The Final Summit: a review

The Final Summit
The Final Summit

The Final Summit is a book in a series, and it isn’t the first book, and I read it without reading the others first (because I got it free from Booksneeze in return for an unbiased review). So it was a bit… non-immersive for me. I wasn’t connected to the characters. But then, I don’t think that was one of the goals in the first place.

This book is a lecture in success and effective living, framed in the narrative of a life of a man. It’s a good read, interesting, and well written, but it isn’t an action adventure novel.

The premise is that the greatest minds of the earth from all ages are gathered together to answer one question. The question was this: β€œWhat does humanity need to do individually and collectively to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?” The answer was two words.

I disagreed with the author’s answer (which I will not give, because that would be a spoiler) because although it was a good, viable one, it was not the real answer. It did not go deep enough and it did not strike true enough. My answer is: “Seek God.” For if we seek, we find — God promises that. And if we keep on seeking, even after we are saved, we will draw ever closer to Him. Every other answer to our society’s problems can be found along that journey. And without it, no other answer is complete, even if you put all of them together.

But aside from that, the book is a good, educational read. Especially for history buffs. πŸ™‚

Review: Starfire

Greetings,

Starfire - Stuart Vaughn Stockton
Starfire - Stuart Vaughn Stockton

Here I am again to review yet another Marcher Lord Press novel, and again, this is one of my favorites (no, I won’t say that about all of them, but probably about most of them, haha).

Starfire, by Stuart Vaughn Stockton. Awesome book. Pure awesomeness.

His characters were deep, memorable, connectable (i.e., I empathized with them); his world’s premise, development, weaving, and execution were absolutely stunning; and his story’s plot, intricacy, concept, and progression were perfectly crafted.

And it was beautifully unique: I mean, who has ever thought of doing a high fantasy sci-fi story with a world populated entirely by dinosaurs? I know I never did, but I wish I had. Brilliant idea, hard to execute though. But he did a marvelous job of it.

And then, who wouldn’t like to read a book from the perspective of someone tasked with the creation of a world-wide catastrophe??

These kinds of things make it really hard to publish, though, at least with regular publishing venues. With Marcher Lord Press and other companies like them, it becomes very possible to get awesome stuff like this into the hands of voracious and thankful readers like me. And like you. πŸ˜‰

Starfire stands out in my mind as a Wow Book. I can’t wait to read it again.

The morals, the theme, the lessons, could even be described as life-changing. Powerful stuff, deep thinking, great challenges.

Another six out of five. πŸ™‚ So go check it out.

Book Review: The Superlative Stream

Greetings,

The Superlative Stream by Kerry Nietz
The Superlative Stream by Kerry Nietz

My last book that I reviewed here was A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz, and I gave it a resounding six out of five. It is, however, only the first in a trilogy, only the first two of which are published so far (hopefully the last one will come out later this year). I have the first two, and I can’t wait.
The second one is called The Superlative Stream (of course also by Kerry Nietz, duh). Now, sequels are hard to do. And trilogies are also rather hard to pull off (though I have seen more successful trilogies than sequels). There are several ways to go about it: you can just continue the story you started in the first books, which means each book kinda has an incomplete story arc, which is annoying, or you can make each one have a unique story plot, while loosely linking them together in an overall story arc.
The former is more like one book severed into three volumes. The Lord of the Rings is like that, but people rarely read them individually because it is so obvious they don’t stand alone (although he was able to create individual story arcs for each book as well, which is amazing).
The latter is kind of like beads on a chain. They are related, but not one unified whole. Stephen Lawhead‘s The Dragonking Saga is like that to a degree.
One way is not necessarily better than the other way: each has its own unique challenges and blessings.
But Kerry Nietz did ’em both (or at least he has done this so far).
I won’t give away the plot, which is marvelously and beautifully woven, but the way he did it was more like weaving many threads together on a wristband. It has definable sections that stand somewhat alone, but are very much obviously a part of the whole. Each one has its own personality, character, and design, but each one is a part of the structure of the whole. That said, don’t read The Superlative Stream until you have read A Star Curiously Singing: it won’t be nearly as good otherwise. But you are going to get that anyways, right? πŸ˜‰
The Superlative Stream answers some questions about A Star Curiously Singing, but it also creates some more, while preparing the main characters to be hurled right back into a struggle that looks to be of epic proportions and magnetic awesomeness (magnetic in that you won’t be able to set it down, not that magnets will be fighting each other or anything).
Like A Star Curiously Singing, it also delves into fascinating theological and philosophical concepts in a dramatic and clear way, demonstrating some powerful truths about many things, including belief. I like the way Kerry consistently develops the main character, integrating doubt and struggles without voiding the steps forward that he has taken in the previous book. I hate it when people mess that whole thing up, and Kerry doesn’t.
And I love Dark Trench. Brilliant way to make a great character out of an AI being without violating the fact that he is indeed AI, and not human. Perfectly done.
So again, six out of five, on all points. Go get it. πŸ˜€

A Defense of Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Da...
Image via Wikipedia

Well, this was supposed to be written and posted last week’s Monday, but things happened and it didn’t get done. So we can all pretend like this is last week, alright?

