Sunday 29 June 2014

Guardians of Eden and Against the Unknown by Graham Carter

Read and Reviewed in 2010.

Guardians of Eden 

A thousand years have passed since Adam and Eve were cast from the Garden of Eden. Their descendants have multiplied and spread across the face of the planet. In recent times rumours have begun to spread regarding a strange race of beings, the Nephilim, said to be the giant offspring of unholy alliances between the fallen sons of God and women of great beauty.

Life in Thalan’s tiny, seaside village seems a world away from such events until the day servants of a Nephilim king arrive looking for him. Could it be that seventeen-year-old Thalan holds the key to the downfall of these powerful giants? And what is the significance of the ancient prophecy about the seed of Eve crushing the serpent’s head? The answers lie in a quest to find the legendary Garden of Eden and the fabled Tree of Life that stands in its midst. But can Thalan and his brother survive the hostile journey to the other side of the world to find out?

The Guru's Review: 

What a fantastic work this is!! This is the second book from Graham Carter and he is a master story teller. I did not want this one to end. He has woven a story of believable characters and plot based on the Bible, extra-biblical texts, and his creative imagination. This is the best novel of the Nephilim in pre-flood history that I have in my collection.

It is a great asset to a story when the author performs in-depth research and applies this to his work.

I loved how he portrayed the love of Elohim in various characters and events. The ending is one of the best I have read in a novel. Carter has tied up all loose ends and plot lines extremely well and I was left breathless and in tears once I finished it. I had no idea how he would tie it all up and culminate in the Crucifixion, but it was brilliantly done and is a real masterpiece of an ending.

Graham Carter has portrayed the nature and behaviour of the fallen angels and Nephilim very well. Again, his research shines through here. His descriptions fit other accounts of the nature of the Nephilim in other fiction and non-fiction works I have.

If you are interested in this genre of Christian fiction then you are in for a treat with this novel. I pray Graham continues to write more novels. I can hardly wait.

Highly recommended.


Read and Reviewed in June 2012

Against the Unknown

Nothing is quite as it seems. A US senator introduces a bill that could change the course of history – then his daughter vanishes. A woman wakes up on a riverbank with no idea who she is or how she got there. Three strangers meet, strangers whose lives appear to be entwined already, but why and how?

Behind the scenes, powerful forces are at work, manipulating leaders and influencing the decisions of ordinary people. Only one person stands in their way, identity unknown. Will the mysterious forces be able to find and defeat their enemy before it is too late, or can a single warrior destroy their plans?

The Guru's Review:

Graham Carter has done it again! This is my third novel from this author and he has not disappointed at all. A great tale of spiritual warfare, the power of intercessory prayer, obedience to God, victory over demonic forces.

I cried at one scene where one of the main characters accepts Jesus as Lord and Saviour. The way Graham portrayed this with the spiritual aspect and from Jesus and the angels point of view was just beautiful. I will never forget this.

There was no way I could have worked out who The Intercessor was in this plot. This was a great ploy by Graham and it worked well. I really enjoyed the spiritual lessons in this subplot as The Intercessor interacted and was obedient to the Spirit of God. While reading these scenes with The Intercessor, I was transported to another world, almost as an observer of this in the spiritual realm.

The nature and hierarchy of the evil spirits are very consistent with other novels of similar genre, such as those of author's Peretti, Alcorn, Feldhahn, Jess Hanna, Lewis, Pierce, Rios Brook, Meade, Slick and many others.

A very well written, entertaining novel with the added bonus of being encouraged about the truth of victory over spiritual forces, intercessory prayer and being obedient to God as the battle belongs to the Lord as many worship songs state.

Highly Recommended.

Sunday 22 June 2014

A Dodge, A Twist and a Tobacconist (The Alexnder Legacy, Book 1) by Sophronia Belle Lyon

A Dodge, a Twist and a Tobacconist (The Alexander Legacy)

Florizel of Bohemia tries to live a quiet life as a London tobacconist. The mysterious gypsy beauty who invites him to a late-night meeting in the Bronze Cascade Hotel seems desperate for his help, but what can be a life-or-death matter to a socialite singer? An eccentric little inventor, calling himself by the absurd name of Oliver Twist, comes to collect him in a curious old mail coach. It only becomes an airship after it's too late for Florizel to disembark.
How can a former street orphan, a Texas Cowgirl who rode a Giant Catfish across the Atlantic, a world-traveling abolitionist bearing "the Flail of God", a quiet country clergyman, a jungle tracker, and a Chinese merchant, track down a shadowy slave master who trains pickpocket slashers and fills freighter holds with human cargo bound for ports around the Empire? A poison maiden gives Florizel a kiss and an ominous warning: "Some ruler will rise and take the throne of a true Empire where the sun never sets and where the people will never be free."

