Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Book Review Day 1 — “Corus the Champion” by D. Barkley Briggs

A few months back I decided to reread “The Lord of the Rings” by Tolkien. I had not actually read the books since I was a teenager and that was close to, ahem, forty years ago. As I dove into the books, I was amazed at the level of fantasy; the quality of the writing; and what an awesome job Peter Jackson did in adapting the books into the movies. I am now over two thirds of the way through “The Two Towers” and I am once again enthralled by four elements Tolkien uses so well. Those elements are names, songs, geography, and companionship. So many names! Endless songs! Towering mountains and deep, macabre caverns! And fellowship!

I have spent the last two years diving into Christian fantasy and I must say that I have yet to find a Christian fantasy as satisfyingly close to Tolkien as “Corus the Champion” by D. Barkley Briggs. I will only be posting a one day review for I must confess something. I read the reviews of the first book in this series, “The Book of Names” and started immediately into “Corus the Champion”. Halfway through this new book I was so taken with the characters and so wrapped up by the story I felt I was doing the book and the author a disservice by NOT reading both books. And so, I am now halfway through the first book and I am loving every page of both books. D. Barkley Briggs has done a masterful job of evoking the kind of wonder and awe I felt reading Tolkien and that is saying a lot!

I will be posting a two day review since I am still happily reading through these two books! Here is Day 1: Names and Songs!

Names. Pay very close attention to the names in “Corus the Champion”. These names are so slippery and sneaky. They have double, sometimes triple meanings hidden in their spelling and their pronunciation. I dare not even discuss the name of the “Sleeping King” for to do so would be to ruin one of the key developments in this book! But, there are four names the reader should know. Gabe and Garrett are twins. Their older brothers are Ewan and Hadyn. These four boys live on a farm with their widowed father. And, while working in the field Ewan and Hadyn discovered a stone arch hidden in a briar patch. After receiving a mysterious scroll inviting all four boys to a life of adventure, all four were whisked away to Karac Tor, one of the Nine Worlds. And, in “Corus the Champion” each boy has found his “gift” and has been separated to achieve the purpose of bringing the world of Karac Tor to sanity by restoring the King. But, in order to do so, they must first find a Champion who will raise the King. Unfortunately, Corus the Champion is dead, betrayed by his best friend to the magical Fey folk — mischievous and mostly evil.

Songs! Ewan has a flute. It was a small, insignificant instrument in our world. But, on arrival in Karac Tor, Ewan discovered he had a power within him to deliver song to the world and these songs contain power and strength from God. And here, D. Barkley Briggs has achieved some extraordinary prose. When he writes about Ewan’s songs, the words take on a power of their own. Here is an excerpt of the song Ewan plays for Queen Marielle, the leader of the Fey folk. In the song that springs from his soul, Ewan finds himself recalling his lost mother:

“Ewan let loose with a long, slow note. A low note, like the roots of the trees in the forest around him, clawing deep into the earth. A note of heartache, of searching for unseen things and wishing they could be true. In his mind’s eye, flickering from shadows to light, he caught a glimpse of his mom. The freshness of the memory made his heart hurt, feel ashamed, realizing with shock how long it had been since he las though of her. But there she was now, inside, bright and clean.”

This is but a taste of the quality of writing in Corus the Champion. I do not want to hurry through this book. I want to savor it!

Tomorrow: Geography and Companionship

Book link –  http://www.amazon.com/Corus-Champion-Legends-Karac-Tor/dp/0899578640/ (or some other link of your choice)
Author’s Web site  – http://hiddenlands.net/index.php?Itemid=49&id=19&option=com_content&task=view
Participants’ links:

http://ofbattlesdragonsandswordsofadamant.blogspot.com/“> Gillian Adams

http://noahsreads.blogspot.com/ Noah Arsenault

http://rbclibrary.wordpress.com/“> Beckie Burnham

http://morganlbusse.wordpress.com“> Morgan L. Busse

http://csffblogtour.com/“> CSFF Blog Tour

http://carolcollett.wordpress.com/“> Carol Bruce Collett

http://tweezlereads.blogspot.com/“> Theresa Dunlap

http://projectinga.blogspot.com/“> April Erwin

http://vicsmediaroom.wordpress.com/“> Victor Gentile

http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com/“> Nikole Hahn

http://realmofhearts.blogspot.com/“> Ryan Heart<

http://fantasythyme.blogspot.com“> Timothy Hicks

http://www.christopherhopper.com/blog/“> Christopher Hopper

http://www.spoiledfortheordinary.blogspot.com/“> Jason Joyner

http://www.molcotw.blogspot.com/“> Julie

http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/“> Carol Keen

http://krystisbooks.blogspot.com/“> Krystine Kercher

http://mharvireads.blogspot.com/“> Marzabeth

http://www.shannonmcdermott.com/?page_id=189“> Shannon McDermott

http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/“> Rebecca LuElla Miller

http://www.questwriter.blogspot.com/“> Eve Nielsen

http://www.sarahsawyer.com/blog“> Sarah Sawyer

http://reviewsfromtheheart.blogspot.com/“> Kathleen Smith

http://www.mindsinger.com/“> Donna Swanson

http://www.rachelstarrthomson.com/inklings/“> Rachel Starr Thomson

http://christiansf.blogspot.com/“> Steve Trower

http://frederation.wordpress.com“> Fred Warren

http://christian-fantasy-book-reviews.com/blog/“> Phyllis Wheeler

http://www.theravenquill.blogspot.com/“>  Nicole White

http://finishedthebook.blogspot.com/“> Rachel Wyant

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

A Visit With Mary

I was asked to write a monologue from Mary’s memories for Brookwood Baptist Church’s event, “Joy”. Now that it has been performed, I want to share it with you on this first day of December as we count down the days until we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

 

A Visit With Mary

 Mary is sitting on a stool that looks hand made. She is sitting beside a table that appears hand carved or hand made. She picks up a hand carved animal and seems to study it.

 No parent should ever have to bury their child. Ever. When you hold your newborn baby, you never imagine the end. You only think of the beginning. All is fresh and new and tomorrow is forever.

 She puts the animal back on the table.

 I heard about my new baby from an angel. Really! You don’t believe me, but that is just fine. An angel told me I was going to have a baby boy and even told me what to name him. I couldn’t tell just anybody. They would think I was crazy. After all, I was so young, so innocent and already engaged to be married. Yeah, engaged.

 My husband was a good man. Hard working. Dedicated. Loved the Lord. He didn’t tell me about his angel until he was dying. Told me an angel visited him and told him to marry me no matter what. He listened to the angel and he listened to his heart. He loved me. And, I loved him. He was such a good father.

 She picks up the animal again and paces as she talks.

 There was that time we lost my son. We were traveling and you know how you always have this fear that your child will wander away and get lost. I mean he was 12! And granted a 12 year old should be responsible but for days we thought he was playing with the other guys only to discover we had left him behind in the city! I should have known he would be different. What kind of child comes with the birth announcement of an angel? He wasn’t hanging out with the other guys or hitting on the girls. He was in the church talking to the heavy thinkers; you know, the philosophers, the historians, the theologians and here I’m going to have to be a little proud and not so angry when I tell you that he was more than carrying his own weight. Some of these very intelligent men were astonished at what my son knew.

 Mary goes back to the stool and sits down. She places the animal on the table and becomes very thoughtful.

 Of course, his brothers and sisters never really liked him that well. They all knew he was different. That’s why that time at the feast I tried to stop them. They thought he was crazy. I tried to explain that their brother was not crazy; he was not delusional; he was special. God had His hand on my son but they insisted on going and the words they spoke about their brother! I can’t tell you how many times since then they wished they could take those words back. When you’ve said something so hurtful to someone you love and then they die . . . well, you can never find peace again.

 Mary suddenly grows very proud of her son and motions to the table.

 I have this table, right here, see? It is small and not exactly perfect but my son built this for me right after he turned thirteen. And, this stool I’m sitting on he made when he turned twenty. But, all of his glorious skill with working with wood ended when he turned thirty. He stopped shaping the hearts of trees and began to shape the hearts of men.

My husband once told me that a man should be happy if he has raised someone smarter than himself or more successful than himself. He never had the opportunity to here our son speak. Such words! I once watched him carving a limb — an old, gnarled piece of driftwood from the sea of Galilee.

He started out just looking at it and studying it. And then, he began to cut away the dead twigs and strip away the rotten flesh. And, then he exposed the beautiful swirling pattern of the heart of the wood. He polished it and sanded it and coated it with oil and wax until the limb became a beautiful walking stick for my father. How did he see what was inside that broken, gnarled and discarded piece of wood? Only the Lord could show him the potential of what lay inside. He is that way with words. He sees into the hearts and minds of men and women and the words that cut to the quick; that expose the hurt; that sooth the pain; that heal the wound; or that prick the recalcitrant heart and those words are sharper than a two edged sword. He is the word. Yes, the very word of God.

And, yes, it would be His words that brought about his downfall. The wrong words were spoken by his brothers and they hurt him. But, the right words were spoken by my son and they killed him.

  Mary looks up as if looking at Christ on the cross and hugs herself in pain.

  I was there when he hung on the tree — irony of ironies he should die on the very wood he spent his life shaping. My heart was broken and I remembered the first night I held him; cold, wet; crying and hungry as angels filled the night and shepherds bowed at our feet and the skies sang with a thousand hosannas.

 She unfolds her arms and gestures to the “cross”.

 But, where were they now? Where were the angels as he bled on the cross? Where were the lowly shepherds who fell at his feet? Where were the songs of praise and triumph?

They were gone. The angels, like his heavenly Father, turned their backs to him in his hour of greatest need. The shepherds did not bow at his feet but hurled insults and bitter hatred and cried “Crucify Him.” And the songs of praise were replaced with a silence so profound, so deep it covered the earth with its sorrow.

 Mary stumbles back in pain and sorrow and sits roughly on the stool. She mimes the action of them placing Chris in her lap. As she talks, she touches the wounds on his head, touches the wound in his side, touches the wounds on his hands.

 I held him in my lap just as I had as a baby. He was cold; wet; but he no longer cried and he no longer hungered. His lifeless body sucked the very life out of the universe; the creator born of my womb; drinking from my body now limp and helpless in my arms. God had been born. God had died. And, I had been the bookends of His life.

 Mary relaxes and turns back to the table. She picks up the carved animal again.

 I am waiting now. Waiting for a great and glorious reunion. I was at the empty tomb! I saw my Son reborn; in new flesh still marred with the scars of his atonement. He walked among us for days and then bid us goodbye to become one with his Father. I miss him greatly whenever I touch this table or hear this stool scrape across the stones.

 She closes her eyes, holds the toy animal to her face and inhales as if remembering. She opens her eyes and begins to talk.

 Every now and then, I catch a glimpse of Him out of the corner of my eye or smell his fragrance on a chance breeze for His is the breath of life; His is the everlasting water; His is the Life eternal to give to us all. I have had a good life. I have had a life no mother could ever have imagined. It all started with an angel visit and it will end with my Son coming for me. He will welcome me into His arms only I will not embrace Him.

 Mary falls to her knees and kneels as if at the feet of Christ, looking up in wonder.

 No, I will fall at His feet in worship and praise for my son who was born to die, died so that we might liver forever!

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