Spotlight: A Great Light


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for
A Great Light
By Jennifer Ball

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops

you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch – Note from the Author

Welcome! I’m so excited to bring you my new series “The Kingdom to Come”. This first book “A Great Light” will introduce you to Prince Karhiad, a humble prince next in line to the throne, and his band of close loyal friends who live in the low social status of his kingdom. The crown prince respects his royal family, loves his parents and brother dearly, yet doesn’t align with their views of ruling the kingdom. He appreciates the authenticity that is found in his friends and the lifestyles of the lower and middle class…

My Devotional Thoughts – Inspiration for A GREAT LIGHT

This book was inspired by my favorite non-fictional person who was a humble king. Although, he was never a prince and had no royal bloodline, he was (in the plans of God) next in line for the throne — King David. The extreme trials that David faces in his lifetime are so immense, yet he stays faithful to a God he’s never laid eyes on. He never allows his status as king to make him arrogant or materialistic…

Stacking My Book Shelves! – Excerpt

“You came out here at night?” she asked with excitement. “Did you see these lit up in the dark?” She held her jar filled with lucent flutters towards him.

“Uh, no. I didn’t see those.”

“What was the woman’s name you met last night? Maybe I know her, although I doubt I do. A Trinicitian woman wouldn’t travel out here at night. We really aren’t supposed to travel outside without a companion anyway. I think I may be the only adventurer,” she said as she got into a standing position.

“I don’t know her name. I didn’t ask. I saw this magnificently beautiful light from my balcony. The curiosity of what it could possibly be drew me out here to find it. But it…” — he looked up towards the sky where he had seen it before — “it was gone.”

Remembrancy – The Kingdoms of A GREAT LIGHT

In this first book, A Great Light, you are introduced to 3 major kingdoms — Merrhius, Trinicity, and Ananias. There is also a few other minor kingdoms mentioned, however their focus will play out in future books…

Rockin’ Book Reviews Review

“This book is full of fascinating adventure. I like the way Jennifer separates the lands with distinctive differences. They are close in proximity but so far apart in their beliefs and the way they live…

This is an awesome story and I highly recommend it to other readers.”

Hearts & Scribbles – Excerpt

“Where is Trinicity?” he blurted out. She stopped her antics, and looked up at him. She didn’t respond. “I don’t mean to be intrusive. I was… I was just wondering how long a journey it is for you to get here.”

“Not long.” They kept their deep gaze with one another.

“Do you know…” He stopped, he couldn’t possibly ask, but he just felt so comfortable with her.

“Do I know what?”

“Do you know… why do people say they can’t find it?”

Wishful Endings – Why We Read Fantasy

Why do people read fantasy books? Because the human imagination is far more creative, compelling and fascinating than reality. If all books available only had a non-fictional theme, our minds would explode with the constant mental state of reality we’d always be in. Fantasy takes a person, even if for a brief moment, into a realm of excitement at the thought of “Wow, what if…?”…

The Barefoot Reader – Excerpt

“Could you ever show me your city?”

“Oh, no! He asked it!” Faith tried not to let her anxious feelings show on her face. Karhiad just longed for this mysterious place so eagerly. He knew this place was real, irrespective of what his father believed. He was confident this fascinating girl he met in the woods wasn’t lying about where she was from. The way she spoke about trivial matters and important issues was so alluring to him. The idea of visiting Trinicity, the place she came from, was very appealing to him. Besides, he never believed it to be a myth, and now eagerly just wanted to see it all with his own eyes.

My Life, Loves and Passion – Review

“Over the time they spend together they share about their homes. How they differ and what they share. They call for each other. Then tragedy stricks. Secrets and lies and manipulation take over…

…I like the story though and am curious what happens next.”

Declarations of a Fangirl – Good vs Evil

People are drawn to good vs evil because everyone can relate to such a battle. Even if the storyline is fantastical, everyone can relate to one of the characters in the fight. If it isn’t obviously painted out who the villain is and who the hero is, such as in Stars Wars with Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, then who is good and who is evil can be a matter of opinion. An interesting aspect of good vs evil stories is that it allows the reader/audience to see redemption in someone…

Among the Reads – Excerpt

“Rhaevaehyn. Do you know of it?”

