Friday, December 15, 2006

Eye of the Oracle Review

It is such a delight for me when I see a really positive review pop up on the Internet when I don't expect it. It's especially interesting to see one on from an adult when most of my readers are younger.

I'm pasting this review for Eye of the Oracle because I thought the reviewer captured the essence of what I was doing with this book, and he also seemed to appreciate that this story is deeper than what I have written in the past. I am grateful for his willingness to tell others.

By Kevin Lucia, posted on on 12/12/2006

In 2004, Bryan Davis opened up a brand new world of wonder and adventure with the release of his first novel, Raising Dragons. It spawned the Dragons In Our Midst series, which took a unique spin on Arthurian legend and dragons lore. Weaving Biblical truths with fantasy in an entertaining, natural way not seen since C.S. Lewis's beloved Chronicles of Narnia, Davis created a fantasy world safe for young, Christian minds, but satisfying for all. Rarely preachy, often imaginative, the works functioned as true pieces of fiction, not thinly-coated devotionals for Sunday school class, which so many Christian Young Adult novels often turn out to be.

September 2006 featured the release of Eye of the Oracle, the first novel in Davis' new series, Oracles of Fire, which is a prequel series to Dragons In Our Midst. The book promised to readers the history of dragons; how they fit into the Biblical creation story, their respective roles in Biblical history, the treachery within some dragons' hearts that lead them to betray men, and the salvation plan for dragons after their fall.

Eye of the Oracle delivers this and more. Starting at the very focal point of humanity's history, outside the Garden of Eden, Oracle delivers a resounding, epic tale of dragons and their service to humankind and God. Davis takes some truly creative leaps in his narrative, which spans the course of thousands of years, and he continues to use classic, well-known Arthurian figures: Morgan, the Lady of the Lake, Merlin, Excalibur, even King Arthur himself, giving them a decidedly spiritual, Biblical twist.

However, as with Raising Dragons, Eye of the Oracle leaps "off the map" in ways Christian Fantasy probably wouldn't have been able to do ten to fifteen years ago. The creation of Morgan's underground lair, as she plots her revenge against the world of men and dragons, is an astounding work of fantasy that can be placed alongside some of the best moments in the secular fantasy market. Davis naturally weaves high points of Biblical lore into the framework of the story; dragons defending Noah's Ark from a demonic attack, to the fall of the tower of Babel; classic Biblical characters such as Noah, Shem, Enoch, and many others are featured. Also, we see touches of classical literature: echoes of Dante's Inferno resonates in his depictions of the Abyss, the seven circles of Hades, and the different layers of the underworld Morgan's slaves toil in.

One thing making this an even more enjoyable read than Raising Dragons was the complexity of the narrative, plot, and writing. Raising Dragons is a solid fit for the Young Adult market, good for those in fifth through eight grades. Eye of the Oracle is a deeper, more complex novel, and should have a much wider appeal to all ages. At six-hundred and nine pages, this isn't one of those "kid books" you can knock off in a weekend; it's a hearty, encompassing tale that enhances the Dragons In Our Midst series with history, giving it a mythology much like the Silmarillion does for the Lord of the Rings trilogy - but it's much less ponderous than Tolkien's unfinished historical work of Middle Earth.

Eye of the Oracle is also the "perfect jumping off point" for new readers - it meshes with the existing DOM storylines flawlessly, but familiarity with DOM is not needed to read this novel. Eye of the Oracle expands the DOM storyline to epic proportions, and is a great gift for this holiday season.


Pam Halter said...

Great review! I can't wait to read the book.

DragonChild said...

I completely, word-for-word agree with Kevin Lucia. A few months ago I read all 609 pages - within four hours, by the way - and loved EOTO. I just can't stop re-reading it over and over again!!!

It is without doubt deserving a place among Christian fantasy's classics, including Narnia and Tolkien's books on Middle-earth. It's even better than DIOM was, with even greater depth and complexity...and suspenseful excitement!

I regulary urge even non-readers to first read DIOM, then second, EOTO as reading material, whether they like fantasy or not.

Clefspeare said...

dragonchild, thank you for your kind comment.