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ITHYANNA: LAST DAUGHTER OF ATLANTIS

BOOK I: HOW THE WORLD ENDED MILLENNIA AGO

An engaging, offbeat, and Bible-inspired apocalyptic tale.

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This first installment of a religion-themed SF/fantasy saga focuses on the high-tech but intrigue-wracked island nation of Atlantis and how a brilliant woman trusts science to rescue humanity from doom.

A dedication to God up front indicates Canadian author Cook’s antediluvian epic is sincerely meant as evangelical literature. But initially, readers encounter playfulness and semisatire that fall almost within hailing distance of dogma-bashing material like James Morrow’s Towing Jehovah (1994). Supposedly drawing from fringe history experts and Creation science, Cook depicts life in fabled Atlantis circa the biblical deluge. Humanity is high-tech and spacegoing (though penned in by an alien embargo) but, thanks to Adam and Eve, fatally decadent, divided, and driven to self-destruction. Especially significant is a looming military conflict with Lemuria, a fierce “Women’s Liberation” rogue state stopping at nothing for total control. Beautiful, psychic Atlantean science graduate Ithyanna foresees an upcoming apocalypse. Though tentatively a follower of Olympus-style deities, she puts her faith in rationalism and technology, plotting a starship escape of the planet’s best and brightest before it’s too late. Meanwhile, her adopted sister, an alcoholic “coarseneck” (redneck) with an affinity for “cargonaut” (country-and-western) music, repents and joins ex-technician Noah, a shunned disciple of the god Elohim. Noah, of course, is building a giant gopher-wood boat for his family and a menagerie of animals despite much public scorn and ridicule. God/Elohim—who appears as a talking lion like Aslan of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia tales—worries that Ithyanna’s scheme may spoil the whole flood thing. In this engrossing tale, treachery, arrogance, violence, nonbelief, and selfishness beset the eponymous hero’s plans and illuminate God’s true path. En route are enjoyable shoutouts to the Adam West Batman TV series, references to the movie flops Star! and Doctor Doolittle, and disguised versions of Kurt Waldheim, White nationalism, and Islam. If they aren’t too tempted to dig deeper for additional takedowns (was that supposed to be Oprah Winfrey? Madonna? Former President George W. Bush? Justin Trudeau?), readers will get a basically traditional exhortation urging redemption—complete with Gospel excerpts—attired in riots of rococo filigree and vivid anachronisms. This work certainly isn’t part of the Tim LaHaye/Jerry B. Jenkins school of Christian fantasy.

An engaging, offbeat, and Bible-inspired apocalyptic tale. (introduction, list of the nations, cast-of-characters guide, map)

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 271

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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FOURTH WING

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

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IRON FLAME

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 2

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

A young Navarrian woman faces even greater challenges in her second year at dragon-riding school.

Violet Sorrengail did all the normal things one would do as a first-year student at Basgiath War College: made new friends, fell in love, and survived multiple assassination attempts. She was also the first rider to ever bond with two dragons: Tairn, a powerful black dragon with a distinguished battle history, and Andarna, a baby dragon too young to carry a rider. At the end of Fourth Wing (2023), Violet and her lover, Xaden Riorson, discovered that Navarre is under attack from wyvern, evil two-legged dragons, and venin, soulless monsters that harvest energy from the ground. Navarrians had always been told that these were monsters of legend and myth, not real creatures dangerously close to breaking through Navarre’s wards and attacking civilian populations. In this overly long sequel, Violet, Xaden, and their dragons are determined to find a way to protect Navarre, despite the fact that the army and government hid the truth about these creatures. Due to the machinations of several traitorous instructors at Basgiath, Xaden and Violet are separated for most of the book—he’s stationed at a distant outpost, leaving her to handle the treacherous, cutthroat world of the war college on her own. Violet is repeatedly threatened by her new vice commandant, a brutal man who wants to silence her. Although Violet and her dragons continue to model extreme bravery, the novel feels repetitive and more than a little sloppy, leaving obvious questions about the world unanswered. The book is full of action and just as full of plot holes, including scenes that are illogical or disconnected from the main narrative. Secondary characters are ignored until a scene requires them to assist Violet or to be killed in the endless violence that plagues their school.

Unrelenting, and not in a good way.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374172

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

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