The Guru's Review:

The genre of steampunk of this novel is a first for me. I have a few steampunk novels in my To Be Read shelf and this is the first of them I have read. 

Steampunk is generally defined as, 
  1. a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.
However, there are more specific definitions applied to this genre such as, 
Medieval Steampunk: Speculative fiction set during the Middle Ages.
Victorian Steampunk: A modern Science Fiction work (post-1930s) that is set in the early parts of the industrial revolution.
Western Steampunk: Science fiction set in the American Old West.
Industrial/Modern Steampunk: Science fiction taking place in the late industrial age, early modern age; i.e. World War 1, World War 2
In this novel, Belle Lyon deals with steampunk set in London in the Victorian era (Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death, on 22 January 1901) despite the time frame set before the above definition of Victorian Steampunk (post 1930's).

Despite the steam powered machinery such as a flying machine and submarine, and other non steam powered machinery such as a glider, computer tablet (hinted as having similar functions to an iPad/android tablet) and adjustable lens glasses, that were not invented in this time, their inclusion and use in this novel and time period fits well into this story and it may sound strange but adds a sense of fun. I chuckled many times as I imagined this technology being used as described in this novel amidst this era when we know in reality this was not the case. If this steampunk element is what makes steampunk a genre, then I have become a fan! 

Having technology in an era or time when it would just not have been also reminds me of another series that I have read that is not steampunk by the above definition but it did contain advanced technology such as phones, cars, pizza for example. This series is from Kel Richards, one example being the Case of the Vanishing Corpse, set in Jesus time, and involves a private investigator hired to find the missing (albeit resurrected) body of Christ. That, like this novel, was a lot of fun and also made me laugh having police cars, using the phone to call for pizza etc in solving the case of the missing body of Christ. I find the mixing of this steampunk characteristics and/or advanced technology in these two novels a very clever idea and it works well. 

The other factor about the use of this steam powered machinery and other aforementioned technology in this novel is that it does add to the suspense and plot development.  An example of this is the character of Spring Heeled Jack and his use of the glider to infiltrate the home of the Alexander Legacy and the suspense this caused when Florizel launched himself off the roof onto this glider and then later after Oliver Twist has repaired it and Florizel used it to fly to London. This really was a great example of the use of this technology and how well it moved the plot along. 

Another element that made me laugh/chuckle throughout the novel is the inclusion of the characters from various other novels who form the Legacy and how they, despite their human or animal form, different cultural differences and background all come together and work as a unified team with their various talents and abilities (and accents, try "reading" the accent of Sluefoot Sue!!) to rid London of the organised crime of petty thieves who are under the control of Dodge. Anyone who is familiar with Oliver Twist can join the dots and identify who Dodge is here. But is it just the case of finding and exposing Dodge for who he is? In this instalment is this all there is to it? Read and find out!! 

Based on what I have written so far, this novel is fun! Very entertaining without detracting from the main motive of the plot which is to expose Dodge and destroy his organised crime syndicate of petty thieves and people smuggling.

I grew up with Mowgli and Bagheera, and Oliver Twist. Loved their respective novels and them as characters. I was totally unfamiliar of the rest of the Legacy members from their respective novels only because I have not read the novels from whence they came: 

Prince Florizel of Bohemia (The New Arabian Nights by Robert Loius Stevenson), 

Zambo (The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), 

Sluefoot Sue, (married to Pecos Bill by Edward O'Reilly)

Fun See Tokiyo, (Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott)

Edward Ferrars, (Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)

Phoebe Morre-Campbell (Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott)  

Rose (Bloom by Louisa May Alcott).

I found invaluable the notes provided by Sophronia in the Afterword at the end of the novel. Here is an example of Sophronia's motive for writing this novel, 

When I watched the movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I had great expectations.....since it included some of my favorite literary characters. I was disappointed, however, because I didn't feel the characters bore much resemblance to the originals. So I resolved to create my own league of classic fictional characters and try to be more true to the spirit, if not always the letter, of these beloved imaginary heroes and heroines.
I started with certain criteria: One, they had to have "lived" in or near the Victorian era, since that was my chosen setting. Most of my favorites lived in 1800s anyway. Two, they had to be people of strong, good moral character. Three, I wanted some racial and cultural diversity. Four, I needed to be able to use at least some of the original character's "true" book story as a jumping-off point for my story.  
This example and the entire Afterword gives a look into the mindset of the author and where she is coming from, why she chose these characters, but more importantly, why she wrote this novel and its sequel. This gives credibility to the story and how it is constructed and what she set out to achieve and I feel she has been successful in this. There are some very good plot developments and twists and Sophronia ties it all together well so by the end of the novel, you are content, satisfied, and look back and laugh at the journey you have just traveled. Knowing there is a sequel just adds to this satisfaction and you want to explore this next instalment just to see what happens next as your interest and curiosity has been more than piqued and how Sophronia is going to continue the plot lines..  