“Vaguely. They have a monarchy.”

“Yes. We have a monarchy.” He couldn’t tell by her tone when she said ‘monarchy’ how she felt about royal dynasties. He wasn’t sure if he should follow his statement by telling her he was a prince in his kingdom. He didn’t want to appear as if he was boasting. Besides, he was still a little shocked they had never even discussed where he was from until now.

“I know.” Faith’s lack of interest let him know that this actually was not the right time to let her know his inheritance.

Reading On The Edge – Excerpt

“An old man in my city died this morning,” Faith said as she and Karhiad stacked twigs and leaves up into a pile. They wanted to see who could start a fire first without the common essentials needed to cause a spark.

“I’m sorry. Did you know him?” Karhiad wasn’t sure what level of comfort to provide her yet, so he kept gathering the driest leaves he could find.

“Yes. He was an elder that I would deliver dinner to.”

Tell Tale Book Reviews – ​Prince Karhiad’s Survival Checklist

√ Don’t fear anything… ever

√ ​Loyal friends in my circle who value me unconditionally

√ Physically train harder than what is expected of me as the prince

Locks, Hooks and Books – Review

“I enjoyed this Christian Fantasy. Prince Karhiad is lead to Faith by a light. She was my favorite character of the book. The story is full of inspiration with the battles of good versus evil.”

Colorimetry – Excerpt

“So, um, where…” She was eager to change the subject. “Where else have you traveled? Do you journey outside your kingdom walls often? Have you met people from different cultures?”

“I’ve traveled many miles on the outer stretches of my kingdom. It was part of my training to know all the terrain. The most interesting culture I’ve encountered would have to be those living in Ananias. They don’t have walls, so I guess they are considered just a village.”

“Oh, yes. I’ve read about them. How did you find them?”

“I don’t know the details of it. When I was a young adolescent, there was a man in our military who said he found a unique culture and wanted us all to meet them. My father took me out with him and the rest of the traveling troops to encounter them.”

SilverWoodSketches – Review

“Jennifer Ball does a fantastic job of painting this world with compelling characters and vivid colors. There is some very lovely prose to immerse the reader into Karhiad and Faith’s worlds. The writing style harkens to Robin McKinley’s and other epic fantasy authors. Some readers may be put off by the heavier religious elements, but fans of more allegorical works like C.S. Lewis and Anne Elisabeth Stengl will love the message of faith behind The Kingdom to Come.”

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below, if you haven’t already…

A Great Light
(The Kingdom to Come #1)
by Jennifer Ball
Young Adult Christian Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 298 Pages
June 28th 2018 by Revelation Publishing Company

Love and war are often the same thing.

Prince Karhiad is a humble king-in-waiting. His father, King Vilsig, rules the Kingdom of Merrhius with an iron fist. While the king dreams of endless conquests, his son only wants to conquer the hearts of his subjects through love instead of fear.

Meanwhile, a dark and sinister force threatens every kingdom around. And if King Vilsig and Prince Karhiad can’t put aside their differences, an ancient sinister beast and his supernatural army will lay waste to the Kingdom of Merrhius.

On the night of Prince Karhiad’s 17th birthday, he is mesmerized by a radiant light and makes a decision to learn of its origin. That choice will force him towards answers he wasn’t seeking, a woman he wasn’t planning to fall in love with, and a destiny that will bring him great suffering yet an even greater reward. But in this gripping tale of good vs. evil, the power of love isn’t just a shield to ward off the darkness — it’s also the strongest weapon of all.

GoodreadsAmazonB&N

About the Author

I am a friend of Jesus who at times fails at making this is my most important relationship. I am a wife who forgets at times this is my primary job. I am a mom who at times didn’t get it right. I take lots of pictures that annoy everyone in my family except for my dog. She loves it.

