I just finished reading a pleasant surprise of a book this morning, and I’m wanting to share the joy with as many people as possible. So that’d be your lucky day, I guess.
I hesitate to talk about specific books too much because people who talk in great detail about the things they love can lose the thread after awhile. I discovered this reading another author go on and on about wine. Why anyone wants to taste something that combines cherries, mahogany, cinnamon, and leather I do not know. Chew on a desk blotter. Whatever.
This book, though, not only came as a surprise–Christian speculative fiction–but as an eye opener. Allow me to further elaborate.
First I suppose I should tell you what the book is actually called–it’s not officially called “this book”–so that you can read it. But I’ll tell you on one condition. Do NOT judge it by the cover. I am emphatically not in love with this particular cover art; the art itself is very well done and it makes sense when you read the book, but glancing at it in a sea of covers it makes a non-impression at best.
This wonderful book is called Star Of Justice. And it has helped me figure out what’s been wrong with a lot of the Fantasy and SciFi I’ve tried to read the past couple of years.
I like answers. Blame my parents for buying me Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories when I was eight. Or blame my physician grandmother for explaining to me why people throw up when I was four. I do love interesting questions but even more than that I love answers.
The Spec Fic I first fell in love with was A Canticle For Leibowitz, and in my mind that still stands as the perfect example of the best things about speculating in fiction.
Huh. Now that I think about it, Star Of Justice has an awful lot in common with A Canticle For Leibowitz. It takes you to a world, shows you interesting questions and then gives you mind-blowing answers. And then gives you more answers that take your already-blown mind, throws the pieces up in the air and blows them again. I just realised the commonality with Canticle, though. That’s how blown my mind was. I wasn’t reading it going “oh, this is just like that part in Leibowitz when…”
Plus, the story was fun. And it ended in one book. I do not have to wait for subsequent books to give me partial non-answers. And there’s no shipping team for me to be on. Hallelujah. Freaking. Finally. A book that TELLS A STORY, not “establishes a brand”. A book that’s a book, instead of an industry.
I realised while reading this that most of the Epic Fantasy I’ve been reading this year (except Rothfuss, Anthony Ryan and the Martin rereads) have all been video-games and D&D matches. I’m tired of watching a farm boy with a secret heritage try to assemble all the pieces of the amulet. That stuff doesn’t speculate. I want to Spec U Frigging Late, thank you.
One other thing before I go…about the Christian stuff… Man, is that deftly handled. If you are not a Christian I doubt you’ll notice it as anything other than the particular mythos of the book’s world. It’s no more heavy-handed than the psuedo-Roman Catholic pantheons in other great fantasy (Bujold’s five gods of Chalion, Martin’s Seven-fold deity of Westeros) and serves the story without bashing you in the face with a Come To Jesus bromidery common to most Christian fiction. Yes, I’m a Christian. But I’ve got the Bible, thanks. I don’t need you to rewrite the gospels. I need you to tell me a story.
Robynn Tolbert did tell me a story, and she did so very well. If you’ve got three bucks and a couple of days, I’d encourage you to let her tell you that same awesome tale.