The spiritual elements in this novel fit in well too. Sophronia is writing from a Christian perspective so she has depicted her characters as being Christian. Florizel is depicted as being led by the Spirit in his dealing with Kera and her subsequent conversion to Christianity and he showed no hesitancy when he finally caught up with the Dodge at the end of the novel and offered him Christ's salvation. This is just two examples of the Christian side of this novel Having all the characters in the Alexander Legacy as Christians and the motivation of Legacy to fight this increasing crime wave from the moral and justice side of Christianity seems to be a binding force behind this novel. 

All in all, a fun and enjoyable steampunk adventure from an author strongly influenced by the classics she grew up with and who successfully translates these characters into another world inspired by her vivid imagination. 

Strongly Recommended.

Monday 16 June 2014

Saga fo the Everking by David G Johnson

Saga of the Everking

A promotional sample short story set in the world of Chadash as a preview of the history of one of the peoples, the Qarahni, who will be featured in the upcoming novels by David G. Johnson. Look at the end of 2013 for "The Chadash Chronicles Book One: Fool's Errand" and "The Chadash Chronicles Book Two: Mystic's Mayhem" from Tate Publishing.

The Guru's Review: 

This has recently been revised and reformatted with added content, including a new cover. One of the main characters from the Chadash Chronicles is introduced as a young boy to strengthen the bridge between this preview and the Chronicles. This gives valuable insight into this characters involvement in the Chronicles.  This preview of the Qarahni people is very effective being told by a Lorefather to an upcoming generation who need to hear about the history of their people. 

Johnson portrays the Lorefather as one who loves children, loves his people and their heritage. This forms a great backbone to this short. In this revised edition, the Lorefather's character has been expanded and this makes him more relational and adds depth to the preview and history of the Qarahni people. Having read both the original edition and now this revision one, this one reads and flows better and is much more enjoyable. The change in writing format adds a greater depth to this preview. 

Johnson has explained with passion what happened in their heritage that divided this unified race really well and I can see that this will aid the reader in understanding and appreciating the Chadash Chronicles. 

There is also depth to this heritage and you can see that he has been influenced by other sources. Johnson likes attention to detail and structure in his plot and characters and I found this to be a great strength. 

This revised short gives a very good introduction to the Chadesh Chronicles and is very effective as a short standalone story if it needed to be but, I am glad it is not! 

Highly Recommended.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Jerusalem (The Name of the Hawk-Volume 5) by Murray Pura

The ancient city of David, the great city of Jerusalem, site of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God - Hawk and Skaytha and their companions have finally fought their way to the place where they believe they will be able to find the True Cross and restore it to its rightful place as a blessing to the entire world. But now a new enemy arises in a dream that torments Hawk - a knight with a shield bearing a cross of scarlet will defeat him in battle, seize Skaytha as his captive, and put her to death. Hawk tries to shake the bad omen off and hopes it is only his imagination - until they enter Jerusalem through the Damascus Gate, make their way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and find four knights blocking their path. And one of them bears the shield of the scarlet cross that Hawk saw in his nightmare!

The Guru's Review: 

I have said many times before in this series, that Pura packs a lot in a short space and this volume of 25 pages is no different. 

Non stop action from the first page, with The Five coming under attack from supernatural beings, centaurs, from the pit of hell, to Hawk fighting his brother, Sir Galahad, without knowing they are brothers, to being confronted by a Warrior Angel and ordered to enter a portal to retrieve The Cross of Christ. I read this over a lunch break at work and could not believe how fast it finished and how absorbed I was in this short. 