I watched the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie with my mom and the other two of the 3Literati (Patrick and Juliet: we are the oldest three siblings). I went with this mindset: this is a movie, not a book. Thus, it isn’t the same as the Voyage of the Dawn Treader book, never will be, and shouldn’t be. So I sat back for a good movie.

And was utterly blown away by how similar it was to the book, and by how much biblical morals they were able to include from the original book. In fact, from what I have seen from the reactions of different people, a lot of people have actually missed a lot of the lessons in the books that were brought out in the movie.

I find that a lot of people complain mostly about the plot changes from the book. A few people complain about the plot itself (i.e., the mist was clichΓ©, and etc.), but there always will be that small group of people who say that about practically every piece of media that is ever created. And besides, those kinds of things are more matters of opinion than anything else (I, personally, thought the plot was brilliantly done). So I will focus in the first part of this review on the changes of the plot from the book, and in the second part on the content itself as a movie for Christians to watch.

In the old days, people published books. And they way they went about it was quite different from the way they do it now. And the interests of the people who read books back then were possibly even more different. Actually, most likely more different. And so different things got published.

In fact, if you tried to publish practically any of the old classics now… it just wouldn’t happen. And even if you did, veeery few people would actually read it. The whole style and expected content was different. The way you structure plot, the way you developed characters, the way you set up scenes, the way you described things, the stuff you included, everything was different. Nowadays, books are a lot more like movies in a lot of ways. Now, I am not saying that either way is bad: in fact both are perfectly legitimate ways of writing books, and I enjoy both styles.

However.

The old way of doing book writing simply does not work nowadays, especially on screen. And if you put over a hundred million dollars into producing something, which is required for epic movies to be done well (though that price is lowering), you want to get something out of it. You need to rely on selling to a powerful enough market to support your venture.

So in the process of making an old book into a new movie, changes will have to be made simply to make it vendible. This is not a bad thing. This is actually a good thing. Sure, eventually, prices will lower and people will be buying movies like they buy ebooks (by the gross), and then you will be able to get away with more stuff and sell to niche markets, and that will also be a good thing. But at the moment, you can’t rely on the tiny portion of the world who actually is watching the movie because they read the books and who also actually want the movie to be exactly like the book.

It doesn’t need to be exactly like the book. It shouldn’t be exactly like the book. And with a book like Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is a prime example of old-style structure, changes have to be made to make it able to be made into a movie. No changes, no movie. Pretty simple.

And if you think about the changes that they actually made… they were pretty small.

* listens to the shouts of consternation and gasps of unbelief *

Right. You heard me right. πŸ˜€

They weren’t all that big. Think about it, what did you expect? That they would drop an island or two (they dropped only one, unless you count Felimath and Doorn), and that they would merge others (which they did). They did this quite masterfully, and retained a ton of detail from the book.

What else would you expect for them to change? I expected them to add a more obvious plot arc that tied everything together: the book was very episodic in nature. And they did. And they did a great job of it too, tying together the events from the book by their common elements and elaborating on those. They also added on several bits of plot without removing any of the original. And in the case of the morals, they actually made the original morals much easier to see (judging by how many people missed them completely).

No, I am not giving any spoilers, haha, in case you haven’t watched it yet. But my advice to you is this: watch the movie as a movie, without expecting it to copy everything exactly from the book. And then you will absolutely love it. Especially the ending.

Now for the content. This should be pretty simple: it was great. πŸ˜€

For an epic fantasy, in which there is generally somewhere some kind of immodesty in the female portion of the cast, it was incredibly perfect. There was no immodesty at all, which is awesome. As far as language, it was clean: no words you wouldn’t want to repeat. Gore was innocuous (non-existent in the cases of humans, and vanishing into green smoke in the cases of monsters). And in truth, the book was more ‘gory’ than the movie, especially when Eustace had to be un-dragoned. The movie handles this absolutely splendidly.

There was only one element that I would advise caution for younger viewers on: the sea serpent is pretty intense and… freaky. Totally freaky. Awesomely sends-chills-down-your-spine kind of freaky. I loved it to pieces, personally, but little members of the audience might have to close their eyes a bit. πŸ˜‰

If you have questions about specific pieces of the plot, asking for justifications for changes they made, I would be more than willing to answer with my views on the matter. I wanted to keep this spoiler-free, but I will lift that ban on the comments section. πŸ™‚

So have at it. On guard.

A Review of Stephen Lawhead's Skin Map

 

The Skin Map
The Skin Map

 

When I got The Skin Map from Booksneeze (at no charge, no obligations, very awesome), I really had no idea what to expect. I had already read a few of Stephen Lawhead‘s books, and I knew that he had a diverse range of style. So I dug in with no preconceived notions about what it would be like.

And I loved it.

His mastery of the art of description is beyond belief (I had to stop several times to jump up and down because I loved his style so much, seriously). His level of attention to details like period mindset and speech is a delight to behold (especially for die-hard background-first novelists like me).

My only quibble was that he doesn’t end the first book as a stand-alone. He makes you need to read the next one to continue the story arc properly. And that isn’t out yet, which is maddening.

