Friday, January 22, 2010


Do not look at pride as only an unbecoming temper,
or at humility as only a decent virtue.
The one is death, and the other is life;
the one is all hell, and the other is all heaven.

~from Humility, by Andrew Murray~

Tiptoeing through this small-but-weighty book lately, I've been challenged to see not only my acts of obvious pride, but also my inherent spirit of pride. 

Murray reminded me that "the danger of pride is greater and nearer than we think."

Thankfully, "the grace for humility is greater and nearer, too, than we think."  As Murray says, "The humility of Jesus is our salvation."

All praise and glory to the Lamb of God, who humbled Himself even to death on a cross for you and me! 

photo taken by my Mom :-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Book Review - Burning Light

Yes, it's another book review.  Yes, I am doing other things besides reading these days.  Yes, I'll try to do a life-update sort of post soon.

But first I must tell you about this story!  Burning Light is the second book in the Seventh World Trilogy, the first of which I reviewed in my previous post.  Here is epic, beautiful, well-written fantasy that sings of Christian truth.

The story deepens

The Order of the Spider is moving.  It is snatching Gifted children from their homes, seeking to use them for evil, making them forget their own names.  The Empire is ruthlessly hunting out the Gypsies, killing and taking captives.  The rebels of Pravik cannot remain hidden forever.

The King's return draws nearer.  But so does the darkness seeking to rend the Veil of protection.  And some of that darkness is already devouring men's hearts.

Nicholas Fisher goes on a journey to free a captive.  On the way he will discover who he is.  He will hear many things.   And he will experience the Song of the Burning Light.

While this story is mainly about Nicholas, Maggie does show up again for a bit, as do other folks from the first book.  And there is a wonderful range of new characters.  Michael O'Roarke, the young chieftain searching for answers and safety for his clan.  The young lady named Miracle, one of the Gifted.  The mysterious people from a secret and secluded culture.   The strange white wolf.  The evil Unnamed One, once a man but now consumed by evil, burning with desire to rend the Veil and unleash the darkness into the world.

My assessment 

The middle of a series can be a hard book to read and, I expect, to write.  But Rachel Starr Thomson has done very well here.  This second book in her Seventh World Trilogy is just as exciting, just as full of wonder, and even cranked up a few notches from the first book.  It's much more intense, and dark, and sad.  Characters grow miles deeper.   Wonderful and horrible new places in the Seventh World are explored.  I think even Rachel's storytelling and word-smithing improved, and that's saying a lot!

At times the tale felt just a touch chaotic, with so many characters and plot lines.  But that can happen with any middle part of a tale.  And I never was lost or bored, believe you me!

Another interesting thing.  Perhaps I am dense, or I was reading too fast, but something happened with a certain character that I didn't see coming.  I think Rachel may be unique in her approach to writing characters' relationships - they keep surprising me, and I begin to wonder if that's because they are so life-like.  Real people are never as predictable as average book characters.  ;-)        

I will probably be reading this one again near December, before the third book, Advent, is released.  I await it eagerly.  In the meanwhile, I'll be telling folks about this fabulous series (which you can purchase at her website, Rachel Starr Thomson, or on Amazon) and reading Rachel's thoughtful posts at her Inklings blog.

Book 1 - Worlds Unseen  | Book 3 - Coming Day

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book Review - Worlds Unseen

Beyond the everyday existence of men and women lies a realm of ancient beauty and goodness and light. An exiled King calls his people to awake and remember him. But an unspeakable evil is seeking to break into the world of men and rule by misery and cruelty. The Veil that keeps that evil back is wearing thin.

Worlds Unseen follows the stories of several young people who realize that the miserable world of the Empire is not all that exists. Maggie has a song in her heart, just waiting to be drawn out. Nicholas hears what others don’t. Virginia, the blind girl, sees visions.