During the fight with the centaurs, Africa panics, and does not understand why the angels do not fight for them, seeing these centaurs are supernatural and much bigger in size and number compared to The Five. Skaytha responds,
Some battles are for humans to fight!
They all fight valiantly and defeat these centaurs (not human and horse centaurs either!) but Africa does not, having left her dagger and sword in the baggage behind her saddle. Canach reprimands Africa for not fighting, 
We could have all been killed and you did nothing, nothing! Our task is to find and restore the True Cross to the world so that men and women may live and not die. But you would let them all die if only you might save your own skin. Take your blade from your baggage right now and wear it. Take it out or I will strike you dead. A whole world is at stake and you cry like a child when you need to be a woman and a warrior. 
When Africa tries to give excuses to not fight, Canach further reprimands her, 
All people are God's people, He made them, he loves them, and he wishes to protect and defend each and every one of them and restore them to his household. You are part of his plan to bring life where there is only death. Honor that. Honor him. I swear by all that is holy you will not live another day if you do not fight the next battle. 
Here is another spiritual warfare lesson that Pura has included, that while essential to The Five's quest and functioning as a team of warriors, is also a lesson for us. We are to encourage, uplift and exhort each other in our Christian walk, as Word says, " iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another..." (Proverbs 27:17). When we struggle, am fearful, etc, we have the support of another or others to help us up and get back in the battle and walk with Christ. Each part of the Body of Christ doing their bit and functioning as they ought. 

The Five sojourn towards Jerusalem and fight more supernatural beings, large raptors with webbed wings and outthrust necks, and long fanged mouths. They succeed in defeating these, then the desert splits open and dark horns emerge from the sand, seven heads on long scaly necks, dragons black as the night. Just when they realise they cannot fight these ones, they are rescued by the fighting of the angels, fiery balls of white flame that engulfed the dragons and reduce them to their bones. 

This white flame engulfs The Five and heals their wounds from the previous battles. This prepares them for yet more onslaughts: beasts, huge crocodiles, dark angels that were defeated by Hawk and Skaytha bursting into flames and devouring them. Insects with stings like scorpions, the desert floor cracking open, the sky raining blood and ashes and streaks of fire and one last onslaught by an army but this defeated again by angelic forces. 

After all this, they reach Jerusalem, four years after they had left Skyrl. While the others do not know what to expect next, Hawk states to his troupe, 
One thing will lead to another. In the morning we go through the Daascus Gate and make our way to the Chruch of the Holy Sepulcher. That is where our Lord's body was laid. That is where he rose from the dead. The site of his sacrifice is not far away. Somewhere by the church or the site of his crucifixion I expect to be touched or spoken to by God or an angel. Or one of us will. 
While in Jerusalem, they try their best to remain inconspicuous but four mounted knights sight them and Hawk recognises their armour from a dream he had previously. One of them had noticed the type of horse they had which obviously is rare in that part of the world and asks Hawk about them. This situation goes pear shaped when one of the knights throws Fia on the ground and when Hawk challenges the head knight about this they fight both discover they both believe in the Christ, but does this stop them from fighting? They both disbelieve who each other is and where they came from, calling each other's heritage a myth. It is only when and Angel intervenes that they cease their foray and find out their true heritage.

All through this, and what followed, I found interesting dialogue, and I chuckled, as these two, now united, still bickered and verbally jousted with one another, still trying to outsmart and outdo each other while now obeying what the angel instructed them to do, even while facing the onslaught of attack from yet another dragon, this one with seven heads! 

This one ends in a cliffhanger and prepares the way for the final volume in this series, The Cross. If this next volume is anything like this one, it is going to be an even better ending that I hope for! 

Highly Recommended. 

Monday 9 June 2014

Daughters Of The Desert (The Name of the Hawk-Volume 4) by Murray Pura

The Name Of The Hawk - Volume 4 - Daughters Of The Desert

The quest has taken Hawk and Skaytha and her three guardians across the world - over the ocean we now call the Atlantic, from shore to shore of the country we now call America, and from what we now call the Pacific coast to China and Mongolia. Yet there are still thousands of miles to travel while being assaulted by some of the most dangerous foes in earth or hell. But the most dangerous is the trackless desert - will Hawk and the four women be able to endure the scorching heat, the sandstorms, the lack of water, and the sand and the rock and the exhaustion or will their bones wind up bleaching in the desert sun for thousands of years, the quest never fulfilled, the human race never set free?

The Guru's Review: 

The journey of The Five continues across continents and different lands. As Morah, our narrator states, 
Hawk and Skaytha and her three guardians-Canach, Fia, and Africa-had left the Isle of Skyrl on the first of May, in the year of our Lord 517. 
They had voyaged with the Danes across what we now call the Atlantic, fled from them at the shores of what we now call America, traveled across that continent in all seasons and over two years, and been carried by angels to what we now call Asia and to the land we now Mongolia.
At this stage of their journey and quest, 
Hawk believes the evil that was trying to stop them could take two forms- natural and supernatural. It could come at him and Skaytha in the form of spirits or it could come at them in the form of men and spears. 
In this volume, the reader is subjected to a brief history of the Mongols and the various warring tribes that seek to control this land. Here we are introduced to the Rouran tribe where its holy man, Naranbaatar, acts as a spiritual guide to them in the next phase of their journey. He gives Skaytha, the chronicler, a scroll that has marked places in the Persian Empire and their destination is 
...a city where a great god died and did not die. This puzzles me....
However, The Five know this as Jerusalem where Christ died and rose again. Now their journey involves crossing a harsh, killing desert and this map will guide them to hidden springs and oases to aid in a successful journey.

