Tag Archives: YA Fantasy

Book Review: Merlin’s Shadow

18 Dec

735083Betrayal. 

After destroying the sinister Druid Stone and freeing his people from its dark control, Merlin finds himself to be a royal advisor without a king. Along with his friend Garth and Natalenya, his betrothed, Merlin treks north with the orphaned Arthur in hopes of keeping the young ruler safe from soldiers misled by their turncoat captain. Relentlessly pursued by his nemesis Vortigern, Merlin and his band make for the fortress of Dintaga.

But dangers multiply when Merlin realizes that Vortigern is not his only enemy. Even his own sister appears bent on Merlin’s destruction. As the threat on all their lives increases, Merlin discovers their only hope is sailing to the lands of eternal darkness and once again cleansing the world from an ancient and powerful evil.

1u5alhtqntqi0oujr6ggRobert Treskillard (from his website) is a Celtic enthusiast who holds a B.A. in Biblical & Theological Studies from Bethel University, Minnesota.  He has been crafting stories from his early youth, is a software developer, graphic artist, and sometime bladesmith.  He and his wife have three children and are still homeschooling their youngest. They live in the country outside St. Louis, Missouri.

My Impressions:

Merlin’s Shadow is the second book in The Merlin Spiral series by Robert Treskillard. Using a framework of Arthurian legend and Druid mythology, the book presents a tale of Merlin’s early protection of the young King Arthur. Orphaned through the betrayal of his uncle, Arthur is rescued by Merlin and a diverse group (bards, Christians, druids, and warriors) all with Arthur’s survival as their focus. Forced from their home to a strange and dark land, the band meets with treachery and danger at every turn.

Merlin’s Shadow is a very dark book, not only in its setting, but in the evil that surrounds those seeking to kill Arthur. Faith in Christ is sorely tested and attacked. And while the character of Merlin is central to the story, it is his sister, Ganeida (Morgana) that I was drawn to. A young girl at the beginning of the story, she is lured into evil by her grandfather and a mysterious Voice that provides her with visions and power. I found her story very compelling, even as she sinks deeper and deeper under the thrall of evil.

If you like Arthurian legends and are looking for something that presents a new twist, then I recommend you try Merlin’s Shadow. But be sure to read book 1, Merlin’s Blade first.

(Thanks to the CSFF Blog Tour for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

For what others on the tour are saying, click on the links below.

Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Jeff Chapman
Pauline Creeden
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jacque Stengl
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson

Book Review: Martyr’s Fire

21 Oct

407562_w185Will this dangerous quest lead the outcast Orphan King toward an ancient secret—or to certain destruction?

Posing as a beggar, Thomas escapes Magnus after fifteen men, who are calling themselves the Priests of the Holy Grail, arrive and take control of the castle through wondrous acts and apparent miracles. With the help of his longtime friend Gervaise, Thomas sets out on a journey that leads him to the ancient Holy Land. Unaware that Katherine and Hawkwood are watching over him, Thomas is tested in his beliefs and comes face to face with the ancient power that the Merlins and Druids have long been searching for.
 
Enter the world of Merlin’s Immortals, where ancient secrets and evil conspiracies take you on a breathless adventure of discovery, intrigue, and hidden knowledge. 

unknown1Sigmund Brouwer is the author of eighteen novels with nearly three million copies in print. His recent novel The Last Disciple was featured in Time magazine and on ABC’s Good Morning America. Sigmund is married to Christian recording artist Cindy Morgan, and they and their two daughters divide their time between homes in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and Nashville, Tennessee.

My Impressions:

Martyr’s Fire is book 3 in Sigmund Brouwer’s Merlin’s Immortals series. And while I was less than enthusiastic about books 1 and 2, I liked this book very much. It actually changed my reaction to the first two books. (To read my reviews of The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist, click HERE.)

So who should read this book and why?

Written for the young adult audience, I think middle schoolers are the most likely to connect with Brouwer’s series. I gave the first two books to a friend. She said her boys eagerly devoured them. There is plenty of action, mystery, and tricks. The variety of characters — priests, Druids, knights, sailors, and outlaws — will also appeal to this age group. Martyr’s Fire continues the story of young Thomas, a character with more questions than answers. After his successful reclaiming of Magnus, his hold remains tenuous. Danger and threats make him take precautions that limit his contact with the people. Soon, a group of priests claiming to hold the means to bless the people take over the their hearts and force Thomas to be on the run again.

