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I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading debut author's novels or those author's who have not had many reviews thus providing them much needed encouragement 
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Monday, 10 March 2014

Dragon Slayer: Beginnings (The Dragon Slayer Chronicles Book 1) by Carey Green


Dragon Slayer: Beginnings: Book One of the Dragon Slayer Chronicles (Volume 1)

Dragons have been forgotten, relegated to the realm of legend and myth. But tales of horror circulate among the common people. Rumors of their attacks float on the night wind. They are a fearsome presence that haunts the memories of the old and the nightmares of the young. 
They are forgotten, but they are not gone. 

The dragon masters wait, a dark force lurking in the shadows of every land. They will have their opportunity. They will rise. 

A young boy is stripped violently from his family and thrust into the conflict between dragon masters and feudal lords. Through tragedy and loss Hon is swept into the conflict while battling the fear and pain that grips his own soul. 

Dragon Slayer: Beginnings is a story of life and the growth of faith in the midst of loss. It’s about the battle every person goes through to become more than their past has destined them to be. 

He is the first. He will be the best. He is the Dragon Slayer.

Review:

I received this book from the author who found my blog from a Google search.
I liked what I saw from the description he provided and from the author's background. Going to Dragon Slayer book website Dragonslayer and on the Author page, I read what Green considers what makes his writing unique: 
  1. "My biblical counseling experience enables me to pull real-life personal struggles into the lives of my characters.
  2. My biblical teaching experience enables me to weave the truth of scripture into those struggles.
  3. The wide range of authors I’ve read has helped me learn different ways of creating memorable characters.
  4. Christian fiction isn’t just a way to make a living to me, it’s a tool to push people to think about deep, personal issues and apply God’s truth to their lives.
  5. I’m committed to being a down-to-earth author. I want to hear from my readers and help them along in their journey of faith" 
I decided I had better get reading and see for myself!

Plus this is his debut novel, and I like to review debut novels to give the new author some promotion and encouragement.

The other reason I decided on this book was that from reading other fantasy novels from Christian authors, I have found that Christian/biblical themes set in a fantasy world seem to make a successful marriage. I feel they lend to each other really well. 

Such is the case here with Dragonslayer: Beginnings. Green has developed those characters concerned with the main character, Hon, with faith in the Creator being evidenced in their lives, they are not just hearers of the Word but doers of the Word as the Bible encourages and this is evidenced by the way these characters seek to find Hon after he is kidnapped by the Dragon. There is one poignant scene where Hon's father, Stewart, shows his faith in action while searching for his son:
   
"My, my, my," the old man muttered, "a terrible thing. At such times one wonders what the Almighty is thinking, to permit such things to be done to innocents like your boy."

At that, Stewart raised his head for the first time. Looking Silas in the eye, he spoke strongly with great assurance. "Though the Lord has allowed this painful thing, and I am greatly tempted to fault Him, I will not. As you said yourself, His ways are a mystery. For us to question Him is like the ants who scurry at our feet to wonder at our actions. They do not and cannot understand. Neither can we." 

The old man looked at him, clearly surprised by his answer. "That is quite an attitude," he spoke. Ï'm pretty certain it would not be the mine, were I in your boots."

From this example, I can see that Green has employed his experience from his "..biblical counselling experience to pull real-life personal struggles into the lives of (his) characters" and his "..biblical teaching experience to weave the truth of scripture into those struggles". 

Another example is when Hon expresses some pent up anger as to why God allowed his parents to die by the dragon: 

"God is God, right? He's all powerful, right? He could have stopped that beast with a word, but He didn't!"My mother and father are dead because He did nothing".

Green answers that age old question that if God is God and all powerful, then why did He not stop bad things from happening and where is He in suffering? Other authors can fall into the trap of this explanation being a preachy dialogue from a character who has not experienced this suffering but Green delivers this explanation from a character, Abigail, who has experienced first hand what Hon has so she is qualified to let him know what it is like and what she learnt about God. She speaks from her heart and the reader can relate to this because this testimony is from Abigail's personal experience: 

"God is not to blame....God is God. His ways are beyond our puny understanding. I have leaned that He will not make himself subject to our scrutiny or examination...... one day I will know the reason and on that day....I will say the He has done what is right, in every case. Even mine.....We know what it's like to hurt, and to cry, and to be angry... we know what's it's like to bear the weight of such powerful emotions. But Hon, we also know the peace that comes from knowing that the same God who could have stopped the tragedy, is powerful enough to heal our broken hearts, and that He longs to do it."  