Across the lands they are to travel, Narandaatar, instructs them on the two religions they are to encounter, that of Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, and it is with this knowledge that they learn more of their own faith and benefits of Christianity. Hawk uses this to instruct the others more of God's nature,
He is a wild lion. He cannot be leashed or caged in by our wishes or demands. Witches cast spells to control the spirits  and get what they want. You cannot cast a spell on God and prayer is not a charm or an enchantment that bends him to our will. Prayer is a request from a subject to a king, yes, even from a friend to a king. But it can never be a command. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. He rules. He is greater than Attila the Hun who Naranbaatar spoke of, greater than all the rulers Persia has produced, far mightier than the mightiest of them all, Alexander the Great. He is a God. Our God. We have to fulfill his wishes. In doing so, we are free. 
As they traveled further across the land, circumstances allow Hawk and Skaytha's relationship to grow deeper and they understand each other better including their relationship with God. 

Pura introduces an interesting discussion concerning the inclusion of the books in the bible and at the end of this, Pura has Hawk stating the following and for me it is quite memorable and significant and true to this day,
The Bible has to be read on your knees. It's not like other books. It's not like a parchment on treating ill horses that you follow step by step. It's not like a treatise on forging the proper sword. We're coming ace to face with such an incredible being, such an overwhelming entity-a god, our God, the Lord of heaven and earth. So you must find his words the way you'd find gold in the dirt, by digging it out, digging out God's words from among our words. Not everyone is good at this. That's why there are so many disputes, God forgive us, so many shoutings, and railings, and even bloodshed over what people say God said or didn't say. 
Pura also develops the warrior side of Skaytha further where she now exhibits her eyes glowing or "as torches or real fire" when required to defend themselves against other bandits or thieves. Hawk helps her understand this gift better as a gift to fight evil, 
When the dark angels strike at us again the fire will burst from you and overwhelm them. In a way different than what you have seen me do. 
What will that look like?
I have not idea. But we must have a need your fire or the gift wouldn't have been given to you.  
Pura then has Hawk explain more of the type of spiritual warfare that they face and this is just as relevant for us and it is for them. Again Pura does a great job of educating the reader in the tenets of spiritual warfare throughout this novella and this is one of the things I love about this series and about Pura's passion as an author. 

I have a feeling that the event that happens at the last few pages will be a very nice opening in the next volume: Jerusalem and I can see this volume revving up again in preparation for the finale in volume 6, The Cross. 

Highly Recommended. 

Saturday 7 June 2014

Flame (The Name of the Hawk-Volume 3) by Murray Pura

The new world into which Hawk and Skaytha and her three guardians have been thrust is filled with new wonders and new dangers. Yet nothing is as deadly as the dark ones, the fallen angels, who spit curses against Hawk and all the men and women of earth and desire their total destruction. But they have not reckoned with the powers within Hawk's body and soul, powers that burst out like fire and are more than a match for the darkness of the angels of hate. However it is not only the fires of heaven that pass through Hawk's heart but the fires of human love. And suddenly Hawk and Skaytha find they have a quest unlike the one on which they first started, a quest that binds them together in a bid to free the entire earth from the ferocity of hell and the icy bleakness of an eternal death.

The Guru's Review:

I just found out yesterday that the final novella, Volume 6, The Cross, was released yesterday (June 5, 2014). Flame is Volume 3 and it seems that this volume, despite marking the half way mark, is where the plot revs up yet again (that is a good thing!), the relationship between our two star struck lovers is restored, Hawk's powers are developed further, and the spiritual warfare side of things deepens and becomes more intense. Sets the pace for the second half of this series and it looks very much like a faster, unrelenting and action packed pace. 

