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I'll ask for the prayer first, since it's more important than a contest. Marcy Rockwell (speculative poet and editor over at MINDFLIGHTS.COM) has a new baby-yay!--who has a heart defect--:(--and I'm asking for healing prayers on Max Gerard's behalf. Thanks. Visit Marcy's journal for updates and info and a pic of wee Max G: http://mrockwell.livejournal.com/

Now, the contest:

If you create speculative art (ie, fantasy art or science fiction art) and think you have created or want to create something that fits the guidelines/needs of MINDFLIGHTS MAGAZINE (www.mindflights.com), please consider entering. No entry fee. First prize is $50.00 and there aer also cash prizes for 2nd and 3rd places and Honorable Mentions.

The Rules and deadline can be found here: http://www.mindflights.com/item.php?sub_id=5625


Our October CSFF Blog Tour spotlights Beyond the Reflection’s Edge by a name that's familiar to CSFF bloggers and Christian young adult fantasy enthusiasts--Bryan Davis, he of DRAGONS IN OUR MIDST. The latest novel is the first in the ECHOES FROM THE EDGE series published by Zondervan.

Here's a bit of what it's about:

Sixteen-year-old Nathan Shepherd has a great life traveling where the careers of his father, an investigator, and mother, a renowned violinist, take him … until his parents are found murdered. Left with only a mirror and notes from his father’s last case, Nathan goes into hiding at the remote country home of Tony, his father’s college buddy, and Tony’s teenage daughter, Kelly. The mysterious mirror must be a clue to what happened to his parents, and when images appear in it—people and things that don’t exist—Nathan and Kelly painstakingly gather evidence. But the killers want the mirror too, and danger threatens the teens at every turn. As it becomes evident that Nathan’s father had stumbled upon dark forces at work in the world, several questions arise. Could it be that the mirror is a portal to a parallel world? Could this technology be used for evil purposes? And could his parents still be alive, trapped in another dimension? Nathan and Kelly struggle to solve the mystery before they too become victims.


You can read a five-page excerpt over at CBD.

You can find out more about Bryan, the book, and other authors who joined him on the MOTIV8 Fantasy Fiction Tour at the tour's site.

Make sure to visit Becky Miller's blog for a really cool quote from Bryan which she posted Oct 20 about what he wants to achieve with his writing. Her link is below with my other tourmates.

Visit with them, won't you?

*Participants’ Links:
Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Courtney
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Mike Lynch
Magma
Terri Main
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Chawna Schroeder
Greg Slade
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Becky

post signature



Her birth was shrouded in mystery and tragedy.
Her destiny is beyond comprehension.
Her pursuers long to see her broken.

This month's CSFF Blog Tour focuses on Sigmund Brouwer’s futuristic dystopian novel called BROKEN ANGEL.

Notably for me, this is the first novel I've read in eight months. Prior to my eye surgery, I had begun developing a chronic rash on the bridge of my nose and upper cheeks from glasses I needed to wear every waking moment, an eczema that turned into a severely aggravated suppurating bit of nastiness with a change to reading glasses post-surgically. Fortunately, reading glasses are only needed when, er reading. Unfortunately, it put the kibosh on a lot of my pleasure time with the written word (except for stuff online that I can bring up to a big font.) I've gone through multiple pairs of glasses in assorted materials, seeking one that will affect my face the least (or, one dreams, not at all.)

On the plus side, BROKEN ANGEL is a short novel, and even with frequent "face breaks", I was able to enjoy its fast pace and likable (if not deeply examined) "heroes" and root against the big bad sadistic bounty hunter who pursues our good guys.


She fights to soar.


Broken Angel is the story of Caitlyn, a young girl with a physical aberration (that won't be hard to figure out between the title and the opening chapters) that marks her as a "freak" who must hide her body. After an opening that gives us some history, the story takes off when Caitlyn and her father set their escape plan into motion. Soon she finds herself alone and the object of relentless hunters. If she is caught, she will be killed. Period. She doesn't understand why, only that she is wanted, and wanted to an obssessive degree.

If she escapes...a hope of normality awaits. OUTSIDE.

But fleeing from the closed society in which she's been raised is not easy, and it's not for the faint-hearted.

BROKEN ANGEL is also, to a lesser degree, the story of her father, a fugitive in a futuristic landscape that is a sort of an extrapolated-to-extreme version of our own current cultural religio-socio divide.