I began writing short stories when I was a child. I would sit in my room for hours writing as fast as I could to keep up with my thoughts. We didn’t have a typewriter and certainly no computer. Too often my writing would turn to scribble. I ended up with lots of loose paper with many short stories written on them in half scribble that made it too difficult for others to read. Thanks to technology, I went back to my childhood passion and wrote a story that I turned into a readable book.

That’s me, to make a long story short.

WebsiteGoodreadsAmazon

Tour Giveaway

1 winner will receive a $20 Amazon eGift Card
– Open internationally
– Ends September 19th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grab Our Button!

Much of Magic

Sir Bors set out on the Quest for the Holy Grail, but he spent most of the appointed year in prison because (it can happen) he made an unscheduled stop to proclaim the Gospel to apparently unreceptive heathens. “They knew much of magic,” he later told King Arthur, “but little of God.” (quoted from Maude L. Radford’s King Arthur and His Knights)

This formulation – much of magic, little of God – is striking in any case, but particularly so because it occurs in an Arthurian story. Although this is often neglected in modern retellings, the Arthurian legends combined Christianity with magic, pagan legends with culled elements of Christianized Britain. Classic versions of the sword-in-the-stone legend put “the wise magician” Merlin working together with the Archbishop of Canterbury to find a new king for the Britons. And still the association of magic with heathenism: much magic, little God.

There is tension between the Church that makes common cause with magicians and the heathens full of magic, but perhaps not contradiction. The authors of the Arthurian myth found they could broker an accommodation between Christians and magic. Yet they could rarely have missed the accommodation between pagans and magic, typified in the Druids whose memory outlived their presence. The sort of magic that most famously imbues Arthurian myth – the magic sword, the wise man who saw the future, the Lady of the Lake – is not witchcraft. Yet it remains, in itself, ambivalent. Despite the rumors, there is no inexorable link between magic and the devil, but neither is there any inexorable link between magic and God.

I’ve seen the link between magic and God made; probably all of you have. There is more than one way to weave magic into the framework of Christian doctrine and Christian principles. C.S. Lewis’ way – carving out a place for magic in an explicitly Christian universe – is the most obvious. Another method, popular in modern Christian fantasy, is to fix a magical world beneath God (often called the Creator, the Eternal One, etc.), without venturing any further in Christian belief than monotheism. J.R.R. Tolkien is the premier example of the most subtle method. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings show little overt religion, but his posthumous works reveal his efforts to bring his creation into harmony with Christian thought. The influence of Tolkien’s faith on his work is indelible. (In this lengthy but thoughtful essay, Steven Graydanus examines how Tolkien’s Catholicism shaped his portrayal of magic.)

Much fantasy is created by people who have no interest in taming magic to Christianity. That alone doesn’t make it bad; I once read a charming, perfectly innocuous children’s book called The Enchanted Castle, in which I found nothing to condemn or to call Christian. Yet the portrayal of magic in fiction isn’t always innocuous. Nor is it bound to keep its customary ambivalence; it may be remade into more sinister forms. The categorical rejection of all fictional magic is mistaken, but there is a shade of legitimate warning down at the roots.

Because it may justly be said of some books, as it is justly said of some people, that they know much of magic and little of God.

Spotlight: Trust and Obey

Trust and Obey Blog Tour

Faith Blum has a new book. And it’s not a Western. It is a fairy tale retelling set during the time of King Saul. Read on to learn more about the book.

About the Book

Trust and Obey_KindleA wicked priestess, a morally corrupt king, and two children stuck in the middle…

Hadassah and Gidal love their parents and will do anything for them. When Priestess Basmat tell Ehud and Jerusha to pay their debt, they cannot and she takes Hadassah and Gidal as her slaves for two years.

The priestess works them hard, but there are two other servants to divide the load with, so they cope as well as they can. Then King Saul comes in disguise requesting the priestess’s other services—as a medium.

Will Hadassah and Gidal trust Adonai to take care of them? What will happen after Priestess Basmat comes face-to-face with the prophet Samuel?

