About Me

My photo

I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading new author's novels or author's who have not had many reviews or exposure and giving them much needed encouragement where appropriate.   
This blog is the intellectual property of Peter Younghusband, and any quotation of part or all of it without his approval is illegal

Search This Blog

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Guest Post: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Wargs Trilogy by D. Allen Rutherford

A Behind the Scenes Look at the Wargs Trilogy


Today, I welcome author D. Allen Rutherford, creator of the Wargs Trilogy. I invited D. Allen to post here as I wanted to know more about the Wargs Trilogy that I completed reading/reviewed recently and thoroughly enjoyed. In a discussion I had with him, he expressed that the history behind how he came about to write this trilogy was a fascinating one, so I jumped at the chance to know how this came to be and so offered his a guest post to do this.  Another reason I wanted to do this was that in the second book, Dominion, there are hints of spiritual themes and these become more obvious in Book 3, Outcast. It is this that I also wanted to explore.


But first, a little about this trilogy:

 Today, scientists, in labs all around the world, are creating transgenic human-animal hybrids. Creatures with human intelligence but lacking a soul, a conscience. In the first novel in the Wargs Trilogy, Dr. Matthew Kershaw is drawn into a real-world conflict between transgenic wolves and therianthropes in an isolated village nestled deep within a wilderness region in northern Idaho. Responding to a request from an old college friend to investigate an attack upon one of his forest rangers, Matt accepts the assignment hoping the investigation will finally lead him to a cryptid species of wolf. What he finds challenges his knowledge and understanding of science as he comes face to face with transgenic wolves, therianthropes, and a rogue government program focused exploiting a transgenic virus, enabling them to create human-animal hybrids.
 Wargs: Dominion (Book 2)
 
In The second novel of the Wargs Trilogy, we find Dr. Matthew Kershaw and the residents of Misty Hollow engaged in a struggle for survival. Matt Struggles to assemble a team to uncover a plot by a deranged former government employee who has created a band of human-warg hybrids intent on establishing dominion over the wargs, poised to be unleashed on the inhabitants of the valley. Can Matt oranize a force from the local therians to counter the threat before the hybrids are unleashed to rain terror down on the residents of Misty Hollow? Will the Lupine Transgenic Virus overtake his body, and what will he become? Who is behind the sinister plot? Who can he trust?

  

 Wargs: Outcast (Boook3)

Wargs: Outcast is the heart pounding and gripping conclusion to the Wargs Trilogy. It’s been three years since the bloody and gruesome battle in the remote wilderness near Misty Hollow. A battle Matt believed ended the harrowing threat against the peaceful residents of Misty Hollow. Since then, they have learned to maintain a peaceful co-existence with the wargs. Meanwhile, sinister forces have been working to resurrect a program to create the ultimate transgenic human-animal hybrid, bringing possible new threats to the valley’s residents. After receiving a cryptic message, Matt is plagued with more questions unanswered and left with a bone-chilling fear; who’s behind this dark veil and what is their connection to Misty Hollow? With the new threat looming, one has to ask, are they ready to face a new adversary? Join Matt and the people of Misty Hollow as they struggle to unravel the new mystery and thwart the rising threat before it brings more misery and death back to the valley.
  
Secondly, a little about the author, D. Allen Rutherford and then he will explain to you how this trilogy came about. 

D. Allen Rutherford is a former U. S. Army officer and decorated veteran of the First Gulf War (1990/91). He holds a B. S. degree in management and a MBA degree. After leaving the Army he and his family lived in the Middle East where, for several years he worked as an independent consultant facilitating industrial development programs in developing countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. After returning to the United States, he settled down in central Arkansas, where he taught a year as an adjunct professor and three years as a science teacher in secondary education before deciding to devote his time and energy to writing science and historical fiction novels.

Combining his interest in science and history with his love of writing, D. Allen attempts to create exciting and refreshingly unique fiction novels layered with controversial issues associated with fringe science, history, and political intrigue, leaving the reader to wonder, "Is this really possible? Could this really happen?"

D. Allen:  

In a recent conversation with Peter, the issue arose of how the idea for the Wargs Trilogy come about and how religions undertones were woven into the storyline. From that brief exchange, Peter thought it might be interesting to readers if I shared a behind the scenes look, into the creation of the Wargs Trilogy.

