Good Friday

A Good Friday Excerpt of
Orthodoxy
by G. K. Chesterton

The grinding power of the plain words of the Gospel story is like the power of mill-stones; and those who can read them simply enough will feel as if rocks had been rolled upon them. Criticism is only words about words; and of what use are words about such words as these? What is the use of word-painting about the dark garden filled suddenly with torchlight and furious faces? ‘Are you come out with swords and staves as against a robber? All day I sat in your temple teaching, and you took me not.’ Can anything be added to the massive and gathered restraint of that irony; like a great wave lifted to the sky and refusing to fall? ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me but weep for yourselves and for your children.’ As the High Priest asked what further need he had of witnesses, we might well ask what further need we have of words. Peter in a panic repudiated him: ‘and immediately the cock crew; and Jesus looked upon Peter, and Peter went out and wept bitterly.’ Has anyone any further remarks to offer. Just before the murder he prayed for all the murderous race of men, saying, ‘They know not what they do’; is there anything to say to that, except that we know as little what we say? Is there any need to repeat and spin out the story of how the tragedy trailed up the Via Dolorosa and how they threw him in haphazard with two thieves in one of the ordinary batches of execution; and how in all that horror and howling wilderness of desertion one voice spoke in homage, a startling voice from the very last place where it was looked for, the gibbet of the criminal; and he said to that nameless ruffian, ‘This night shalt thou be with me in Paradise’? Is there anything to put after that but a full stop? Or is anyone prepared to answer adequately that farewell gesture to all flesh which created for his Mother a new Son? …

The mob went along with the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the philosophers and the moralists. It went along with the imperial magistrates and the sacred priests, the scribes and the soldiers, that the one universal human spirit might suffer a universal condemnation; that there might be one deep, unanimous chorus of approval and harmony when Man was rejected of men.

There were solitudes beyond where none shall follow. There were secrets in the inmost and invisible part of that drama that have no symbol in speech; or in any severance of a man from men. Nor is it easy for any words less stark and single-minded than those of the naked narrative even to hint at the horror of exaltation that lifted itself above the hill. Endless expositions have not come to the end of it, or even to the beginning. And if there be any sound that can produce a silence, we may surely be silent about the end and the extremity; when a cry was driven out of that darkness in words dreadfully distinct and dreadfully unintelligible, which man shall never understand in all the eternity they have purchased for him; and for one annihilating instant an abyss that is not for our thoughts had opened even in the unity of the absolute; and God had been forsaken of God.


Review: Dragon’s Rook

A border war is, or should be, a simple thing. Two kingdoms want land, to the point of battles and blood; they fight it out, until one gets the land and the other finally goes home. Tragic, as we all know, but straightforward.

But in the war Dissonay and Skarda wage over the unclaimed Territories, nothing is straightforward. Beyond the dispute over the land is a riven family, rumors of an unfaithful queen and brothers-in-law turned against each other and cousins crossing swords to the death. Further yet, a more distant kinship is the heart of a more ancient feud, where lost heirs and lost swords are menaces to the Mad King. And at the furthest edges, old, inhuman powers reach hands into human battles.

In Dragon’s Rook, Keanan Brand spins a complex and epic tale. The novel is high fantasy, of an old-fashioned flavor. There are bits of an invented language, and the story is more multi-threaded than I see in most contemporary fantasy (excepting works by Stephen Lawhead, an old-fashioned author in his own right).

The book itself is long for a modern novel – just breaking 500 pages. A second book will finish the story. It might have been possible to shorten Dragon’s Rook and create a duology, and I salute the author for not doing so. Dragon’s Rook ends in a good place as it is, with its climaxes and converging story lines. Additionally – I will confess it – I have seen so many trilogies, a duology spices things up a bit.

Dragon’s Rook features a large cast of characters, all realistically drawn and many vivid as well. Relatively few got under my skin, but they did exist: Maggie, Yanamari, Mad Morfran and, to a lesser extent, Kieran and Rhon. I felt a couple more would have, had they been given the stage for it. The plot moves through many dangers, and the author lets this take its toll on the characters. A number die, and not only throwaway characters. I am inclined to think too many died. But the author’s willingness to discard characters has its upside, most notably in paving the way for a brilliant new villain.

This novel possesses a strong religious element. Characters struggle with questions of suffering, God’s will, and their own free will. Unlike much Christian fantasy, the outward forms of religion are built into this world: churches (called kirks), priests, religious signs, funeral rituals. Superstitions and a dark, sorcerous order are also part of the religious landscape. In this, as in other ways, the world-building is realistic and thorough.

Although the book is not generally graphic, there are grisly moments. I found one scene hard to bear. The large cast, though mostly a strength, had a negative side in that the characters were sometimes hard to keep track of. It wasn’t always easy, for example, to distinguish one secondary member of the Fourth Lachmil from another.

Dragon’s Rook is strongly written, with beautiful phrases and evocative descriptions. It is a complex epic, drawing its characters from many different corners to face the revival of old hostilities, old legends, and old hopes. Recommended to all lovers of high fantasy.

Story Excerpt: Adela’s Curse

Adelas Curse cover

 

“Adela, would you like to dance?” Rafael asked.

“Oh, I don’t…” Adela stammered.

“Of course you do,” Lidia said. “Please help me escape him.”

Rafael rolled his eyes comically at her and took Adela’s hand, leading her out onto the dance floor.

“Did Lidia make your necklace?” he asked. “She’s quite talented,” he continued after receiving Adela’s nod.

“I’ve seen the carvings you make,” Adela said. “Lidia might even have one.”

“Really?” Rafael said with interest.

“But I could be wrong.”

Rafael laughed. “You tease me! And what else can you do?”

“I have the amazing talent of being able to wiggle my ears,” Adela said seriously, and Rafael laughed again, spinning her as the dance ended.

“Lidia says that your singing puts the birds to shame,” he said.

“If she means that I can twitter quite excellently, then yes.”

Rafael’s laughter seemed ever present. “You continue to amaze me. Would you consider singing tonight? I would love to hear you.”

“I see you and Lidia have been scheming,” Adela said. She loved singing but not in front of a crowd like this!

“Alas, I cannot deny that,” Rafael sighed heavily. He escorted her through the dancers and back to Lidia.

“Your friend is quite charming; a welcome relief from your constant nagging,” Rafael told Lidia.

“What? You cannot stomach hearing your own voice repeated back to you?” Lidia asked.

“I was not aware that my voice sounded like nails on rock.”

“That’s because no one has had the heart to tell you. No doubt they are too busy swooning and stroking your ego.”

“I have an ego?”

“With a hat like that, who wouldn’t?”

 

 

Adela’s Curse

A curse. A murderous scheme. A choice.

A witch and her master capture a young faery and command her to kill their enemy. Adela has no choice but to obey. If she does not, they will force the location of her people’s mountain home from her and kill her. To make matters even worse, the person she is to kill is only a man struggling to save his dying land and mend a broken heart.

Count Stefan is a man simply trying to forget the woman he loves and save a land crippled by drought. When a mysterious woman arrives at his castle claiming to be a seamstress, he knows she is more than she seems.

Adela enlists the help of Damian, another faery, to try and delay the inevitable. He insists she has a choice. But with the witch controlling her every move, does she?

 

Find Adela’s Curse on Goodreads

 

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Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, TX, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Texas Tech University Health Science Center. She continues to write in her spare time (and often when she doesn’t have spare time). She hopes her strong foundation in God will help to guide her writing.
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