The setting is a futuristic US that has split into two nations--one a secular humanist one and the other a totalitarian "cultish" Church-dominated one in Appalachia where reading is forbidden, the Bible removed from the hands of those who are not the privileged elders, and high-tech surveillance keeps people in check.

OUTSIDE--they abort, experiment with embryos, and otherwise go on their godless way with the ability to choose. We don't see this place, we only hear it referred to.

APPALACHIA--they have a simpler life with a single religion, but they are not allowed to make choices and are essentially controlled from womb to tomb.

Both societies have ruthless bounty hunters, but the Appalachian one, whose main motivation is to get the heck outta there and wreak his sadistic mayhem in a bigger landscape, is by far the most chilling.

When the novel focuses on the misfits--Caitlynn and her torturously maturing body; Theo, orphaned and traumatized , gifted with superb hearing as compensation for his farsightedness; and Billy, the good-natured big moose of a deputy who is stronger than many realize as the tale progresses--it's great fun. I like these folks and I like a brisk pace, which thrillers should have!

When it focuses on the villain, the bred-to-be-badder-than-bad Mason Lee, it could just as well be a secular novel's no-shades-of-gray sociopath. Which, by the way, is not always bad. Sometimes, an irredeemably driven and horrible bad guy is chillingly fun (think of the revolting, murderous partners in Gaiman's NEVERWHERE). In a novel this short, when main characters get a bit of short shrift in the depth department (which, again, isn't always a huge demerit in an all-out thriller), spending time to flesh out a villain doesn't always make sense. So, I get that.

What I felt was that I needed more of Caitlyn and her father.

Overall, however, I can say I had a good time with BROKEN ANGEL. It's a well-done Christian thriller that, barring two places (one in particular) where the "here is the message for Christians today" sermon is briefly, even awkwardly added to the story, this is not preachy. In fact, the Church is the one criticized most of all, not unbelievers. The messages are not always smoothly integrated, and there is a contradiction in places between those cautionary and exhortative messages and the ongoing developments and finale.

However, having contradictions makes one think, and this made me think. I may not wholly agree with Brouwer's points, but I agree with the spirit and general warning he gives in BROKEN ANGEL.

It's a good read. It's got characters I hope to see again (though I have no idea if this is stand-alone or will be part of some series.) It does stand alone, btw. The ending has satisfaction. I just wish to see more of Caitlyn and her pals and spend time with her in the OUTSIDE.

Recommended for fans of thrillers--especially fugitive/pursuit types--who don't mind some mighty harsh torture scenes. Also has a few satisfying tidbits for fans of romance. (Not enough by me. Sigh. Me likey romantic subplots.)

Here's a link to the video for the song "Beautiful Bird by Cindy Morgan. The lyrics are found at the end of the novel.

For more comments on this novel, including reviews and giveaways, visit my tourmates:

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Mark Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Magma
Margaret
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Sean Slagle
James Somers
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams
I'm so out of it lately, it's not at all funny. So, I'm really late here. I'll try to atone by posting a review by month's end and by giving away a couple of free copies of our featured novel, VANISHED, by Kathryn Mackel.

Really, don't hold my doofussy tardiness against VANISHED. :) Not that you would. After all, if you've hung with the CSFF blog tour since the early days, you're familiar with Kathryn Mackel as the author of the terrific science fiction series called The Birthright Project.

(Note: If you sign up for Kathryn's newsletter, you are up for chances to win free books. Do it!)

I can't offer my review just yet, as I've not finished the novel (I did say LATE!), but so far, it's got a nice fast pace and an interesting speculative SF phenomenon. Kathryn has made this a cinematic novel (so far), and not one that starts off with a bunch of backstory or "preachy" stuff. She starts with people with personal woes (always a good way to go) and gets off pretty fast with some action. Things go very wrong, which is how I like my SF, frankly--fast and dangerous.

You can read a multi-part interview with Kathryn over at Christopher Hopper's blog. And a nice bio of Kathryn is over at A Place Called Fiction.

I would also ask for prayers for Kathryn. This is a talented author, who happens to write books that suit those of us who enjoy SF and thrillers, and she's had some hardships with the follow-ups to some of her SF work, notably the curtailed Birthright Project (2 books came out, three were originally planned). And if you have visited Becky Miller's blog during the tour, then you know that with the Christian Chiller series, of which VANISHED is #1, Kathryn has had more of those roadblocks put in her way. It's difficult being a Christian speculative author. No doubt about it. Pray that paths will open up for her and the right audience stampedes for her novels. She's good.