Truth be known, the origins of the story has its genesis from the days when I taught 8th grade science. I continually reminded my students that understanding science (as well as history, civics, art, etc.) was essential for them to become responsible citizens. How else were they to understand the implications of news and events occurring around them, if they failed to grasp the knowledge behind the events? As with many topics in science, our Socratic seminars would bring into focus the opposing arguments for or against elements of science. One subject area that seemed to drive this concept home was our study of microbiology and genetics. And, as one could imagine, the topic of genetic engineering would eventually lead to questions and discussions of religion. As a public school educator, I was forbidden to discuss the religious perspective in my classroom, so our discussions typically were oriented toward the moral and ethical ideologies. My students always seemed to have a paradigm shift when they grasped the concept of the need for, and use of stem cells in genetic engineering. Invariably, this would open the door to a moral, ethical, religious debate regarding the exploitation of aborted fetuses as a means of harvesting stem cells, and so on. Then as we moved into the study of the more current and leading edge research (some refer to it as fringe science) in transgenics the students were first in awe of the idea of scientist creating hybrid animals from two separate species. But, again the Socratic seminars would open the door to debates on the limits of science and were scientists trying to play God. 

A couple of years ago I happen to be watching a werewolf movie (I love sci-fi flicks) and for some reason the idea of the characters morphing in and out of their werewolf form seemed to tickle my imaginations. I’m not sure why it did so during that particular movie, after all, I’ve seen a dozen werewolf movies over the years. However, the idea of morphing kept playing around in my head like an earworm. You know, the song you hear that keeps playing over and over and over and over… you get the idea. Shortly afterwards, I watched the movie Splice, which prompted me to do a little digging into the scientific precedence of humans being able to physically morph as a result of some abnormality. Much to my surprise, not only was there a scientific precedence for it, but there were evidentiary examples of it happening – actual physical mutation. In the process of digging deeper I stumbled across an array of articles, video programs, and research documents heralding the advances in transgenics to the point of scientists creating chimera. Then the most shocking was an article that exposed a program by DARPA, the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s plan to fund a program aimed at creating genetically modified super-soldiers. My head was about to explode with the rush of chaotic images and thoughts of human-animal hybrids being created in labs around the world. By now, I was becoming obsessed with learning the true extent of the limits of the science of transgenesis.

Somewhere in the midst of my research of human-animal hybrids, I was overcome by an urge to write a novel incorporating the science of transgenesis into a real-to-life scenario. I was already in the middle of writing a novel that I had researched for more than five years, but I was compelled to interrupt that project and write this story. As I mentioned to Peter, I don’t even remember sitting down and planning out the story beyond the basic concept of the story line. However, I just sat down and the story seemed to flow from my fingers. Some would call me crazy, but I truly believe the story was divinely inspired, as I don’t remember writing much of the story from a conscience perspective. I was even amazed that it took less than eighteen months, from typing the first sentence in book one, to the release of book three. The story seemed to flow, and I was driven by some force of will to get the story out. To add to the unusual evolution of the trilogy, the multi-layered and subtle weaving of the moral, ethical, spiritual/religious, elements into a story that is already layered in mystery, suspense, drama, love, betrayal, etc. was nothing that I sat down and mapped out. The story just flowed onto the pages in front of me like a movie playing out in my mind’s eye.

So, what about the spiritual/religious elements woven into the story? From a holistic perspective, the evolution of the story from book one “Wargs: Curse of Misty Hollow,” subtlety points to the lack of spiritual leadership within the valley of Misty Hollow. Although, many of the residents harbor religious beliefs, they have been without a Priest or Minister for more than thirty years. Parallel to this, the residents are under a shadow of fear and anxiety born out of a belief in a century old, self-imposed, curse – a legend/myth born out of fear of a phenomenon they don’t understand. Lacking a true spiritual leader within the community, the people allow the curse to inhibit their interaction with the world outside their isolated valley, thus impacting their growth and prosperity. As a consequence, their fear and resentment is directed at the therianthropes, locals who suffer from genetically inherited mutations derived from a cross-species transfer of canine genes. The situation become tenuous when a cryptid species of wolf, the locals call wargs, begin threatening the valley. The lack of spiritual/religious guidance among the people of Misty Hollow leaves the valley overshadowed by fear and without hope for salvation from the perceived evil threatening them.

