Voting is underway to determine the winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award. We’re down to the five finalists. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of each, again going in alphabetical order according to the authors’ last names.
* Liberator by Bryan Davis
Publisher – Zondervan
Series – Dragons of Starlight, Book 4
Genre – young adult fantasy
For years, tales of dragons from another world kidnapping and enslaving humans have been circulating in Jason Masters’ world, while for a slave girl named Koren, the stories of a human world seem pure myth. Together, these two teens will need to bridge two planets in order to overthrow the draconic threat and bring the lost slaves home. The time has come as the long-awaited invasion of human forces looms. Jason, Koren, and Elyssa struggle to alert the soldiers to an unforeseen menace on the planet of Starlight—a deadly illness that already has Koren in its grip.
Starlighter Cassabrie harbors a secret she believes can counter the dragon king Taushin’s latest maneuverings, but she can disclose little of her risky plan. As Cassabrie fights to save her people, the dragon Magnar works to move the Starlight prophecy in his favor. His actions could make the plight of humans even more perilous. Wishing only to free the slaves and bring peace, a few young warriors are poised to face three armies as they battle for control of two worlds. Can love, faith, and courage be enough? Will Cassabrie be humanity’s last hope?
* This book captivates your attention from the beginning. I could not put it down! It is filled with action, love, sacrifice, and excitement at every turn.
* There are spiritual truths sprinkled throughout this fantasy story about heroes and villains, hope and despair, sacrifice and risk.
A Throne of Bones by Vox Day (aka Theodore Beale)
Publisher – Marcher Lord Press (Hinterlands Imprint)
Series – Arts of Dark and Light, Book 1
Genre – epic fantasy
In Selenoth, the race of Man is on the ascendant. The ancient dragons sleep. The ghastly Witchkings are no more; their evil power destroyed by the courage of Men and the fearsome magic of the Elves. The Dwarves have retreated to the kingdoms of the Underdeep, the trolls hide in their mountains, and even the savage orc tribes have learned to dread the iron discipline of Amorr’s mighty legions. But after four hundred years of mutual suspicion, the rivalry between two of the Houses Martial that rule the Amorran Senate threatens to turn violent, and unrest sparks rebellion throughout the imperial provinces. In the north, the barbarian reavers who have long plagued the coasts of the White Sea beg for the royal protection of the King of Savondir, as they flee a vicious race of wolf-demons. In the east, the war drums echo throughout the mountains as orcs and goblins gather in great numbers, summoned by their bestial gods.
*On a micro and macro level, the reader is surprised (not to mention shocked and stunned), narrative directions are turned 180 degrees and assumptions are ripped away. I never knew where it was heading next.
And here’s the good news: It’s a delightful experience.
* A Throne of Bones is impossible to put down, especially if you’re a guy who appreciates fairly accurate and realistic portrayals of military tactics, political intrigue, and characters trying to live according to their faith in a fallen world.
Mortal by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
Publisher – FaithWords
Series – The Books of Mortals saga, Book 2
Genre – post-apocalyptic fantasy
Centuries have passed since civilization’s brush with apocalypse. The world’s greatest threats have all been silenced. There is no anger, no hatred, no war. There is only perfect peace…and fear. A terrible secret was closely guarded for centuries: every single soul walking the earth, though in appearance totally normal, is actually dead, long ago genetically stripped of true humanity.
Nine years have gone by since an unlikely hero named Rom Sebastian first discovered a secret and consumed an ancient potion of blood to bring himself back to life in Forbidden. Surviving against impossible odds, Rom has gathered a secret faction of followers who have also taken the blood-the first Mortals in a world that is dead.
But The Order has raised an elite army to hunt and crush the living. Division and betrayal threaten to destroy the Mortals from within. The final surviving hope for humanity teeters on the brink of annihilation and no one knows the path to survival.
* I could not put this book down. Excellent story line, intriguing parallels with the Bible.
* “With great plot twists, compelling writing, and unanswered questions, this is a must-read for Dekker fans…”
— Library Journal
Prophet by R. J. Larson
Publisher – Bethany House Publishers
Series – Books of the Infinite, Book 1
Genre – young adult fantasy
Ela Roeh of Parne doesn’t understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She’s undignified and bad-tempered, and at age seventeen she’s much too young. In addition, no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as Parne’s elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite’s prophet, Ela knows she will die young.
Yet she can’t imagine living without Him. Determined to hear the Infinite’s voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite’s word to a nation torn apart by war. There she meets a young ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela battles how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.
* “This tale captured me and held me hostage to the very last page. Breathlessly waiting for the next book.”–Donita K. Paul
* Character-driven and suspenseful, this outstanding young adult speculative fiction launch does a great job of world building.” –Library Journal (starred review)
Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Publisher – Bethany House Publishers
Series – Tales of Goldstone Wood, Book 4
Genre – fairytale fantasy
The Black Dogs Are on the Hunt, But Who Is Their Prey?
When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps fairest Lady Gleamdren, the Bard Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission…and a race against his rival for Gleamdren’s favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.
But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren’s rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?
* “Fans of Tolkien and the darker talers of Faerie will be drawn into Stengl’s effusive prose and wonderfully scary worlds… a series to stretch your imagination over several long winter nights.” – USA Today
* The imagery is amazing, the setting so detailed, and the characters are a hilarious. I could barely put this book down for wanting to know what would happen next.