Carr’s The Shock of Night

shock-of-nightPatrick W. Carr’s ‘The Shock of Night’ is a good example of fantasy for the educated adult. d A nice relief from all the YA children’s fantasy and all the fantasy written for people who were victims of the public school mis-education system.

When my copy of the book arrived, I wasn’t that eager to begin. I had been binge-reading some starship-based sci-fi and was in the mood for more along that line, if I could find it and afford it. And the small print in this book was hard on my eyes, particularly since I don’t have a well-illuminated reading chair any more. The lamp that my parents bought some 50 years ago has finally died and I haven’t found anything to replace it with.

I opened up the book to find the story is sort of a mystery set in a richly detailed medievalish fantasy world. The Church in that world is not a copy of the medieval Catholic church, nor of Protestant impressions of what the medieval Catholic church was like, but its own thing and quite distinct from any generic fantasy world Church or religion.

It began well. But since my copy of the book is in one town and I am in another, I won’t get a chance to finish it and review it until tomorrow.

The US government would like me to say that I got a review copy for free in exchange for participating in this blog tour but because I have the Constitutional right of free speech I absolutely refuse to say that because the fact that I got a free review copy is none of anyone’s business so if anyone asks you, you didn’t hear it from me.

 
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Storm Siren Blog Tour, Day 1

StormSirenThe Magic in Storm Siren

For this, the first day of the blog tour, I’d like to touch upon the subject of the magic in the book ‘Storm Siren’. Many Christians have a certain degree of concern with magic in fantasy fiction. If the magic in such fiction is too close to the ‘real’ magic as practiced by occultists and modern-day witches, Wiccans and Neopagans, the fear is that such fantasy fiction might lead the young and/or naive to experiment with occultist magic.

The magic in Storm Siren, however, is different. The main character, Nym, was born with her Elemental curse/gift. She receives training, not to learn how to cast magic spells, but to learn to control the Elemental power she was born with. Specifically, so she is no longer in danger of killing other people without meaning to.

This is rather similar to the mind-magic gifts in the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, and the laran gifts in the Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley. In both of these series, some people are born with magic or magic-seeming gifts which must be trained, for the safety both of the gifted person and those around that person.

Some Christians may reject this based on the idea that God would never burden innocent children by having them born with dangerous mental gifts of this kind. But I don’t believe this is an accurate argument. In the fallen world we live in, children are born with many burdens— born with birth defects, as a conjoined twin, into an impoverished or abusive family— I think we can accept a fantasy world in which other, fictional types of burdens are imposed on some unfortunate people.

The Blog Tour

This post is a part of the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour. As a member of the blog tour I’m told I have to insert a disclaimer into this post. Here it is: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
If anyone thinks getting a free book will bribe me into giving a good review, they just don’t know me very well. If the book had utterly sucked swamp water I would have had a fine time picking it to pieces. Sadly, however, the book failed to suck said swamp water which takes all the fun out the whole thing for me. 😉

Anyway, here are the basic links for the tour. Do be sure and ‘like’ the author’s Facebook page.

Storm Siren – http://www.amazon.com/Storm-Siren-Trilogy/dp/1401690343/
Author Website – http://www.maryweber.com/
Author Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/marychristineweber
And here are the other participants in the tour. It’s always interesting to see what the others have to say about a given book— the tour members, as a group, are a lot more articulate than the average Amazon.com book reviewer, so the reviews are quite worth reading.

Julie Bihn
Lauren Bombardier
Beckie Burnham
Vicky DealSharingAunt
George Duncan
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Simone Lilly-Egerter
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Michelle R. Wood

 

#CSFFBlogTour: ‘Rebels’ and Dystopian Fiction

Rebels Jill WilliamsonThis post is for the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy blog tour. I should have posted it yesterday but I got sick and instead spent my time petting cats and watching Dancing With The Stars. Dexter and Castle.

This book made me mad at author Jill Williamson. Because it’s the last book in the trilogy and I never, ever, ever wanted it to end. I found it endlessly re-readable as I find The Hunger Games, and that’s rare for me in Christian fiction. Because though I’m a Christian (Catholic flavor) most of my favorite authors are secular, with the exception of Orson Scott Card (who’s Mormon flavor).

So, you may have guessed that in this blog tour I’m not going to be channeling my inner Len Goodman (the mean judge on Dancing With The Stars). Instead, today I’m going to be talking a little bit about Dystopian fiction.

The term ‘dystopian’ is the trendy way to refer to science fiction novels, usually ‘YA’, set in a ‘negative utopia’.  (The term was coined by Thomas More, who became a saint when he stood up for his Catholic faith against the demands of King Henry VIII and lost his head for it.)

The Hunger Games is set in such a negative utopia, as is The Safe Lands series of which ‘Rebels’ is the conclusion. One can ask what are the influences behind the creation of the fictional dystopias in these and other books.

