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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead

The Realms Thereunder managed to add a new and, I think, improve twist into the somewhat predictable genre of fantasy. Much like D. Briggs does in his Legends of Karac Tor, Ross Lawhead the author of The Realms Thereunder, pulls on myth and legend in the weaving of this story.

The Realms Thereunder follows a dual story plot line of two very different people, Daniel Tully and Freya Reynolds.  We see them both as  young teens, then as adults, eight years later. Daniel has become a sword wielding homeless man with a hunger for going back to the land he visited as a child; Freya is a physiatrist patient and compulsive mythical history buff.

The Realms Thereunder was a fun fantasy read that would fit well on any fantasy lover’s shelf. The book had some excellent plot points as well as clever modern twists on anachronistic characters.

It would have earned a very solid four star review if the writing quality had sustained the fantastical plot possibilities. Unfortunately, the writing was spotted with lapses into omniscient point of view, and even resorted to narrating and summarizing a conversation as it went, discarding the industry standard “showing” of a conversation.  If not for the writing quality I would easily have given this book four stars, as it is, it’s a solid three. If you are a stickler for craft quality, as I am, I recommend this book only when your to-read-stack is getting low. If however, quality is a non-issue with your reading, then by all means read it!

One word to the observant reader: While the book is published by a Christian publishing house, it is not truly “Christian” fantasy. It is more like, “monotheistic  fiction”. Overall The Realms Thereunder was a clean read but I felt language was the books weakest link morally. It pushed what I felt was decent, even as an American reading primarily British comments.

Find it here and more books like it here


Hawk said...

Hello Millard,

Given a distinction between holy and unholy, and a directive to pursue only the one, I would like to ask if you think Ross's writing strays over the line in regard to language. For context, two words now considered mild expletives, "Hell" and "damn," have specific meanings in Scripture. To use them in vain is to obscure or water down their meaning, an unwise practice given their extreme importance.

Secondarily, can you give me any pointers on becoming an advance reader / reviewer for a Christian publisher?

I am unsure how to see any reply you might make, so can you post to davidhawkins7@gmail.com?



Millardthemk said...

Another objectionable spot besides the usages of those afore mentioned words, was an oath, if not a minced one, when Daniel referred to the rear portion of a rat in reference to his father's face(when angry).

I feel that the usages of words such as "hell" or "damn/damnation" have to be made very very carefully. Indeed, someone might be speaking of a literal hell, but is it likely? Eh..not usually in most modern literature.
The same goes for damnation. It could truly be speaking of someone's soul being damned to hell, but is it likely the statement was given as an objective analysis? Again, I say not likely.

Character intent comes into bear in these matters, and to a reasonable extent, reader response. If I was to say "My God" in a blog post, and truly mean it as a exclamation to my Father in heaven, to avoid the appearance of evil I would need to make that clear to YOU as well(That I was not using it as an exclamation of surprise and taking God's name in vain)

In truth, some readers will take statements one way, some will take them another. I ran into enough sketchy(and some obviously not edifying) remarks to put that disclaimer on my post.

I hope my response doesn't muddy the water further, if it does, I'm sorry! :)

About your review/ARC copy question: Most major Christian publishers have a blog-and-book review program. AMG Living Ink, Multnomah Waterbrooke, Tyndale House, Thomas Nelson...etc., these all do.

If more assistance is required, feel free to respond in the comments.


markn12 said...

Nice review. Thanks for posting. I agree. Ross is a fine new fantasy author. Keep your eye on him; this is only the first in a trilogy: http://dld.bz/aqJtg