Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs


In the genre of Christian fantasy, I have my top five favorite authors. After reading the debut novel of author D. Barkley Briggs, my top five has shifted slightly to make room for this stunning debut.

It's difficult to make a world up from scratch. To take common, human elements and to expand them and give them meaning that relates to our real world. Creating characters unique to your story and your story alone, but yet having a common thread that ties them to your reader in a personal way.

A gripping story does this from the first page, and holds you tightly until the final page is turned. D. Barkley Briggs has mastered this feat, and I'm thrilled to have a new favorite author to add to my list!

"The Book Of Names" tells the story of two teen brothers, Ewan and Hadyn Barlow. From a family of four boys, the Barlows have recently relocated to Newland, Missouri. The entire family is hoping for a fresh start after a tragedy hits them with a stunning blow.

The death of their mother.

Haydn makes no secret of his anger nor his bitterness. Ewan and he are close, close enough to both get on one another's nerves and yet able to jog each other out of the typical teen aged boy moodiness.

While clearing a field for their father, the two boys bond in a highly unusual way. A discovery, a flock of four black birds, and the arrival of unique invitations to adventure spark a new chapter in the lives of the Barlow boys.

Their father, a professor of ancient cultures and mythology, purchase the land in hopes of finding a ruin. Neither he nor his boys knew what they would be getting in the process.

For Hadyn and Ewan have uncovered a hidden portal into the world of Karac Tor, a land in grave danger. The two brothers are taken in by an unlikely band: Sorge the Elder, Cruedwyn the swordsman (and comic relief), Asandra the mirling, and Flogg the gnome.

Together, this motley crew travels to unravel the mystery of why the boys are in Karac Tor, how they will be able to return home, and the darkness that creeps over the lands of the region.

Can two boys from Missouri take on the evil Nemisia and her band of wraiths? Will the Nameless become the weapon she seeks to overthrow the influence of Aion? And what has happened to the Book of Names--why has it suddenly gone blank?

Filled with creative imagery and shades of Frodo Baggins and his fellowship, "The Book of Names" is destined to take its place among the great and classic Christian fantasy fiction of all time.

While I wandered a bit through the wordy background story, once I caught on to the message of D. Barkley Briggs' allegory, I was captivated and challenged all at once. The message of Karac Tor is a message for our world today. See if you can find the thread that runs throughout this story that is a warning for us today, and for our youth.

Fair warning: this isn't a book for the faint of heart. Some scenes get pretty intense, and the evil in the book is well represented--which should challenge all believers not to fear evil, but to give it full respect for the power it wields, knowing fully well that NOTHING can stand against the power of our God.

I'm giving "The Book Of Names" four out of five bookmarks, with a tin flute as a charm. I'd rank it higher, but there were moments for me where the story bogged down a bit. While I enjoy it immensely, fantasy is a difficult genre for me to zip through. I need more action and less description.

However, I cannot wait until the sequel, "Corus The Champion" hits shelves sometime next year! Pick up a copy today from Nav Press!

Happy Reading!


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