Saturday, April 3, 2010

Book Review: The Thorn by Daron Fraley

First off, let me apologize to Daron for being a day and a half late on posting this review. I have good reasons, but at the moment they sound like nothing but excuses, so I'll just say "I'm sorry" and leave it at that.

Second, the disclaimer: Daron and I are both published by Valor Publishing Group and I know and like the man, and though I received a free copy of his book for review purposes, that in no way affects my opinion of his book.

Now on to the review!

Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world – Earth – is about to appear in the heavens.

During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon – a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others.

In the end, Pekah’s selfless bravery is the means by which all the tribes are united. But there are dissenters, and Rezon escapes a well-deserved fate. When the promised heavenly signs appear, will there be peace at last, or will the malefactors once again threaten the safety of them all?

The Thorn has been an interesting read for me. I am a HUGE fantasy fan, but of a very specific type of fantasy. I hate to admit it, but I have never been able to finish J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, or Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, and these are two of the most well known and loved fantasy series of all time. So, if I'm such a fantasy lover, why can't I finish these books? Well, the answer lies not in the skill of the writer, or the beauty of their world, but in the depth of their details. You see, I'm a character writer. I would rather read a series of books that follows the same characters all the way through, so I know those people as well as I know myself, than read a stand alone book. I'd rather sit and watch a TV series, several episodes at a time, than watch a movie. I like the people.

Orson Scott Card wrote a book called Characters and Viewpoint, and in it he talked about the different types of books people can write. I believe he listed four, but at the moment I only remember two. One of them was a character driven story, like I write and enjoy reading. The other I remember is a world driven story, where the people are important to the plot, but the story is really about creating this magical place and reveling in the details. That, I believe, is part of what makes The Lord of the Rings and The Wheel of Time so loved. Their worlds are rich in detail, much as Daron Fraley's The Thorn.

Daron creates an interesting mix of the two types of story telling. I love his characters. They have depth and motives I understand and care about. But--he is also very good at all the worldbuilding skills exhibited by the prior mentioned authors. Details like the kind of wood and metal pins used in creating a portable home for an emperor. The color of the many suns and moons throughout the day and night and how they affect the light. It is a world made alive with his gift for detail.

There is one aspect of The Thorn that I had not expected to like, and I went into the reading of it with a bit of trepidation, in that he takes something mentioned briefly in the scriptures and bases a whole world and religion on it. I had thought it would bother me, but instead I have been delighted with the depth it brings to the characters and the world. When the characters prophecy, I feel it, clear to my bones. It brings something REAL to the table in this fantasy world and reminds me much of Orson Scott Card's Homecoming Saga, which was based on stories from The Book of Mormon. It has been an odd juncture for me, but one that has made me think, "what if," and that is always my favorite question to play with.

Order the book HERE.

Price: $16.95
Publisher: Valor Publishing Group, LLC (March 16, 2010)
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Binding: Trade Paperback
Pages: 300
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-935546-11-5
Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches


berlinwritergirl said...

Another good book to read about people on another world receiving the gospel is Anne Perry's Tathea.

Daron D. Fraley said...

Thank you very much your review, Karen! I am glad you enjoyed the book.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm really grateful for this review, Karen, because it helps bring a lot of knowledge about the book without spoilers. I'm looking forward to reading it myself. =]