Valor Publishing Group, the new kids on the LDS publishing block, sent me a copy of The Thorn by Daron D. Fraley for review.
I like Daron. He's a good guy and a debut author. I'm happy to help spread the word about his new book.
Here's the promo from the publisher website:
Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world – Earth – is about to appear in the heavens.
During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon – a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others.
In the end, Pekah’s selfless bravery is the means by which all the tribes are united. But there are dissenters, and Rezon escapes a well-deserved fate. When the promised heavenly signs appear, will there be peace at last, or will the malefactors once again threaten the safety of them all?
Now, before I get to my personal opinion, I need to state that although I love fantasy (it's my genre of choice), with very few exceptions, epic fantasy is not my favorite sub-genre. Generally, an epic fantasy is heavy on setting, historical details, lots of wars, lots of characters, and by the time they're done winning their never-ending battle, I'm to the point that I don't really care. I like my fantasy to be character-driven, with a few plot twists, a few short battles, and then the good guy wins.
That said, fans of epic fantasy will most likely LOVE this book. The Thorn is set in a pre-industrial society, and the future of the world is at stake. The people live in tribes and when the king is murdered, a war ensues with some groups vying for power while other groups want to protect their freedoms. Daron includes rich historical details about the tribes and their religious system, which will be easily recognized by Christians.
Daron does a wonderful job describing his world, with three moons and two blue suns. The details of the sword (it glows), the thorn (he who owns the thorn, rules the world), and the everyday life in this world are amazing. And true to epic status, there is a lot of fighting in the book. It's the classic tale of good vs evil, power vs freedom, and loyalty vs betrayal.
The one downside, which is personal preference, is there are a lot of characters in this story. I like character-driven stories and with this one, with so many points of view, it was hard for me to really attach to one of them.
My recommendation: If you like the current character-driven paranormal trend, this book is not for you. However, if you're an epic fantasy fan, give The Thorn a try.
The Thorn by Daron D. Fraley. Released March 16, 2010, Valor Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-935546-11-5. 300 pages, trade papaerback.