(On the happy side, Shannon reports that Book 3 of the Birthright Project is coming. I'm so there.)

Know what? Why not drop by Kathryn's blog and say hello? Tell her Mir sent ya.

So...until I get a review posted, please check out the links below with my fellow tourmates, who aren't late like me. Ahem.

Please do visit my tourmates:

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Margaret
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Chawna Schroeder
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Linda Wichman
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise


Wow, it's really, really easy to get out of the blogging habit. It's been ages since I dropped in.

(Special "muahs" to all who left encouraging comments and sent kind emails, to which I'm very tardy replying!)

But, of course, as one of the editors on staff at MINDFLIGHTS (though I've taken a break there as well as here), I had to come out of hiatus to join the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour promoting our wee webzine of Christian-friendly to Christian SF.



Those of you who used to regularly read this or my Blogger blog (http://mirathon.blogspot.com), or who knew me from assorted fora where I blathered, well, you're clued in about how I used to volunteer at another Double-Edged Publishing publication: Dragons, Knights and Angels (DKA). Also did (and plan to do again) poetry editing for their FEAR AND TREMBLING magazine of suspense and horror. I also benefitted from the contests at THE SWORD REVIEW, the most popular of the previous DEP magazines.

MINDFLIGHTS is the creative effort born from the merging of two previous DEP SF-specific magazines. (The Sword Review and DKA).

At DKA and TSR we offered pay (though quite, quite modest) to fiction and poetry contributors. Still, being free online publications reliant on donations (mainly from staff, frankly) and whatever revenues ads brought in made (and makes) things a bit tough, budget-wise. It seemed best to become more efficient with our resources. With three SF magazines in the stable, we realized we could be better stewards of what we had by consolidating of our two most popular mags at DEP. (Popularity assessed via readership stats/site hits).

Hence, the new creation which is the subject of this blog tour.

Our long-term goal is to one day pay semi-pro to pro rates. For now, we simply want to offer some remuneration to our kind and gifted contributors while we continually seek good quality SF for all readers, but especially those with a Christian worldview. We also seek to nurture some student writers and poets, mainly by giving them feedback when they submit and by publishing them when we see fledgling talent poised to grow and take flight.

MINDFLIGHTS is not exclusively Christian SF the way DKA was. Some may be disappointed by that. But I think you will see our vision is Christ-honoring. Read our Vision Statement to get an idea of how we view our mission. Here are the opening paragraphs of that statement:

All flights have a destination. Mindflights' journeys are speculative, and our ultimate destination is truth.

We believe some truths are universal. Some truths are there for all persons to find through observation and pondering, with inquiry or with introspection, with stillness or with debate. Other truths must be sought, hunted, and they are more difficult to capture. Both can inspire stories and poems.

Here at MindFlights, many of us believe the ultimate truth resides in the person of Jesus Christ, who as Savior embraces us with eternal life, and as Lord asks that we give ourselves over to service, to love, to purity, and to a greater purpose. Our faith is a thing that asks us to fly beyond earth and take others with us as we journey upwards. As such, we will actively seek and happily offer stories and poems that display this world view, whether overtly or subtly or someplace in between.

But we are not isolationists. We don't bar the door to the skeptic, or the seeker who hasn't found, or the one who has an allegiance to a different set of doctrines. Our faith says the door should be open for all who want to befriend us. Hospitality is an early and enduring virtue in Christendom. Therefore, we want to offer broader visions of truth. While contributors need not be Christian, familiarity with compatible values will increase the likelihood that your submission will fit.


This is an introductory post, and I'll get more into the magazine's content and how you can be a part of our vision in subsequent posts.

For now, visit MINDFLIGHTS, enjoy "Voyager," the artwork by Victoria Zamudio that is featured in our current front page, and browse what our magazine has to offer the reader of SF, Christian or otherwise.

Catch you tomorrow!

Do visit my blog tourmates:

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Kameron M. Franklin
Beth Goddard
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Margaret
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Pamela Morrisson
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Rachelle Sperling
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Linda Wichman
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

"The late John Gardner said that a good story should unfold like a vivid and continuous dream. With Auralia's Colors, Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted just such a story, one that will leave readers ready to dream with him again."

- John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture



The focus of the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour this first month of a new year is AURALIA'S COLORS, a novel by Jeffrey Overstreet, the first in a series called AURALIA'S THREAD.