In book 2, “Wargs: Dominion,” the story takes on a more sinister twists as Matt struggles to understand what is driving the wargs to terrorize the valley of Misty Hollow. From a spiritual/religious perspective, we see the introduction of an evil, outside force, devoid of any moral, ethical, or religious constraints, seeks to exploit the transgenic virus for nefarious purposes. Here, we witness how the lack of any religious governess can result in, what some would characterize as, the unrestrained inhumanity against our fellow man. At the end of chapter 38 in Wargs: Curse of Misty Hollow, Sarah quotes from Robert Burns, reciting the line “Man’s inhumanity to man.” As the situation in the valley worsens, a ray of hope flickers when Matt’s family come to visit for the holidays. Matt’s grandmother is shocked to learn that there is no church or Priest in the community, and hasn’t been for decades. Matt’s Great Uncle Charlie, (a Native American Medicine Man, and Christian by faith) takes it upon himself to organize and deliver worship services in the town hall. Uncle Charlie is encouraged by the tremendous turnout, but disheartened by the level of fear and lack of hope pervading throughout the community. Hence, in book 2, we see a classic struggle of good against evil, but the good are hampered in their efforts to rally together, by their fear and lack of hope and faith. Ultimately, we see that the heroes in the fight against the evil forces threatening the valley, arise from those who have been ostracized and persecuted by the ‘normal’ people of the community. On a personal level, we see a hint that Matt is beginning to struggle with his inner demon, thoughts and emotions he has struggled for years to put behind him after returning from the war in Afghanistan. This will play out in book 3.

In book 3, “Wargs: Outcast,” the story takes up three years after the close of book 2, and Matt and the people of Misty Hollow are faced with an evil threat which has been resurrected from the ashes of the previous struggle. The spiritual/religious perspective in book 3 evolves on two levels. First, the holistic theme comes full circle when, at the prompting of Matt’s grandmother and great uncle, the community supports and initiative to build a church and recruit a Priest or Minister. Matt calls upon an old friend to come to Misty Hollow to take up the challenge of building the church and provide spiritual guidance and leadership to the community. As this element seems to be moving along the right track, we see the internal spiritual struggle within Matt begin to surface. Matt’s struggle is characteristic of the struggles we all deal with on a daily basis, to one degree or another. In the story Matt has all but put his demons to rest after his tour of duty in the Army, fighting in Afghanistan years earlier. However, he is now called upon to confront the evil threat facing the valley while struggling to understand the potential evil developing within his own children. The spiritual/religious elements begin to focus on the existence of a soul as the link between God and man which serves to guide our conscience, compassion, empathy, and moral/ethical behavior. The story begs the question; does the lack of a soul inhibit our ability to commune with God. If man is allowed to create creatures through genetic engineering, not born of man; are these creatures devoid of a soul, a conscience? If so, what kind of evil are we creating when we engineer a creature that has the cognitive intellect of a human, but lacks a soul or conscience? In the end, the reader should be asking themselves; is it man who is ultimately responsible for creating, harboring evil? And, is it our lack of spiritual faith that inhibits our ability to recognize, battle, and defeat the evil nature within all of us? Thus, our fear is the product of our own making. Finally, the reader should be left with an understanding that to battle the evil within us, we need the support of spiritual/religious leadership and the collective support of our community.

Links to the articles associated with this blog are posted on my blog: 

D. Allen Rutherford’s Website: http://www.dallenrutherford.com/
Christian/biblical/themes/eschatology/apologetics etc.: Saint Thomas Aquinas is recognized by many for his thesis on the existence of the soul and its importance as our link with God. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aquinas/

I also want to add to add: 

There are many ‘Easter Eggs’ hidden throughout the book, such as the name of Freya’s inn, “The Wolf’s Lair.” Typically, a wolf’s home would be called a “den” as opposed to “lair.” However, there is some precedence that in some European countries it is commonly referred to as a lair. But, in the Wargs Trilogy, the term “lair” has an implied meaning as defined in the formal definition of the word. Whereas, “den” simply means home or shelter, “lair” denotes not only a home or shelter, but a secluded, hidden place, a secret retreat, a hideaway; a place in which to lie and rest. Hence, in the story, the reader will notice that the “Wolf’s Lair” becomes Matt’s retreat, a place he can feel safe, to rest. Another, “Easter Egg,” is found in the descriptive name “Warg(s)” used by the locals for the wolf-like creatures. Wargs or Vargs, comes from Norse mythology and there is a history behind the name. Also, the use of the names Fenrir, and Skol, in book 2 have significance. I challenge the reader to look beyond the pages of the Wargs Trilogy and discover the deeper meaning behind many of the references incorporated into the story.

