Friday, March 6, 2015

Claire M. Banschbach - Rise of Aredor

Rise of Aredor
Rise of Aredor

By Claire M. Banschbach

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)
Lost in a foreign land and separated from his family, Corin does his best to survive as a slave in the household of a Calorin lord. With newfound friends he fights for survival in ambushes and wars. For one act of bravery, he is awarded his freedom and returns to a home that has been invaded and ravaged by the Calorin armies. When Corin sets foot on Aredor's shores, he has one goal in mind: find his family. He is driven into the forest, where he is reunited with childhood friends. From the shelter of the woods, they begin a spirited rebellion against Corin's former cruel master, who now holds sway over Aredor. Follow Corin's path in his quest to free his imprisoned brother, find a father who has vanished, and ultimately free his country in The Rise of Aredor.

About the Author (from Amazon)
Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, Texas, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. Though she loves reading and writing, her professional goal is to become a physical therapist in order to assist people in leading a full life. When not scratching out stories and homework with pen and pencil, Claire enjoys watching the Boston Red Sox and Aggie football, as well as playing volleyball. She hopes her strong foundation in God will help to guide her writing.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

From the first time I heard about this book several months ago, when the author posted in a forum I frequent asking for reviews, I wanted to read this book. Unfortunately, I was rather overwhelmed at the time, and had to turn down the offer. However, last month she contacted me again, and since my plate was relatively emptier, and she's about to release the sequel, I agreed to it.

I read it in one night, staying up well past midnight to do so, but more because I was reading a PDF file and didn't want to loose my place, than because of the story itself. I was thoroughly intrigued by the premise, but it jerked awkwardly, especially at the beginning,  

The basic plot? The book's description did a pretty good job of sharing it. I don't know if I could do any better without telling you the whole book. The first half was a lot of set up and battle scenes, and could probably have done without a few of the chapters. The second half was about how Corin frees his native country from the oppressive power of the country that enslaved him. So, in a way, it's kind of a Joseph story, but more fighting.

A lot of reviewers are comparing the story to The Horse and His Boy, and it's a comparison it fully deserves. After all, if you have a missing prince named CORIN, made a slave in an Arabian-esque country called CALORIN (Calormen, anyone?) ... yeah, obvious connections can be made there, yes? However the writing style was very different from Lewis. It read more like a Henty novel, save for the fact that it didn't take place in actual history, and our hero wasn't married at the end. Good characters that can be sometimes hard to connect with, and an intriguing, twisting plot that took forever to get going.

A lot of readers are comparing the second half to Robin Hood, and I can see that ... but it reminded me more of William Wallace, since they weren't fighting off an oppressive government, but rather oppressive invaders.

But as much as I love Henty and Narnia, they didn't mesh well in this book. The magic of Narnia is the delightful world, and the rich truths that Lewis conveyed. The magic of Henty is the in-depth history and all of the historical figures that the hero rubs shoulders with. Rise of Aredor had neither, as its world is quite fictional, though realistic. While God - called Lleu - did have a presence in the book, He was usually only mentioned when things were going terribly wrong and they could no longer do it on its own. I would have liked to have seen the characters ask His guidance when making their troubles, to have seen a bit stronger faith. It made sense in the first half, but in the second, I would have really liked to have seen the characters asking Lleu's guidance BEFORE they made all of their grand schemes.

I did like the book, not enough to put it on my list of favorites, but enough that I'm tempted to buy a copy for my cousins (three rowdy boys who would love this sort of story) for Christmas, and enough that I'm eager to read the sequel, which is waiting for me on my Android. The author has a lot of potential, and I can't wait to see where the series goes.

Note: For some weird reason, I thought there were going to be eagle riders in the book. (Not sure where I got the idea, might have been the fact that I didn't look at the cover closely enough, and it got confused with another picture I'd also seen about that time). There were none. So ... yeah, slightly disappointed there.

Genre/Theme: Adventure, Non-magical Fantasy, Christian, 

Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at. Not really any romance, either. 
There was some drinking, including some drunken enemy soldiers, however it was no more prevalent than in a typical medieval historical fiction. QUITE a bit of fighting, and torture (including, but not limited to, whipping and a poisoned knife), and the main character spends most of the book injured. Nothing graphic, but there's a LOT of it.

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