Book Review(s):: Raven’s Ladder and Lady Carliss

Yes, I’ve been doing a ton of reading lately.  Here are two more book reviews.  Plus, my review of Picking Dandelions by Sarah Cunningham is coming later this week.

Raven’s Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet

Starting the Auralia Thread series with Book Three, Raven’s Ladder, is not a good idea.  It’s like walking into the middle of an awkward conversation or trying to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop without first biting into the candy covering—difficult, but not impossible.  Fortunately, author Jeffery Overstreet provides a glossary of characters in the back of his book to help newbies like me discover the world of King Cal-raven and his people.

Raven’s Ladder follows the continuing tale of Cal-raven as he leads his refugee kingdom to found a New Abascar after their old kingdom was destroyed in a previous book.  The book is reminiscent of the Bible’s depiction of Moses leading the Israelites through the wilderness, but in Overstreet’s tale there are believable and interesting female heroines.

Overstreet plays attention to detail as he weaves together a masterful plot that becomes clearer—even to first-time Auralia Thread readers like me.  The cast of characters (and there are many) are marvelous—finally a Christian fantasy book I would recommend to my Lord of the Rings-loving friends!

I imagine the first and second books in the series are wonderful and would shed a lot of light on Raven’s Ladder.  So, if you want to read a good fantasy, check out the Auralia Thread series, but start at Book One, or you’ll be referring to the glossary…a lot.

Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue by Chuck Black

Whoever wrote the book description for Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue did a great job; unfortunately, it’s a lot better than the book itself.  Lady Carliss is the first book in a new series by Chuck Black featuring the Knights of Arretthrea (that’s “terra” and “earth” mashed together and backwards.)  Here’s the first puzzling point—how can it be the first in a series if it relies on characters from the old series?

I was excited about this book because Carliss is a female protagonist with a sword and fighting skills.  However, I realized by the prologue that Lady Carliss’ story was an allegory for the Christian life.  The average writing and mediocre dialogue won’t make this book the next Pilgrim’s Progress, Hind’s Feet on High Places, or Chronicles of Narnia.  I realized from the very start that Lady Carliss was going to rescue Dalton, release some captives, and tell people about the Prince and the King.  Sorry, I gave away the ending.

Black tries too hard to hold to “Christian” themes of the “Lord’s Army” and putting on the full armor of God.  He seems to forget that we’re more than God’s warriors and therefore, his character development is lacking.  Plus, Carliss seems like a man in a woman’s body.  Nothing about her, except her appearance and her attraction to Dalton screams, “I am woman.”  I mean, there are gender stereotypes galore, like how she’s going to close her heart to love since Dalton’s seems unrequited and descriptions on how she just wasn’t like the other girls.

To be fair, this is a young adult fiction book, but honestly, if this is what the Christian market has to offer in the way of fantasy novels, then no wonder tweens are reading Harry Potter (a personal favorite of mine) and vampire novels.

*Both of these books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.*

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