Peter: 

Thanks D. Allen for bringing these insights into this great series. It certainly has made me appreciate the Warg Trilogy more and the spiritual issues you have included in the series. This is what Christian authors need to do to, not just entertain, but to increase our understanding of the moral, social, ethical and especially the spiritual aspects and novels such as yours pose the right questions in order to do this. 

The Wargs Trilogy can be bought in printed and e-book formats at Amazon, Amazon AudibleKobo, Lulu, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Books A Million.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Dark Hearted (COIL Book 2) by D. I. Telbat

Dark Hearted (COIL Book 2)Dark Hearted (COIL Book 2)


Dark Hearted, Book Two of the COIL Series by D.I. Telbat, continues with the suspense that began in book one, Dark Liaison, A Christian Suspense Novel.

The Commission of International Laborers' mission is interrupted, and they are once again targeted by a dark enemy bent on hatred and racism. COIL founder, Corban Dowler, has developed commando-style teams, using non-lethal weapons, to extract threatened servants of the Lord from danger zones worldwide. Corban now musters all of his resources to search for his abducted operatives, and hopes to stop the evil intentions of the one they know as Abaddon.

A biochemical weapon is about to change the world, and COIL may be the catalyst—unless their brazen courage and boldness in Christ can change the tide. Where death seems indestructible, Corban Dowler's operatives carry God's love and determination into the midst of the darkness.

Encrypted data finds its way to Corban from Karol Ngolsk in Romania, offering a glimmer of hope. Corban then leads the COIL team through a maze of intrigue and surprises, abductions and persecution, joy and sorrow, love and death—from the grim forests of Europe, to the blistering desert of Africa. Though killing is not COIL's way, the dark hearted one has no such qualms…

Dark Hearted by D.I. Telbat, cover design by Streetlight Graphics, a 75,000-word Christian fiction, action-suspense novel, continues the adventure as COIL carries on with the Lord's work to protect and rescue His people. And we learn again that…there is no redemption without sacrifice.

The Guru's Review:

 

This is the third book in this COIL series that I have read and I am loving every minute of them. I don't think I could get tried of this series or its themes of Christian special ops rescuing persecuted Christians as despite this being similar in other novels or in real life (special ops rescuing those kidnapped/captured, not necessarily due to their faith but for any reason that their captors feel they are a threat to their nefarious schemes), it is especially relevant in Christian circles as the Bible states that once you have a relationship with Christ, you will suffer persecution just for accepting His gift of salvation.

I may have stated in a previous review of a COIL novel that this series is not the only series in this topic of rescuing persecuted Christians or those in a persecuted Church. I am very glad to see authors apart from Telbat, such as Martin Roth and Lela Gilbert tackle this reality head on and portray what it is like for the persecuted Christian Church and Christians and the severity of such just for believing in Christ. We in the western world do not experience such persecution to this degree, but it seems to be growing as seen by prayer/bible verse reading is removed from schools, testimonies are not based on swearing on the bible in court, society being indoctrinated to accept everything and anything as long as it does not align with the Bible, Christianity or God and now punishment is being metered out to those who adhere to the latter. There are many novels written by Christian authors depicting the future where Christianity and everything that is associated with it is banned and anyone who shows any sympathy or adherence to it is imprisoned or murdered.

I have noticed that Telbat seems to explore more of the motive and the rationale for this persecution in his novels than the aforementioned authors. I, by not means, suggest that this is a criticism of Roth and Gilbert. I thoroughly enjoyed and have been blessed by these two authors and the reality of persecution of Christians and their Church that they have successfully and convincingly depict. Telbat's deeper exploration adds up to a very fast paced novel but also adds to the suspense and showcases the commitment to the call of Christ to the Great Commission and to not allow the enemies of Christ to have their way with God's people. All three authors depict correctly what this motivation is, spiritual warfare, however, let us not confuse this latter term with many novels of this genre (which I love), where it is based on the fight between angles and demons. In all Telbat's novels, this spiritual warfare is specifically depicted based on intercessory prayer, supplication and relying on God and His Spirit to guide, protect and seek direction in how to thwart the attempts of those who, out of hatred, bitterness, rebellion against God and under either demonic oppression or possession, desire to eradicate Christianity and everything to do with God.