These two examples also show Green's attitude that Christian Fiction is  "...a tool to push people to think about deep, personal issues and apply God’s truth to their lives."

From this point on I knew I was on a winner! When an author uses real life experience depicted in a plot event to connect with a reader in this way, the reader is connected not just to the story but also to the author. In the examples above, Stewart's faith in action and Abigail's experience in loss and her reaction to it from a faith point of view, I could relate to 100% as I had the same faith response to a major personal event over 2 decades ago. I never questioned why God would allow that, but just accepted that this was His way and His will for us and I had to accept this knowing He is in control and I was not abandoned in that event or that He does not care about me in that event. 


Green has created a land that is set in a medieval type era and culture. He describes it well and you are instantly transported there. I could easily picture this land as he describes it. It is one of those reading experiences where you have to take minutes to re-acclimatise yourself to reality every time you stop 

reading! 



I loved the mystery and suspense elements in this novel. Who is Silas really, what are his motives, how can he be so sinister, ruthless, deceitful, cunning and despicable? It does not take the reader long to dislike or even get anxious when he makes another entrance into the plot of this novel! Is there a demonic influence or possession controlling and empowering him? Who are the dragon masters? What is the secret sect that they belong to and what is their agenda? You can see how the remaining books in this series will answer these questions and generate many more.  

Green depicts Hon as the poor little orphan boy very well to such a degree that your sympathies are with him from the moment he discovers his house on fire in the opening pages of Chapter one. I must confess, while Hon was under the care of Lord Thurmond, I was getting very anxious as I continued reading expecting Silas to extend his evil intentions on Hon just as he did with Lords Thurmond, Kendrick and the others in Stewart's search party. I was very relieved when this did not happen! 

As Silas weaves his treachery and evil across the lands and puts more of his agenda into play, Hon grows up to be the definition of his name: Honour. God has His hand on him and uses Rowan, Abigail, Victoria, Hampton, Lord Kendrick and Gerrard to mould him into this strong, God-fearing and yes, honourable young warrior. Towards the end of the novel, we see Hon coming more into his own and accepting the destiny that God has placed on him: destroy the dragons and rid the land of this secret sect that is gaining power and dominion over the lands. 

Green has a natural ability with the English language. His writing flows well and to read this is to be like a boat on a gentle current, enabling you to take in all that is around you at a satisfying pace. His characters are not two dimensional; there is depth to them and they are very relational. You find yourself liking them and getting fond of them. Abigail for her motherly care towards Hon and being a spiritual mother to him, Rowan for the father/mentor/warrior figure and example of manliness and masculinity for Hon to follow, Gerrard for the older, wiser, almost grandfather type figure that positively impacts on Hon. Even Lord Kendrick takes on a humble and royal role as a kind, fair benefactor of his realm and that of the inhabitants of Newton and a great ally for Hon, Rowan, Gerrard  in the quest to rid their lands of this dragon curse. On the other side of the coin you find yourself despising characters such as Silas for the traits mentioned previously. Even Lord Thurmond, at first you dislike him for his greed, selfishness, manipulation and how his unresolved grief over the loss of his wife and child to the dragon distort his thinking and behaviour but towards the end of his role in this novel, you find yourself understanding where all this is coming from and see him as a broken and hurt individual and have become more sympathetic towards without excusing or condoning his destructive behaviour.  

Green ties up loose ends very nicely. There is one event towards the end that I am glad has a positive outcome and was not to be carried over into the next book. This gives the ending of this novel and well rounded feel. Having Kendrick, Rowan, Hon and the other two of this troop finally discover the extent of the dragon threat and the sect behind them prepares the way for the next instalment and adds to the heightened anticipation for Book 2, Dragon Slayer: Rising.

This is one well written, thought out, engaging and enthralling tale from a writer taking the plunge into Christian fiction and he has dived in very proficiently. I can look back at this novel and say to myself (and to this author) that he has successfully set out to achieve all those five points mentioned above that make his writing unique. 


Highly Recommended.




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