Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dark Lord of Derkholm by Dianna Wynne Jones; Wild at Heart by John Eldredge; Every Young Woman's Battle by Shannon Ethridge

You know that you've picked a winner when you not only know and love a book, but so do your sisters and the owner of the bookshop where you managed to find it for $3. When people ask me for book recommendations, I try to personalize them as much as possible based on personality and expressed preference, but I'll also try surreptitiously to discover whether I can just overwhelm them with teen fantasy recommendations instead. Enter Diana Wynne Jones, whose writing has earned her a permanent "Fantasy Writer of the Month" parking space in my mind.

Dark Lord of Derkholm is the first of two books written about the odd but lovable family headed by the wizard Derk. His family includes a wife, Mara, two natural children, Shona and Blade, and five griffin children, Kit, Callette, Lydda, Don, and Elda. Plus about a million strange animals that he has bred using his ingenuity and wizarding skills. The family must bring all of its unique strengths together to defeat a formidable foe, Mr. Chesney, who is using their world as a sort of off-world tourist playground.

As ever, the story is delightful and filled with all sorts of interesting twists. If it has any flaw, it's that the climax drags on and the transition lines between rising action/climax are thereby blurred, but I enjoyed it enough that this was not a serious concern for me.

Wild at Heart was sitting on my parents' bookshelf, and I'd heard enough about it to be curious. Those opinions tended toward the "fairly solid, occasionally just a bit hokey," and on this side of reading it, I am inclined to agree.

The book is written for men, so I can't speak to the truth of most of it. Basically, Eldredge claims that men are seeking several things in life, but when they fail to act  on the desire to seek, they become either passive or violent. Additionally, their struggle is complicated by wounds that they receive from their relationships with their fathers, and until they dare to face those and resolve them in God, they will be helpless to live fully in the adventure.

It was an interesting read and an enlightening one. Again, I have to take it with a grain of salt, being female and unable to affirm its veracity, but I enjoyed it anyway. Plus, Eldredge talks about life in the context of story (not quite in those words), and I'm always keen on story. I'll probably not be recommending it to all of my male friends, but that's more because the ones who would care to read it have most likely already done so.

Ah, we're back in my territory. Sort of. The original book was written for men, but Every Young Woman's Battle isn't the original restructured a bit for women, so that's not a huge factor even if the authors do reference it occasionally.

In a very broad summary, it's a breakdown of all of the things that young women face personally and relationally, and the authors aim to give some insight into dealing with those life experiences/issues. Honestly, since the age range is probably 10-20 years old, most of it wasn't helpful to me. But I can understand why someone a bit younger might be edified by the book. And why parents might use it as a discussion tool or something along those lines.

And that, friends, is a week in books.


Christopher said...

As a griffin child who, growing up, never felt as loved by his parents as their natural children, I'm glad to see that someone is writing about this issue.

Christy said...

Yeah, I think Jones meant it as something of a manual to educate and train parents. After all, studies have shown that griffins are smarter, stronger, and more socially adept than your average human, so they need to be brought down a peg to even things out for the rest of us.

Christopher said...


Christy said...

Well, two of the three are true of these particular griffins. I think they're pretty average on the social aspect. Perhaps in this world, griffins are rather more mistreated?

Christopher said...

It Takes a Nation of Griffins to Hold Us Back