Amazon

Goodreads

About the Author

FaithBlum_EmmaCatherinePhotography03Faith Blum is a small-town Wisconsin girl. She’s lived in, or outside of, small towns her whole life. The thought of living in a city with more than 60,000 people in it scares her, especially after some interesting adventures driving through big cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Faith currently resides in the middle of the state of Wisconsin with her husband and their cat, Smokey. She is blessed to be able to have writing as her full-time career with household work and cooking to do on the side. She loves to paint walls as long as she doesn’t have to do hallways or ceilings.

When not writing, you can find her cooking food from scratch due to food allergies (fun), doing dishes (meh), knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading, or spending time with her husband (yay!). She is also a Community Assistant for the Young Writers Workshop and loves her work there. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her on her website.

Giveaway

Giveaway

Faith Blum is doing a giveaway with her blog tour. She is offering a paperback copy of Trust and Obey as well as a magnet with the cover on it! You can enter here.

Excerpt

Saul called in Urim, the priest. “Have you heard from the Lord yet about this battle?”

“No, I have not.”

Saul picked up the nearest thing to him and threw it at the tent wall. “Why is He ignoring me? I need to know what to do. I can’t take the silence anymore.”

Urim bowed his head. “I’m sorry, my king. I cannot help you.” He backed out of the tent and Saul was left alone with his servants.

Saul sat down, his shaky legs no longer holding him up. His vision clouded and he ground his teeth together. One of his servants approached and Saul snapped his head in that direction. “Seek for me a woman who is a medium so I may go to her and inquire of her.”

Achim took another step nearer. “My king, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.”

The cloud dissipated from Saul’s eyes. “Gather some servants clothing for me that I may disguise myself. Then pick another servant to go with us.”

Achim bowed. “Yes, my lord.”

Saul stood and paced around the tent until Achim returned. Achim assisted Saul in changing into the servant’s clothing.

When he finished, Achim scooped up some cooled ashes. “My king, may I smudge your face?”

Saul nodded. “Who is coming with us?”

“My brother, Carmi. We grew up in En-dor and know the best ways to get in and out of the village unseen.”

“Very good. We must get going.”

Achim beckoned to a shadow at the edge of the tent and a man stepped out. “I am at your service, my lord.”

Saul looked him up and down. “Come. We depart now.”

 

Tour Schedule

June 26
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory Post
Frances Hoelsema – Book Spotlight
Rachel Rossano’s Words – Book Spotlight

June 27
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Book Spotlight
RockandMinerals4Him – Book Review
Shannon’s Blog – Book Spotlight

June 28
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections – Special Post
Wildflower Acres – Book Spotlight

June 29
God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae – Book Review
Purposeful Learning – Book Review
The King and His Kingdom – Book Review

June 30
Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway Winner

Review: The Charlatan’s Boy

It’s a sad day in Corenwald when no one believes in feechies anymore. Specifically, it’s a sad day for Floyd Wendellson and his boy, Grady. The paying crowds pay them no longer. After making a living for years by pretending to be a feechie expert and a genuine feechie boy, they may have to get legitimate jobs.

Ha ha! I’m kidding, of course. What they do next is put up the Ugliest Boy in the World act. As the bad new days run on into years, they make a daring bid to bring back the good old days. Their scheme is unethical and there has to be some sort of law against it, but what do you expect from the charlatan and his boy? They’re neither heroes nor villains, only two showmen trying to turn a pretty penny without any punctilious dedication to the truth.

Jonathan Rogers delivers his story in appropriate style. The book is filled with humor, much of it the sort that is seen by the readers and not the characters. It’s written in first-person, and as you can imagine, a charlatan’s boy will not have the most educated voice. Though to be fair, almost no one in the book does. The editor either had a hard or wonderfully easy time of it, depending on whether she tried to distinguish real grammar errors from style or simply decided it was all one.