This volume is very much centred on Hawk and Skaytha's relationship and Hawk's spiritual powers and spiritual warfare. If any reader of the first two volumes thought the spiritual aspects and warfare were attention grabbing, well, they go to the next level in this volume. Hawk is quite at ease with his powers and very confident. The opening scene where he fights with an angel who is testing his preparedness for future demonic attacks progresses his powers resulting in a very dramatic effect that is unexpected from Hawk and frightening to Skaytha, 
Why would my guardian angel attack me? 
To be certain you are ready for other attacks. Attacks that are not from me, If you can prevail in a battle with your angel it may be you can prevail in battles against the dark ones. 
That's all? No blessing? No touch on my hip? You aren't going to give me a new name? 
The fight was the blessing. All fights done for the right reason are their own rewarded. No, I am not going to give you another name. And you do not want me to touch your hip, do you? It put Jacob's out of joint. 
Give me something or I will not let you go. 
Suddenly Hawk burst into flames. They totally engulfed him and he writhed on the sand. 
Skaytha bit her knuckles to keep from crying out. The angel was gone.  
His powers, especially now he can burst into flames spontaneously, has also changed his appearance, 
the first thing Skaytha noticed was the black streak on his neck.....the other thing were his eyes......they were gold.... the purest, brightest gold.....his long hair was shot through with the same streaks of gold....Hawk hardly looked human to her.
His powers in spiritual warfare now enable him to spontaneously burst into flames and this is evident when he kills a demon trying to attach itself to Skaytha and later when he fights fallen angels who are determined to stop him in achieving his quest. 

This transformation resulting from fighting with his guardian angel has a profound effect on their relationship. Skaytha appears afraid of Hawk, 
In her blood she felt like he was inviting her to take him in her arms, hold him, kiss him, love him. He had forbidden it for so long she could not bring herself to believe it was right for them to touch. And now she was afraid to go near him....
When Hawk attempts to touch her, Skaytha states, 
You said we weren't to touch. 
Hawk's reply is, 
I wrestled an angel for that right.
It is from here that their relationship intensifies on the physical, emotional and spiritual level. They appear more devoted to each other, in love, but also more in love with their God and a unified spiritual team. And it is from here that the plot revs up and the reader is totally absorbed in the action and spiritual warfare.

When I finished this volume I had the same impression I had described in the first two volumes that Pura again packs quite a lot in such a small space (this volume, 26 pages).  And in this small space, we are given more clues and plot development about Hawk's quest and what the final outcome will be. One of those clues even suggests what the title of the 6th book is. And this ties in with what I said about this volume being the half way mark and sets the environment for the next half of this series. This volume seems to be pivotal to the entire series. 

I was surprised to find that there was a 6th volume in this series and Pura made the following comment when he announced the release of this 6th book on Facebook today,
we hope to do a second series with the same characters - the final volume here will give you the clue about that

I had made the comment that I was a happy man about this release  as I did not want this series to end, but I am even more  of a happy man now that there may be a second series! 

I am even looking forward more so for the remaining books now I have read this one. 

Highly Recommended.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

The Land Beyond The Stars (The Name of the Hawk-Volume 2) by Murray Pura

The Name of The Hawk - Volume 2 - The Land Beyond The Stars

A clash of supernatural forces at sea. The ship of the Danes suddenly at a strange shore. Trees that are unrecognizable. Animals that neither Hawk nor the women of Skyrl nor the Danes have ever seen before. Men hunting them through forests and across great stretches of grassland. A new world that none of them believed existed, dangerous and beautiful at the same time. The quest takes Hawk and Skaytha closer to the answers they seek. But it also takes them farther from one another's hearts.

The Guru's Review: 

Pura progresses the story fast in this novella despite the reduced number of pages compared with the previous one (25 compared to 31 pages). 

Hawk is confronted with a landscape totally unfamiliar to himself and his troupe. Unknown land, strange trees, animals they have never experienced before  with a vicious nature, and an unwelcomed confrontation with the King and crew of the Danes who turn on him when they consider that Hawk and his God have resorted to sorcery and witchcraft and then turn against Hawk and seek to have them killed. 

Skaytha states it this way,
I started the day on a ship at sea, a ship that had to be rowed for days because there was no wind. Suddenly there was wind, there was a clash of angels, the ship touched shore in the twinkling of an eye, we ran for our lives through the forest, fought the Danes, walked another ten miles and climbed these great big trees....
After this, a major development in Hawk's quest is that he discovers special abilities or powers, that seem to be identified from the confrontation with Legion in Book 1, as Hawk says himself, 
There was a feeling, a lot of feelings, that's when I sensed I had powers inside me, holy powers, God powers. Yes, I  think one of them has to do with fighting...... if you want to know what the other powers might be, I can't tell you. I do know that this seraphim, and others like it, are watching over us. That knowledge is inside me. 
So this knowledge sets the stage for future plot developments in the remaining novellas. From here, I enjoyed the reappearance of Morah, our narrator of sorts, who outlines briefly what happens over the time they spend on this continent and these events develop Hawk's necessary survival, hunting and warrior skills against fellow natives, animals and natural disasters. 

