The spiritual beings known as angels have been widely documented in the Torah, the New Testament Gospel and the Holy Quran. Heavenly beings have also littered the spiritual tales of Native Americans, Hindus, and Buddhists. So, are they real?
DO ANGELS AND DEMONS REALLY EXIST? That’s the focus of the latest fiction ebook from The Solari Publishing Group entitled “The Angel of Grace“. It’s a wildly entertaining story about a guardian angel who enlists her biggest fan to escape the clutches of a shape-shifting demon. It’s a story within a story, expertly told by up-and-coming author Frederick S. Blackmon.
The main character, Darren, loves to read fiction books about angels and demons, but never expected that his favorite character was a real life angel. When she begins appearing to him in dreams and visions his first reaction is that he’s going insane. Yet, with the help of a gypsy fortune teller, his surly British neighbor and a teenage computer whiz, Darren sets off on a quest to find the real Angel of Grace.
The Eye of the Hunter is a fantasy novel by Dennis McKiernan that was first released in 1992. It’s the generational tale of two little people called warrows on a quest to find and destroy the world’s most heinous foe. It’s a controversial book for some, mainly because of its many similarities to Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series. (Hey, if you don’t like it….write it better.)
Tolkien has Middle Earth. McKiernan has Mithgar.
Tolkien has hobbits. McKiernan has warrows.
Tolkien has Elves. McKiernan has…well, also elves.
Clearly, there are similarities between these two fantasy series, but The Eye of the Hunter was a standout book for the entire genre. Personally, it was a milestone in my literary reading history. This was one of the first epic fantasy novels I had ever read, and it was truly EPIC. The adventure story trekked across the entire known world, going from frozen mountains to arid deserts, from side story to side story. In fact, anybody who actually finished the book should have won a medal. It was a long read, but well worth it.
Dennis McKiernan clearly read Tolkien’s novels and decided what was best and worst about them. It’s like revenge fiction, not fan fiction. Most noticeably, The Eye of the Hunter provides a greater depth to the different races of Mithgar. There is more focus on the long-lived nature of the elves. There are different races of humans in Mithgar. The vulgs are much nastier and horrifying creatures. The warrows also have more depth than Tolkien’s hobbits. Instead of being shy little humans with large feet, the warrows are more like a mythical class of creature all their own, with talismans and spellcraft worthy of any fantasy race.
The reason for the mythic and scenic triumphs of this weighty novel is McKiernan’s writing style. Although some would call it overdone and tedious, others would say it’s highly-detailed and descriptive. McKiernan is a master at using description to heighten suspense. Each scene is thoughtfully set up and the reader is placed so firmly in the setting that it becomes real. There were tense moments throughout the storyline that were magnificently written in terms of pacing and readability.
Like most people, I never read the other ten or so books in the Mithgar series. Yet I always came back to The Eye of the Hunter. It’s a standalone hit. I’ve read it nearly half a dozen times and can’t wait to introduce this fantasy tale to my little brave warrows in the future.
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was a light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” – J.R.R. Tolkien (The Return of the King)
I have been dying to see the next fantasy novel-to-TV conversion blockbuster series. I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones, but honestly I’m getting tired of the misery porn. I was dying to know who was next up on deck for the genre. Yet, I didn’t expect it to be fantasy novel legend Terry Brooks and The Shannara Chronicles. I certainly didn’t expect it to be MTV either. Yet, low…and behold…’tis true.
MTV has been gearing up for the January release of a brand new scripted series based on the fantasy novel series. The show will cover the Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara and The Wishsong of Shannara, the original trilogy. I read those books when I was a kid and never forgot those archetypal fantasy characters and stunning landscapes. The MTV show has been filming in New Zealand and so far, the pictures look fantastic.
If you’ve read any traditional fantasy novel, then you’ll be happy with this story. It follows two reluctantly heroic brothers and their later offspring as they quest to bring balance to the mythical Four Lands. If you’re already jaded on swords and arrows, and druids, and elves, and trolls and dark lords then this series might seem hackneyed and late to you. Yet it’s important to understand that the original trilogy was written in the early 1980s. The Shannara Chronicles isn’t a cheap knockoff; it’s the genuine article. That’s why I can’t wait to see the MTV series, because it’s going to introduce a whole new generation to a classic fantasy book series that helped to shape the genre.
“Let me give you some counsel, bastard,” Lannister said. “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” – Game of Thrones (George R. R. Martin)
Game of Thrones, the HBO hit series, is awesome. Don’t get me wrong. It’s based on the Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novel series by George R. R. Martin. I read the first four novels before the TV series even started and I really appreciate Martin’s style. Yet, Martin has a problem: ending the madness.
First, let’s applaud Martin’s ability to engage readers and audiences. His approach is absolutely unique. He makes you fall in love with heroic characters and then systematically destroys their lives. Then, Martin allows his villains to evolve to the point that the reader (audience) begins to feel genuine empathy for them. Jaime Lannister for example, started as the primary villain but evolves over the course of the series to become a (dare I say) human being. This is an outright rebellion against literary conventions, and the source of George R. R. Martin’s creative genius.
Now, let’s get to the problem. Where does it all end? I told myself that I wouldn’t read or watch past the 3rd installment of the story because all the likable characters were dead. Recently, HBO audiences experienced the death of Jon Snow, the last true hero of the series. Yet, does the story end? No, the books go on and the TV series will go on. Admittedly, it’s hard to end a series, but everything must conclude at some point. Martin has dug himself into a hole by dragging his story through yet another book and yet another season of the show. An ending is important for readers (audiences). The end gives us a moment to breathe and absorb the message of the story. Without an ending, the reader is trapped in the madness. To the fans of George R. R. Martin, I’ll quote Tyrion Lannister – “Your loyalty to your captors is touching.”