Tag Archives: medieval

Day 14- Favorite book of your favorite writer…

This is a bit of a repeat, but nonetheless…

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy - C.S. Lewis

“The Horse and His Boy,” by C. S. Lewis

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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Day 4: Favorite book of your favorite series…

The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia, #3)

“The Horse and His Boy,” by C. S. Lewis

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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Day 3: Your favorite series…

The Chronicles of Narnia

“The Chronicles of Narnia,” by C. S. Lewis

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Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Book Review: Magnus, or Wings of Dawn

Genre: historical fiction; adventure; young adult fiction; fantasy; Christian fiction

Plot Summary: Young Thomas, living in medieval England, is destined to be teenaged ruler of the city of Magnus.  But he must use his clever mind and the special knowledge he has learned in secret to find a way to overcome the evil Druidic rule over the city.  Someone is trying to kill him, and ancient, close-guarded secrets abound, but who can Thomas really trust?  Who is the mysterious girl who hides behind a face covering?  And who is the beautiful mute girl?

My Review:  When I was a kid, I loved the Accidental Detective Series by Sigmund Brouwer.  I picked this up, excited to read my first novel for adults by the same author, only to find it really falls under junior fiction.  I suppose if I were a 12 year old boy, I would love this high-action adventure story much better than I did, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the read.  Something needs to be understood first—this is a thick book.  That’s because it’s really a compilation of an 8-book series called The Winds of Light, which also goes by another series title: Merlin’s Immortals.  Magnus also goes by another title: Wings of Dawn.  It’s a little confusing, but I believe this is correct.  You can view the titles to each book in the series here.

I’ve posted before about the importance of book cover art.  Depending on which version you pick up, you may not be very tempted to read it.  (Which of the above cover art is most appealing to you?)  But if you’ll read other reviews, you’ll find that others highly enjoyed the adventure, despite their first inhibitions.  I like the cover art of the first book to the Merlin’s Immortals series best, and the exciting book trailer created for it:

One of the things I’ve always appreciated about this author is that Brouwer is great at weaving mysteries throughout his stories.  Suspense abounds, and surprise twists never cease to end, right up to the last page.  There’s even a love interest for Thomas (although which girl is the answer to a long-awaited question!).  I wasn’t sure what genre to categorize this under.  It’s hard to call it historical fiction because of the “fantasy feel” of it, even though it takes place in an historical era and is set in England.  But it’s not really fantasy, as nothing magical happens in it.  We learn that Thomas has been a special student of advanced scientific knowledge rare for the time and place this book is set, which makes his methods of “power” seem magical to those around him who are less learned.  This is why I call the book a healthier alternative to Harry Potter.  In the back, historical notes are written to commentate on the time era, which were interesting, and kept the facts from interrupting the magical feel and flow of the story.

The first half of the book kept my attention well, but the second half started to lose me a bit. For one thing, the pacing and plot felt like a chess game gone an hour too long. I began to feel antsy, lacked the energy to keep up with the characters, and wished the story would just end!  That was me, however.  I do realize that most of the author’s audience is mainly boys, and Brouwer writes with the goal of keeping the attention of those who usually have a hard time sitting still to enjoy a book.  (Click on the picture for a link to hear an interview with the author!)

I would make the recommendation of reading this in the format of Brouwer’s 8 book Winds of Light Series, instead of the 550+ page tome of Magnus.  The reason for this is that in one large book, the pacing seems off and certain themes become repetitive (probably because they are acutally recaps from where the books have been joined together).

Readers may find it unbelievable that the main character is a teenager.  The author explains that teens were considered adults by the age of 12-14 in the medieval era.  I find it refreshing to have a responsible, mature 14 year old as the hero of a junior fiction book.

If you’re a young adult reader, or know a junior reader who needs “something to do” this summer, this read will keep him/her on the edge of their seat for a while!

Have you read Magnus?  Share your thoughts!…


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Book Review: The Wood Beyond the World

Genre: fantasy; classic fiction

The Wood Beyond the World, by William Morris

Plot Summary: Description from “Exiled from his house by a faithless wife, Golden Walter sets sail in search of the refuge and unknown adventures of youthful enterprise. When the two houses feud, however, and his father is slain by the kin of the treacherous woman, Walter sets out to return home, only to be blown off course and fall into the hands of a mistress even more insidious. But, in his captivity, he meets a companion truly wise and pure, to whom he looks for his “deliverance from that house of guile and lies.”

My Review (contains spoilers):  Having heard that both C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien greatly admired William Morris‘s stories and were influenced by him, I thought I might be interested in picking up this book.  It certainly was not what I was expecting.

Written in beautiful archaic medieval-sounding English, it felt very much the fairy tale. Sometimes it was a little difficult to understand, though I got the gist of things.

I could see some similarities between C. S. Lewis’ “The Silver Chair” and Morris’ “The Wood Beyond the World”. In both stories, the protagonist is taken in by a seductive witch. In “Silver Chair”, once the prince becomes unenchanted and is made aware of the witch’s deceitfulness, he draws his sword and kills her, and afterwards escapes. But in “The Wood…”, Walter knows from the first that the witch is evil, but is instructed by his sweetheart to “play it safe, play along, and bide his time.” I became disappointed in Walter as the story went along because there was never a time he was allowed to BE THE HERO (you know, draw his weapon, kill the bad guy and rescue the maiden… I don’t know– maybe I watch too many cowboy movies!). It was all deceitfulness and “guile”.

Not only was the “hero” dull, he also doesn’t seem very loyal. Still married to an unfaithful woman, he begins his voyage to other lands where he encounters two other women he falls for. One is a beautiful and pure maiden, who becomes his loyal sweetheart; the other is the seductive witch, whom Walter sleeps with to keep up his charade of being her pet. It doesn’t get graphic, but it is made known that Walter and the witch spend the night together.  Therefore, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to younger readers.

On the other hand, one positive thing about the book is that throughout their travels, Walter and the maiden remain abstinent with each other until their marriage. But still, I have to wonder: what about Walter’s first wife? The story never related that he ever divorced her. Was he a polygamist?

Having the two bad guys kill each other felt like a disappointing ending to the main plot, but the story keeps on with several mini-plots afterward (which made the story feel unbalanced).

And what was the Maiden’s and the witch’s names? These two prominent characters remained nameless throughout the whole book.

Generally, I thought the book kept up good suspense most of the way through. That was what kept me reading– I wanted to find out what happened. I can’t say I enjoyed this book, but it might be of interest to die-hard fans of Lewis and Tolkien, and also to fantasy and classic lit. buffs.

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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Book Reviews


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