Against this backdrop, does Hawk and Skaytha grow closer together as they are tested by these events. Any reader can see that happening and I guess we all expected it! 

I had no idea how long The Five (as Morah calls Hawk, Skaytha, Canach, Africa and Fia) had stayed on this continent until Hawk makes a comment about this and how he feels about Skaytha,
Two years and my hair is past my shoulders and Skaytha's down her back. Deerskin on her body, hawk feathers in her braid, claws in a perfect necklace about her throat, dabs of blue and vermillion on her cheeks, her skin the color of the earth, how beautiful she is. And I can do nothing about it, nothing. 
It is this that sparks of what I mentioned in my review of Legion, Book 1, that Hawk and Skaytha will have their resolve tested and it happens in this novel. Hawk refuses the amorous advances of Skaytha and they drift apart. I won't add spoilers, but Hawk is very distressed
And we are no closer to fulfilling our quest. I have actually lost ground. Skaytha is farther from my heart than she has ever been. 
This novella ends with Canach being very prophetic in what she believes will be the future based on the strained relationship. Again, as in Book 1, we are left dangling off the cliff until we met again in Book 3. 

I would have preferred this novella to be just a bit longer, but this is still a page turner, still whets the appetite for more and our curiosity still very much piqued. 

Strongly Recommended

Monday 2 June 2014

Legion (The Name Of The Hawk-Volume 1) by Murray Pura

No one knows anything about him.
Not where he's from or who his mother and father are.
Not even the beautiful woman at his side, or the community of men and women and monks who have raised him from a child know his real name or what is in his heart and soul.
But one fateful day, when he cries out to God and God answers, the darkness sees Hawk for the first time.
And it sets out to destroy him before he rises up in the power of God and Christ to fulfill his destiny.

The Guru's Review:

Hawk does not know who he is, not who his mother is, nor his father. But we do, and it is Hawk's quest to find out. This 32 page novella, first in The Name of the Hawk series sets the scene of a bygone era, the famed and fabled era of the Knights of the Round Table and that of King Arthur. Our story is told by Morah with an ominous account, 
You have not heard it before. I don't care how old you are or where you are from. You have been told there is nothing new under the sun, but this story is.
It changed your life. It changed everyone's life, living and dead. It turned our world into another kind of world. But no one knows. They do not know. 
Before I die you will have it all in your breath and blood and then you can do with it what you will. Only you cannot go back and change it. No one can. It began and it ended and it continues. 
So Pura has the reader embarking on this journey with questions already raised, Does Hawk find his mother? What of his brother Sir Galahad and his father Sir Lancelot? 

As a baby, this brother of Sir Galahad, is whisked away to the holy Isle of Skyrl, and grows up in a monastery, learning the Holy Book and the holy tongues of Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Latin, and Gaelic. On his 18th birthday he takes his vows, one to Jesus Christ, one to his people of Skyrl, and the third, the vow of a Nazarene: 
His hair would be cut one last time and then never cut again for five years. He could not drink wine at Communion. Could not drink ane beverage with alcohol in it. Could not touch vinegar to his lips. Could not take anything made from grapes, not juice, not raisins, not the grapes themselves. Could not touch a corpse or enter a graveyard. In addition, there would be a holy task he would have to perform that would take him far from the Holy Isle. Once it was accomplished, once the five years had ended, he would be permitted to return. 
He does not know his real name but only the name that Hamish gives him: Hawk. 

Upon taking his vows, King Cochilaicus, the King of the Danes, strikes an agreement with Hamish, Hawk's monkish mentor, to sail with him to the far seas on a journey of exploration and adventure. Cochilaicus needs the sharpness of Hawk's eyesight and the penmanship of Skaytha, to record their journey. 

Against this backdrop does Pura set the stage for this medieval tale that spans the entire known world of the time, and is filled with spiritual warfare, mystery and suspense. 

At the end of this novella, we are exposed to the evil force of Legion who want Hawk dead at all costs. 

Pura has successfully set this stage where the reader is catapulted back into the time date of May 1, 517 AD. His style of writing is what captivates the reader into this time frame and you feel as if you are there. It does remind me of the medieval seafaring movies and this novella does read like a movie. I like the beginnings of a budding relationship between Hawk and Skaytha and you can tell that the following novellas are going to test their resolve towards each other, their faith in the One True God and their physical endurance. 

I look forward to the next instalment immensely. 

Highly Recommended. 

