A Draw of Kings Review

A Draw of Kings

A Draw of Kings (The Staff and the Sword) by Patrick Carr is the third novel in the The Staff and The Sword Series. In a A Cast of Stones (The Staff and the Sword), we meet Errol Stone, a drunken young man with no prospects until Martin and Luis discover he is a reader. The Hero’s Lot (The Staff and the Sword) find him part of the Watch, but trouble stirs in the church. Evil encroaches and King Rodran is dying. Now in A Draw of Kings, King Rodran is dead and the kingdom is threatened by evil on all sides of the kingdom.

One must have read the other two novels in order to fully understand book three. To some, that’s not a big deal, but I usually like each novel to be a complete story. Up until this novel, each book felt like a complete story. A Draw of Kings continues and ends the trilogy. The scene opens up to the heroes and heroine returning. Again, without prior knowledge of the past two books, it would be difficult to follow. A Draw of Kings is a wonderful wrap-up to the trilogy. Although, the ending mystified me as to how a dead man was able to live. I gave this novel five stars because, like the other two, I had to keep reading long after my husband went to bed.

Read my other reviews: A Cast of Stones and The Hero’s Lot.

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  Book given by publisher to review. I am participating in CSFF Blogtour.

Author Website - http://patrickwcarr.com/
*Participants’ links  

Gillian Adams
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Mike Coville
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Nikole Hahn
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Shannon McNear
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
James Somers
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Jill Williamson

Book Review: Moonblood

Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl had the similar exhaustive detail that Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings series had with the winsome flow of an old-fashioned fairy tale. In this story, we read about Lionheart.

If you’ll remember from Stengl’s last novel in this series, Veiled Rose, Lionheart made some unwise choices and when he returned to his homeland in the Southlands in Moonblood, those bad decisions did not end or get better. Lionheart banishes his friend and insinuated love, Rose Red to the wood in-between (or the Goldstone Wood) where various invisible paths lace the wood. These paths cross different realms and kingdoms. One could take a wrong step and be on the wrong path, forever wandering. Lionheart learns that when he banished Rose Red into the Wood In-Between he caused her evil father to re-capture Rose and imprison her in the castle at Arpiar.

After being disinherited in his father’s kingdom, Lionheart sets out to find the realm of Arpiar to rescue Rose Red from her evil father, Vahe. Arpiar is an enchanted kingdom that no one can find unless someone within calls out their name. A feared unicorn under the control of Vahe guards the kingdom. The unicorn is one of the legendary children of Hymlume, fallen from grace.

Every so often the moon turns blood red as Hymlume weeps for her fallen children, and in another realm a dragon kingdom sleeps. Vahe intends to kill his daughter, Rose Red (or otherwise named, Varvare) on the night of the blood red moon to wake the dragons. Lionheart and the knights of Farthestshore come together to rescue Rose Red and free Arpiar from its enchantments. It is much more than a fairy tale. It’s a quest for truth as Lionheart battles his shame

Moonblood is a complicated story, a novel in a series of books that go beyond the surface, and explore why we do what we do and how some can be persuaded to turn from the right path. The story had a poignant ending. It’s not your typical love story and it’s not predictable. It leaves you aching when you turn the last page and discover that for some happily ever after is not a reality.

I gave this story four stars for at first, I was a little lost, wondering if I missed a novel in the series in-between and I felt like I had to catch up, but my struggles didn’t last long. Soon, I was happily flipping pages rooting for Lionheart and Rose Red.

*This story given by the publisher to review.

This month’s tour for Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl runs Monday through Wednesday. I will refer to past reviews of her books as well as a review of StarflowerStarflower Review will be tomorrow. In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of Starflower from the publisher. Others involved in this tour are here:
Gillian Adams
Beckie Burnham
Nikole Hahn
Bruce Hennigan
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Emileigh Latham
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Anna Mittower
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Dona Watson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

Book Review: Moonblood

Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl had the similar exhaustive detail that Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings series had with the winsome flow of an old-fashioned fairy tale. In this story, we read about Lionheart.

If you’ll remember from Stengl’s last novel in this series, Veiled Rose, Lionheart made some unwise choices and when he returned to his homeland in the Southlands in Moonblood, those bad decisions did not end or get better. Lionheart banishes his friend and insinuated love, Rose Red to the wood in-between (or the Goldstone Wood) where various invisible paths lace the wood. These paths cross different realms and kingdoms. One could take a wrong step and be on the wrong path, forever wandering. Lionheart learns that when he banished Rose Red into the Wood In-Between he caused her evil father to re-capture Rose and imprison her in the castle at Arpiar.