I admire how successful Telbat portrays the discipline, submission, and obedience of the COIL team in relation to their relationship with God, yet portray them as relational and very human. If Telbat had depicted this team as super-spiritual and not relational as people, this series would fall flat on its face and readers would not be able to relate it as it as well as he has and would come across as unrealistic and fantasy based and removed from any sense of reality. Entertaining yes, but empowering to the Christian reader to appreciate the persecution of our Christian brethren in the real world and pray for them, most likely not. There is enough Christians unempowered and ignorant of this issue without an author adding to this by failing to depict the reality of this persecution and its causes in their novels. I cannot put Telbat in this latter category, neither Roth nor Gilbert. This is very uplifting and definitely strengthens my faith in God and appreciate more the reality of what Christ meant in portraying the persecution Christians will experience now and in the latter days.


I must say that I wish I had read this instalment sooner or immediately after reading the previous novel as this one follows on from this as a continuation and I could not remember some of the details of Dark Liaison but then this is exactly the situation for those readers who have read each instalment as it was released. The joy of discovering novels like this after they have all been released! I am glad now that I am reading all these one after the other as I feel this is the best way to appreciate a series like this, but that does not help the author as they need reviews as each book is released not solely at the end of the completed series. However, such a comment from any reader is still an affirmation for an author's work and this is very appropriate for Telbat as an author. 

This instalment continues the standard that Telbat has instigated in this series and I can see that this is not going to abate. He simply cannot afford to with a serious and powerful message and topic such as the Great Commission and persecution against Christians. This is very evident in the plot structure, characterisation and depiction of the cause of this persecution which makes for great suspense and action, and it is here that this series shines and delivers its powerful message.

I loved how in this instalment it shows an unbeliever (June) exactly what the COIL team go through in combating persecution from the Biblical point of view while simultaneously showing her the love of Christ through their actions in their special ops methods and also her seeing first hand this persecution as it is without any bias from the COIL team. Through June, Telbat successfully portrays an unbeliever's point of view towards Christians and the turmoil they experience as the Spirit of God begins to soften their heart towards Him leading to their decision to accept His offer of salvation (June during and after their mission). This is a strategic plot structure on Telbat's part as I feel it balances out this spiritual warfare and shows it is not just a battle between Christians who are sold out for God against those who are sold out for satan. It is those unbelievers caught in the middle that the Great Commission exists and it is here that Telbat shows the power of the Gospel to salvation. 

 I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and being back with the COIL team.

Strongly Recommended

World Building 4/5

Characterisation 4/5

Story 5/5

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 4/5

Average Rating 4.2/5

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Spiritually, based on this review and on the following reference booklet,


and that Dark Hearted contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Redemptive Fiction outlined in this booklet, I award D. I Telbat with

The Reality Calling Redemptive Speculative Fiction Award


Congratulations D. I. Telbat!


To read a preview of Dark Hearted, click on the Preview button below:
  

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Wargs: Outcast (Wargs Trilogy, Book 3) by D. Allen Rutherford


Wargs: Outcast 


 Wargs: Outcast is the heart pounding and gripping conclusion to the Wargs Trilogy. It’s been three years since the bloody and gruesome battle in the remote wilderness near Misty Hollow. A battle Matt believed ended the harrowing threat against the peaceful residents of Misty Hollow. Since then, they have learned to maintain a peaceful co-existence with the wargs. Meanwhile, sinister forces have been working to resurrect a program to create the ultimate transgenic human-animal hybrid, bringing possible new threats to the valley’s residents.
After receiving a cryptic message, Matt is plagued with more questions unanswered and left with a bone-chilling fear; who’s behind this dark veil and what is their connection to Misty Hollow? With the new threat looming, one has to ask, are they ready to face a new adversary? Join Matt and the people of Misty Hollow as they struggle to unravel the new mystery and thwart the rising threat before it brings more misery and death back to the valley.

The Guru's Review: 


I stated in my review of Wargs: Dominion that Wargs: Outcast would be an explosive finale and it is definitely so! If anyone thought that Dominion was the better sequel, well, this one trumps it hands down.

Sometimes the third book in a trilogy can be a bit of a fizzer and total let down as if the author ran out of ideas or just got tired toward the end, but not so in this final instalment. Rutherford has been consistent in all levels of this trilogy, plot, suspense, action, characterisation, descriptions of genetics, science and technology and animal behaviour. Even his depiction of romance never lets up. Not only does all this form a solid basis for this series but adds depth and strength as well.

One thing I have loved about this series is how it plays like a movie in your mind as you read. I guess it goes without saying that this would make a great movie. It would, but somehow, I would just like to have this trilogy the way Rutherford's worldbuilding has been captured in my own imagination. Sometimes a movie destroys this and you are never the same again, and how you saw the novel in your imagination is gone forever.