The world of The Charlatan’s Boy is constructed with imagination and flair. Unlike most fantasy worlds, Corenwald is more American than European, more modern than medieval. A few things in Corenwald do sound British – the constables, the public houses. But the alligators are decidedly American, and if any other fantasy book mentions watermelons, I haven’t had the privilege of coming across it. American figures come wandering through, re-dressed in Corenwald guise. The traveling snake oil salesman has a lasting place in the American imagination, and the drovers are charmingly familiar. If not the brothers of America’s cowboys, they are at least their cousins. It’s the same trade, but seeing how each generally pursues it, the drovers lack the organization and sophistication of the cowboys. (Perhaps that last phrase is strange to read; it was strange to write.)

Among the rough-and-tumble sorts, constables in blue uniforms and schoolmarms in one-room schoolhouses impose civilization. Yet two things break the mien of the nineteenth-century frontier verging into civilization. For one, the weaponry is bows and arrows, swords and spears. For the other, the good people of Corenwald were seriously told by their forebears that another race lives secretly alongside them, and they are not too far away from believing it.

The Charlatan’s Boy is reminiscent of the old-school episodic novel – Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Penrod, Mark Twain. The main issues of the book are set up at the beginning and steadily – if not urgently – addressed. Yet, lingering over drovers’ fires and doing the phrenology routine, even parts that advance the plot often feel anecdotal. The anecdotes were entertaining, well-told, and even charming. But as they followed one on another, I began wondering when the next shoe would finally fall on somebody.

I would, however, do a disservice to this book if I made it sound as if it went nowhere. It did go somewhere, and the climax and conclusion were marvelous. The humor and the lightheartedness of the story are a joy, and sometimes – suddenly but naturally – sadness pierces through, straight to the heart. The Charlatan’s Boy, with its humor and its heart and its style, is captivating and even, in an unemphatic sort of way, brilliant fantasy.

The Worthless World

Stories that are at their core cynical about the world present two different visions. The first is a vision of a world without heroes. The second is a vision of a world that doesn’t deserve heroes. These visions may easily be combined and sometimes are, but each can and does go alone, too. Together or alone, they weave an inescapable cynicism into the fabric of their stories.

I thought of that last weekend, prompted by the new season of A Series of Unfortunate Events. (Flash review: The good news is that they remedy some of the flaws of the first season; the bad news is that they replace them with new flaws.) Once doomed to unfortunate events by the malignancy and incompetence of individuals, the Baudelaires are now doomed to unfortunate events by the malignancy and incompetence of institutions. Every pillar of society crumbles when the children try to lean on it: the school, the law, the government, the free press.

It’s not that the institutions are broken. It’s that people are so stupid and savage, and nothing is worse than a crowd of them. A whole town melts into a ruthless mob; an entire hospital’s staff can evidently believe that decapitation is a legitimate medical operation (and be enthusiastic to see it); a circus show that advertises freaks being devoured by lions draws a crowd. In the middle of all this, we’re told that the heroes want to put out fires and the villains want to start them, but in the middle of all this, you have to think: The villains have a point. Lots of places end up burning down in this series, and it’s usually an improvement. Even for a show devoted to satire and absurdity, A Series of Unfortunate Events went too far, made too many people too stupid, too many people wicked, too many institutions worthless.

This is a mistake I’ve seen before. It looms particularly large in fantasy. This is partially because fantasy is by nature inclined to stories about saving the world, and such stories magnify the consequences of the error. When the hero saves the world, our sense of victory will be somewhat reduced if we privately feel that his efforts were perhaps wasted. We will still assent to the moral principle that villains ought not to burn down worlds, even if it’s an aesthetic improvement. But the purpose of stories is less to assent to truths and more to feel them.

Another reason the trope of the worthless world especially afflicts fantasy is that the most common inspiration for fantasy worlds is the Middle Ages. Many people evidently believe that the Middle Ages occurred before the invention of bright colors and were essentially the Black Plague interspersed with crusades. Such inspiration can curiously combine a lack of physical beauty (all the gray! brown! black! dirt and decay!) with a lack of moral beauty (oppression! corruption! superstition! ignorance! violence! everywhere!). When stories take us into such worlds, the stay is unpleasant. I think authors forget what a demoralizing effect the bleakness of their worlds has over their stories. Even genuine heroes can’t always counterbalance it.

