Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Title: Starlighter

Series: Dragons of Starlight

Author: Bryan Davis

Genre: Teen (13-16) fantasy

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Starlighter:

Blood match. The words echoed in Jason’s mind as he stood at his corner of the tourney ring and gripped the hilt of his sword. Like a beating drum, the announcer must have repeated the phrase a hundred times, as if the potential for bloodletting might whip the crowd into a frenzy.

Jason scanned the two-hundred-plus onlookers. Seated in the surrounding grassy amphitheater during the warmth of midday, they offered no cheers, no applause, just a low buzz signaling a rising anticipation. Jason Masters, a peasant boy, had advanced to the finals and faced the obvious favorite, Randall Prescott, son of the governor of all Mesolantrum. And with the final round came new weapons and new rules, designed to pose a fresh challenge to a young warrior’s expertise and courage.

Drawing his sword closer, Jason looked at its tip. The referee had fitted a blocking circle within a half inch of the end, ensuring that his jabs would not inflict a mortal wound. Of curse, a blow to a face could rip out an eye, but such an attack would immediately disqualify the offender. No one wanted that to happen, no matter how much he disliked his opponent.

Randall paced at the opposite corner, looking smug as he slid his big feet across the dirt floor. Being the son of the governor, he had been provided with the best equipment and was trained by some of the finest swordsmen in Prescott’s domain.

Yet not
the finest.

Two teenagers worlds apart try to find the truth behind the myths of ancient portals, lost origins, and a black egg.

Craft: Starlighter presents a typical first book of a Bryan Davis series: a slow start, but fascinating premise and many promises of adventure to come.

On the negative side, much of the beginning is encumbered with the set of worlds, plot, and spiritual foundation. The characters also seem slow to connect with the reader in the way necessary to create the tension that fuels a good plot. And while Starlighter has solid crafting, its style and voice (the precise way the words are chosen and strung together) are unremarkable.

However, on the positive side, what makes a novel fly for most readers is not the pose itself. Rather, a powerful and engaging story is more important. This is an area in which Mr. Davis excels, and Starlighter will not disappoint: a huge cast of colorful personalities populates a world with complexity, all built on a premise that ignites the imagination with the possibilities.

In short, Starlighter can take a while to fully set its hooks into you (I needed over 150 of the 400 pages for that to happen), but in the end such endurance is well-rewarded with an ever-expanding plot of mystery and intrigue, promising the Dragons of Starlight to be another wild and mind-bending ride.

Content: Starlighter also exhibits first-book content. What that means is that the Christian perspective is present, but it has not come to the fore yet. The plot is just developing and the characters have only begun their growth. Since themes and spiritual threads are connected to those things, they have not fully manifested either. But the promise of more to come is definitely there.

As for other content issues, there’s some sword-fighting and few deaths, typical fantasy violence, but either these are done off-screen or given with a just-the-facts approach. The magical elements appear to be contributed to technology (e.g. the portal), or natural gifting (Koren’s storytelling).

Summary: Starlighter takes a while to get going, but promises to be a solid start of another exciting fantasy series for teens and adults.

Ratings: Craft—3, Content—3, Overall—3.8 out of 5 stars


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Another solid review, Chawna. Thanks so much for putting this together. I know your readers must love the help you provide them in selecting quality books.


Chawna Schroeder said...

I love to read. Blogging provides me a great excuse to do so. I do hope, though, someone finds a little helpful information in the process.

Phyllis Wheeler said...

An excellent review!

Brandon said...

I love your rating system. Every time we do a tour, I come and check out what you've rated a book :)

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Chawna Schroeder said...

Thanks for stopping by, Phyllis. And I'm glad you're getting such a kick out of my rating system, Brandon. :o)

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