The novel has been getting some great reviews from various places, including fellow tourmates. The Happy Catholic reviewed it back in September with this to say:

Author Jeffrey Overstreet gives credit to many recognized great authors for being his inspiration but I think it is fair to say that this is not derivative. He has crafted something completely new that shows us those old realities of which we all need to be reminded through art. Probably my highest tribute is to say that this book can be enjoyed by everyone, whether simply lovers of fiction or those who look for, as Overstreet says, "a glimmer of his [the Great Artist] glory in these pages." I eagerly look forward to the next installment of this trilogy.


So, who wrote this book getting great word of...blog?

Behold the author:

JEFFREY OVERSTREET first read "The Hobbit" at age 7, and by age 10 he had read "The Lord of the Rings" several times. And he knew he wanted to grow up to write fantasy stories. Soon after meeting and interviewing the cast and crew of Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (on assignment for ChristianityTodayMovies.com), he was offered his first publishing contract...

Jeffrey will hold a reading on January 31 at Seattle-Pacific. If you're in the area, drop by. You can also run into him at the Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing.

And, if you want a shot at a free copy of one of the following books in the series, suggest a name for one of the dread characters. If yours is chosen, the book is yours.

As for how to pronounce the heroine's name and what's next in the series begun by AURALIA'S COLORS:

FD: Can you give us a teaser about the next novel in The Auralia Thread, Cyndere's Midnight?

JO: Well, the series is called The Auralia Thread, and in the second, third, and fourth book we will get glimpses of life within the other cultures of the Expanse. And we'll see how Auralia's imaginative art continues to influence those who discover it.

The second book, Cyndere's Midnight, is about a creature called a "beastman" who discovers Auralia's colors. When he finds himself "stuck," so to speak, in the company of a grieving widow named Cyndere, a very unstable friendship develops. Meanwhile, the people of House Abascar are in trouble once again, and their survival depends on what happens between Cyndere and the beastman.

Oh, and in case anybody asks, "Cyndere" is pronounced like the word "cinder." And "Auralia" is pronounced "o-RAY-lee-uh."


Read an excerpt from the novel HERE.
See a map of The Expanse here.

Visit my tourmates:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Heather R. Hunt
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Pamela Morrisson
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

No fantasy on this tour. It's all about the science fiction. That's because this month we focus on Wayfarer’s Journal, a site with this stated purpose:


Our mission is to develop a venue to publish and review science fiction with a spiritual dimension. Now, that doesn't mean that the fiction will be "message" oriented. I'm a big believer in the old adage, "If you want to send a message call Western Union." What you will find here are good stories with strong characters and engaging plots. However, some of the characters may have a spiritual world view and some of the plots may take place at the intersection of the scientific and the numinous.



I was not wowed by the two offerings in the poetry section. But then, it's a new magazine, and probably doesn't have the volume of subs for poetry that established mags, especially secular ones, have. In time, I hope to see improvement, as I hold a big, big soft spot for SF poetry, along with a desire to find new and good Christian SF poetry. I will say that there are moments in Terri Main's poem "A Prayer Under A Strange Sun" that offer good images and emotional tugs, especially since I share the expectations of the narrator. Of the two up for you to read, Terri's is the more successful poem.

Terri happens to be no ordinary contributor, but also editor-in-chief of Wayfarer’s Journal . Now, you know. :)

Because my eyes are still healing, and I now have to use reading glasses--a pair I ordered haven't arrived--I have not been able yet to read except for brief moments at a time. (And imagine how that feels to a bookworm! It's AGONY!) So, besides the poetry, I sampled only two stories from the latest issue. The first was a brief one called "Changed Minds" by a familiar name, Alice Roelke. The concept is reminiscent of some classic SF tales and of Twilight Zone episodes (where people try to extend life by less than ethical means, where there is an obsession with beauty), as well as referencing back to the Beauty and the Beast tale. However, the story needed more depth to succeed. The ending feels abrupt and without sufficient foundation, and the characterization's too sketchy. And yet, it does give that nostalgia factor. Come on, who didn't love TZ and B&B?