After being disinherited in his father’s kingdom, Lionheart sets out to find the realm of Arpiar to rescue Rose Red from her evil father, Vahe. Arpiar is an enchanted kingdom that no one can find unless someone within calls out their name. A feared unicorn under the control of Vahe guards the kingdom. The unicorn is one of the legendary children of Hymlume, fallen from grace.

Every so often the moon turns blood red as Hymlume weeps for her fallen children, and in another realm a dragon kingdom sleeps. Vahe intends to kill his daughter, Rose Red (or otherwise named, Varvare) on the night of the blood red moon to wake the dragons. Lionheart and the knights of Farthestshore come together to rescue Rose Red and free Arpiar from its enchantments. It is much more than a fairy tale. It’s a quest for truth as Lionheart battles his shame

Moonblood is a complicated story, a novel in a series of books that go beyond the surface, and explore why we do what we do and how some can be persuaded to turn from the right path. The story had a poignant ending. It’s not your typical love story and it’s not predictable. It leaves you aching when you turn the last page and discover that for some happily ever after is not a reality.

I gave this story four stars for at first, I was a little lost, wondering if I missed a novel in the series in-between and I felt like I had to catch up, but my struggles didn’t last long. Soon, I was happily flipping pages rooting for Lionheart and Rose Red.

*This story given by the publisher to review.

Book Review: Dragonspell

Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul is just as fun a read as The Dragons of Chirill, bringing back some of my favorite characters like Wizard Fenworth. It brings us a new story in the adventures of Paladin.

Kale Allerion is a recently freed slave on her way to The Hall to serve Paladin until a group of Grawligs attack near the city of Vendela. Paladin sends a force of his people to rescue Kale and help her in her quest to find the meech egg–a dragon egg that the evil wizard Risto wants to use to create his own race of beings.

Gifted with powers beyond her comprehension, Kale must rely upon Wizard Fenworth and Leetu in how to use her powers. Humorous slips of ettiquette bring delightful scenes interspersed between battles and adventures. Kale feels unfit for this quest and is terrified of Wizard Risto.

Dragonspell is yet another great novel with rich characters, a well-developed world, and spirited and imaginative dialogue. There are also subtle pieces of biblical wisdom that never thumps someone over the head with it’s biblical roots, but a gentle reminder of our purpose. I gave this novel 5 Drumddums for imagination and fun.

*Book given by publisher to review.

Book Review – Armor of God: The Paladin

Armor of God: The Paladin is the work of Tracy Lesch. According to Amazon’s bio, “Tracy Lesch is an award-winning writer of Fantasy, Suspense, and other Speculative Fiction. He is a former Dungeons & Dragons illustrator, radio, and television personality. His work has appeared in books, magazines, and online venues.” That’s why it surprised me that I didn’t like the novel.

Excerpts of Armor of God: The Paladin won him Writer of the Year from the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference and his Christian Writer’s Guild mentor is Eva Everson—author of Chasing Sunsets (Baker/Revell 2011), This Fine Life (Baker/Revell 2010), and others. Tracy is a member of Word Weavers and the Christian Writer’s Guild. I can understand why excerpts of Armor of God: The Paladin won awards. Depending upon which excerpts, by itself some sections are quite well written:

“I cannot win with my own human hatred or bloodlust, but only with His righteous anger. No human could possibly stand against the unholy evils I have seen.” (Location 208-209)

“The silver was exquisite, beautiful as I softly polished the blade. When I looked closely I could see tiny rainbows in the mirrored surface.” (Location 178-179)

The novel is about a monk named Captain Jean Baptiste who is fulfilling a role as “God’s own Paladin.” He seeks demons and kills them. Part of the description states, “the hardest demons to vanquish maybe those that lurk within the human heart. What lies ahead for the one mortal on earth who can summon the very Armor of God?” There were so many problems with the novel.

Each chapter does not designate a place or date (i.e. Germany, 1505). In chapter one the line where Jean, the Paladin says, “As long as I pursued the Quest, I was very hard to kill,” made me take a pause. Also, as the talons of the monster attacking Paladin begin to tear him a part, a sword “magically” appears in his hand saving the day. Both of these items lesson the high stakes.

Why should I continue reading if Paladin is very hard to kill? Chapter two had no designation of time or place and when I read the name, “Germany,” I felt confused. Obviously, this was the past on earth, but when and where? Shouldn’t there be historical references as the story takes place on earth in the past? Chapter one also confused me because I could not tell if this was a man or a woman. If one didn’t read the description of the novel, one would be wondering about this until more information is discovered later in the novel. Voice is another issue.

Right away I don’t like Paladin. He’s arrogant, conceited, and self-absorbed. I couldn’t imagine why any farmer or lay person in that world would invite him into their house. He’s overly dramatic. The novel is written in first person and so it gets you into the head of Paladin. There are also classic writing mistakes—things most of us would get critiqued for in our own Word Weavers group.

Chapter two continues to leave the reader in a dark fog. This short chapter is all conversation with no beats, tags, or description. At this point, I have no idea who is talking to whom. Then, Tracy manages to commit massive info-dumping for several chapters as Paladin sits down with Gustav and Anna and recounts his life story to them. From chapter ten to chapter fourteen Paladin’s dialogue is mostly unbroken. The reader is forced to read his entire history in dialogue. Typically, novels I read do not force the reader to sit through what I would call a “lecture.” It loses its tension here and my interest. Then, there’s the preachy dialogue.

“No, that is not what I mean. Do you commune daily with the Lord, is He part of every moment of your daily life? Do you pray?” It didn’t sound natural. While I was reviewing this novel, I was also in the midst of reviewing, “Scream,” by Mike Dellosso. He had a great example of showing why a character should believe in God instead of telling by mixing in relational issues associated with being a believer in a family of non-believers and showing the fear of the demons (hence, the screaming) in each character. I think there was way too much telling in Tracy’s novel.

The novel didn’t stir my emotions, excite me so that I looked forward to returning to its pages, or make me feel sympathy to Paladin as I neared the end of the novel and learned more about his family. I think the plot and story have potential, but in its present form I wouldn’t read it again. When I finally discovered some good emotional paragraphs I became excited because some humanity finally comes through in Paladin’s character.

Overall, I rated this two stars. To judge the novel yourself, you can buy it on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

*Book given by author to review.

Bonus: Review of The Map Across Time

Book 2, The Gates of Heaven Series

Release date: January 14, 2011

Honored. That’s how I felt when C.S. Lakin asked me to review her book, The Map Across Time. It wasn’t scheduled on the offical blog tour run by CSFF and this book isn’t scheduled for publication until mid-January.

Most series usually use prior characters. It’s a way to continue a story from the first book like Terri Blackstock’s suspense series. You always meet the characters in the prior book before they become the subject of the next book. The Gates of Heaven Series are different. Just like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, C.S. Lakin continues the story in the same LAND. Eventually, you do meet the ancestors of the town of Tebron and learn some history, but ultimately it’s a time travel story.

She reeled me in from page to page. Time travel stories are tricky because you’ve got to have some understanding of what it means to mess with another time in history and its consequences. My husband loves to point out mistakes in most time travel movies, but he would have trouble finding the mistakes in this book. It’s mind boggling.

Adin and Aletha, twins by birth, and heirs to a kingdom have to find the cure for the curse that promises to demolish their kingdom’s future. Adin was born with some prominent birth defects and one leg is shorter than the other. The book opens with their mother, the queen dying of some mysterious and evil enchantment.

Why have I not been able to produce a cure? In all her many seasons she had treated every known illness and handily counteracted poisons from noxious plants mistakenly ingested or, on rare occasion, purposely administered. There was no plant she could fail to identify; cite uses for its seed, leaf, and root; and prepare at least half a dozen infusions to treat every known ailment in this kingdom.

But this! For months this nemesis had been unreadable. The symptoms of the Queen’s ailment acted like fenweed poison, but had the fever and chills of harrowbane. Nothing Reya tried had elicited a positive reaction. She could almost sense a magical binding but could not suss it out. There were none of the obvious markers, and yet when she laid her palm on the Queen’s neck she met with an odd sensation, a resonance both strange and chillingly familiar. If magic was the culprit, then it was masterfully masked. Reya had not wanted to admit the possibility, but seeing the Queen now in her final hours—the horrible reality of something evil at work, something beyond her wisdom to cure or even name—sent a shiver up her spine.

A young hero with a weak leg and some facial birth defects saves the day in this story—or at least one of him saves the day. She uses Hebrew in the story as their ancient language. Familiar stories from the Bible are ingeniously weaved throughout. I closed the last page and sighed. Typical and yet it was an untypical happy ending. Read it carefully. I have a feeling if I reread (and I will!) these stories, I will come across clues and things that I have missed on my first reading. The stories are far from simple, especially book 2. I will be looking for a book 3 in this series, and am thinking that these books would make a blockbuster movie!

Book Provided by the Publisher