And for those of you who are worried about inappropriate content (I was a bit, since his Song of Albion trilogy had some), don’t be. It is completely clean. Utterly. I couldn’t have been more pleased on that score (and promptly gave it to my little siblings to share).

5 out of 5 stars, very recommended.

Everyone Communicates…

…But Few Connect.

Well I just finished Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell. I am almost ashamed for getting such a good book for free from BookSneeze, and even though I wasn’t required to give a positive review, that is the only kind I can give it.

Out of the hundreds of books that I have read that are really good, this one is definitely in the top ten. John Maxwell brings Biblical, Christian, practical, applicable, powerful, and profound principles, tactics, illustrations, and humor together in this book with a vital message: how to connect with everyone you come into contact with.

Connecting is the most important thing you can do in any relationship (family, spouse, parents, boss, co-workers, subordinates, clients, everyone). And every single step that John Maxwell gives you here will by itself revolutionize the way you connect. Integrating them all is hard work, but it is worth it. Five stars isn’t enough: this book is crucial for your life.

The 3Literati Blog is Up!

Greetings,

Us three Literati (I, Juliet, and Patrick) have been discussing setting up a blog for a long time now to discuss various things on. Several people have asked for a place on the internet that talks about essence outside of the Holy Worlds forums, and so we wanted to include that. Well, I am happy to announce that we have it up and going, with three posts on it already!

http://3literati.wordpress.com/

We like the set up a lot, and we will enjoy posting lexicological musings as well as essence tutorials and examples. So head over there and check it out! Comment on what is there, and subscribe. πŸ™‚

Come What May

Greetings,

There is a new group of entrepreneurs coming up in the world: the independent film makers. Especially the homeschooling independent film makers. While their quality has for a long time been so-so at their best, they are now rivaling the full production companies.

Before when someone highly recommends an independent, home made movie, my expectancies were along these lines: inexperienced acting, canned or cheesy music, hard to follow cinematography, simple or obscure plot, but a moral and a lesson worth it all.

No more.

The movies being turned out now are nothing short of top quality at regular standards. Movies like Widow’s Might, Pendragon, and Come What May have set the bar up several notches. They all, of course, have their weaknesses, but their weaknesses are minuscule compared to the horrendous stuff churned out nowadays and called ‘art’ by the more secular engines. This is what I applaud and encourage: we are taking back the media for the glory of God.

For the longest time now, I have been wanting to watch Come What May. I heard about its message and wanted to be encouraged by it. But I was not sure what category it might fit into: the cheesy but tolerable, or the revolutionary and passionate. Thus I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to watch it with my church on New Year’s Eve.

I can now say this: it met and exceeded all my expectations.

Not only was the quality of the acting, cinematography, story line, and characters superb to a fine degree, but the message was deep, powerful, spellbinding, passionate, and driving. It made me weep from the bottom of my soul; and it got me up and sent me on with a resolve burning in my heart.

It touched on the things that are held most dear to me, and so the effect it had on my may not be replicated to the full by other viewers, but I can assure you that it is at the very least worth the time and money it takes to see it.

My life’s passion can be summed up in one word: Liberty. This is a wide reaching passion, spanning from the internal struggles of purity in my heart, to the highest reaches of government and Biblical economics. It guides and drives my passion for life and my hatred for abortion. It keeps me persevering in purity, for the far off goal of marriage, and the beauty and power of that eventual joining of my hand with a woman’s.

Come What May drove straight at the heart of all those things, all my life’s passions, ruthlessly and stridently calling me to stand up for them, and to go on at all costs. It brought me to face my motives, and to renew my resolve. It brought me to the calling of God in my life, and placed a firm hand on my shoulder, guiding me into it.

And it should do the same for you.

In other words: Five Stars!

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

Free Book for Free!

Greetings,

I am trying out the BookSneeze service, and so far, it looks good. I got to read a good book and write about it all for free! Humorously, the book I chose is called Free Book. Hahaha… Unfortunately they want a shorter review than I would naturally give, and for those of you who know me, you can well imagine that I am champing at my bit! Oh well, here goes.

I received this book recently for free from BookSneeze on condition that I write this review on it. I was only too happy to oblige, and here I am. I agree with many of the other reviews that I have read on Free Book that the first impression is one of β€œWhat is this guy thinking!” But once I got a chapter or so into it, I got a better understanding of what he was trying to say, and by the end of the book I was fully reconciled to it, and ready to recommend it to others.

The main thing that I found troublesome with it was that he neglected to define his terms until the end of the book, rather than at the beginning. Of course, that got him more attention, but he might have lost a lot of readers due to misunderstandings. Just read through to the end though, he explains himself.

I disagree with a lot of his conclusions (when do I ever agree with everything anyone says?), but his premises, his passion, and his foundations were solid, and very important. He spoke out passionately about something that is very often missed and left at the wayside in our ‘churchised’ culture: Biblical Freedom (what I would call liberty). This is something that needs to be read and understood at any cost.

For your information, here is a link to booksneeze, and a link to Free Book on Amazon.