This is not Speculative Fiction Friday as yet, but I honestly believe that there needs to be more Christian speculative fiction and fantasy. I discovered DawnSinger, and I believe that what we have here is something that can compete with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
One of the reasons that I don’t read many fantasy books is that they tend to fall into conventions. I don’t know whether or not Tolkien started these, but many fantasy books have a map that you have to constantly flip back to in order to follow the quest action. Yes, most fantasy books are usually about a group of adventurers trying to get to some place to stop a big force of evil, and it can get a little tedious at times.
I will say that Janalyn Voigt’s Dawnsinger does follow some of these conventions, but it shows that they have not been done to death. Granted, its plot structure is similar to The Fellowship of the Ring. That is, a seemingly ordinary character is told that they are destined to destroy a force of evil, and by part two, they are on a journey to a new place to do so.
In the case of this book, the main character is Shae, and she is summoned by a dying queen. She is escorted to the throne by Kai, a character that I don’t want to give too much information about at this time. Needless to say, Kai and Shae are essentially the main characters here. When the big quest happens, there are other characters introduced, but I felt they were rushed and need more development. Fortunately, there are two more books in this trilogy to flush them out.
Remember how I stated that fantasy books have a lot of conventions? One of them are long songs that interrupt the action of the storyline. When I first read Lord of the Rings, I would just skip those. In the case of Dawnsinger, one of these songs reveals very important plot-points. I actually realized what the queen was saying to Shae during this song, and it was worth re-reading.
There is a lot worth re-reading in this book. The author has created a world that has its own ecosystem complete with flying horses and welkes. If you don’t know what a welke is, don’t worry, because this is one of those books with an appendix for all the terms on the world of Fairhaven. This is another reason that I avoid deeper works of fantasy like Robert Jordan, because I hate appendices that I have to keep my finger in and constantly look up terms that the characters utter without thinking. I read the book and consulted the appendix only a few times, and I was able to follow the action quite well. This is a good sign of an author that can create an entirely new world with completely new terms, and yet I as a reader was able to follow it well.
In short, Janalyn Voigt has managed to combine the Christian symbolism of Tolkien and Lewis and worked in the complexity of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. The end result is an epic fantasy that feels very character driven. The only thing that I don’t like is a romance, and I don’t want to give that away. Needless to say, it is this kind of “forbidden love” that I, as a guy, could just skip over. Yeah, I am probably not the target audience of this book with a female lead character, but there needs to be more stories like this.
Anyway, I recommend Dawnsinger especially if you are fan of Christian fantasy and want to see more. You can get it on Amazon in e-book and paperback form here.
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