In some final instalments, the plot is mainly tying up loose ends to close the series, but in this one, the plot continues the Dominion plotlines and sets the scene for the finale in the last third of the book. The plot actually gets thicker as the saying goes, reaches a crescendo or peak two-thirds into the plot and then a roller coaster ride to the end but that ride is not so fast as to leave you with a suddenly finished book and you are wondering what happened, it all being over so fast. Admittedly, I was left breathless and panting at the end while the epilogue enabled me catch my breath and leave this series satisfied with a contented smile on my face. It was hard accepting that this wonderful tale had ended, though!

Rutherford is one author who successfully translates the knowledge of his occupations to his imagination as he poses the question what if.......? making this tale very edgy and speculative, "....former army officer and a retired international technology consultant with a B.S. and Masters degree..... taught a year as an adjunct professor and three years as a science teacher in secondary education..". He is very much suitably placed and qualified to conduct research into the themes of this series and to blend this into fiction, blurring the lines of what is true and what is not.

Rutherford held back on some plot twists until this final instalment adding to the explosive ending and successfully revealing all. I thought that some of these plot lines were dealt with in Dominion but did not see that all was not as it seems until half way through this instalment. These twists I did not see coming as Rutherford successfully blindsided me and this was a great tactic on his part. Another quality of being a master storyteller.

Throughout this novel, I kept wondering where the title came from and who would be the Outcast, and just when I thought I got it right (and I did up to that point!) Rutherford throws a twist at the end and I discovered who the real outcast is! Again, did not see that one coming, another blindsided tactic from this author! Makes sense once all is revealed.

This final instalment Rutherford has used to add a few questions that transgenics poses and I don't believe will be answered before science successfully creates the first transgenic "species". Just like other medical advances in the past, the moral, ethical and spiritual issues will not be addressed until after the fact. One these issues or themes that Rutherford investigates is whether the defining quality/characteristic that separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom will be lost in the creation of a transgenetic/chimera species. This got me thinking too and I also considered that if we believe that all life was created by God in their own kind then what does He say about one of his created interfering with His creation? If God is Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omniscience and Omnipresent, He has created life for a specific reason into their own kind. I feel this novel shows enough to see what a minefield society will have to deal with and the severe consequences if mankind goes down this path. The latter is my own thoughts and beliefs as I don't know if the author has any belief in God but I suspect that he does due to his inclusion of God and some of His precepts and the fact that he has portrayed God favourably and with respect in this novel, including the new pastor who represents the Christian faith and God.

Although I read and review mainly Christian fiction, this trilogy will remain one of my favourites. I love Rutherford's writing and imagination. I cannot wait for his other works in progress to be in my hands/kindle! Thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy and Rutherford has definitely found his niche in life!

Highly Recommended.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Wargs: Dominion (Wargs Trilogy Book 2) by D. Allen Rutherford

Wargs: Dominion (Wargs Trilogy Book 2) 


In the second novel of the Wargs Trilogy, we find Dr. Matthew Kershaw and the residents of Misty Hollow engaged in a desperate fight for survival. While Matt Struggles to assemble a team to deal with the rising threat posed by the human-warg hybrids, Dr. Bertram is racing to develop a cure for the transgenic virus. Unknown to Matt and the others, the threat against them is much more ominous than anyone can imagine. Behind the warg threat is a sinister plot by a rogue colonel and his band of human-warg hybrids who are intent on establishing dominion over the indigenous warg packs. With the wargs under his control, the colonel plans on unleashing a reign of terror upon the residents of Misty Hollow and then the population at large outside the valley. Can Matt, Victor and their team uncover the plot in time to stop it before it's to late? Can Dr. Bertram develop a cure for the virus before it can be exploited by some other group?

 The Guru's Review: 

 

I read Wargs: Curse of Misty Hollow (Book 1) earlier this year.  I read it for a variety of reasons, it had a great story line, it featured human/animal hybrids, which scientists are trying to bring to fruition in this day and age and that this is similar to what the Bible says will happen in the days before Jesus returns in that just like in the days of Noah where the fallen angels bred between humans and animals. I did not have time to leave a review which annoyed me immensely, but decided I definitely would with Books 2 and 3. I did not know that the author was a Christian as in Book 1, there is no hint of this or any Christian content that was obvious to me but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and the author was spot on with his research into animal/human hybrids.

