What I’m Reading: Starlighter by Bryan Davis

Hello, everyone! It’s the third Saturday of the month, and that’s book review day. I read this book a couple months ago, mostly on a flight from Georgia to New Hampshire, so this review is really long overdue. But here we are!

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Information for Readers

Genre: Christian Fantasy

Age Level: YA

Content? Only a little; some blood. No swearing or anything like that.

The Story: Sixteen-year-old Jason Masters has always doubted the stories of humans kidnapped by dragons and enslaved in another world. But when his brother Adrian leaves to rescue them, Jason is framed for murder and must go after him. In the other world, Koren, a young woman enslaved by dragons, discovers her special abilities and a mysterious black egg prophesied to be the doom of humans. Now, Jason and Koren must work together to free the slaves and fight the dragons’ tyranny.

This was a very cool premise, and enough of it was left at the end that I really need to read the three sequels and find out what happens. This was just the beginning of the story, but it was a great start.

The Characters: I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Jason, Randall, Elyssa, Tibalt, Koren, Natalla, Wallace, Arxad, the dragon prince, Magnar, and Zena were all really interesting. Tibalt provided great comic relief. My favorite character was probably Jason; I enjoyed his heroic idealism. I liked all the characters though (except Magnar, that evil dragon), and I’m looking forward to watching them develop more in the sequels.

The Writing: Bryan Davis is quite a good writer. I don’t remember catching any grammatical errors or anything like that, which is always good. He’s also really good at deep third-person POV. And the worldbuilding of the two worlds was really interesting, particularly the blend of technology levels in the humans’ world, though this was a bit confusing initially.

Overall: Very good book; looking forward to the sequels! Definitely recommended.

What do you think? Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Do you want to read it? Share in the comments!


Story Starters #6: Starlighter

Blood match. The words echoed in Jason’s mind as he stood at his corner of the tourney ring and gripped the hilt of his sword. Like a beating drum, the announcer must have repeated that phrase a hundred times, as if the potential for bloodletting might whip the crowd into a frenzy.

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Hello, all! It’s the first Saturday of the month (February already!), so as is routine, I am analyzing the first paragraph of a book. Today, I have selected Starlighter by Bryan Davis, which I was delighted to get for Christmas (look for my review next month!). And without further ado, let’s analyze!

  • Blood match. The first sentence of a story always has to hook the reader (you can learn more on this blog), and in this case, it’s done perfectly. It gives us some idea of what’s going on while enticing us to learn more. It’s also a thought, so we know we’re starting with a character right from the get-go, which is not always the case. It leads right into the next sentence.
  • The words echoed in Jason’s mind as he stood at his corner of the tourney ring and gripped the hilt of his sword. Ah, here’s our point-of-view character. Just from this sentence, we can glean a bit about Jason: he’s a warrior of some sort, a swordsman, and the cadence of the words indicates his excitement; he’s probably young. (Given that this is a YA book, we’d probably already know that, but we can pick it up from the sentence, too.) We also learn about our setting and situation from this sentence: Jason is at a tourney, right in the ring, as a competitor, so this world has at least some medieval elements. If we like medieval fantasy, as I do, this encourages us to read on.
  • Like a beating drum, the announcer must have repeated that phrase a hundred times, as if the potential for bloodletting might whip the crowd into a frenzy. Here we learn more about the situation. This must be a pretty important, well-publicized tourney, if there’s a crowd. And “potential for bloodletting” raises the stakes for Jason; what if he gets hurt? It heightens interest for the reader. Finally, as with the previous sentence, we can get some of Jason’s excitement (and nerves) from this; the simile of a beating drum mirrors how Jason’s heart is probably beating faster in this situation. This wraps up the first paragraph with a quick, neat hook, character and setting introductions, and high stakes, making it a great enticement to read the rest of the book.

That’s it for me today! I’ll be back next Saturday with a science post.

What do you think? Did you notice something else about these three sentences that I didn’t cover? Have you read Starlighter? Tell me in the comments!

Story Starters #1: By Darkness Hid

A short introduction today: You may have noticed that this is not my usual post. Usually, I post about book quotes on the first Saturday of the month, but to be honest, I’ve gotten a bit bored with that, since it’s difficult to find good book quotes that I’m not saying all the same things about as I analyze them. The first paragraphs of books, however, are all different, and I think it will be interesting to look at how different stories start off. Hence “Story Starters.”

Onward to today’s selection!

Achan stumbled through the darkness toward the barn. The morning cold sent shivers through his threadbare orange tunic. He clutched a wooden milking pail at his side and held a flickering torch in front to light his way.

