Starflower (Tales of Goldstone Wood #4) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood #4
Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Published: 1st November 2012 by Bethany House
Source: Copy from the author for an honest review
When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps the lovely Lady Gleamdren, Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission...and a race against his rival for Gleamdren's favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.
But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren's rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?
I haven't read the other books in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series but as this one is set as a prequel to the others it doesn't matter. I can't say whether the book is less or more enjoyable without reading the others in the series but I definitely found myself liking it!
I adored the writing in this piece! The description is just gorgeous and some of the word is just so delightful that I'm compelled to read the passage again.
I wanted to feel sorry for Hri Sora and at times I did, but her dragon mind was very heard to empathise with, though I still preferred her to the 'oh-so-great' Lady Gleamdren. At least Hri Sora was passionate about things, Lady Gleamdren was just so self-absored that I couldn't feel a spark of compassion for the silly predicament she'd put herself in.
I loved Eanrin, Glomar and Imraldera. Their names are fantastic, everyone had brilliant names actually, and their personalities were so much fun! Imraldera was caught in a world where mortal's were non-existent yet she was probably the strongest of them all - I loved her character! Eanrin's carefree cat character and Glomar's powerful, passionate badger side were just wonderful and I was blown away at how well they fir to their animals. They were also, of course, more than a cat and a badger and I loved the growth of Eanrin as he started to learn there was more to life than self-love.
I loved the writing and I could not get enough of the characters. I wanted to fall inside the book just so I could fall deeper inside the lives of Eanrin and Imraldera. It took me a few chapters to be completely hooked by this story, but by the end I was begging for more.
Christian Fantasy: The How and the Why
By Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Making my work easier is the fact that modern fantasy has its foundations rooted in Christianity. Epic novelist J. R. R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic, and he showed the way for other Christians to write fantasy with compelling themes but without sounding "preachy" to readers of other faiths. Tolkien was not a fan of allegory, therefore a reader will not find overt Christian characters in his Lord of the Rings. There is no overt Christ figure, or prayer, or storylines lifted directly from the Bible. However, because Tolkien's faith was the core of his existence, we see themes of that faith flowing through his works. Themes of good vs. evil, or sacrificial love; themes of fallen perfection striving to reclaim a beautiful Eden; themes of grace, hope, and love.
The other great writer of modern fantasy is undoubtedly C.S. Lewis. He, more even than Tolkien, introduced readers to new ways for faith and fantasy to walk hand-in-hand. Lewis wove children's fairy tales with strong allegorical themes. His beloved Aslan stood in as a Christ-figure, often doing deeds and speaking lines reminiscent of Christ in the Gospels.
But Tolkien and Lewis were not the first fantasy writers to found their fictional works in their faith. Generations before them, George MacDonald penned fantastic fairy tales rife with Christian symbolism and allegory that are truly beautiful reads and testimony to the author's living faith. Further back still, many centuries in fact, we see the epic saga of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, full of magic and mystery, but ultimately grounded in Christian thought and tradition. Spencer's Faerie Queen is another fabulous work of fantasy that evokes Christian symbolism in powerful ways.
Thus we see that writers throughout the ages have seen fantasy as a means to better express their faith. That is what I hope to achieve in my own works. I love fairy tales with a deep, passionate love. And I love to use them to reflect my own faith, which is the cornerstone of my life. Therefore, each one of my novels becomes a story about Undeserved Grace. A story about fallen humanity facing the horrors of sin and destruction, and yet touched by divine love.
My hope, however, is to write stories that reach people of every faith and creed, far beyond Christian circles. Every one of us, Christian or otherwise, longs for love in a hate-filled world. Every one of us seeks grace and forgiveness. Every one of us needs love to reach out to us even when we don't deserve it. So I hope to communicate the message of divine love and grace to all my readers.
How has this been received? Well . . . that very much depends on the reader! Some Christian readers have declared my work unfit for a Christian audience because of the use of magic and dragons. Some non-Christian readers have misunderstood the point of undeserved grace and disliked my flawed heroes or heroines.
But on the whole, those reactions have been in the minority. Most readers, Christian and non-Christian alike, respond to the stories with open arms, ready for high adventure, epic stakes, imperfect heroes and heroines rising above their circumstances, and, ultimately, the repeated theme of grace, grace, and more grace.
Catch the rest of the tour here!