Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione
- Product Review (submitted on December 5, 2010):
I don't remember how I stumbled across this...maybe a special ad here at Christianaudio? I read reviews at Amazon and thought it was worth a try. I love historical fiction and the medieval time period especially, clean fantasy (Lewis and Tolkien, of course), allegories if they're good ones (if I agree with the theology)--you get the picture. So this seemed like a good fit for me. However, I'm usually disappointed in the quality of modern writing, and some Christian fiction is completely unreadable. I hardly bother looking any more--I usually spend my reading time on nonfiction.
I'm pleased to say that by the end of the book, I gave this a "pass" ("Whew!" the author is saying--'cause I'm a picky one!) and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, and Chuck's other books eventually. I thought the story was well told, the characters believable, and the allegory just strong enough but not overdone (which would distract from enjoyment of the tale). The Christian truths that were portrayed fit my own beliefs, and also gave me new things to think about. I like stories that stretch my thinking like this. (C.S. Lewis does it best.) I gave this just 4 stars because the writing style, although good, is not quite up there with the best literature (and I must reserve my 5-star rating so that it really means something!). I liked Chuck's descriptions and turns of phrase, and he strikes a good balance between too little detail and too much. Each chapter was well-constructed and ended with suspense, and overall, the story was tight and complete--no loose ends left to bug me later (I hate that!). Now that I've looked up his bio and read more about him, I'm amazed that a former fighter pilot and current engineer can also write good fiction (and where does he find the time, with that lovely big family?!).
As for the audio version, it was really interesting to have the sound effects and different voices (some done by the narrator, but not all...I couldn't always tell, but I'm sure he didn't do the women!). I liked the sound effects very much, from horses' hooves, to chirping birds in the woods, to growls of beasts, to various yells of pain when men were wounded in battle...and the variety and style of music between and behind the narration was also great. Very well done...and maybe now I'm talking myself into getting these all on audio! The narrator was very good, you could tell he really cared about his story, and my only small quibble was that he was just a bit overdramatic in places. Occasionally he even read the chapter numbers with enthusiasm! Funny. However, this is FAR preferable to the alternative. I've heard too many audiobooks (some read by the authors themselves) in which the narrator falls into a singsong reading style--as we all do sometimes, but it gets tiring after an hour or so.
So, overall, huzzah! for a good book and a good audiobook, and for the pleasure of looking forward to a nice long series which I see other readers heartily recommending. They say it only gets better…so wow! Maybe I'll get a bit overdramatic myself, by the end of it. =)