Stoney Setzer, another familiar name to those who have read DEP publications, offers a story that takes on the idea of fear, aptly titled--especially for a science fiction novel set out there on a Martian moon--"Phobos." This is marred early on by As You Know, Bob and later by unintentinally comical dialogue. (Example: "Aiieee" and "AARGH." The latter I don't expect to see as an actual distressed sound coming from a human being.) I'd have preferred to see snapshots or other presentations of the actually outworking of the phobias. Still, it's a solid SF premise, that of facing our deepest fears, especially when that there is a civilization that can use those fears against us via special abilities. What can one trust? What can one believe? When will one succumb? Is autophobia your big fear? Stoney offers considerable conflict and a setting that space-oriented SF afficionados will enjoy.

Please drop by the magazine and read some of what's published. If you love it, let Terri know, so that she can get an idea of what readers want more of--or less of.

And be aware that Terri is moving away from the usual "issue" model:

One plan I have right now is to move away from the "magazine" model of a story site. This model is one which has "issues" coming out at a set interval. One of the advantages of the web is that you can update a site at any time. We get enough material to be adding some new material every month, but not enough to create a whole new issue. Simply updating the site when something new and interesting comes in would create a dynamically changing destination on the web. It would also shorten the time for writers between acceptance and publication of their work.


For those of you wishing to submit your creative work, the author guidelines for Wayfarer’s Journal may be found HERE. This is a modestly paying market--but hey, money. Money's good!

I wish Terri and WAYFARER'S JOURNAL plenty of great subs and long may she publish. It's always good to see another paying venue for Christian SF, no matter how modestly, and hey, I've volunteered and still do at modestly paying venues. I dream of the day our CSF mags/sites will be able to pay well and publish better and better and..the BEST!

Participants:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Michael Heald
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise
Sorry to spaz out yesterday, but I had stomach woes and urinary woes, and I got a bit out of sorts.

So, this will be longish to make up. (Stay tuned to the end to find out how to enter the giveaway for the MUSIC inspired by these novels.)

~~

So, on to Robin Hood and Will Scarlet, the folkloric figures that inspired Mr. Lawhead's KING RAVEN TRILOGY novels: HOOD and SCARLET.

Who doesn't have some inkling of the Robin Hood tales? The story is so widespread in our culture. There's even a show currently on cable tv's BBC-AMERICA, yet another dramatisation of the story of Robin and his "Merry Men" and their battles with the bad Sheriff and Sir Guy.

How did this folklore develop?

It seems as though every schoolchild knows who Robin Hood is: a noble outlaw in Sherwood Forest who fights the oppressive evil of Prince (or King) John by robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. The earliest appearances of Robin are at odds with this romantic notion, as Robin is a violent yeoman who steals from the dishonest and helps those whom he pleases. Perhaps the one constant feature of the legend is his placement in the center of England, in the Sherwood and Barnsdale area. This first case presents some of the venues in which Robin Hood appears. The earliest tales of Robin Hood largely focus on Robin encountering someone in the forest, and either fighting with them or inviting them to dine, after which they would be asked to pay for their dinner. These tales were often collected in books called “garlands” (see the first text in this case). During the Tudor period, Robin was gentrified by Anthony Munday, in his two plays The Downfall of Robert, Earle of Huntington and The Death of Robert, Earle of Huntington (both 1601). Today, most people first encounter Robin through films or children’s books, like Howard Pyle’s work.
--Read the rest of "Robin Hood: Development of a Popular Hero."

It was probably inevitable that Robin would morph, even as fairy tales have morphed from their devastatingly dark and violent origins into friendlier, gentler, more likable Disneyfied fare. We want the hero to be good and noble, much better than the villain, and we change him (or her) to be what we want, suitable often for children we wish to keep away from shady reality.

At the end of the above-mentioned article, you find a reference to our blog tour subject:

Lawhead attempts to historicize the tale and adds a spiritual element to Robin Hood by placing his novel in Wales during the reign of William II (Rufus, 1087–1100). He spent much of his reign extorting money from his subjects and the church in an effort to wrest Normandy from his elder brother; this situation resonates with the modern idea of (Prince) John raising taxes to ransom Richard I (1189–99) or simply for his own purposes when king (1099–1216). An unpopular king, William also continued his father’s attempts to take Wales by granting its land to his barons. In Lawhead’s book, Robin is one of the dispossessed Welsh nobles who fights back.]


In adding spirituality, Lawhead merely returns to where Robin has been. Read this excerpt from one of the earliest texts on the Robin myth, A GEST OF ROBYN HODE:

"A gode maner than had Robyn;
In londe where that he were,
Every day or he wold dyne
Thre messis wolde he here.

