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The Skin Map
The Book of Names - reprint edition
Mundis Veridis
The Realms Thereunder
Vigilante
Edge of Apocalypse
Phantastes
I, Messiah


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Christian Fiction: Fantasy


The Skin Map

- A Bright Empires Novel - Book 1

by Stephen R Lawhead


Stephen Lawhead is to my mind a wonderful author with some stunning books and series to his name and with this the first book in a new series, he is yet again showing why he already has a best selling track record.
This book is a time jump drama, something I've always had a penchant for, but add into this the slight steampunkesque feel to it and for me it's a winner. The main story is that of Kit, ordinary man of today whose day is not going to plan, who somehow meets his great-grandfather who had gone out many years ago and never returned and in turn ends up on an adventure that crosses timelines and localities. There is a great collection of back stories in the book too and some quite funny interludes, as future and past meet, blend and spin off each other.
If you like modern fantasy and time jump stories then you probably can't go wrong with this book - and you'll probably look forward to the next one in the series too.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (02/08/13)
Jacket
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-782-64013-4
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Book of Names - reprint edition

- Legends of Karak Tor - Book One

by D. Barkley Briggs


Four, still grieving, motherless boys, have moved with their historian father to rural Missouri from Independence, a suburb of Kansas City. A culture shock for them all, though it is some comfort to know that their mother had helped plan this move before her death.
Haydn, the older boy, has been set an after school chore of clearing a huge bramble patch in one of their fields and surprisingly this task is what leads him and his brothers into an adventure of fantastical proportions.
What follows is a story of stumbling, Narnialike into another world, among good and evil beings, each trying to win supremacy. Peopled by a mixture of humans, wraiths, fey, faeries, gnomes and many more, Haydn and his younger brother Ewan are drawn into the story, seemingly by accident. This is a real page turner for readers of any age, chapter after chapter you have to keep reading.
Originally written to help his own four boys following the death of their mother, D. Barkley Briggs has woven a satisfyingly complex tale that has taken on a life of its own so that there is another book to follow, Corus The Champion
But back to this book Ė surprise and adventure follow fast, one after the other right to the final surprise on the last page. And then.......?

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (07/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Living Ink distributed by Kingsway
Published: 15 March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-899-57863-7
Paperback
Price: £8.25

Mundis Veridis

- And the End of the World

by Mim Lennon


I have had an interest in the Israel/Palestine situation for many years and welcomed this new approach in support of Israel.
Mim Lennon has as her central character a particularly attractive devil, Mundis Veridis. Attractive? Well he certainly attracts your attention! He is quite a character - in fact more than one! How can that be? He can be in more than one or two places at a time, according to the will of his Boss!
Mundis has existed since the fall and is supposedly a favourite of the Boss - but I do wonder about that. He is instructed to mastermind various plans to stop the creation of the Israeli state, so we move through history learning about how the state of Israel came about despite Mundis' and his minions efforts.
Historical facts are all here, but woven into the history is a fantastical tale of Mundis and his lifestyle, of the love of his life, his laid back devilry that in the end was completely ineffectual against the 'higher beings'.
This is not a quick read - there are many strands to this story of fiction whose purpose is to concentrate our minds on the facts. Gripping and thought provoking.

mimlennon@iinet.net.au

The book has its own website:www.endtimesgreenearth.com

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (27/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Ink Books
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-921-58949-2
Paperback
Price: £12.00(incl P&P)

The Realms Thereunder

- The Ancient Earth Trilogy

by Ross Lawhead


A vague feeling of Gaimanís Neverwhere, mixed with Tolkien, a sprig of Stephen Lawhead to flavour it and then throw in a touch of dichotomy as the feel of young adult material mixes in with high fantasy and a timescape crossover, would be my best description of this book. This is not to say that itís not an enjoyable read, it is, but it doesnít really feel like an original read. All along you constantly feel that youíve perhaps been here before Ė a sense of readerís dťjŗ vu, and as itís only book one of a trilogy it certainly doesnít feel completed either.
I do have to admit that it reads well, there is a pacing to the story and a feeling to the characters of Daniel, Freya and others that carries the book along well enough. You do find yourself wanting to know more of whatís going on, whatís happening.
Itís a story about choices, faith, end times and the classic battle of good against evil that rages always just out of sight for the most part but nevertheless lurks there waiting.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (20/02/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Thomas Nelson From TMD or Joining the Dots
Published: 06 September 2011
ISBN: 978-1-595-54909-9
Paperback
Price: £10.99

