Friday, January 30, 2009

Shadowside Trilogy, Part 1: Trion Rising

Title: Trion Rising

Series: The Shadowside Trilogy #1

Author: Robert Elmer

Genre: Tween (10-13) Sci-fi/Allegory

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Trion Rising:

“I thought you said you knew how to fly this thing!”

“I did. I do. Trust me.”Easy for him to say. Oriannon could only grip her stiff bucket seat with both hands and count down the final seconds of her young life. She cringed at the buzz of a high-pitched warning.

“On present course, nine seconds to impact,” came the metallic warning voice. “Eight seconds…”

Ori wondered how she had let Margus Leek talk her into sneaking aboard the little two-seat interplanetary pod. It was fast, but built for speed and certainly not comfort. If she stretched her arms even a little she would elbow the pilot.

“Relax, Orion.” Margus Leek yanked the joystick to starboard, and their pod brushed by the antenna of a rather large telecommunications satellite. “I grew up flying these little things.”

“Tell me why I don’t feel any better.” Oriannon tried not to scream as they buzzed by another piece of space debris—an old fuel tank—leaving it spinning in their wake. “And my name isn’s—”

“I know, I know. Sorry. You don’t have to tell me. It’s Or-i-ANN-on.” When he smiled, she could almost see his eyes twinkling through his scratched sun visor. “Orinannon, Oriannon. Don’t know how I can forget a VIP passenger like the esteemed and honorable Oriannon Hightower of the Nyssa clan.”

“It’s just Oriannon, okay?” she told him. “Forget all the other names.”

He laughed as they dipped below an orbiting solar collection close enough to read the warning label on the underside.

The teenage daughter of a high-ranking family meets a new music teacher at school, causing her to question everything she thought she knew.

The Craft: I started Trion Rising, knowing I wouldn’t care for it. I mean, the first sentence on the back cover was, “What would it be like if Jesus had come to another planet?” This was obviously going to be another one of those half-baked knockoffs of Chronicles of Narnia, albeit with a science-fiction flair, having poor writing, little plot, flat characters with an overdone allegory, because allegory makes the story palatable to those Christians who would otherwise cry, “Evil!” So rolling my eyes, I sat down to read one chapter before turning to other activities.

I finished the whole book the same day.

No, the writing isn’t perfect. Because of the allegory, some parts of the plot are predictable and a few of the big “revelations” I could see coming from a hundred pages away. The point-of-view jumps in a couple spots. The wielding of the language itself is straightforward and ordinary.

But the story overcame my skepticism completely. The characters were funny, engaging, and believable. The allegory didn’t limit the plot, but only enhanced the story, which was strong in its own right with enough unexpected twists to pull the reader along. The story arcs smoothly, and the description builds a world you can see without slowing the pace.

The Content: Like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Trion Rising focuses around a Christ-like character, pulling many of the qualities of Christ, his death, and his resurrection into the plot. So naturally, the theme of redemption appears within the pages.

But the themes don’t stop there. Issues of prejudice, social ranking, and preconceived notions are explored. The price of betray and the gift of forgiveness are portrayed. Learning to do what is right no matter the consequences shows up in the midst of learning to discern what is right. The result? Content that delves to depths beyond just the allegory.

As for areas of concern, there is no magic in this world—it is solidly a sci-fi world—although the Christ character appropriately wields supernatural abilities. Violence is included—you cannot avoid death in an allegory of Christ—but it is kept simple and clean, description at a minimum.

Summary: Trion Rising was unexpectedly enjoyable read. The craft is good enough to sweep you into the story; the plot and allegory enhance rather than detract from each other; and the content is clean enough to make this story accessible to all ages.

Rating: Craft—3, Content—4, Overall—3.9

Check out book two, The Owling, and book three, Beyond Corista, as well!
Order Trion Rising here or from my bookstore, Words of Whimsy.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Chawna -- Thanks for the kind words! And since you enjoyed TRION RISING, be sure to check out the second book in the Shadowside trilogy, called THE OWLING.

The adventures continue,

Robert Elmer

Chawna Schroeder said...

The Owling is already purchased and on its way! I hope to have it also reviewed in the next month or so.

Thanks for stopping by.