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A Look At The Latest In Fantasy

What fantasies can you add that people should put on their “buy this for a Christmas gift” list? Which ones would you like to receive?
| Oct 21, 2013 | No comments |

Merlin's_Shadow_2Orson Scott Card has defined fantasy, as opposed to science fiction, as a story about things which couldn’t happen. In other words, there are wonders and magic.

Recently fantasy has had a bit of a growth spurt in traditional Christian publishing, and a few trends are becoming apparent.

First, a category that continues to have success is legend. Robert Treskillard is leading the way with The Merlin Spiral series, a new version of the Merlin and King Arthur story. Following Treskillard’s debut novel, Merlin’s Blade, the second in the series, Merlin’s Shadow released this month.

Sigmund Brouwer also makes use of the same legend in his young adult series Merlin’s Immortals. Book three, Martyr’s Fire, came out this month as well.

Refashioned fairy tales also continue without losing steam. Melanie Dickerson leads the way. In January 2013 she released The Fairest Beauty, a Sleeping Beauty story, and next month The Captive Maiden, a reworking of Cinderella, is due out.

Alternate medieval fantasies seem to be doing well. R. J. Larson and Patrick Carr are two authors with successful series set somewhere else, though the place has a decided medieval feel to it. Carr’s The Staff & The Sword trilogy consists of The Cast of Stones, A Hero’s Lot, and A Draw of Kings due out in January. Larson’s Books of the Infinite include Prophet, Judge, and King.

cover_outcastsDystopian fantasy is a fourth category that traditional Christian publishers are producing, with Jill Williamson leading the way. Her Safe Lands series, set in this world in some imagined future, begins with Captives. Outcasts is due to release in January.

Evan Angler also has a dystopian fantasy series, aimed at a middle grade audience. The Swipe Series consists of four books so far, with Spark launching in November.

Myth is another subdivision of fantasy, and Anne Elisabeth Stengl leads the way in Christian myth with her Tales of Goldstone Woods. An illustrated novella, Goddess Tithe, is due out next month, and Shadow Hand will be available in February.

Donita Paul’s Realm Walker series seems as if it falls within this category as well. The first of the series, One Realm Beyond, will be available in January.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the books that are out or that will be soon. There are fantasies available from independent publishers too, and many more from self-publishers.

I can’t help but think a list like this might be a good starting point for Christmas shopping. What fantasies can you add that people should put on their “buy this for a Christmas gift” list? Which ones would you like to receive? (After you leave that comment, be sure to direct the person most likely to buy you a Christmas present to read Spec Faith! 😉 )

Best known for her aspirations as an epic fantasy author, Becky is the sole remaining founding member of Speculative Faith. Besides contributing weekly articles here, she blogs Monday through Friday at A Christian Worldview of Fiction. She works as a freelance writer and editor and posts writing tips as well as information about her editing services at Rewrite, Reword, Rework.

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Susanne Lakin

I am a huge Orson Scott Card fan, and have been thrilled by his new series, Pathfinder. The first two books are out–Pathfinder and Ruins. And I hate having to wait for the next book, but must. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves time travel, physics exploration, and deep characters.


Is there anyone who has read both the Winds of Light and Merlin’s Immortals versions of Sigmund Brouwer’s series? The back copy of the new is identical to the old so why is he rewriting them? It was one thing when they rereleased it as one novel with one new scene added in but this is getting ridiculous.

D. M. Dutcher

Hmm, fantasy. Let’s see.

Rachel Starr Thomson is a very underrated author. Her Worlds Unseen books are good high fantasy, if you like the standard type.

For YA, Melissa Turner Lee’s Earth Painter books are good.

For me, a couple of classics are John White’s Archives of Anthropos books, the first being “The Tower of Geburah,” and John Bibee’s The Magic Bicycle.

There’s also some steampunk out there, with books like Crosswind and Armored Hearts.

I guess for myself, I’d wind up getting hard copies of books. I use Kindle heavily, but if I had the room, I’d keep paper copies and make my own library.


I would recommend Tales of Goldstone Wood to anyone who loves fairy tales,

John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

I could quibble and say a lot in “science fiction” couldn’t happen either. Leaving aside much in STAR TREK and STAR WARS, for example, in “black boxing” with invented elements and what not, the whole secular genre’s blind faith in naturalistic evolution is fantastic by many a definition of the word, including Mr. Card’s. It simply couldn’t happen. FOOTFALL by Niven and Pournelle is a terrific sci-fi alien-invasion classic, as their THE MOTE IN GOD’S EYE is a classic first-contact novel, but neither could ever happen because neither alien species involved could ever evolve naturally. And an uber-example of evolutionary thinking gone berserk, THE KILLING STAR, can’t happen either, a good thing too as otherwise we’d be facing a galaxy full of creatures much more likely to “do unto us what we’d do to them and do it first” than to greet us in peace.

How about so-called “science fantasy”? It’s not Christian but the Incomplete Enchanter series (Harold Shea, chief protagonist) is a superb example of fantasy where magic works by definable mathematical and scientific laws. I like the concept and it got absorbed into my own eclectic brand of Christian speculative fiction (dulce et decorum, contact me for details).

D. M. Dutcher

Well, I guess it depends if you view science fiction as predictive, or more along the lines of “what if?” Usually evolution is used to add plausibility to cool “what if” ideas, more than predicting what’s really out there. You could probably argue that even the sanest “what if?” could never happen. 80s science fiction was full of the idea of moon bases or inhabiting Mars before we got some scale of the difficulty and cost those ideas have.

It’d be nice to have a SF guide, but the big CBA publishers seem to ignore science fiction as a genre these days.

Robert Mullin


There are a number of excellent writers out there: Kat Heckenbach, Kessie Carroll, Rebecca Minor, J.L. Mbewe, R.A. Huffman, K.G. Powderly, J.C. Lamont, Jon Saboe, Aaron DeMott, Lars Walker, Robert Don Hughes, Mark Sebanc, Pauline Creeden, Greg Mitchell, and if you don’t mind a self-plug, yours truly. This is the tip of the iceberg; I know there is a plethora of authors out there worth exploring.