Curiously enough, the cynicism of the worthless-world stories doesn’t always seem intended. In these stories, the heroes are truly heroic and a sense of morality prevails. But it’s not enough to have heroes who save the world. We need a world worth saving, too.

Cover Reveal: Bound Beauty

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Bound Beauty
By Jennifer Silverwood

This YA Dark Fantasy is volume three in the Wylder Tale Series
Coming winter 2018, cover designed by Najla Qamber Designs

Beware the bond between blood and beasts…

Vynasha has united the warring human and forgotten clans of Wylderland, claiming her majik and power as curse breaker. Her brother, Ceddrych keeps their nephew safely hidden away while Vynasha and her new allies fight against the feral beasts roaming their borders.

Meanwhile, her friendship with the Iceveins family deepens, unveiling a love she never expected. But her majik is still bound to the cursed prince she left behind and he isn’t done fighting for her soul.

Darker forces walk in the forests, all drawn to Vynasha’s light and the shade of a corrupt Enchantress haunts her waking dreams. A war is about to begin, between the forgotten people of Wylderland and the evil power of Bitterhelm.

Prophecy and Forgotten unite in the epic third chapter of the Wylder Tales Series, a gothic re-telling of Beauty and the Beast.

The Wylder Tales Series
Craving Beauty (Vol. 1)
Wolfsbane’s Daughter (Vol. 1.5)
Scarred Beauty (Vol. 2)
Bound Beauty (Coming 2018)

Grab the first book, Craving Beauty, for FREE! You can find your preferred format here.

Other Books in the Series

About the Author

Jennifer Silverwood was raised deep in the heart of Texas and has been spinning yarns a mile high since childhood. In her spare time she reads and writes and tries to sustain her wanderlust, whether it’s the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, the highlands of Ecuador or a road trip to the next town. Always on the lookout for her next adventure, in print or reality, she dreams of one day proving to the masses that everything really is better in Texas. She is the author of two series—Heaven’s Edge and Wylder Tales—and the stand-alone titles Stay and Silver Hollow.

WebsiteBlogGoodreadsFacebookTwitterTumblr

Cover Reveal Giveaway

1 winner will receive signed print copies of Craving Beauty and Scarred Beauty and an ebook of Wolfsbane’s Daughter (US only)

1 winner will receive ebooks of Craving Beauty, Wolfsbane’s Daughter and Scarred Beauty, and a $20 Amazon e-gift card (open internationally)
– Ends February 23rd

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grab Our Button!

A St. Valentine’s Poll

So I was thinking about what might be a good or at least passable topic and suddenly I realized: this post will go live on St. Valentine’s Day. It seemed appropriate, then, to write a post themed on this great holiday of love, and anyway I was having trouble scraping up passable topics. Whether this post will be pro- or anti-Valentine’s Day will be up to you.

First of all, we should consider how ironic it is that the holiday of romantic love is named after a Catholic priest, a class of people who are ideally preoccupied with other concerns. Second, we should consider the intersection between romance and speculative fiction. As a fan of SF among other fans, I’ve seen a fair share of hostility directed toward the romance genre. Christian fans, at least, seem sometimes to regard it as the (regretfully ascendant) rival of Christian SF. But romance looming so large in human nature and human experience, it inevitably finds its own place in speculative fiction.

Yet a place shaped by the contours of the genre, and not always a proud one. Science fiction, in its young days, was a man’s genre, and the woman of the old stories was inevitably young and inevitably beautiful and inevitably belonged to the hero; she was also the daughter of the sage old man, and the sage old man and the strong young hero spent all kinds of time explaining things to her. In another vein, not a very deep one but at least bright, girls were tossed in along with all the other things a healthy-minded boy could desire: a quest, an adventure, a cool weapon, a fast ship, a righteous cause.

Fantasy, molded by the ancient traditions of fairy tales, has been less male-centric but not necessarily more sensible. Even moving away from the eternal puzzles of the archetypal fairy tales (could the prince really not identify Cinderella except by her shoe size?), certain ideas have thrown long shadows over the genre – true love that is instant and unmistakable, fated love that can’t be thwarted or resisted. Being rescued from a tower or a dragon or an evil wizard may seem like a clear sign, but on sober reflection, it may not be the soundest basis for a lifelong relationship.