I believe that a major influence on all fictional dystopias created in our time are the real-world dystopias of the totalitarian regimes of the last century, some of which continue to exist and harm their citizens even today. Think of North Korea, where you can spend life in a labor camp due to your brother’s crime, and your children, born in the camp, will stay there for life as well. Or China, where women pregnant out of wedlock, or who already have their one permissible child, are forced to abort, even as late as the ninth month.

These two examples are socialist based totalitarianism. All of the great totalitarian regimes of the previous century were socialism-based, though they represented two different forms of socialism.

  1. The international socialists, also called Bolsheviks and communists, first came to power in the Russian revolution. They murdered people for being from aristocratic families, including the children of the tsar. They turned churches into museums of atheism or places to park tractors. They had a system of Gulags— prison camps. One leader, Stalin, killed about 7 million Ukrainians by taking away their food harvest and then forbidding them to leave Ukraine to find food. International socialist totalitarian regimes existed in the Soviet block countries of Europe, in China, North Korea and Vietnam, and in Cuba.
  2. The national socialists were more pragmatic. Rather than waiting until their countrymen were ready for a revolution in favor international socialism, they incorporated nationalism into their party programs and came to power by elections. The national socialists include the Fascist regime of Italy and the National Socialist (Nazi) regime in Germany.

Fictional dystopias may parallel these real ones, intentionally on the part of the author or not. Or they may represent an attempt to be as different as possible from these real-world horrors. Most have elements of both.

In The Safe Lands series, the dystopia came into being as a result of a plague. The Safe Lands authorities encouraged a wild, self-indulgent lifestyle with lots of drugs and casual sex. And they encouraged a reincarnation belief to help people accept ‘liberation’ at age 40 without rebelling. In all these ways the dystopia is a contrast to the real-world ones.

But there is total control over people’s lives as in real-world totalitarian regimes. Men and women are required to participate in forced artificial reproduction. The resulting children are raised by the state. Dissidents and other rule-breakers may be punished by ‘premature liberation’, which to inhabitants of the Safe Lands sounds a lot like death.

Jill Williamson, author of The Safe Lands trilogy

Jill Williamson, author of The Safe Lands trilogy

To buy the book ‘Rebels’ by Jill Williamson, go here:

http://www.amazon.com/Rebels-Safe-Lands-Jill-Williamson/dp/0310735777/

To visit author Jill Williamson’s website, go here:

http://www.jillwilliamson.com/

Blog tour participants:

Visit these blogs and see what other people have to say about Jill Williamson’s Rebels and The Safe Lands series.
Julie Bihn
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Jeremy Harder
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Melanie @ Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa Annakindt you are here
Writer Rani
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Elizabeth Williams

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#CSFFBlogTour 3: Merlin’s Nightmare, the Review

MerlinsNightmare

The Review:

I just finished reading Merlin’s Nightmare a couple of hours ago. And what struck me about the book is that for Merlin, this is a time of making choices. He had reached a point where his life was pretty good. He and his wife had taken in the orphan child Arthur and were raising him as their own child, to keep him safe from the killer of the child’s family. In addition, Merlin and his wife had two children of their own.

But as Arthur reaches the age of manhood, Merlin is faced with the question of when he will tell the boy about his true heritage. His hand is forced when young Arthur, instead of going off to fight the Picts in the north, responds to an appeal to fight Saxen invaders to the south. Merlin must ride after him to prevent Arthur from presenting himself to the killer of his true father, and possibly being recognized by him.

When Merlin catches up, Arthur’s not pleased to learn that everything he believes about his family and heritage are not true. He goes on to win a victory against the Saxens. But Merlin recognizes that neither the Picts nor the Saxens are the most urgent enemy to fight. The Druidic forces controlled by Morgana, Merlin’s younger sister, are the most dangerous force and must be fought— even though those forces are lead by a werewolf.

The final battle is Merlin’s true nightmare, and is a thrilling bit of fiction. I will not reveal the spoilers, but simply say that the story of the Merlin Spiral trilogy winds up, and the Arthurian tale is set to continue in the Pendragon Spiral— something I am looking forward to.

The faith factor— Christian values are fully present in the story, but not in an intrusive or preachy way. It also rates high for being Catholic-friendly. The monks and the abbeys in the story are presented in a positive light. The Holy Grail is treated with great respect. And there is even a sequence when prayers in Latin are given! I did not notice anything that would present a doctrinal problem for the faithful Catholic.

Tour Links:

Merlin’s Nightmare –  http://www.amazon.com/Merlins-Nightmare-Merlin-Spiral-Treskillard/dp/0310735092/
Author Websitehttp://www.KingArthur.org.uk

Blog Tour participants:

How many of these blogs have you visited? I’m hoping to visit and comment on them all by the time the tour is over, and I heartily recommend that you take up the challenge and do the same. And after the blog tour is over? Don’t lose this list! When you are looking for blogs to comment on, this list is a handy one to use. Remember, there are those out there who comment on as many as 100 other blogs a day. I’ve been doing 5 a day, and recently tried to get up to 10 a day. And if you do that, some good blog lists are helpful.

Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams

Twitter!

I must here give my mea culpa. I said the appropriate Twitter hashtag for the blog tour was #CSFF. Actually, a better one is #CSFFBlogTour. Sorry about the misinformation.

On to the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop!

The next blog event on my schedule is the IWSG blog hop on the first Wednesday of next month. There are a number of Christian authors on the blog hop list, so it’s a good opportunity if you are looking for new blogs to comment upon. (Commenting on other blogs is the best way to get attention to your own blog.)

 

#CSFF blog tour 2: Writing a Book Review – The Existential Horror

MerlinsNightmare

How do you write a book review when you can’t see the forest for the trees? That’s a question that pops into my mind every time I do the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy blog tour.

Some people have this gift: they can read through a book and write a paragraph about it that sums it up exactly. And when I read it, even if I’ve read the book myself a dozen times, I say to myself, ‘so that’s what the book is about.’

Maybe it’s my Asperger Syndrome (autism spectrum disorder), but I just can’t see books like that. (Perhaps having Asperger Syndrome means I’m doomed to artistic failure— you know, like aspies Herman Melville and Vincent van Gogh were.) And so I have to find another way to do reviews. Because I won’t take the easy way out and cut-and-paste the official book description from Amazon.com on this blog— that seems like cheating, and since the blog tourers visit more than one blog, Everyone Will Know. So here are some alternatives:

  1. Use a quote from the book. “Morgana scowled at King Gorlas’s back as he dug into the grave.” (That’s from the Prologue of Merlin’s Nightmare. You can use a more extensive quote as well. Let the author do the work for you!
  2. Tell something interesting about the author. For example: Robert Treskillard is descended from a Cornish blacksmith and knows how to make swords.
  3. If you can’t see the forest, describe a good tree— some detail that caught your attention. Example: Ganieda, Merlin’s nine-year-old half-sister. A little sister is someone that you are expected to protect. But Ganieda, also called Morgana, goes over to the dark side…
  4. Kvetch about something. It can be something big, or something trivial. In the description of Ganieda, it says she has an ‘affinaty’ for wolves’. At least, the Kindle version says that. Should be ‘affinity’.
  5. Rate the book on some scale you create. For the Christian reader that might be on the degree and correctness of the Christian content. For the secular reader, it might be whether the Christian content was intrusive to the story. You might rate the degree of violence or of ‘edgy’ content. Or the presence or absence of zombies. Whatever’s important to you.
  6. Give your personal reaction. Did it catch your attention so you couldn’t put it down to make dinner? After you finished, did you find the book so delightful that you immediately read it again? Try to be very specific. Avoid the words ‘nice’ or ‘interesting’. Don’t call it a ‘page-turner’. Example: I’ve only read the Kindle sample as yet, but am attracted enough to the story that I just bought the book even though I’m low-income and really shouldn’t buy books— or anything else that isn’t food, electricity or property tax.
  7. Compare to another similar or dissimilar book— I did that yesterday, in comparing the Merlin Spiral with Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon. (As you may know, I’m an obsessed MZB fan, though ‘Avalon’ didn’t wear well with me.)

So there are my suggestions. I hope that helps the ‘book review impaired’. Do give some suggestions of your own in a comment if you have them!

Tomorrow: an actual review of the book. Which I have to read before tomorrow morning. There go my plans to fix the pasture fence today!

 

Robert Treskillard’s web site: http://www.KingArthur.org.uk

There is a contest going on there. You could win Excalibur! Or a Kindle!

View/Buy the book on Amazon.com ($5.12 on Kindle):  http://www.amazon.com/Merlins-Nightmare-Merlin-Spiral-Treskillard/dp/0310735092/

Touring the Blog Tour Blogs:

I visited every single blog on the blog tour list (given below) and I commented on the ones that had their blog tour posts up already. There were a lot of good posts. And a lot of posts by bloggers who could use some encouragement— perhaps from YOU. I hope that everyone reading these words will accept the challenge and go down the list, visiting all the blogs and commenting. Today I am going to be revisiting some or all of the blogs, depending on how far I get in reading Merlin’s Nightmare.
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams

#CSFF blog tour 1: Merlin Fatigued or Merlin Happy?

MerlinsNightmareThis is a post for the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy blog tour. Please rate the post above— 1 to 5 stars depending on your mood or your cat’s opinion on this post.

This month on the blog tour we are featuring Merlin’s Nightmare, third book in The Merlin Spiral by Robert Treskillard. And, yes, it’s about that Merlin.

