Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’
Supreme writer of, Newberry Medalist – Madeline L’Engle – died recently at 88. She once said “You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.” It was her A Wrinkle in Time which won the Newberry Award.
This is one of my all-time favourite books, and I read it to my daughter when she was eight. After the first reading she remarked ‘I like books where people have troubles and then they have adventures.’
It was only I who cried when Meg saves Charles Wallace from IT by loving his true self (as I have every reading – even writing this makes me teary!) She just patted me clumsily on the knee. Was it too old for her? No I don’t think so – merely that she wasn’t moved to tears by stories as often as her mother.
However it seemed that the deepest influence of the story was in thinking about how appearances and nature can differ. Over dinner a week after finishing it, she said: ‘You know A Wrinkle in Time – that world with the beasts?’ [Yes] ‘That was really to show that however ugly they seemed, they could still be kind.’ This was clearly a reference back to a discussion some months before. We had been talking about extra-terrestrials, their probable appearance and nature – just because they look strange they don’t have to be bad. Her little brother (nearly 5) had remarked rather perceptively that ‘baddies never win, even though they’re monsters’, and she had been quick to point out that to them we would look like the monsters.
Read more about my son and daughter and theirfrom birth to eight in Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two children tell (Routledge 2007).
The land of Shavron is a nice place, seemingly favored by God. But, because of its location, it has found itself in the middle when its neighbors go to war. Many, many years ago, the Holy One appointed three Judges to rule over the people of Shavron. The current Judges are Gideon, the judge of battle; Deborah, the judge of instruction; and Samson, the judge of commerce.
This is a time of fear and uncertainty in Shavron. The neighboring lands are being menaced by the black leopards of Chetz. The only way to prevent a Chetzian attack on Shavron is to appoint a king, or other ruler, of Shavron; then, the Chetzians will leave them alone. Gideon, a rabbit, is totally against the idea, because it would mean abandoning the Holy One. He, and Deborah, a cheetah, try to convince Samson, a wolf, to join them before the Council to change their minds. Samson refuses, not convinced of the seriousness of the situation.
Gideon and Deborah return to Eldos, the capital, to find that a queen has already been chosen by the Council, a red fox named Jezerah. Along with Iya, the power behind the throne, she turns Shavron into a dictatorship. High taxes are imposed, repression is increased; the usual. The Holy One knows what’s going on; He tells Gideon that He will never abandon Shavron, and that things will get worse before they get better.
Gideon spends the next couple of years in an impregnable mountain top prison; Samson and Deborah are similarly mistreated. Under such circumstances, it would be easy for anyone to lose their faith, but that does not happen to Gideon.
I was very prepared to not like this book (and talking animals usually do not bode well), but it’s pretty good. It’s not just a good story, it’s also a good story.
The Judges Chronicles: Rebirth of Shavron, Ivan Sugarwood, 2006, ISBN 1600342752
This is definitely anovel. Being a Tolkien fan, I found many days of enjoyable reading here in J.S. Harrison’s world. This is a place that is crowded with Fairies, Leprechauns, friendly Trolls and Ogres, Wizards, Knights, Dragons, Vampire assassins, large evil black rabbits and ghouls along with Men, Dwarves, Elves and Trofkins.
With an anti-racist sentimism, the author places many different races together to embark on a journey that may bring hope to the people of Werdanbabadood and to save their world from the Evil Wizard, Sardego. This strange mixture of people go through many trials ands to find the Knights, only to arrive at a time when so few were able to come to their aide. Regardless of the odds, they carry on and work together in a desperate effort to break the magic staff of Sardego and end his war mongering.
Though everyone plays a very important part in the interwoven web of events, it is the Trofkins, a tree-dwelling people of writers and lovers of food and mischief, who are the heroes of the world. This race was thought unlikely to produce heroes, being a people of many social constraints and clear definitions of what is proper or not. Yet with war on their doorstep, they had little choice but place their only hope in their young chieftain-to-be, the one Trofkin who seemed the least likely to be responsible enough to accomplish this dangerous task. Young Willowby goes far beyond any expectation the Trofkin could have had for even the greatest of their kind. He proves his worth to himself and his people and gains the necessary confidence to rule with a fair, yet just hand.
I very much enjoyed J.S. Harrison’s writing style. It was like being drawn into a big sitting room with a large fireplace, where a deep grandfatherly voice tells the story of Willowby Went. Then without realizing it, I felt sucked into the scenery and it was if I had become the cameraperson at a real, live historical event. It was an effort to put aside the book to carry on with my own tasks!
Keep an eye out for future work by J.S. Harrison folks! I have a feeling he’s going to be one of the ‘great’ writers of our era.
My Alien Penfriend
Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for Reader Views (8/06)
Sometimes differences make for the strongest friendship as Zmod and Darius discover in “My Alien Penfriend”. Faiz Kermani brings us atale of two young boys corresponding by mail. This book is well written, interesting and an easy read.
Darius lives on planet Earth in the year 2286, Zmod lives on planet Bartoch. Both apply forpen pals. Soon they are discussing the differences of their planets and lives. Darius has a pet dog, Ranger and Zmod has a pet glod, Darak.
Zmod tells Darius about rocks that can move on their own. The population must live underground due to “telecterium that destroyed the ground and killed many living things.” The planet Bartoch has two moons, and is control by Mind Complex.
Darius tells Zmod about Earth and its government, the World War Council. He tells him about the different countries, football and most importantly the hunt for the Loch Ness Monster.
Soon the two are looking forward to more spacemail. They discuss school, vacations and parents. Although they are from different worlds they find they have a great friendship.
After corresponding for more than a year, Darius becomes concerned when several months pass without a message from Zmod. A volcano has erupted on Bartoch. Many of the inhabitants were killed. Zmod is rescued but separated from his family for a while. Darak saved Zmod’s mother but Darak was lost.
Zmod turns to his space friend for comfort, “At least your spacemails might make me feel a bit better.” Darius offers encouragement, “don’t give up hope even if things seem very gloomy at the moment!” Eventually the two meet face to face. This is a friendship that will last forever.
What a delightful book. Zair has a wonderful light style of writing. His message is easy to identify, in our differences we have strengths. We can befriend those who are different from us. This book would be a great read for a primary student. I intend to share this one with my grandchildren.
J. A.was educated as a mathematician and computer scientist. He holds degrees from the University of Central Florida (BS) and Boston College (MS).
His love ofwriting developed after a long career as a software engineer, a profession that has allowed him the privilege of working on America’s Space Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
He openly admits a timeless infatuation with his wife, Annette, whom he married in 1987. She was his first motivation to write and the inspiration for Victoria Hunter. J.A. and Annette live in Orlando, Florida, and have four children.
Tyler: Welcome, J.A. I’m excited to talk you about your new novel and the historical and biblical threads you’ve woven into it. To begin, will you tell us briefly about the main character, Victoria Hunter, and what her situation is when the novel begins?
J.A.: Thank you for having me. And yes, let’s get right into it. Victoria Hunter is rare, very rare. She has ascended the corporate ranks and become a CEO at the tender age of twenty-eight. With a brilliant mind and sensitivity for people, her world seems perfect, for a few paragraphs anyway. Then we learn her husband is dead and she is raising her twin sons alone.
Tyler: What is Victoria’s mental state once her children are abducted?
J.A.: Now the circumstances under which her children vanish are strange and terrifying for her. She suffers from posttraumatic stress, severe enough to erase the memory of her children.
Tyler: Will you tell us about that abduction? How does it happen?
J.A.: Imagine this striking young woman, beautiful, bright and whose twin sons are now the center of her world after losing her soul mate tragically. Then, two men show up in her home speaking about the destiny of her boys and with thick German accents. But before they can convince her of her role as the mother of the new Reich, the house trembles and the winds of forever sweep through the nursery. The intruders run in a panic. Victoria is left standing at the bottom of the grand stairway in her home and hears the cries of babies from the upstairs room. She runs up the stairs, calling their names in anguish.
Tyler: What does Victoria do to find out what happened to her children?
J.A.: She follows the trail. This leads her to discard the rational, question the probable, and consider the incredible.
Tyler: Why does only her psychiatrist believe she is telling the truth?
J.A.: Well, that’s a judgment call on his part. He has practiced psychiatry for over twenty five years and Victoria simply does not fit the psychological profile of a woman suffering from post-partum psychosis, and she has no history of mental illness. Plus there are a few curve balls Victoria throws at him that have him rethinking a standard psychiatric diagnosis.
Tyler: I mentioned in your introduction that your wife, Annette, was the inspiration for Victoria Hunter. How did she feel about you using her to portray your heroine?
J.A.: She loved it. And she loves the book.
Tyler: Why is the book called “The Angel Hunter”? What is the significance of angels to the plot?
J.A.: It’s a play on words. Victoria’s last name is Hunter. It raises a question in the reader’s mind when they open the book and read her last name. As far as angels go, there are a few dire circumstances where Victoria needs a little help.
Tyler: Are you able to tell us about the destiny of Victoria’s sons, or will that give away the plot?
J.A.: Let’s just say their destiny is well beyond the stereo-typical hero’s to someday save the world.
Tyler: What was your reason for creating twin sons for Victoria? Why not just one child who is a hero?
J.A.: That will be explained in a future book. I currently see the Angel Hunter series as four books. Her sons will be integral.
Tyler: Tell me more about the Holy Lance. What is its legend and history, and why is it important in “The Angel Hunter”?
J.A.: Ah, a great question. The spear of destiny has been the obsession of very powerful men of conquest for two millennia. From Charlemagne to Adolf Hitler. Legend says it is the spear of the Longinus. He is the centurion who pierced the side of Jesus after he was dead.
Anyone who possesses the spear wields its power, provided they know how: now does Victoria? Read the book and you’ll find out.
Tyler: What is the power of the spear? What did Charlemagne and Hitler hope to accomplish by having the spear, and did they ever find it, or is it completely mythical?
J.A.: Oh yes. Hitler and Charlemagne did at one time possess the holy lance. Now is it the actual spear that pierced Jesus? We have no way of knowing.
Tyler: On your website you have a link to another site about “The Book of Enoch.” For our readers who are not so familiar with the Bible, who was Enoch, and why is he important to the novel?
J.A.: OK. Now this is a fascinating subject. First, “The Book of Enoch” is not a canonized book of the Old Testament, although it was at one time. Enoch was an Old Testament prophet who “walked with God.” His writings told of the fallen race of angels whom he referred to as the watchers. This race of beings took great interest in the beauty and femininity of mortal women. And with these “daughters of men,” they had passionate relations. Their offspring became known as the niphilum. It was the niphilum-that many theologians believe-introduced corruption to the human race: not eating an apple in the Garden of Eden. Now in terms of the novel, Victoria’s husband has been dead for a year when the book opens. Yet, she has three-month-old twin sons. Timing is everything.
Tyler: Interesting, J.A. Is Victoria aware of what happened to her to get her pregnant or is she just as surprised by the birth of her children?
J.A.: She thinks the boys are her husband’s departing gift to her.
Tyler: J.A. you were supposed to have a reading at a bookstore at the University of Notre Dame, but I understand it was cancelled. Will you tell us what happened there? Does your book have a connection to the University of Notre Dame?
J.A.: Yes, I was disappointed. Notre Dame is a truly unique and mystical place that I have nothing but the highest regard for. Victoria is a graduate of Notre Dame and a good chunk of novel unfolds on the Notre Dame campus. However, I did explain to the curator that without, , and , I have no story. Well, the , the , and the were too much for the administration. Plus I have references in the back of the book, one specifically thanking Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle for their work: this didn’t sit well.
Tyler: The book has scenes at the grotto at Notre Dame. Is that what they primarily objected to? Can you tell us a little bit about that scene?
J.A.: There are several scenes involving the grotto. The objection from what I understand is the demonstrative human drama that unfolds in the Basilica and the grotto.
Tyler: What kind of responses have you received so far from people who have read your book?
J.A.: I am overwhelmed by the response. People love Victoria, they love the story. Some readers are even saying Victoria has helped them take a look inside themselves, at their belief systems, and how they perceive the world around them. In other words, they are becoming more awakened through thisal journey. Consciousness doesn’t care what gets you there, so long as you get there.
Tyler: “The Angel Hunter” has a list of recommended reading at the end, which is unusual for awork. Why did you decide to include this list?
J.A.: I wanted the readers to know certain things. One, I didn’t make all this stuff up about Enoch, Moses, and The Ark of the Covenant. There are credible historians doing really fantastic research into our modern and ancient history and they are producing conclusions that are contradictory to accepted religions and beliefs in the Judeo-Christian society. That is not a bad thing. And two, the rise of the Third Reich happened in the midst of modern civilized humankind. It was not a coup or a revolution. The people wanted Hitler in and Hindenburg out. We need never to forget this. When people are destitute, frightened, and hungry, when a leader, no matter how mad his ideas, says jobs and food for all of us, people listen.
Tyler: What do you think separates “The Angel Hunter” from other books that offer alternate religious histories such as “The Da Vinci Code”?
J.A.: Well let me say something first about Dan Brown. The man is brilliant. In “The Da Vinci Code” his character states that as a child he fell into a well. He confesses it was Jesus who gave him the strength to tread water all night until he was found. His faith saved him. People who are critics of Dan Brown miss the entire point. All the other stuff is fluff. Does your faith empower you when dire circumstances strike? It did for Robert in “The Da Vinci Code.” What else matters?
Now “The Angel Hunter” does not really offer an alternate version of religion per say. But Victoria is presented with certain facts and circumstances that push her to shed old dogmas and theocracies. Otherwise her children have no chance. And she is a mother before anything else.
Tyler: What is the message you hope people will take with them when they have finished reading “The Angel Hunter”?
J.A.: My hope is this. Number one, they enjoy the story for what it is: a fast moving, intense book that derives much of its fuel from science, theology, history, and socio-economic conditions. And secondly, I hope-through Victoria Hunter-for a spark of wakefulness. A sense that true consciousness is within reach of all of us. It is a gift from the creator to exist in this wakeful state and it is just that easy.
Tyler: J.A., I understand you are planning a sequel to “The Angel Hunter”? Would you tell us about that book and when we can expect its publication?
J.A.: The title is “The Tantalus Key” and in this book we will see Victoria begin to unravel the hidden truths about the origins of humanity and why certain events in history must happen: in one case, why Michelangelo, a sculptor by trade, had to paint the Sistine Chapel. Why would Pope Julius II, with likes of Raphael and Da Vinci at his disposal, choose a sculptor who had little or no experience as his fresco painter? We are going to find that out and a lot more.
Tyler: J.A., before we go, will you tell our readers about your website and what additional information they can find there about “The Angel Hunter”?
J.A.: Yes, thank you. . You can email me at email@example.com
Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views was glad to be joined by J.A., to talk about his new novel, “The Angel Hunter,” ABISVC (2007), ISBN 9781595072160.