The one in the worship of the Fader,
And another of the Holy Gost,
The thirde of Our dere Lady,
That he loved allther moste."


That's a lot of masses. That's a devout hero!

Now, since the trilogy features the Robin character (King Raven) and Will Scarlet (with a name variant), let's see how these kinsmen meet, from "Robin and Will Scarlet," another old ballad based on the folklore:

"I met with a stranger," quoth Robin Hood then,
"Full sore he hath beaten me."
"Then I'le have a bout with him," quoth Little John,
"And try if he can beat me."

"Oh, oh, no," quoth Robin Hood then,
"Little John, it may be so;
For he's my own dear sisters son,
And cousins I have no mo.

"But he shal be a bold yeoman of mine,
My chief man next to thee,
And I Robin Hood and thou Little John,
And Scarlet he shall be,

"And wee'l be three of the bravest outlaws
That is in the North Country."
If you will have any more of bold Robin Hood,
In his second part it will be.


Alfred, Lord Tennyson also dived into the lore with his play "The Foresters." I particularly like how he SHOWS (Act I; Scene III) the personality--the humor, the rascal quality--of Will Scarlet:


Robin.
Let be the 'Earl.' Henceforth I am no more
Than plain man to plain man.

Tuck.
Well, then, plain man,
There be good fellows there in merry Sherwood
That hold by Richard, tho' they kill his deer.

Robin.
In Sherwood Forest. I have heard of them.
Have they no leader?

Tuck.
Each man for his own.
Be thou their leader, and they will all of them
Swarm to thy voice like bees to the brass pan.

Robin.
They hold by Richard--the wild wood! to cast
All threadbare household habit, mix with all
The lusty life of wood and underwood,
Hawk, buzzard, jay, the mavis and the merle,
The tawny squirrel vaulting thro' the boughs,
The deer, the highback'd polecat, the wild boar,
The burrowing badger--by Saint Nicholas,
I have a sudden passion for the wild wood--
We should be free as air in the wild wood--
What say you? shall we go? Your hands, your hands!
[Gives his hand to each. You, Scarlet, you are always moody here.


Scarlet.
'T is for no lack of love to you, my lord,
But lack of happiness in a blatant wife.
She broke my head on Tuesday with a dish.
I would have thwack'd the woman, but I did not,
Because thou sayest such fine things of women,
But I shall have to thwack her if I stay.

Robin.
Would it be better for thee in the wood?

Scarlet.
Ay, so she did not follow me to the wood.

Robin.
Then, Scarlet, thou at least wilt go with me.


~~~


How has Lawhead's new vision of the Robin Hood story gone over?

Well, it isn't unanimous. I've seen divergent reviews. From very low scores, calling it plodding and overly full of description and historical detail. And I've seen gushing praise, calling it thoroughly entertaining and great fun. So, how you enjoy it may depend on what you're looking for (or not) in a new take on an old tale.

Here are examples of the reviews:

A critical that gives it a lowish rating, but also offers nifty observations and quotes--and therefore is worth reading--is at Inchoatus.com Here is one of the things I enjoyed in that review:
One interesting point is this notion of the deadly sin of wrath that Bran exhibits at times. He literally becomes confused and blinded by rage. The Robin Hood of contemporary myth is a rake and a rogue. He is the James Bond with the quip and the Hannibal Smith of the A-Team with his regard for personal profit. There is no Wrath in these characters just as there is seldom Wrath in Robin Hood. But what causes Robin Hood to be Robin Hood? A man who is willing to "rage against the machine" even if it just taxes and he does it with a wink of the eye as he does in these legends certainly bespeaks a kind of fury that is buried deep beneath the surface and never dies. While our Bran in this book is certainly justified in being angry over the loss of his birthright--a tired plot device--how that wrath infects and reinterprets the legend is a fine achievement.

Another interesting effect is how Christianity is used. As some of the critics mentioned above, each "side" uses it to justify their actions. But it's more than that. Particularly courageous for this author who publishes on Christian themes and using a Christian publisher, he shows how religion--at least organized religion--becomes merely another political tool to be used for oppression, for gain, and for dim justification for raiding, for taking, and for the general acquisition of more power. Just like the conquistadors of Spain ravaging the new world for Glory, God, and Gold so we see the Normans invading for very similar reasons under the guise of God. Opposing this corruption of the Holy Church is only the heathenish magic of the Welsh (though doubtless will ultimately be revealed as the same source). Can Christians cheer for the pagans?


From Grasping For the Wind, a positive review:

The novel is well-written; it is fast paced, with excellent fight scenes, and makes a good lunch hour read with its short chapters and varying perspectives. Odo provides a surprising character and interesting plot twist that makes this book even more fun to read. And of course, this is still the legend of Robin Hood, even if the setting is different, so many of the adventures are in the vein that fans of the Robin Hood legend have come to expect. Arrow flights abound, close shaves are common, and brazen acts of valor are to be expected.

Scarlet makes for a good read, although it is not Lawhead's best work. Fans of Robin Hood will enjoy Lawhead's unique take on the legend, as well as his commitment to historical accuracy. Fans of fantasy will question the novel's fantasy label, as well they should. But there is an element of magic in the person of Angharad and in the strange King Raven that Bran becomes when on a sortie, so the fantasy fan will not be disappointed. Fans of historical novels of medieval times will find much to love in both Hood and Scarlet, and Lawhead devotees (such as myself) are going to find all of the same things they have always loved about Lawhead's writing in Scarlet. This is a novel worth your time. The legend of Robin Hood is brought closer to its historical truth, and given an added Celtic flair that only Stephen Lawhead can provide.


~~

Of religious interest, there's a saint with a serious Robin Hood vibe,
St. BASIL:
Originally an apprentice shoemaker in Moscow, he adopted an eccentric lifestyle of shoplifting and giving to the poor to shame the miserly and help those in need. He went naked and weighed himself down with chains. He rebuked Ivan the Terrible for not paying attention in church, and especially for his violent behaviour towards the innocent.

When he died on August 2, 1552 or 1557, St. Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow, served his funeral with many clergy. Ivan the Terrible himself acted as pallbearer and carried his coffin to the cemetery. He is buried in St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, which was commissioned by Ivan and is named after the saint. Basil was formally canonised around 1580. His feast day is celebrated on August 2.

~~
THE GIVEAWAY:

Yes, I decided that, in the giving Spirit of Christmas, I will have a giveaway. Not of the books--I'm sure someone on the tour is giving some away. Check the links. I'll be giving away one of the cds based on the King Raven Trilogy by Stephen R. Lawhead.

The music is by a Christian musician who has found much inspiration in the works of Mr. Lawhead: Jeff Johnson.

Many years back, I acquired, when it first came out, Johnson's first SONG OF ALBION album. I never finished the Lawhead books which inspired those soundscapes, but I still have the cassette somewhere in my chaos.

This week, I acquired both of the KING RAVEN cds that are out. You now have a chance to win one.

How to enter/rules:

1. See my sidebar note. I'm only accepting entries from folks in the 48 contiguous states. Why? Cause that saves me on shipping via amazon.com. That's it. It's all about the budget. Sorry.

2. What you gotta do: Blog about Scarlet, and use the url we've been using during this tour to promote it. You don't have to be a member of the CSFF Blog Tour. But you need to have a blog, and you need to post something about SCARLET (and HOOD, too, if you wish) at some point during THIS week (which ends Saturday). It can be a one sentence post, as long as it contains a link to the amazon url that we use to promote the novel. This is the url for SCARLET:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1595540865

If you have a thing against amazon, a link to Mr. Lawhead's official site counts as an acceptable substitution in such a case.

3. Post a comment UNDER THIS BLOG ENTRY with the url/link to where you mention Scarlet ON YOUR BLOG.

4. Check back next week. I will choose a winner based on a random selection. I will need your name and address IF you are the winner in order to send the cd to you.


Rules Recap: 1. live in the lower 48 states. 2. Blog with the Scarlet url. 3. Comment here with a url/link to your qualifying blog post. 3. Wait for me to choose a winner next week.




(If you are a member of the tour, your CSFF Blog Tour posts count, as long as you fit the above rules with regard to location, posted urls, and comment to this post.)

This post is oberlong, so please refer to my Monday post for the list of tourmates. Visit them. See what they have to say.

Happy reading! (And listening!)

Well, I and hubby have been searching the house for over a week, looking for my copy of HOOD, the first book in the KING RAVEN TRILOGY by Stephen Lawhead.

Why?

Because today begins the three-day tour for SCARLET, the second book in the trilogy.


I wasn't about to buy and read the second when I can't find the first, which I already bought. YEESH.

So, here I am. I haven't read HOOD (which, I BOUGHT months ago!) or SCARLET. But, that's never stopped me from blogging on a book tour before. After all, this is about promoting and publicizing, not just reviewing or critiquing.

For fans of Christian fantasy, Stephen Lawhead needs no introduction. Even if you have never read any of his books--TALIESIN, BYZANTIUM, SONG OF ALBION trilogy, MERLIN, ARTHUR, etc--you must have come across the author's name. If you regularly scan the bookshelves in the fantasy section of megastores, you must have come across several of his titles. He's always there. At least, in my experience.

I hesitated before buying HOOD. I'm kind of burnt out on Robin Hood tales. I was never a huge fan of them, anyway, despite enjoying the Errol Flynn/Olivia de Haviland match-up as a kid; despite Sean C and Audrey H in Robin and Marian; despite the cool Clannad soundtrack for the television import with a really handsome dark-haired Robin from, oh, back in the '80s. (Everybody sing: "Robin...the hooded man!");despite the magnificent Morgan Freeman stealing the whole show from Kevin "I can't keep an English accent going for more than two syllables" Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. No. I'm just not a Robin Hood sorta gal.

But you might be. So, pay attention during the tour. Visit the sites. Buy the book, if you think it's up your alley.

Here's a snapshot of each novel:

HOOD, : In Book One of The King Raven Trilogy, Bran ap Brychan finds his world ripped from its foundation as invaders topple his father's kingdom and send the young prince fleeing into the forest. Readers will be spellbound with this entirely fresh take on this legendary figure--where the familiar and unexpected collide into something wholly original.
From the ashes of ruin, a reluctant hero begins to emerge . . . yet his greatest enemy may be himself.

Read an excerpt from HOOD.

SCARLET: The second installment of a completely re-imagined epic of the man known as Robin Hood--told in a far more eerie, earthy, and elemental way than ever before.
As the story of King Raven continues, the stakes grow ever higher and the lives of Bran's band hang ever more in the balance. Will Scarlet is about to be hung and Bran discovers a secret that leads them to a desperate sea voyage to France through a vicious storm in a daring attempt to reveal the plot against King William by his brother, Duke Robert, and the greedy Baron de Braose.

Will Bran's loyalty re-gain him the throne of Elfael? Or will his efforts only increase the sheriff's determination to destory King Raven?

Read an excerpt from SCARLET.

Tomorrow, some interesting stuff on the Robin Hood folklore and tangents. Wednesday, something on the MUSIC that was inspired by the trilogy. I may have a cd giveaway. I am undecided. My budget is frowning madly at me. Let me think about it some more.

Now, go forth unto my blog tourmates, many of whom have actually have an organized library and have read these novels, which they have not disgracefully and ungallantly misplaced:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Kait
Karen
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Mike Lynch
Margaret
Karen McSpadden
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Rachelle
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Wanna buy the novels and the cd? Find them all at amazon.com.

Excellent Christian Fantasy: WIND FOLLOWER

An immature but fervent young man at odds with the spirits of his people, yet destined for some greatness he doesn't comprehend or believe; a woman of virtue and selflessness of a different tribe and color who must marry this young , flawed chieftain's son besotted with her looks and manner; and a crucial historical moment when their peoples are threatened by an outside tribe intent on conquest as their religious right: That's the premise of WIND FOLLOWER. Much conflict and growing up ensues.

...The story is affecting as a love story, as a quest story, as a tragedy, as a heroic tale, as a tale of spiritual warfare. And the voice that the author uses is effective for the telling of such a story, both musical and poetic enough to give it the feel of an oral retelling of a great folklorically-enshrined history, and non-contemporary enough to feel both culturally different and sacred.


I wrote the above in my just posted review over at amazon.com for Carole McDonnell's debut novel WIND FOLLOWER. I notice amazon only has 1 left in stock. I suggest you rush and snap it up. Oh, and read my review. (And click YES as to whether it was helpful, cause, well, I want to improve my rank. Yes, shameless of me.)

I've also commented on the novel over at the MINDFLIGHTS forum.

I believe Carole has some blog touring for the novel set for next month. If you want to support a talented Christian fantasist, please plug her book during the tour.

But mostly, READ IT and tell me what you thought. I found it engrossing mentally while it affected me spiritually the way a good devotional book does. Somehow, it preaches, and yet the way it's told allows for the preaching to be organic. Pretty cool.