Vigilante



by Robin Parrish


Set not far in the future, in fact so not far in the future that itís very easy to see today in it, Vigilante depicts a world gone bad, where the rich, corporations, the military, government and organized crime function in such a way that there seems no hope and where crime is the day to day currency. Into this steps Nolan, an acknowledged best of the best soldier who can no longer live where the innocent constantly pay the price for the guilty, and so he stages his death and becomes part James Bond, part Batman Ė an avenger, a vigilante, a person trying to put right wrongs.
So Okay this might not be the most original story out there, it may even not be the best written one ever Ė although itís a very long way from the worst written one Ė but it is nevertheless a fun adventure yarn with a moral point at the heart of it. Do we stand by and let evil and wrong continue or do we stand up and speak out, do we do nothing or do we act? That is the heart of the story, the question Parrish is ultimately trying to pose and itís an important one wrapped up in a decent airplane holiday read piece of fiction.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (09/02/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Bethany House imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-764-20608-5
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Edge of Apocalypse

- The End Series

by Tim LaHaye & Craig Parshall


If you were a fan of the Left Behind series then youíre probably going to enjoy the latest pseudo thriller from Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall Ė full of veiled biblical prophecies, born again believers and an unremitting battle against the powers and principalities of darkness as we head towards the end of days.
In terms of writing and story style itís a regular alphabet soup and secret spy adventure thriller, think Matthew Reilly or Tom Clancy and youíre moving in the right stylistic arena, however add in a dash of Dan Brown or David Hewson for the prophecy fulfilment angle and youíre almost but not quite there.
On the whole itís a Christian thriller that is a good way to waste a few hours if you like thrillers and end of days fiction, the writing is not the best but by far not the worst, and the story carries itself along at a decent pace Ė however beware the ending, this is obviously meant to be another long running serialisation and so I was left feeling a little cheated by the ending.

Review by Melanie Carroll  (16/01/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Zondervan from Trust Media Distribution
Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-0-310-52018-4
Paperback
Price: £9.99

Phantastes

- A Faerie Romance for Men and Women

by George Macdonald


Back in 2002 I wrote of the then new edition of this famous book -
In recognition of the influence this book has had on authors such as C.S.Lewis and G.K.Chesterton, and the current interest in Tolkienís Elven realms, SPCK has given us a chance to read this classic of adult fantasy writing. This edition, first published in the year of MacDonaldís death, is beautifully and appropriately illustrated by the pre-Raphaelite illustrator, Arthur Hughes. The story has a dream like quality that holds you entranced to the end. Suspend your modern practical thinking and indulge in a journey of pure imagination, you may find it rewarding.
Now Hendrickson Publishers are the latest publishers to issue the same edition using the original layout and illustrations which this time have been tastefully hand coloured in soft pastel shades that I can imagine delighting Arthur Hughes. This is a book that was a pleasure to re-read.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (19/09/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Hendrickson from Alban Books
Published: July 2011
ISBN: 978-1-598-56667-3
Hardback
Price: £12.99

I, Messiah



by Donald Southey


Kinky, quirky, provocative, thought provoking, amusing: these are only a few of the words that spring to mind in the course of reading Donald Southey's quite remarkable little book, I, Messiah. For him to write a story starring a robot with a soul was risky. He could all too easily have failed. He didn't. Sid, Southey's robot, is a wonderfully warm creation: wise, loving, loved ... and different. It is a difference that inevitably presents a threat to those who control the culture into which he was "born", so they "crucify" him by dismemberment. But, of course, Sid lives on in the lives, robotic and human, of those with whom he came into contact, just as Jesus lives on, and just, it is to be hoped, as the message of I Messiah will live on in all who read it in the years to come. It deserves a place in the best seller lists.

Review by Bob Page  (06/08/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Onwards and Upwards Publishing
Published: Spring 2011
ISBN: 978-1-907-50909-4
Paperback
Price: £8.50