When it comes to balanced and realistic portraitures of romantic love, speculative fiction has not, as a genre, clothed itself with glory. Neither has romance, but that is not our topic, just an aside I couldn’t resist. Over the years, science fiction and fantasy have made progress away from the old tropes and stereotypes. I’ll offer no predictions on where the genre is going. But on this Valentine’s Day, I wonder – where do you want it to go? What, in your ideal book, is the intersection between romance and speculative fiction?

So on this St. Valentine’s Day, cast a vote for or against romance in speculative fiction.

Do you want romance in sci-fi/fantasy?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Review: Merlin’s Mirror

The old legends of Europe hold that Arthur, greatest of Britain’s kings, was conceived by the trickery of the wizard Merlin. Merlin himself, the tales go, was demon-born, the son of no man.

But what if both were the sons of no man – the sons, rather, of the Sky Lords, aliens seeking to return to Earth? This is the essential idea of Merlin’s Mirror, a science fantasy novel by Andre Norton. The book takes classic tenets of fantasy and works them into a sci-fi universe, and thus the legend of Arthur is reborn into science fiction. There is no “magic”, properly speaking, in Merlin’s Mirror, just misunderstood technology.

Published forty years ago, Merlin’s Mirror is old school: an omniscient viewpoint combined with a brevity that is now almost extinct. This slim volume covers in 205 pages what modern novelists would need a trilogy to tell, and possibly a longer series. It was oddly refreshing to read the story of Merlin’s entire life in one book – just to see it told in its essentials, without chasing the enticing side trails all modern novels have to run down. But the downside of this style of novel-writing is also evident. The novel took Merlin’s ruling motivation (to carry out the mission given him by the Sky Lords) too much for granted; it puzzled me initially.

The brevity hurt Merlin’s characterization in other ways. As a character, he is stained by his manipulative role in Arthur’s conception, showing no reluctance beforehand and little reflection afterwards; the story sweeps on, and Merlin is worse for it. Nor does the novel make it clear, until the very end, that Merlin really cares about anything besides his mission. So although he is in some ways admirable, and in other ways pitiable, he is not really likable.

Norton retains much – not all – of the original unpleasantness of Arthur’s conception and of Mordred’s. This, together was Nimue’s (failed) temptation of Merlin, adds a few raw moments to the book. I did not enjoy it, though I realize that as modern standards go – in some respects, even as the original legends go – the book is mild.

Merlin’s Mirror presents the clearest religious view of any novel I have read by Andre Norton. Yet it is still murky. Aside from presenting a more elegant version of the Christ-as-moral-teacher viewpoint – making Him great, yet only one of many who had seen “the Great Light” – the narrative makes little clear. “The Power” – a phrase of which Merlin proved fond – sometimes refers to knowledge or alien technology, and sometimes seems to be religious, and so confuses the story.

The ending was clever in its own way, and almost hopeful; it had a sense of anticipation, at least. But more than anything else, it was sad. The last pages of the book cast doubt on Merlin’s mission, a doubt compounded by the ambiguity of “the Power” and the immoral means once used by Merlin. This is the worst thing: that Merlin, for all his power and dedication, may have been only a tool or victim. He also may not have been, but a confusion sets in near the end of the book, and it’s hard to tell precisely how meant certain things are meant to be understood.

With an innovative premise, and even some emotional power (“lonely Merlin” – sniff!), Merlin’s Mirror intrigues but it does not satisfy.

Prism Tours: This is not a Werewolf Story


On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Book Blitz for
This is Not a Werewolf Story
By Sandra Evans

This Middle Grade Fantasy is perfect for Halloween! Full of fun and mystery, and set at a boarding school where everything isn’t quite as it seems. Read the excerpt and enter the giveaway below…

This Is Not a Werewolf StoryThis is Not a Werewolf Story
by Sandra Evans
Middle Grade Fantasy
Hardcover & ebook, 352 pages
July 26th 2016 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

This is the story of Raul, a boy of few words, fewer friends, and almost no family. He is a loner—but he isn’t lonely. All week long he looks after the younger boys at One Of Our Kind Boarding School while dodging the barbs of terrible Tuffman, the jerk of a gym teacher.