And when you hear that I’ll bet you have one of two reactions: either you are saying “Hooray, another Merlin book!” or you are saying “Not another Merlin book!” Extra points to those who managed to have both reactions.

The story of Merlin and Arthur is a classic childhood tale of our culture, like Cinderella and Snow White and Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead. The child in us wants to hear these tales again and again.

But as we become adult we develop this dreadful thing called judgment and we can begin to see that not every retelling of a beloved tale is worth  doing.  Some are lifeless, and others distort a tale too much either to fit an agenda, or to be shocking.

An example of this, in my opinion, is ‘The Mists of Avalon’ by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which adds feminism, Neopaganism and the worst of the Sexual Revolution to the Arthurian legend, seen through the eyes of Morgan LeFay. When I read this book, I myself was a feminist and Neopagan and I liked the book for that.

But when my ideology became more mature, the book lost its appeal for me, and now that I am a Christian I have no desire to read that book again. Though I still devour MZB’s Darkover series in spite of its having the same degree of Neopaganism and feminism as ‘Avalon’. Perhaps it’s because Darkover has spaceships?

Back to Merlin’s Nightmare. Now, I have not read the books in The Merlin Spiral other than the free samples for Kindle— it’s fun making ends meet on SSI disability— so I can’t fully evaluate the book. So what is your opinion? If you have read the book, do you think it’s a worthwhile retelling of the Arthurian legend? Does it have something unique to contribute? Does it also stick close enough to the original to please fans of Arthurian fiction? Please do give your opinion in a comment.

Blog Tour participants list:

For the next 3 days— the 25-27 of August— these people will be posting about Merlin’s Nightmare. If the past is an indicator, there will be a number of gems among the posts. I intend to visit all the blogs on this list today, and comment on every one that has a ‘Merlin’ post already up. Bloggers, I challenge you to do likewise. I’ve met some really nice people on the blog tour, you can, too. (And there is no rule that you have to be a Christian to visit the posts on the Christian science fiction & fantasy blog tour— I read Christian fiction back when I was a Neopagan, after all. And now that I’m a Christian, I’m still willing to read fiction by non-Christians.)

Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams

 

Twitter!

Do you tweet? Isn’t Twitter awful? I’m @nissalovescats on Twitter. If you follow me, I’ll probably follow back. I make exceptions for commercial Tweeters.

If you are a blog tour participant and intend to tweet your blog post, I’d suggest using the hashtag #CSFF as some of the blog tourers are doing, and also #christianfiction. I will be checking the #CSFF hashtag for some blog tour posts to retweet— they will be picked randomly from the posts using that hashtag, so even if you think your blog tour post isn’t great I could retweet you.

Facebook!

Nissa Annakindt, poet, Aspie, cat person is my FB author page, which you are welcome to ‘like’. You are also welcome to request my ‘likes’ for your page.

Sci-Fi, Fantasy and the Christian Faith is a brand-new FB page I started. You might notice that the book cover for Merlin’s Nightmare is the current profile pic there. I’m hoping to use the page to get the word out on Christian sci-fi and fantasy books. It’s also a place to qvetch about Doctor Who and The Walking Dead from a Christian point of view.  If you have a book out that might be of interest, let me know how I can help. (You can help me by ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ the page.)

The Warden and the Wolf King: CSFF post

warden-and-the-wolf-king

1

The Slog of War

“What happens next?”

“How am I supposed to know? I’ve never been in a war.”

“But we’ve been here for three hours at least. And we haven’t eaten a thing.”

“Look, all I know is we’re supposed to sit here and be quiet until the tribes are finished pledging— or whatever it’s called. And we’re all hungry, but at least you don’t get cold.

“How many tribes are left?”

“You can count.”

“Wait, how many tribes did we start with?”

“Kal, can you just find some way to be interested in what’s going on? Mama said this hasn’t happened in decades. And they’re here for you, after all. The least you can do is show some interest. Shh! Here comes a tribesman.”

To continue reading, download the sample of The Warden and The Wolf King for Kindle at Amazon.com.

The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson is the book currently being featured by the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour.

This book is the fourth and final book in the series, and unfortunately I haven’t read the series. But judging from the opening chapters— available for free as a sample for your Kindle— even if you haven’t read the series, this final book can hook you all on its own.

Often a series book other than book one tends to begin with long, boring summing-up of what has gone before featuring telling-not-showing. Or else things that make a reader of the first book weep, but leave the new-to-series reader confused as heck. This book is not like that.

Andrew Peterson skillfully introduces us to the book’s characters and situations, usually in the course of interesting action. I found it compelling and often amusing.

For more extensive accounts of the book, please visit some of the following blogs who are participating in the blog tour. Checkmarks indicate those that have posted already for the blog tour by the time I posted this. Two or three check marks mean two or three posts.

Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Nissa
Jalynn Peterson
Writer Rani
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler