I did try. Ela’s story interrupted another book I was writing—a historical set in 1890’s Colorado, which I loved—and still love, though it’s still stuck in chapter eight!!!

I simply couldn’t believe I should write a fantasy novel, but Ela and the Infinite insisted.

When I read your book, I definitely got a feel of the Old Testament Prophets. Did they influence you in any way?

They did! Ela’s story drew me toward Jeremiah in particular, along with Ezekiel and Elijah. As I wrote, I prayed and studied the Prophets, trying to understand what they suffered—the risks they took—for obeying their Creator. Like Jeremiah, Ela questions her Creator, and complains to Him, which He tolerated. Evidently, prophets are permitted to complain or express frustration with their lives and situations, as long as they obey God. In all true and good relationships, there’s constant and healthy discussion, with plenty of love-secured freedom to express opinions. As believers, it’s good for us to see Ela’s Jeremiah-style give and take with the Infinite.

Also, when I studied the scriptures, I realized that the Prophet Elijah had a sense of humor—with a touch of sarcasm. Both useful traits that I tried to show through Ela. The humor and irony offset her bad temper.

Your description of the Infinite (who is a reflection of God) was moving. I remember reading Prophet on my kindle while exercising and stopping (reading, not exercising lol) to think about how often I don’t trust God the way I should. Did you have any personal experiences that influenced your development of the Infinite

First and foremost, from a very young age, I have always felt the Lord’s presence. No matter where I am or what I am doing, He is there. It’s both comforting and worrisome, that Presence. Yet I know I’ve had the freedom to make my own choices in life in every situation. Like any believer, I had to decide to follow Him. To listen to Him. To—for pity’s sake!—obey Him, contrary to my own stubborn, foolish wishes.

I’m not perfect.

Yet He loves me. He loves us! He is there. And He is faithful. Like many people, my family has felt the financial bite of recent hard times—with the fear and uncertainty of unemployment and wondering how we’d earn enough money to pay bills. Again and again, for two years, He provided in unexpected ways, silently saying, “Trust Me!”

We trusted and He provided. It wasn’t always easy, but it was truly faith-building! The tough times deepened my love for Him, and I think this love shows in Ela’s story.

When writing a fantasy-like novel, what are some roadblocks that you come up against? If any?

I’d never expected to write fantasy. I couldn’t believe it when Ela appeared and it became clear that the Lord intended to have me (me?) write her story. That particular mental roadblock took me w-e-e-k-s to shovel past. Once I settled my brain with the realization that I had to write a fantasy Biblical novel, I fretted over names, landscapes, cities, and customs. How could I possibly research an entire planet?

The answer was simple: I love reading and history, and I’m interested in many subjects, as well as Biblical customs and lore from Earth’s ancient civilizations. My reasoning was, and is, that the Earth’s elements—with a few variants—would be much the same on another planet. Also, people are people no matter where their “hometown” happens to be, and their struggles against natural disasters, wild creatures, and each other would reflect the struggles and fears we all face in our own lives. Therefore, I wrote from decades-worth of previous research, and from my knowledge of human nature, as well as ancient lore and the Scriptures.

When you designed the layout of this other world, is it all in your mind? Do you draw it out? How do you keep the details together?

I’m a visual learner and kept a map of this imaginary, unnamed continent in my head as I worked. However, a few months ago, my Bethany House editors and I decided I should create an actual map reflecting the lands in our series. The map, hand-drawn by brilliant eighteen-year-old artist Katharin Fiscaletti, is now on my website, with Katharin’s image of the…scaln!  The map takes a few seconds to upload; we hope you enjoy it. J–Extras-.html

When you created Ela, was there anyone or anything that inspired her personality?

Us. You and me. I see Ela as an average young woman beset with the usual mortal fears, faced with the challenge of a lifetime. It is Ela’s willingness to follow her Creator’s leading and to learn from Him that ultimately sculpts her character and gives her the strength to confront her enemies and her own failings.

We could each step into Ela’s sandals as she says, “…I’m not going to be of any use to You at all!”

Our Creator’s reply to us would be the same: You will. If you accept.

So one of my favorite people in Prophet was Kien. He had a great sense of humor and really compliments Ela. What or who (if any) was your inspiration for him?

I love Kien! The first time we see Kien, he’s approving of himself in a mirror. That’s our initial Kien in a nutshell. Nice guy. Charming and fun, but afflicted with a bit of mortal vanity and self-importance. From my authorly point-of-view, those traits inspired Kien’s character and the starting point for his own journey. I wanted him to be nice, charming, and fun, but in need of soul-polishing—and some serious shaking up, which causes him to rethink his world-view.

I’m really glad that book two comes out this year. Is there anything you would like to share about Judge?

Speaking of Kien…. Judge is Kien’s journey. Kien is sent away on a spiritual and physical adventure that will test every fiber of his being as he strives to follow the Infinite. Like the men in Judges 17:6, Kien must learn to seek his Creator’s will above his own in order to survive his adventure.

Naturally, I’ve thrown in a few Biblical-twist surprises, and I posted some visual hints on my Pinterest page:

Is book two the last book in the series or will there be more?

Book three is in the works! King should appear in stores and online next spring. I posted visual hints for King on my Pinterest page as well, but here are the first few sentences:

A salt-tinged ocean breeze lifted Akabe of Siphra’s gold-edged mantle as he paced along the edge of the royal terrace. His terrace—much against his will.

His people were insane. As for his Creator…. Well, mortals must revere the Infinite even as they wondered at His reasoning.

Why had the Infinite, not to mention Siphra’s people, made him a king?

And what in the name of peacetime boredom did kings do?

BLESSINGS, Embassie, and thank you for inviting me to appear on your blog!

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

R. J. Larson’s Prophet

The Prophet by R. J. Larson is a great fantasy novel. When starting a new fantasy series, I’m always concerned that I will get lost in the details. That does not happen here. In fact, having read the Old Testament so much I feel right at home. This book is about a girl named Ela who is called by the Infinite (God) to warn people (or bless people). She’s like Samuel in the Bible, none of her words fall to the ground. This could seem like a very serious novel, but the author throws in Kien. Kien is a young ambassador with a great sense of humor who is a perfect foil for Ela. Together they get things done. And…there might just be some romance.

Not only is this book really good, when I was reading it, it made me stop and think about my own relationship with God and how too often I question rather than trust. This book will definitely lead you back to the Lord. Highly recommended. Book two, Judge, comes out later this year and it is Kien’s story! Tomorrow I will be hosting R. J. Larson herself, so stay tuned…

Posted in Uncategorized

Fantsy/Sci-Fi Week!

Do you love fantasy/sci-fi books? I do. Ever since I saw Star Wars and read the Chronicles of Narnia life has never been quite the same. I had a friend remark to me recently about there not being any Christian fantasy books. It’s just not true. So for the next two weeks I’m featuring many of my favorite fantasy/sci-fi authors. I have a couple of author interviews and even a book giveaway! Some of the books that will be featured can also double as YA fiction, but if I had to choose between the two categories I would go with fantasy. So stay tuned….