As many of you know, I am part of Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging For Books program. The program has contests in which bloggers post reviews on the site and have friends and readers rate them 1-5 stars. Recently, however, the program has encountered bloggers who are running the system by voting on multiple computers, and has reset all ratings for all reviews. Therefore, I am going to post the rating devices once again, so that I can get ratings back. If you could help with this by rating the reviews, it would be very, very helpful. Just as a warning though, there will be methods to ensure that people do not rate multiple times. So, here are the reviews.
The Charlatan's Boy
I am getting a great hankering for the southern style of writing. Roger's character development is reminiscent of the style of Flannery O'Connor. The southern grammar and vocabulary were very entertaining!
I found it interesting that Grady had very wise insights, such as when he reflected that townspeople can learn more about themselves from their neighbors than from a "phrenologist," someone who can determine character traits from indentations in a skull. He only thinks of the feechie act as "an honest trade" while he thinks he really is a feechie. For a show assistant, he is quite honest.
Rogers' characters are great fun! Ranging from the trickster Floyd, to the compassionate Short Fronie, to the whooping drovers, I had a glimpse of a different world.
I recommend this to anyone who likes adventure and a show, because this book is full of it!
Dragons of the Valley
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a lot, and my expectation was right, in a way. The plot wanders, and it’s hard to tell where it will go next, even though you think you know where it will end up. A lot of time often passed between chapters, without being hinted at, and that was confusing. The only character not revealed much was Tipper, even though she was the main character in the previous book. Beolomondore is the main character in this one.
The other characters, however, were where I was wrong. I really, really enjoyed them! They are what drove this story. Wizard Fenworth’s absent-minded way of things kept me laughing, Hollee’s cheerful inquiries brightened my mood, Lady Peg’s meandering, critical speech bewildered and fascinated me, and Rayn’s antics had me wishing I had a minor dragon of my own! If you don’t mind a vague plot, and prefer good and interactive characters, this is the book for you!
Writing a review of this book is hard. There are few books you can easily compare it to, one being the Bible. It is its own tapestry. Overstreet weaves in colors hinting at joy, intrigue, betrayal, and desire. The color metaphors never got old, which shows his mastery of allegory. Many finer points of this allegory are hidden deep and are hard to discern. The Keeper is an interesting creature to note. I have been told it is not in fact a representation of the Creator, though it would seem that way.
Auralia’s character, along with those of the others, was carefully and wonderfully crafted throughout this Red Strand.
The ending left me breathless and sad, but I look forward to the next Strand! I believe this will become a classic in the allegory genre, alongside C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia!
Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor
This is the first book by Chuck Black I have read. Considering that, I found the introduction of the "Life Spice" a little corny. ("...the King used the power of of the Life Spice to raise His Son from the dead.") To a non-believer, this may merely seem like a child's immediate solution to an invincible monster's killing of his favorite hero toy. But, if the Life Spice is explained sufficiently in previous books, the reader should not encounter this feeling.
Coming back to my first encounter with Mr. Black's books, I liked it very much! I didn't need to foreknow anything to understand it; I felt as if I were reading the first volume. A medieval society is oft-used in fantasy fiction, but often works well for Christian allegory. Such is the case in this fifth volume. I also found it easy to lose myself in it; I read it in one day! The idea of an elite fighting force such as the Silent Warriors always excites and entices me. However, near the end of the book, about 9 months of training pased without enough detail. It seemed as if the story was under a deadline, and could have been developed more at that point. I was disappointed that Mr. Black hardly described the training procedures, as they are my favorite parts of medieval tales.
The kingdoms of light and darkness, the paythas that brought on apathy, and fighting for the King and His Prince were all great themes! The characters were quite realistic, but after Quinlan's 9 months of training, he was greatly matured, but it felt too sudden for me.
The conclusion to this story was very powerful! It portrays the 2nd coming of Christ, and leaves both Christians and unbelievers with a question: "Have you given your life to the King?" This question and the knightly lessons learned in Arrethtrae appy to the reverse of that land's name, our temporary home.