Sunday 1 June 2014

The Devil Rides (Preacher Man-Volume 3) by Murray Pura

Preacher Man - Volume 3 - The Devil Rides

It's been a bad week for Pastor Jude Aaron Blackstone - he's at the centre of an FBI investigation, his girlfriend and him have split, a new sheriff doesn't want Jude to give him any trouble, and life just isn't what it should be. But things are about to get worse. A famous End Times speaker is coming to town and when he teaches something from the Bible, it becomes obvious that what he teaches goes - not only do people take it in hook, line, and sinker, but the events he talks about actually occur. Which would be fine if he was preaching about faith, hope, and love. But when he's teaching from the Book of Revelation about the seven seals, the seven trumpets, 666, and the Beast, it's a recipe for disaster. Especially when those events are not being orchestrated by God but by the devil himself. Jude is about to face a weekend from hell head on, and if hell has its way, there won't be a United States of America come Monday morning or a Jude Aaron Blackstone either.

The Guru's Review: 

I am fortunate that when I was introduced to this series, the first three were released so I have been able to enjoy reading them one after the other. Now I have done this, I have to wait patiently for Pura to write the fourth volume. I pray the author is successful in achieving this sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I have bought another of his novella series, The Name of the Hawk, and will get into that! 

In this third novella, Pura adds more character and plot development to Blackstone and his budding relationship with Sierra. From the description of this novella, their relationship ends as it appears Sierra is not what she first appeared to Blackstone. This twist has a direct and influential bearing on the plot and adds more revelation about Blackstone's past but also Sierra's. I am really hoping that in the fourth novella more will be explored and developed about this relationship. It fits in very nicely with the general theme of the whole series and adds to the depth of suspense, action, and spiritual warfare aspects of this volume and the one to come. 

The description in the book blurb I found very interesting. A visiting end times speaker preaches about the book of Revelation and then the events described in this book comes to pass in the town of Diamondback. I would never have imagined this myself if I was thinking of a plot line so this grabbed me with my interest and curiosity more than piqued. 

Again, this is one filled plot with action, suspense, the supernatural, mystery and intrigue. I was shocked when I discovered the reason why Blackstone and Sierra split, but once this is out there it adds a further layer of mystery and intrigue to the plot. I lived in hope while reading the rest of the novel that Pura would reunite and reconcile them. Not going to give any spoilers away on this topic other than what the book description has already. 

The supernatural aspects of the book of Revelation coming to life in the town of Diamondback makes for a great read and keeps you guessing as to why and how until Blackstone joins the dots correctly and arrives at the most logical conclusion in the supernatural world, that there could only be one other person or entity that could do this. Yes, our enemy of old and the greatest deceiver, satan! While I speak of the supernatural, the description of the showdown between Blackstone and satan himself is intense, albeit short, but memorable, and Pura has employed a very important practice of spiritual warfare, that of prayer, worship and standing firm in Christ. In this confrontation, these practices and the chanting of the Benedictine monks, bring the Shekinah glory of Yahweh to defeat satan. 

This spiritual warfare practice of prayer runs through all the books in this series and in this volume, Pura has constructed what Blackstone calls The Wall and he engages this just before confronting satan, 
(Speaking of the Skekinah glory of Yahweh),
How does something like this happen?
Prayer. Worship. And God responds in a manner of His choosing. All our pastors were praying and anyone else they had time to notify. But I also asked Dies Irae to put up The Wall. That's a connection to men and women who pray like some boxers fight-hard and long and with plenty of sweat. They are all over the world and belong to two thousand different denominations. Whenever I had to go into the pit of hell in Europe I asked for The Wall. It meant a half a million people were praying for me within minutes. An army of God. They never knew the details. Just that someone was facing satan head on and that many lives and souls were at stake.  
If we all had this as described above, it would take the concept of a Prayer Chain to the next level! But this does not detract from the power of prayer that is available to all of us who have a relationship with Jesus or that we are not to abandon the prayer chains and other forms of prayer support and practice we have in place now.  

Another spiritual warfare principle is also expressed when the residents of Diamondback and the ministers in Blackstone's ministers fraternity suffer the manifestations of the plagues mentioned in Revelation after being preached by Eugene Hawkins, the visiting end times speaker, Blackstone instructs them to stand firm in their faith, and stand their ground in Christ, 

We'll get the plague!
You won't get anything but protection if you arm yourself with Christ........He is your salvation! Not your good deeds or your faithfulness or your thoughts on the Trinity! He is! 

So prayer, worship and standing firm in our faith, and in Christ, is what we use in spiritual warfare and what Pura's message is in this novel. Pura educates the reader while in the midst of the action and suspense of that part of the novel. He does this so well. 

I am so looking forward to the next volume in this compelling and addictive series. 

Highly Recommended.