**If you don’t care about my babbling and just want a FREE BOOK, scroll down to the bottom of this post.**
“Cantor D’Ahma has waited his whole life for this day. Born with a gift, the young Realm Walker is finally ready to leave his elderly mentor and accept his role as protector and defender of the realms. But mere hours after he first steps through a portal, Cantor discovers that his job will be more dangerous and difficult than he ever imagined. The realms are not as safe as they once were, and members of the Realm Walkers Guild have become corrupt and can no longer be trusted. To make matters worse, his first assignment—finding a dragon to assist him on his quest—has led him to one who is clearly inept.
With the help of his new friends Bixby and Dukmee, Cantor must uncover the secrets of the corrupt Guild before they become too powerful to be stopped. But can his skills progress in time? And will Cantor remember where his true allegiance lies?”
Reading really wasn’t a thing for me around the end of 2013. I read this shoddy free Kindle book. Then I read City of Bones (my thoughts on which are not kind). I finished a Kindle serial season that I started off loving, and then grew bored/almost disappointed with. I had a reprieve with Legion by Brandon Sanderson, which was awesome, but far too short. Then I read a paranormal romance that left me with many thoughts that I’m still processing over a month later.
And I’m still fighting my way through Steelheart (which, because it’s Brandon Sanderson, isn’t bad. But I just don’t care about the “supervillain” type stories. At all).
All that to say, when an advanced reader copy of One Realm Beyond by Donita K. Paul arrived in the mail, I felt a little bad. My cynicism radar was on high, and I was afraid that I’d find it difficult to overcome the jaded belief that nothing was really going to make me happy. After all, my little spark of “Yay! Story!” died somewhere around The Kaiser Affair.
But, as always, Donita K. Paul surprises me.
She is a grandmother, and she writes with the wisdom, warmth and compassion of one. One Realm Beyond contains all the quirky, fun, fuzzy giggle-inducing descriptions one might expect a grandmother to include in an epic re-telling of fearless knights and dazzling damsels. While Cantor isn’t entirely fearless, and Bixby is quite the unique princess, One Realm Beyond is that kind of story.
“Soon. He felt it in his bones. Soon he’d find his dragon, and when he did, they’d be off after the next milepost–he, inexperienced but eager, his dragon, beautiful, strong, dignified, and ready to right the many wrongs in the realms.”
But it gets better.
In addition to having a cast of colorful, vibrant characters (seriously, outside of Legion I haven’t read such vibrant characters probably since Paul’s last novel, Dragons of the Watch), Paul points out problems and dangers in the church of today by reflecting them within the church of her novel. She shows a church where man has elevated themselves above God. She shows what happens when worship is reduced from joyful gratitude and pure wonder…to a list of lines to be repeated out of habit. Paul takes deep, deep theology and reflects a world that is dying from the inside out because the wonder of and reverence for God has withered into dull, lifeless motions where man no longer sees God as wonderful.
“They have bloated egos, and we all know the fate of things that are bloated.”
“Do they really pop, Papa? Is it a mess and a stink and a horrid thing to get on your shoes?”
“Ah, child, we wouldn’t be able to see what has burst. Their bodies would probably look much as they have always looked. But inside the damage would be great. And without a touch from Primen himself, the putrid soul would never be refreshed.”
And she does all of it without ever dropping a sermon onto the page.
Any aspiring writer will tell you the number one rule of writing (well, one of them) is Show, Don’t Tell. And while writers interpret that in different ways, Paul has nailed something that so many authors fall short at: she has shown a world without God instead of flinging in our face how bad we are if we don’t listen to the bulletpoints of repentance.
“According to the speaker, this practice of thinking good thoughts would order the rest of your life. As if thinking about daisies would eradicate sewer problems.”
Even if you’re not into Christian fiction–even if you’re not a Christian!–I would highly, highly recommend One Realm Beyond. There is much to be learned from her writing from a craft perspective, not just a spiritual perspective. Her characters are distinctive, her prose is delightful, and the overall tone of the book manages to be cheerful and uplifting, but never, ever shallow.
“That’s the coward’s way. And we aren’t cowards, right?”
Bixby laughed. “No, ‘coward’ is not listed among our credentials.”
One Realm Beyond was only released last week. And because of this, there are still quite a few promotions going on around the web. Right now, you can head on over to Trish Perry’s Blog to learn more about the hero, Cantor D’Ahma, and enter to win a free, autographed copy of the book. So why not?