Like every other kid in the world, he longs for Fridays, but not for the usual reasons. As soon as the other students go home for the weekend, Raul makes his way to a lighthouse deep in the heart of the woods. There he waits for sunset—and the mysterious, marvelous phenomenon that allows him to go home, too. But the woods have secrets . . . and so does Raul. When a new kid arrives at school, they may not stay secret for long.

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Excerpt

Chapter 1

This is the chapter where the new kid runs so fast, Raul decides to talk

New kid. New kid. The words fly around the showers and sinks. I can almost see them, flying up like chickadees startled from the holly tree in the woods.

All the boys are in the big bathroom on the second floor, washing up before breakfast. The littlest kids stand on tiptoe to peek out the windows that look onto the circle driveway.

I pick Sparrow up and hold him so he can see. He’s the littlest of the littles but the kid is dense–like a ton of bricks.

I can’t believe my eyes. No kid has ever come to the school on the back of a Harley. Not in all the years I’ve been here, and I’ve been here longer than anyone. The driver spins the back wheel and a bunch of gravel flies up.

The new kid is holding onto the waist of the driver. He must have a pretty good grip because the driver looks over his shoulder and tries to peel the kid’s fingers away one by one. Then the driver takes off his helmet. We all gasp, because it turns out the driver is a lady with long straight black hair.

Next to me Mean Jack whistles. “What a doll!”

Mean Jack thinks he’s a mobster. A made man, that’s what he calls himself. I call him a numbskull, but not out loud.

About the Author

Sandra Evans is a writer and teacher from the Pacific Northwest. Her forthcoming middle grade novel, This is Not a Werewolf Story (Simon & Schuster July 2016), was inspired by her favorite 12th century French tale, Bisclavret, by Marie de France. Born in Washington state, Sandra spent her childhood on U.S. Navy bases from Florida to Hawaii, and returned to the Northwest as a teenager. Since then, she has lived and traveled in France and Europe, but has never strayed far for long from the Puget Sound region.

WebsiteGoodreadsFacebookTwitter

Blitz Giveaway

2 winners will receive a print copy of THIS IS NOT A WEREWOLF STORY plus Swag
Open to UK and US entrants
Ends October 31st

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grab Our Button!

Review: Heart of the Winterland

Princess Calisandra is two hundred years old, and you would never know it, because she still possesses the body, mind, experiences, and maturity of a very young woman. That is what happens when you pass your whole life in a kingdom locked by magic into winter, timelessness, and an inescapable sameness. But finally something is giving, either in Cali or in the magic, because after two hundred years of accepting every day just like the last, she is growing restless. She is about to rebel.

She is about to leave.

She is about to find out what, or who, may exist outside her empty little kingdom, locked in winter and in time.

Heart of the Winterland, written by Kirsten Kooristra, is a fantasy novel appropriate for all audiences. It is rich in world-building and in characters, bringing together warriors, princesses, and sorceresses across a diverse range of milieus, from snowy Trabor to the sea. The magical kingdom of Sjadia, the spell cast by the queen, and indeed the novel’s premise, all stand as imaginative and intriguing concepts.

Unfortunately, there is a meandering quality to the plot. The heroine possesses no real goal, aside from ‘leave and see what’s there’, no nemesis, and little initiative. What she does is usually in response to what happens to her, and what happens to her is due almost entirely to other people or to coincidences. I waited for the central conflict or need to emerge, but it never did.

Heart of the Winterland is a gentle fantasy that is abundant with sympathetic characters, imaginative world-building, and intriguing fantastical concepts. At the same time, it lacks a strong driving force. Choose according to your preferences.

 

View Heart of Winterland on –

Goodreads

Amazon