Friday, April 27, 2012

The Modern Milton--A Book Review of SPIRIT FIGHTER

It seems like a good idea on the outside, in the same way it did to John Milton about 500 years ago: Epics are cool--especially Greek epics--so why not write something just as dramatic as The Iliad or The Odyssey, only make it better because it's about "real" magic--God.

Milton did an okay job of it, too. Though his Paradise Lost isn't nearly as good as Homer's two epics, it's still pretty dramatic and well done... and even if his Paradise Regained was pretty awful, he managed to make one good epic out of his idea...

Jerel Law has set out to do something similar. No doubt spurred on to write the "Son of Angels" series because of the popularity of magic series like J. K. Rowlings' Harry Potter and Rick Riordan's Olympians, Law has begun a series of magical beings, only instead of good and bad witches or the traditional Greek gods and demigods, he's created an epic battle between good and evil by using God's angels and Satan's minions, centering the action around two siblings who are both descendants of fallen angels. SPIRIT FIGHTER is the first of this series, and I had the opportunity to review a copy direct from Thomas Nelson publishers.

The action is certainly dramatic, and the tone of the book resembles Riordan's series quite closely. Honestly, though, that may be the book's biggest flaw. Just as Riordan can construct a world with a ton of action, lots of suspense, and practically no characterization, Law's characters manage to perform some pretty amazing things--yet at the end I know no more about them than I did in the beginning. The only characteristic separating Jonah and Eliza throughout is their ability, since he has superhuman strength and she's able to create a protective shield. Except for the reminders that she's the studious one of them, I found nothing to really tell them apart.

A further problem developed because of the use of Christianity. In Riordan's series, the gods are all silly and selfish and capricious, just as they are in the traditional myths. In Law's series, though, the poor mortal kids are often running around without direction--yet they are constantly being reminded that God knows all, that he's in control of everything--but that is troubling, for if He does, He isn't letting anybody know, and such a situation makes him seem almost as capricious as the pagan gods of Riordan's series. If this is meant as a justification and reinforcement of Christian thought, I'm not sure it's doing enough to deal with these problems, and my queasiness with these ideas increased as the stakes rose in the book itself.

Still, it's a fun read. And if you like Riordan, you'll probably like this series, too.

Forbidden Sea

If you are more into mermaids, though, you might consider FORBIDDEN SEA. I'm reading all the mermaid stuff I can get my hands on, and this is by far one of the best books I've read lately. GREAT characters, dramatic action, and more--emotional stakes that are rare in a lot of the books I've read lately. I became very attached to the main character very quickly, and her relationships with others on the tiny island were compelling all the way through. Only the undersea world was a bit of a disappointment, for it was made into some sort of utopia, yet its realities seemed less than desirable to me. Besides, I don't believe in utopias. I won't tell the ending, but I admit it made me happy, open-ended as it was. I can't wait to find more by Sheila A. Nielson. Her writing is refreshingly meaningful.

So, read any good books lately? Once I'm done with the annotated Grimm's Fairy Tales I'm reading, I'll be ready to tackle something new.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Feel It

The flow
Ripples through the air
Brushing up against your ankles
Licking at the skin of your fingertips

If you feel panic
It's from the world of nonsense
Plastered over the real rhythms of the universe
If tension yanks at your neck tendons
Don't trust the pull
Listen--feel--for the calm
Surrender to the peace
That comes with surrender

Pick through the stresses
And you'll find the path
Aligned with who you truly are

Be you
Walk the path
Feel the flow
And we will meet
One day.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I never called you enough
For me
Never found enough time
For all the words I needed to give you
Or glean from you
Little treasures
To tuck into my pockets
And cherish later, when I was alone.

You gave me the glimpse of angels
Of God himself
Yet I have not filled myself enough with you
To cast away all doubt
To believe
To know
With all my heart
What you know all too well.

Yet we are out of time
I am out of chances
To share my little self with you.
And though I do not doubt
The place your sweetness leads you to
The joy I feel for your sake
Is not enough to heal my heart
Torn open by the loss of you.

Time falls too fast
And you must leave the world behind
The same beautiful way you lived your life
And I must wait
Until I venture to the timeless lands myself
And you smile, and wave,
And sit down next to me.

Only then will I have enough
Of you.

God bless you on your journey, dearest Joyce.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Book Review: CRATER

I've been reading a LOT lately, but I'm going to try to limit how much I blog on these books. I do have a few "have-to" reviews, though, and they will pop in from time to time.

My latest read, Crater, by Homer Hickman, is a sci-fi YA book set on the moon, a free book sent by Thomas Nelson publishers. Although science fiction isn't my typical choice for literature, I found the author's knowledge of the moon--its terrain, the way people move on it, the variety of geological and biological differences--to work really well for me. Unlike many sci-fi novels, he doesn't take a ton of poetic license with scientific knowledge. Instead, he constructs a world that doesn't sound far-fetched at all. His enthusiasm for this particular heavenly body really shows. 

But I like the characters, too, especially Crater's little biological sort of slime-mold robot, a gillie. That a tiny character with no eyes or other distinguishing characteristics could grow into as cute a creature as a little kitten in my imagination was no small feat, and it stems from the clear, sympathetic writing that manages to capture a great deal of the humanity in each character, even while a dramatic plot is going on. The only real criticism I have is that the book leaves a lot of loose ends, but since it is an intended first book in the Helium-3 trilogy, that is to be expected. 

Only the object in the book--and I won't say what it is so that I don't spoil it for anyone--does not work at all for me. I neither understand its magic nor its hold on so many groups of people, and its significance does not satisfy me at the end or justify much of the violent encounters that it seems to cause. Perhaps that problem, though, will also resolve itself in a future volume. I'll find out, I'm sure, for I will definitely read the sequel.

So, what about the rest of you? Give me your best space books, the ones that really show a planet and its inhabitants, that really have something cool to say.