From the grey city of Londren and the highlands of Anglsie, through the forests of the gypsies, and deep in the ancient tunnels of the Eastern city of Pravik, Maggie and her friends will need all the courage, faith, and love they have to stand against evil. And they will be changed in ways they never dreamed.

Here is what I wrote to Rachel, the author, upon finishing the book the first time:

Oh my goodness. When you put Worlds Unseen on your site as a free download, you certainly knew what you were doing. ;-) I am so hooked. Now I need to decide if my budget can handle hard copies of it and Burning Light. I definitely want these to keep, in tangible papery form!

Thank you for this story! I am in rather a state of shock (the end-of-an-amazing-read sort of shock), and it might be a while before I can write a coherent review for my blog. But for the moment, I mainly wanted to thank you for your well-told story of life and death and tears and growing up, of ashes and newness and the bright, starry thread, of monsters and scoundrels and everyday heroes stepping bravely into battle against evil. Thank you for a picture of worlds unseen, of faith that hopes and believes when the night is dark. Of a King who is coming. Oh, I loved it!

I love your descriptions of all the mysterious, otherworldly characters, like the wind and animal and tree spirits, and Virginia's visions. Ah, beautiful! That is stuff that really encourages me. It reminds me of how little I really see of reality. What all is going on beyond my senses? It's far more than I think, both worse and far better than I can dream.

Now, after reading it for the second time four months later, I found the book just as compelling. The writing is excellent. From the sweeping scale of lands and peoples to the vivid details of small moments, this book shines. The characters are real, each with their own struggles and strengths, and I already love them dearly. Nicholas, the kindhearted Gypsy boy, was probably my favorite character, and I was thrilled to learn that the second book is mainly his story, as the first was Maggie’s.

As far as Christian fantasy goes, I thought it was beautifully done. Magic glinted from these pages, but when it was used selfishly it was always shown to be bad. The source of the good power was always the King, and nothing brought greater joy and comfort and hope than when characters realized He was with them. Nor was there so much direct allegory that it took away from the story, which seems to me to be the other ditch Christian fantasy writers can fall into. Overall, a sense of bittersweet longing pervades the whole book. 

I’m sure I shall be reading this again, as well as recommending it to friends. In the meanwhile, please excuse me while I dive into Book Two – Burning Light.

(You can visit Rachel's website HERE.)

Book 2 - Burning Light   | Book 3 - Coming Day

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Writing Styles - Personalities

I just realized today that when I find myself begrudging people I know of their talent and skill and knack to write, it's like wishing I could have the same or "as good" of a personality as them.  That's silly.  And quite wrong.  If I would instead rejoice in their wonderful abilities, and try to be the best I can be at my own writing, I can enjoy the delightful range of personality and variation God created.

Father, help me be humble in my writing!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Do Not Fear

Do not fear.

Those three words are at the heart of the good news of Jesus. Before he enters into our wrecked lives we have good reason to fear. Before his grace restores us we are a ruin, a foggy graveyard in the dead of night. We’re too lost even to ask for direction, too feeble to beg for help. We may be wealthy, successful, beautiful, even happy–but we know that our deepest heart is a wasteland, a vast, black emptiness of stone and sorrow. To know that emptiness is to be afraid, and that fear is good. That’s the kind of fear that leads to humility, the kind of helplessness that leads to repentance.

But once we’ve heard the Lion roar, once we’ve felt the earth tremble beneath his feet as he strides through the valley of death to gather us up, when we have looked into his loving eyes and seen the forges of heaven there, when we have finally stopped running, when we have given up and have at last let him heal us where we’re truly broken, everything changes. The wasteland is green. The graveyard is a garden. Our senses sometimes tell us otherwise, and it’s hard to believe, but faith gives us eyes to see his invisible face, ears to hear his silent voice.

~Andrew Peterson~

Read the rest of his post HERE.  I've been struggling against all sorts of fears lately.  This was a great reminder to me that my Hero has come to chase those fears away, if I will let Him.