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Earthbow: Volume 1: Part One of the Second of the Narentan Tumults Paperback – March 21, 2010
Attention Science Fiction Fans
Man vs. machine, humans vs. aliens, paranormal activities – discover the best of science fiction with these collectible books. Learn More.
About the Author
One of the top award winners in the 2006 Genesis writing contest, Earthbow is Sherry Thompson’s second novel, following the release of her debut, Seabird. Her work has also appeared in F/SF, The Best of Gryphonwood, and The Inkslingers. Recently retired from the University of Delaware Library, Thompson is now at work on Earthbow, volume 2.
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Top Customer Reviews
First, while Seabird remained in Cara's point of view the whole time, this book has several. The storyline is more complicated, with various threads spinning around each other. Some threads touch others, some tie together, others remain lose, waiting to be wrapped up in Volume 2. The reader sees and experiences more of the world, the culture, and the darkness than in Seabird.
Second, Cara doesn't return for this story, rather her brother, Xander, is introduced into this world. And instead of experiencing Xander's entrance into the world and his acceptance of his mission, we jump into the story two weeks after he's been in the world, already carrying the Earthbow, and apparently ready to find out what he was sent there to do, and do it, though it's obvious he isn't ready.
Third, Xander, while the Outworlder, isn't the central character or focus in this volume. Harone, a key character from Seabird, acts as Xander's guide and we frequently find ourselves in his point of view, and realize he's struggling with his own journey and growth as an Enchanter, facing the dark evil that he struggles to fight back. Another thread follows Coris, serving an evil king influenced by the dark evil that is working to enslave the lands, and his ethical struggle both to do what is right in the face of possible death, and his struggle with faith in someone greater than himself. Many other characters interact or take the points of view, but relate to one of these two threads in one way or another. As a matter of fact, while Xander is an interesting character, in this volume he is upstaged by the rich and varied cast of characters. This volume isn't as much his story as it is Harone's and Coris'.
I admit, when I first dug into this book, I was expecting Seabird II, and it threw me a bit when I didn't get that. But once past that realization, I found a greatly expanded and darker view of Narenta and the lands in this world. The characters are well drawn, complete with their own histories, flaws, and struggles. The silent enemy working behind the scenes, and those he controls, provide definite and constant tension as the story progresses. Earthbow, while in the Narenta world, is its own book. The feel is more like Lord of the Rings. Not so much in the plot, but in the scope of the story arc. The book takes on a more epic ambiance than Seabird contained.
But unlike Lord of the Rings, and more like The Chronicles of Narnia, the allegory runs deep. Alphesis still is present and guiding, but hidden. This makes the volume a great read for the non-Christian who may not bother with seeing allegorical relationships to Christian characters or principles, and simply enjoy the story for what it is: an engaging story any fantasy fan would love to sink their teeth into. At the same time, the Christian reader can read it and derive valid Christian thoughts and applications to their lives, if they wish. For either reader, they will find Earthbow a gem of a story.
The writing is well done, easy to follow most of the time. Sometimes the jumping around to different points of view takes some getting used too, and for my taste, happened too frequently in spots. Yet, it wasn't so bad that it distracted me from the story. More like shifting gears on a manual transmission. Most of the shifts are established well enough and the reader will be able to keep up with who's who and where they are. I also found many of the descriptions rich without being overbearing, and the action easy to follow.
One other note, mentioned above but bears pointing out: this is volume 1 of a two volume book. It contains books one and two. The second volume, yet to come out as of this writing, will have books three and four and an epilogue. Consequently, while there is a thread that is tied up and a climax to this book, there are also a lot of threads yet to be woven to a conclusion. I'm told that Xander will play a greater role in the next volume, and a lot of the story lines will be completed there, including Coris'. It's your traditional middle book problem. You have to wait for the next one to get the ending.
That said, don't wait for the next volume to come out to read this. I highly recommend this book. And though I rarely do this, I'll give it five out of five stars. If the follow-up fails to deliver, that would be a shame. But I have every expectation that it will deliver. And I look forward to discovering how these stories conclude.
Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the author.
It's noticeably darker, and the characters the reader meets face difficult choices and situations, as well as their own uncertainty and inner struggles. Unlike "Seabird," Xander is already in Narenta at the beginning of the book, and while the reader does get to know him, the other storylines get as much if not more attention then he does (he does get more in volume 2, I hear). One new character, Coris, is quite interesting, and Harone is back. And while it is gloomy in the beginning (Coris just can't seem to do anything right at first), Khiva soon appears to provide some (not out-of-place) entertaining relief.
Over all, I think I may have enjoyed reading "Earthbow" more than I did with "Seabird." It reads smoothly and quickly, and the three intertwined storylines were all enjoyable, so I didn't mind when they changed from one to another. And, while it is grittier than "Seabird," it still has a quality that reminds me of J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and C. S. Lewis, the better-known members of the Inklings.
Will these three heroes overcome their fears and doubts and rescue Narenta from destruction, despite the daunting forces arrayed against them?
Earthbow continues the epic saga Sherry Thompson began in Seabird, and I suggest readers finish Seabird first, if they can, to gain a better understanding of what's going on. Earthbow leaps into the story of Coris, Xander, and Harone without preamble, and it covers a lot of territory. Ms. Thompson has created a fascinating world just different enough from our own to be recognizably fantastic and alien, populated with vivid, interesting characters. There's plenty of adventure, mystery, magic, and intrigue as the forces of good and evil work through their human proxies to steer Narenta's future.
The characters really made the story for me. I was drawn to all three heroes, but they couldn't be more different. Xander is brash and overconfident, impatient to take on the challenges of his strange new role. Harone is talented and capable, but painfully aware of his inexperience and limitations. Coris is a courageous and skilled warrior, faithful to the knight's code of chivalry, but tormented by his leaders' evil and injustice even as he's driven by his own dark obsessions. There are many other memorable characters in the supporting cast, both allies and villains, but it's better that you meet them within the pages of the story.
Earthbow is written with passion and skill. It is very much in the tradition of C.S. Lewis' and J.R.R. Tolkien's spiritually-themed fantasy adventures, infused with themes of courage, self-sacrifice, faith, loyalty, honor, and redemption. It's also a long haul. As the title implies, the story of the Earthbow is not finished at the end of Volume 1. It's only begun. We're left with more of a time-out than a tidy conclusion, which will frustrate some readers but likely leave more of them (including myself) eager for the arrival of Volume 2.
Note to Parents: I think this story would appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy heroic fantasy, though the vocabulary is a bit advanced for younger children. As I recommend with any book, read it yourself first before you share it with your kids, and if you can, make a little family time and read it along with them. There is some medieval swordplay and bloodshed typical of the genre, but nothing excessive or gratuitous. One particularly tragic death may provide an opportunity for serious discussion between parents and children.
Note: This review is based upon a copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the author, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Originality - 5/5
Writing Style - 5/5
Plot - 5/5
Characters - 5/5
Aesthetics - 4/5
Earthbow is the second book...Read more