Sara Flower is not only a fantastic blog writer, she is now a published author! I couldn’t wait to read her debut Christian Fantasy novel, By The Sword, and I’m so pleased to tell you about it.
Description (from Amazon):
Seventeen-year-old Talya’s main goal is to bring down the Malinorian Empire. And Jalarn, the empire’s prodigy general, is at the top of her list of enemies to kill. Not only has Jalarn murdered Talya’s king, he’s almost killed her. Twice.
But things don’t go as Talya planned when a visiting prophet sends her on a mission to the highly feared Hunter Forest. It is there that she must gain the allegiance of the forest’s inhabitants before Jalarn and his men do.
Then, memories of a haunting vision resurface when Talya comes face to face with Jalarn. She makes a rash decision that sends her down a path she never imagined she would follow.
By The Sword is a captivating novel that takes you on a journey (literally as well as spiritually). The main plot consistently fuels the story while the momentum of the subplots keep the pages turning. Since this is the first Christian Fantasy novel I’ve read, the storyline intrigued me. I was amazed by the wonderful detail of the powers of the dark side as well as how, through the powers of prayer, miracles occurred. Given the heavy religious undertones that takes place midway through the book, I predict it might only appeal to readers with Christian beliefs, as the title of the genre reflects. Aware of this before reading, I was so surprised and compelled at the descriptive, haunting scenes of the lure and practices of the Dark Prince. Truly frightening and authentic.
Flower creates strong, tangible characters with realistic motivations. I originally was worried about the stereotypical ‘strong female warrior’, but I was incredibly relieved how realistic the action scenes were written. I found Tayla’s actions during battle very credible, especially for a slight girl. The battle scenes were exceptionally well written and did not feel overdone. The writer also did a good job introducing each main character slowly and carried a lesser developed cast to aid with subplots. My favorite character was Jalarn. He has deep, deep layers and I found his actions and thoughts compelling and plausible. There was no part in the book where I felt comfortable setting it down, and the writer is adept at leaving each chapter on a cliffhanger. She then transitions beautifully to another POV in the novel without losing pace. I was very satisfied with the ending as a standalone, yet the possibility of a sequel exists (and I hope she writes it!)
Since I’ve never read another work of Christian Fantasy, it’s hard to judge if this is original, but I was deeply engaged by this subgenre of fantasy. It was so interesting to see how the usual good and evil sides of fantasy play out with the specifics of the Devil and Jesus Christ. I realized while reading this that most of your high fantasy—although they use imagined names for lords of good and evil—are basically depicting earthly religious struggles after all. I highly recommend this book to Christian readers and to others interested in learning more about the Christian Fantasy genre.
I was hoping I would enjoy Sara’s book as much as I enjoy her blog, and I am so happy to say she did not disappoint. She has done all the revising, editing, and formatting required of an author and has delivered a professional and captivating product. You can purchase By The Sword here.
Great job, Sara!