Corus The Champion, Day 1: A Review

Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour, December 2011

Story Overview (Back Cover Copy)

He was once the greatest champion in the land.

Then he disappeared.

With Nemesia’s defeat, the Barlows have helped turn the tide in the Hidden Lands. But the victory is short-lived. An even greater evil stirs in the north with a fierce new army bent on destruction. As the twins, Gabe and Garret, discover their own special powers and chase down long forgotten mysteries hidden in time, a thin thread of hope emerges: a fabled king was once rescued from death on our world and hidden on Karac Tor. But who is he?

Each brother has their part to play. Hadyn must travel north to warn the land barons, while Ewan and Sorge set out to rescue Corus from the clutches of Hel. As ancient destinies rise from the ash heap of history, Ewan is left with a bitter choice. Will he sacrifice what is most precious to discover whether Corus lives? Even more important, if Corus is alive, can he wake the Sleeping King of legend…before it’s too late?

Review

In The Book of Names, the first book in the Legends of Karac Tor series, the four Barlow brothers found themselves transported to the embattled land of Karac Tor via an ancient runestone. There they discover they possess unusual powers, which they must learn to master if they have any hope of living long enough to find a way home. By the time Corus the Champion opens, the brothers have become more accustomed to their powers and more familiar with this strange land. Though they continue to search for a way home, they can’t avoid becoming further entangled in the affairs of Karac Tor. They have arrived just as a legendary evil of old gathers strength for battle and the people desperately need a king and a champion. The Barlows are the key to finding both–if they can survive long enough.

The bleakness of the hour in Karac Tor calls for deeds of boldness and righteousness to stem the tide of evil, and this story highlights the beauty of true devotion and acts of heroism without undermining the cost of such deeds. Both the pain and the ultimate redemption that comes from sacrifice are revealed, and the themes of Corus the Champion offer much to admire.

Briggs has built an compelling realm with nine distinct worlds, and the intersection of our world with Karac Tor adds to the intrigue of the storyline. Within Karac Tor itself, regions vary in culture and conflicts between distinct people groups add to the challenges the Barlows face.

As the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that this tale borrows elements from the Arthurian legends in a unique way. Many of the staple characters we know from Arthurian lore make an appearance, yet they’re refashioned to fit the mythology of the Nine Worlds that Briggs created. While some elements of the story stray a bit into the territory of cliche, his reforging of the legend of Arthur offers a fresh and interesting take on the tales of old.

However, certain weaknesses hampered my enjoyment of Corus the Champion. Though minor perhaps, awkward sentences and occasional typos detracted from the flow of the story. Of course, no manuscript attains perfection, but a good edit would have strengthened the book considerably.

Long passages of telling also interrupted the unfolding tale, particularly the detailed passages about the characters and their personalities. I prefer to get to know characters rather than read extended descriptions of how the author views them. In addition, the nine year old twins frequently thought and acted in ways I didn’t find believable for their age, and the characters didn’t feel like distinct individuals. All this combined with the fact the book frequently shifts perspective made it difficult for me to become invested in the journey of the characters. I didn’t care about their ultimate fate, and that’s a story killer for me.

My Recommendation

While the book didn’t personally engage me, it still offers plenty of admirable themes and provides an unique perspective on old, familiar lore. If you’re drawn to retellings of the King Arthur story, you’ll probably be interested in this series, but I don’t plan to continue reading after this point.

If you want to see what others thought of Corus the Champion, be sure to visit the tour participants below:


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5 Responses to Corus The Champion, Day 1: A Review

  1. Pingback: CSFF Blog Tour – Corus The Champion By D. Barkley Briggs, Day 1 « A Christian Worldview of Fiction

  2. Kessie says:

    I can’t bring myself to pick it up because some of the names are one or two letters off from some videogames that I’ve known for years. Every time I see the names, I wonder if he copied them and changed them. I couldn’t enjoy a book where I’m constantly being pulled out of the story by irritation at the names.

    • Sarah Sawyer says:

      I know he’s made extensive use of various mythologies, as many fantasy writers do, so perhaps it’s more a case of the books and the video games borrowing from the same original source? Regardless, I can see how that would be a major distraction to your enjoyment of the story. It’s funny the things that can turn us off from a book (or intrigue us). 🙂

  3. Jamie T says:

    The story sounds interesting! Great review! 🙂

    ~Jamie

    • Sarah Sawyer says:

      Thanks, Jamie! Though it wasn’t my favorite, there were a number of interesting story elements, and many of the other tour members loved it. 🙂

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