It was while reading book 3 that I began to notice that the author introduced Christian themes and the social, ethical, and spiritual issues related to the creation of human/animal hybrids. Well, my spiritual radar was on full alert and I mentioned in my review of Book 3, Outcast, that I would not be surprised if the author had some belief in God to have done this. I contacted him and this is what he had to say, 

In the trilogy there is a strategy behind the perceived absence of a spiritual orientation in the early part of the story (book one)... then as the struggle takes on an evil, sinister tone, the people begin to turn to God. You will recall in Book 2, Wargs: Dominion, when Matt's mother, grandmother, and great uncle visit Graymere for the Holidays that his Grandmother questions the absence of a church. Then when Uncle Charlie offers to host services the locals came out of the woodwork to attend. There is an undertone of silent fear, absence of spiritual leadership, and challenged faith that is working in the background. This all comes to the forefront in book three as the people of Misty Hollow come face-to-face with the realities of their "curse" and find that the real evil is MAN who exploits what God and nature have ordained and what was once in harmony, but now exploited for nefarious purposes. The books have much more spiritual depth from beginning to end than most people will catch on the first reading, but which I hope they will figure out at some point.  

So what I thought at first glance was just a good, clean entertaining read, became so much more and I am so glad to have been introduced to this author's novels. I loved the first novel, Curse of Misty Hollow, which was very effective in setting the stage on all accounts for the continuation of this story and Dominion takes off very nicely from this predecessor. Rutherford further builds on characterisation, plot, and pace, in fact, this latter is faster and the plot has more twists and turns which only makes this sequel all the better than the first.

If any reader wondered what would happen after finishing Curse of Misty Hollow, I don't think they would have been prepared for lays in store for them in this sequel. Everything is ramped up and it is taken to the next level as any sequel should. One thing that I loved being ramped up was more focus on the wargs and their integration not only into the plot but into the lives Matt's team and the Misty Hollow community, becoming an integrated war machine, thwarting the warped plan of Livingston and his minions. Bringing in a new character, Dani, and her skills both in military and veterinarian wolf science also helped in this new plot development and her introduction and use of her skills bridged the gap between the wargs and the human barriers. One could not help but become attached to Fenrir and Skoll and their relationship with Dani and Matt.

Rutherford seems to love romance and this reader does not like this as a genre but when it is introduced as a subplot, I am one happy camper! I would rather have romance included like this by a male author than a female one, I always find it refreshing coming from male authors! Looks like I will have to wait for Wargs: Outcast to see what happens to Freya and Matt now that their relationship has been taken to the next level and how a newly formed relationship between two other characters develops. I loved how Rutherford has not kept this romance apart from the main plot of both novels but has used it to added more suspense and plot twists. Makes for one very cohesive plot and integrated on all levels.

In novels like this where there is a lot of medical science and jargon, it is easy for a reader to become lost and skim over this information and therefore lose the connection between this and how it forms a backbone to the plot. This can be unfortunate as this is not what the author intended but where an author's shortcomings effect the novel and its reader negatively. It must be quite a challenge to successfully avoid this pitfall and Rutherford shines here. He does not bog the reader down with a lot genetic science but integrates it into the plot and events so that the reader is very much engaged and understands how this science affects the plot and the warg/human hybrids as well as how viruses change a being's genome. It is what every author needs to do in writing a novel; showing the reader rather than telling. The former engages them, while the latter disconnects them. From Rutherford's Goodreads profile it is stated that he “.....attempts to create science fiction novels that blur the line between modern science and science fiction...”. Well, Rutherford definitely does this and one wonders how much of what he portrays in this series is based on modern genetics or transgenics and what is not! The lines are definitely blurred. There is no compromising as an author on conducting and manipulating research into a well-crafted novel!

When I read Curse of Misty Hollow, I noticed how skillfully Rutherford created the environment of Misty Hollow and it surrounds, its buildings, the Inn (Wolf's Lair), and how the reader is transported there and can picture all this in the reader's imagination. Rutherford further expands on this in this second novel and I must say from all this, that he is one very competent worldbuilder. As I read both novels, I became immersed in this environment and feel as if I have been there to the point where I wanted to believe that such a place as Misty Hollow exists.

I am looking forward to reading Outcast as this was just released as I finished Dominion so I have the pleasure of not having the wait in between novels. Love it when this happens!