Trust, or the lack of it, seems to be the major theme in Martyr’s Fire. Thomas grew up abused by the monks who raised him; his nurse the only one who cared for him. Answers to past secrets continue to elude him. Now Thomas has Druids and Immortals vying for his allegiance all the while keeping him from the truth of his roots and destiny. Finding it difficult to distinguish between friend and foe, Thomas takes on a solitary quest to find answers that will help him reclaim Magnus once more. Fast-paced, Martyr’s Fire discloses more of just who the Immortal’s are. Characters evolve as well, allowing the reader to connect more fully with them. The legend of Merlin is expanded and is a big draw for the story.

All in all, a good series for middle schoolers who like medieval settings, epic quests and a young character that is easily identified with.

Recommended.

(I received this book from Waterbrook in conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase Martyr’s Fire, click on the image below.

Be sure to check out what others on the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour have to say. Click on the links below.
Red Bissell
Theresa Dunlap
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson
Rachel Wyant

CSFF Blog Tour Day 3

29 May

Yesterday I reviewed Merlin’s Blade and recommended it as a great family read. Here is the book trailer to whet your appetite. And don’t miss the cover and copy about book 2 in the series, Merlin’s Shadow.

 

735083_w185Author Robert Treskillard continues his Merlin Spiral series with book two, Merlin’s Shadow, another fresh take on the ancient Arthurian myths. After destroying the sinister Druid Stone and freeing his people from its dark control, Merlin finds himself a royal advisor without a king. Along with his friend Garth, and Natalenya, his betrothed, Merlin treks north with the orphaned Arthur in hopes of keeping the young king safe from soldiers misled by their turncoat captain. As the threat on all their lives increases, Merlin discovers their only hope is sailing to the lands of eternal darkness, and once again cleansing the world from an ancient and powerful evil.

To pre-order Merlin’s Shadow, click on the link below.

Check out the other participants in the Blog Tour by clicking on the links below.

Noah Arsenault
Keanan Brand
Jeff Chapman
Laure Covert
Pauline Creeden
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Shane Werlinger
Nicole White
Sarah Faulkner

Book Review: Merlin’s Blade

28 May

73507x_w185A strange meteorite. A deadly enchantment. And only Merlin can destroy it. A meteorite brings a mysterious black stone whose sinister power ensnares everyone except Merlin, the blind son of a swordsmith. Soon, all of Britain will be under its power, and he must destroy the stone—or die trying.

My Impressions:

I am a big fan of novels that use the Arthurian legends as their base. Before I read Merlin’s Blade, I would have said that Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle was my favorite. Now I can add Robert Treskillard’s first novel to the list — and can impatiently await the next book in the series due out in September. Merlin’s Blade, a YA fantasy, can be enjoyed by Middle Schoolers through adults. It is an epic story that has all of the Arthurian elements you expect, but with a fresh and sometimes unique spin that makes this a book that is definitely a keeper.

Merlin is a young man that has been scarred, physically and emotionally, by a wolf attack years before. The wounds have healed, but they have left him virtually blind and viewed by the people of his village as damaged, incompetent or worse, intellectually deficient. There are a few that can truly see his abilities and character — and some of those are his enemies. The novel starts slowly in its development of plot and characters. I enjoyed getting to know the many diverse personalities populating the book — Dybris, an intense monk, Natalenya, the daughter of the magister, Garth, an orphan ruled by his stomach, Owain, Merlin’s blacksmith father, and of course Uther, father of the legendary Arthur. Treskillard unites all of the characters through a mysterious stone the long hidden druids bring to the village. It has a variety of effects on these characters as well as the village as a whole. It seems to know a person’s weakness and woos him with promises and deceptions. The stone is a great device to depict the allure of sin and its hidden ugliness.

Merlin is of course the central character and is a type of Christ. I was often reminded of Isaiah 53 while reading Merlin’s Blade.

He sprouted up like a twig before God,
like a root out of parched soil;
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,
no special appearance that we should want to follow him.
He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. (Isaiah 53:2-3)

At one point in the novel he even takes the punishment for young Garth’s crime.

This is one reason that I think Merlin’s Blade would be an excellent book for a family to read together. There are also some very strong female characters that act within the boundaries set by 5th century customs and culture. And because the story does develop slowly, the discussion it prompts can be in-depth. But don’t think that there isn’t any action in this story. There is plenty, and when Uther comes on the scene it comes fast and furious. Merlin’s Blade is a beautifully written novel, and an excellent first effort for Treskillard.

So are you a fantasy fan, an Arthurian aficionado or do you just like to read a good tale? If so, pick up Robert Treskillard’s debut, Merlin’s Blade.

Highly Recommended.

(Thanks to the publisher for a copy of Merlin’s Blade for review. All opinions are mine alone.)

But don’t take my word for it, check out what others on the CSFF Tour are saying. Click on the links below.

Noah Arsenault
Keanan Brand
Jeff Chapman
Laure Covert
Pauline Creeden
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Shane Werlinger
Nicole White
Sarah Faulkner

Christian Science Fiction And Fantasy Blog Tour: Merlin’s Blade

27 May

The CSFF Blog Tour is featuring an alumni this month — Robert Treskillard and the first book in his Merlin’s Spiral series, Merlin’s Blade. Take a look at the book info today, I will be back tomorrow with a review.

73507x_w185A strange meteorite. A deadly enchantment. And only Merlin can destroy it. A meteorite brings a mysterious black stone whose sinister power ensnares everyone except Merlin, the blind son of a swordsmith. Soon, all of Britain will be under its power, and he must destroy the stone—or die trying.

Excerpt

1u5alhtqntqi0oujr6ggRobert Treskillard (from his website) is a Celtic enthusiast who holds a B.A. in Biblical & Theological Studies from Bethel University, Minnesota.  He has been crafting stories from his early youth, is a software developer, graphic artist, and sometime bladesmith.  He and his wife have three children and are still homeschooling their youngest. They live in the country outside St. Louis, Missouri.

The story behind the story:
It all began when Robert’s son wanted to learn blacksmithing and sword-making.  The two set out to learn the crafts and in the process were told by a relative that they were descended from a Cornish blacksmith.  This lit the fire of Robert’s imagination, and so welding his Celtic research to his love of the legends of King Arthur, a book was forged —-Merlin’s Blade, book one of The Merlin Spiral, coming April 2013 from Zondervan.

To join the battle, visit the author’s website dedicated to the series: KingArthur.org.uk

To purchase a copy of Merlin’s Blade, click on the image below.

Check out the other participants in the blog tour by clicking on the following links.
Noah Arsenault
Keanan Brand
Jeff Chapman
Laure Covert
Pauline Creeden
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Kathleen Smith
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Shane Werlinger
Nicole White
Sarah Faulkner

(Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of Merlin’s Blade.)

Book Review: Broken Wings

24 Apr

686376_w185Giant angels with metal wings and visible song. A blind demon restored from the pit of darkness. And a girl who has never felt more broken.

Brielle sees the world as it really is: a place where the Celestial exists side by side with human reality. But in the aftermath of a supernatural showdown, her life begins to crumble.

Her boyfriend, Jake, is keeping something from her—something important. Her overprotective father has started drinking again. He’s dating a much younger woman who makes Brielle’s skin crawl, and he’s downright hostile toward Jake. Haunting nightmares keep Brielle from sleeping, and flashes of Celestial vision keep her off kilter.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s been targeted. The Prince of Darkness himself has heard of the boy with healing in his hands and of the girl who sees through the Terrestrial Veil.

Brielle has no choice. She knows evil forces are converging and will soon rain their terror down upon the town of Stratus. She must master the weapons she’s been given. She must fight.

But can she fly with broken wings?

For more information about the book, the author, Shannon Dittemore, and how to purchase  a copy, please click my earlier post HERE.

My Impressions:

Broken Wings is the sequel to Angel Eyes (review HERE). It is the middle book in the series, a position that does not always live up to the first book or the enjoyment of a series as a whole. I have been disappointed before by the second book in a trilogy. But not this time. Broken Wings takes place a few months after the dramatic and traumatic events of Angel Eyes. Life has gotten back to normal for Brielle and Jake, at least for their relationship. Brielle’s father becomes increasingly antagonistic to Jake, but that is chalked up to a father’s overprotectiveness. But all is not as it seems in Stratus, Oregon. The terrestrial and the celestial are on a collision course that will bring spiritual warfare into the lives of many of its residents. There are also a few secrets that need to surface before Brielle can begin her life anew — secrets that may destroy her trust for those she counts closest to her.

Written for a Young Adult audience, Broken Wings will also appeal to those of us not so young any more. Its imaginative description of the enemy that is not flesh and blood will leave the reader cold. But . . . the description of those who fight for us — the many ranks and orders of angels — will leave you feeling protected and cherished. I especially loved the scenes where worship by both human and angel alike can be seen by Brielle.

As mentioned, there is another book in the series, so there is a BIG cliffhanger! But book 3, Dark Halo will be released in August 2013, so not much of a wait to see how it all ends. In the meantime, if you like books depicting good vs. evil, demons vs. angels, or Young Adult novels that are intelligent and highly readable, check out books 1 and 2 of Shannon Dittemore’s Angel Eyes Trilogy.

Recommended.

(Thanks to Thomas Nelson for a copy of this book. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To read what other in the CSFF Blog Tour are saying about Broken Wings, click on the links below.

Gillian Adams
Julie Bihn
Jennifer Bogart 
Laure Covert
Pauline Creeden
Janey DeMeo
Theresa Dunlap
Emma or Audrey Engel
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Karielle @ Books à la Mode 
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Megan @ Hardcover Feedback
Rebecca Luella Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Kathleen Smith
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Shane Werlinger

 

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour — Corus The Champion

5 Dec

It has been a very busy last few weeks, so I didn’t get a chance to read D. Barkely Briggs’ novel Corus The Champion.  But I know some folks that did!  Take a few moments to explore the links below to get a feel for this YA novel.

The sequel to the Book of Names follows the Barlow boys as they try to rescue Corus and save an entire generation of youths from being led critically astray. Kr’Nunos is planning to ruin the land of Karac Tor by breaking down its greatest champion, Corus, whom he stole from the Fey. It’s up to all four Barlows-Hadyn, Gabe, Garret, and Ewan. Will they save this world from an even greater threat?

Dean Barkley Briggs is an author, father of eight, and prone to twisting his ankle playing basketball. He grew up reading J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lews, Patricia McKillip, Guy Gavriel Kay, Stephen R. Donaldson, Ursila K. Leguin, Susan Cooper, Madeline L’Engle,Terry Brooks, Andre Norton and Lloyd Alexander (just to name a few)…and generally thinks most fantasy fiction pales in comparison. (Yes, he dabbled in  sci-fi, too. Most notably Bradbury, Burroughs and Heinlein).

After losing his wife of 16 years, Briggs decided to tell a tale his four sons could relate to in their own journey through loss. Thus was born The Legends of Karac Tor, a sweeping adventure of four brothers who become enmeshed in the crisis of another world and aong the way, must find their courage, battle overwhelming odds, face their pain, and never quit searching for home.

In God’s timing, beauty and joy arose in the real world, too. Briggs remarried a lovely redhead named Jeanie, who previously lost her husband in an auto accident. Together with her four children, their hands are quite full, and they spend each day grateful for their eight blessings.

The Book of Names is the first book in The Legends of Karac Tor.
Corus the Champion is the second. Both are in stores now!
The Song of Unmaking 
arrives Fall, 2011.

Briggs previously authored two medical thrillers, God Spot (1999) and The Most Important Little Boy in the World (2001)
Check out the CSSF tour participant’s links:

Gillian Adams
Noah Arsenault
Morgan L. Busse
CSFF Blog Tour
Carol Bruce Collett 
Theresa Dunlap
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Marzabeth
Shannon McDermott
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Sarah Sawyer
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Rachel Wyant