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This is the first paragraph of the first book in Jill Williamson’s Blood of Kings trilogy, which I highly encourage you to check out if you haven’t already! We begin following hero of the book Achan on his journey as he heads out to the barn to milk the goats. This beginning is really descriptive, meant to get us into the world of the book and the head of our main character. Let’s go through it sentence by sentence.

  • Achan stumbled through the darkness toward the barn. We start right off with our main character’s name. We know whose point of view we’re in right off the bat, which keeps it clear for us who we’re following. His stumbling hints at his lower rank in society; if Williamson had portrayed him as more confident, striding, perhaps, instead of stumbling, we might have gotten the impression that he was higher up than he is. And lastly, the darkness and the barn give us the first hints of a setting. We get into this more in the next sentence.
  • The morning cold sent shivers through his threadbare orange tunic. This sentence tells us more about the setting. It’s morning, and since we already know from the last sentence that it’s dark, it must be early morning. This, combined with the reference to Achan’s clothing and his discomfort at the cold, confirm that he is some kind of lower servant sent to do a menial task at the crack of dawn.
  • He clutched a wooden milking pail at his side and held a flickering torch in front to light his way. This sentence just gives us more information about what Achan is doing (it later turns out he’s milking goats) and the tools he uses to do it. At this point, the reader has already guessed from the castle-like building on the cover that this will be a medieval-style fantasy, and the primitive tools Achan is using help confirm that. So more details about the setting are conveyed here through what Achan is carrying.

Tell me, have you ever read this book? Did this beginning make you want to read it? What do you think of my new first-Saturday blog posts? Tell me in the comments!

What I’m Reading: Edge of Oblivion by Joshua A. Johnston

When a great evil attacks his interplanetary Confederacy, Naval Commander Jared Carter is sent not to the front lines, but to chase down ancient religious artifacts that may hold the key to destroying the new enemy.


My copy, which I won in a giveaway.

After reading the back cover copy for Edge of Oblivion, I was really excited to read it. It sounded so interesting. While that proved to be true, it unfortunately did disappoint me a little. More below.

The Story: Many years in the future, Earth’s history has been lost during a mysterious dark age. Malum, a planet-sized ship in service of “the Master,” appears on the edge of Confederal space and works its way in, vaporizing people and ships as it goes. Nothing in the Confederal Navy can make a dent in Malum, let alone defeat it. So the Navy’s higher-ups send interceptor commander Jared Carter off chasing the only lead they have: a fragment of an ancient religious text which contains the same compound as Malum’s hull. Jared Carter and his crew chase that lead across several different planets and ultimately up to Malum itself.

I thought the premise was the best part of this book. The storyworld (or worlds; this is a space opera, like Star Trek and Star Wars) was beautifully developed, particularly the history of the Confederacy. I’ll discuss that more later on. The story of the interceptor crew chasing down an old, forbidden religion in a time when religion is looked down on was also interesting. The pacing was perfect, keeping me hooked through action and reaction scenes. And the theme (hope) was woven in subtly at the beginning through all the despair and became more obvious at the end, which I liked.

The Characters: The principal characters were Jared Carter, his interceptor’s crew, and the religious men who have the all-important text fragments. One of those men, Nho, stays with the crew after being rescued by them and becomes a mentor of sorts. He was my favorite character, probably because he was the best-developed, although I also liked Vetta and Darel, a couple of the alien crew members. All the characters seemed a bit underdeveloped at first, but they were revealed more later on. Jared, the protagonist, felt particularly bland to me; although he got slightly more interesting later on, he still wasn’t as compelling as Nho or Vetta. I’m hopeful that he’ll get more interesting in subsequent books (this is the first of a series).

The Writing: This is where I had my biggest problems with this book. The story was well plotted, but there were various errors in the way it was told. Mainly, there was a lot of telling rather than showing, in a couple ways. A lot of telling words were used (“Jared saw,” “Jared wanted,” “Jared thought,” etc.), rather than showing the reader what was going on inside Jared’s head. There was also a lot of infodumping, sometimes for no apparent reason, as when a chapter started with several paragraphs on the ways pirates might track a ship in space. (This did not turn out to foreshadow any event later on.) Characters’ backstory was also infodumped in several places, and there was a lot of contrived dialogue used to convey information. None of that got in the way of the action scenes, though.

Overall: Edge of Oblivion is an interesting book with an original premise, but the message of hope in Christ would have been much stronger had the writing been stronger and the characters more interesting. This was a debut novel, so I’m hopeful that things will improve in the rest of the series. It is worth the read for the story’s sake alone.

What do you think? Have you ever read a space opera? Have you read Edge of Oblivion? Did you enjoy it? Tell me in the comments!