Rutherford is one very clever author who not only entertains but also educates in the topic that forms one of the backbones of his novels, in this case, transgenics.

Highly Recommended 5 Stars


Friday, 3 June 2016

The Quest for Yoshi: Book Four of the Adventure Chronicles (Volume 4) by Jeffrey A. Davis

The Quest for Yoshi: Book Four of the Adventure Chronicles (Volume 4)

For two months, Shawna’s nightmares have kept her confused and exhausted. Visions of empty graves, cursed amulets, and old friends fill her thoughts at all times, leaving her friends and boyfriend perplexed. Jamie, still mourning the loss of his clan-sister, has struggled to come to terms with having left leadership of the Funakoshi clan in the hands of the violent Shakato family. So now Shawna’s strange visions are drawing her back to the world of Thera. The last time that they went there, a cursed wizard killed Yoshi. What will happen this time?

The Guru's Review: 

This comes to the last (of the published series so far) of the Adventure Chronicles. Davis has continued his new standard of writing and world building that debuted in the Gateway to Thera, and I would say the spiritual aspects are more evident and deeper as well. Again, he has used a Bible event to base his world building and again it takes place in the world of Thera and this plot line adds to and further develops the world building and fantasy elements that he created in Gateway to Thera.

The action is faster is this instalment. The pace never lets up and this is one roller coaster ride compared to the first two instalments. This plot line follows on very nicely from the previous one and it seems that we may not be leaving the world of Thera in a hurry. I loved the spiritual warfare aspects and these adhere to biblical standards very strictly. This is what I have come to appreciate in this new standard of Davis' writing. In this story, he has the demonic based on what you find in the story of Baal and its worship, the use of intercessory prayer and the use of the name of Jesus to defeat the demonic with the Christian characters boldly and confidently claiming these promises and principles having recognised that their power comes from the Spirit and that it is very real.

I have stated many times before in other reviews and in this review blog, that Christian fiction should not just entertain, but edify the reader, educate in biblical principles and honour God. Davis very much does this in this instalment on all points except one.

It is here that I am very disappointed. While I accept that Christians will sin due to our fallen human nature (our physical body is not regenerated upon salvation but prone to sin), I was disappointed that no repentance or godly remorse for the sinful act of one if its main characters was not described by the author and the consequence of this it comes across as if this is normal and of no consequence, but from a Biblical/Christian point of view, this is just not true. This lack of repentance comes across very much comparable with the attitude of secular humanism, and as Christians, we are not to adhere to those standards but only God's concerning what he says about our behaviour and sin and why He died on the Cross. I am not saying that Davis adheres to this secular humanistic attitude, but his omission of the biblical side of it has great potential to lead an unbeliever or new or undisciplined/undiscipled Christian astray or give an incorrect message about this type of behaviour and God's view of it. As stated in my blog page, Why Christian Fiction? concerning why I review Christian genres, I sometimes discuss issues like this with the author to see why they treated this aspect of their novel the way they did so I can better understand their motive and mindset. I did so with Davis and as a consequence, I am confident that he will attend to spiritual matters like this biblically in future novels as this will definitely make him a better author and represent honourably the God who has called him to write on His behalf.

I am very excited to see Davis research completely the biblical side of this novel and its predecessor. He is definitely adding more depth of spirituality and biblical principles in these last two novels. As I said in my review of the Gateway to Thera, Davis has taken this series to a new level and it is paying off. I appreciate his commitment to this and honouring God in the process. The first two showed a weaker marriage between being a Christian and martial arts while these previous two (books 3+4) show how this marriage is a strong one and one that is compatible and God honouring. The discipline required in both (martial arts and being a Christian) complement and strengthen each other. This shows in the attitude of the Adventure team members towards each other and in their relationship with Christ, specifically living out disciplines of supplicating prayer, spiritual warfare and healing prayer.

I am looking forward to seeing more novels in this series. I don't think Davis is finished with the Adventure team yet.

Highly Recommended

World Building 5/5

Characterisation 5/5

Story 5/5

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 5/5

Average Rating 4.8/5

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Spiritually, based on my review and on the following reference booklet,


and that Quest for Yoshi contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Spirit-Filled Fiction outlined in this booklet, while taking into account the one flaw that I outlined above that the author is aware of and I believe will be avoided in the future, I award Jeffrey A. Davis with

The Reality Calling Spirit-Filled Speculative Fiction Award


Congratulations Jeffrey A. Davis!


To read a preview of Gateway to Thera, click on the Preview button below: