The Archipelago Tales, Book 1
M R J Pike
Elgin. It's a tough life as a sentinel, watching, waiting, wondering... lonely, too, when you're the only one who knows the truth, when the people you're sworn to protect have given up hope.
Daniel. It's a tough life as a teenager who's lost his father... lonely, too, when your people believe your father was a failure or, worse, a traitor.
When Daniel's and Elgin's paths cross, the world has to change. A new vision emerges, a fire of hope is kindled: welcome to the world of Barracrail — a new legend has begun.
This is the first volume of a promising fantasy trilogy from a new Christian author and it's a fascinating storyline: plenty of surprising (but several fairly predictable) twists and turns. Adventures at sea, encounters with dragons, flawed characters struggling against their own weaknesses as well as their enemies: the story has all the classic fantasy ingredients. Pike describes it as "an allegory of the Christian Gospel" and readers familiar with the Bible will soon notice the underlying Christian themes and biblical allusions.
Pike writes much more smoothly than G P Taylor, for instance (who happens to be a Director of Grosvenor House, Pike's publisher), but even so — to this reader, at least — the writing feels a little awkward in places, some of the dialogue somewhat forced: the book would have benefited from a professional editor's touch. It's a pity, then, that Pike took Grosvenor House's self-publishing route for his work: this is a story that deserves the sort of exposure and treatment that a mainstream publishing house could have given it.
That's not intended in any way as a putdown, however: on the contrary, my advice is to pick this book up! Whether you're a young reader or an adult, if you enjoy fantasy, Pike is certainly an author to watch and this is a series you won't want to miss. Wholeheartedly recommended: I look forward to seeing the second volume.
Phil Groom, August 2007
Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.Grosvenor House Publishing | Order from www.christianbookshops.org