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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.