January 2011 Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour: Dragons of the Valley, Day 1

Christian Fantasy CSFF Blog Tour

In Dragons of the Valley, ripples of unrest and rumors of war begin to spread across the land of Chiril. To make matters worse, an attempt to protect three important statues formed from one of the cornerstones of the world, instead results in their separation. This separation will cause chaos across the land as unpredictable changes occur in the terrain itself. Tipper and Bealomondore, along with several companions, must manage to get the statues put back together–and in a safe place, where their enemies cannot gain use of them as a weapon–or Chiril may fall.

In the midst of the attempt to get statues to safety, Bealomondore, an artist with no interest in matters of war, receives a call from Wulder to take up the sword and fight. There’s nothing he wants less, but he finds himself thrust into situations where he must fight to defend those around him, or they will not survive. The Sword of Valor given him by Wizard Fenworth trains him as he travels, but will it prove sufficient in the battle against one of Chiril’s greatest foes?

While this story focuses on Bealomondore and Tipper, familiar characters from the first book in the series–Beccaroon, Fenworth, Librettowit, and others–prove valuable allies.  The vibrant secondary characters such as Lady Peg, who exists in a perpetual state of blissful bewilderment, by which she unintentionally foils the plans of her foes, or Fenworth, an absent-minded wizard prone to making light even of the most serious dangers, sometimes steal the show from Tipper and Bealomondore. All in all, the characters serve to make the journey an interesting one.

The story deals with serious matters (invasion, war, and so forth), but the tone remains light-hearted, thanks in part to the characters and their antics, and threads of humor weave through even the dark moments. However, the light-hearted feel doesn’t prevent the tale from drawing out some valuable themes, one in particular worth highlighting–the importance of stewarding the knowledge of God (Wulder, in Donita’s world).

This underlying theme proves an important part of the story. Over the years, Chiril has forgotten Wulder. In the previous book, visitors from Amara brought the knowledge of Wulder to Tipper and her companions and aided in the discovery of Chiril’s Paladin (spiritual leader), but for the most part, the citizens of Chiril have yet to hear of Wulder at all. During their journey, Bealomondore and Tipper discover that the kimens remember fragments from tales of old related to Wulder, and when Bealomodore asks one of the kimen how the knowledge of Wulder was lost, he answers, “The elders say it would only take two generations. If parents don’t teach their children, and they become grandparents and don’t teach their grandchildren, the knowledge is lost. Truth is relegated to legend. Legend becomes myth. Myth becomes fairy tale.” Bealomondore marvels that the lack of testimony–speaking of Wulder and his deeds–could result in so great a loss, through his words depicting the vital importance of declaring the nature and the works of God. As Bealomondore and others regain the understanding of Wulder and begin to follow his ways, they find themselves endowed with courage for the battles they face.

In short, Dragons of the Valley is a rollicking quest, brimming over with adventure and humor both, yet still interweaving threads of deeper meaning throughout the story. If you haven’t read any of Donita’s books, the number of characters and races might be a bit bewildering, but the glossary in the back will go a long way toward eliminating confusion. Stylistically, Dragons of the Valley will most suit a tween or early teen audience, but adults can still enjoy the fun antics and adventures of Bealomondore and his companions.

If you’re interested in reading the book, I’m holding a giveaway which you’re welcome to enter. To hear more discussion of Dragons of the Valley, I encourage you to visit some of the other tour stops:


  • Rebecca LuElla Miller
    January 24, 2011 - 4:25 pm · Reply

    Excellent review, Sarah. I think it’s interesting that you touched on some of the very points I made in my article today at Spec Faith, “Knowing Your Audience.” I forgot to include Donita’s use of humor, though. You’re spot on that that’s the device she uses to keep the mood light even when handling serious subjects and dangerous events.


    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 25, 2011 - 5:08 pm · Reply

      Thanks, Becky! I like that you explored her writing from the angle of audience in your Speculative Faith article–some excellent points to consider there. The brand of a writer is so much more than genre, and I think you summed up much of what makes Donita’s brand unique. Her humor can be a nice change of pace on occasion from some of the more intense, serious speculative novels. 🙂

      • Rebecca LuElla Miller
        January 25, 2011 - 8:33 pm · Reply

        I agree that her humor is a key component — which is why I’m kicking myself for not including it in the Spec Faith article. But rarely is her humor the “laugh out loud” kind (though there were some moment in Lady Peg’s monologues that induced some snickers 😆 ) but it softens the hard places, lightens the dark, eases the difficult. She has a gift.

        Speaking of Lady Peg, have you seen Gillian’s post — a radio interview with Lady Peg? Hysterical!


        • Sarah Sawyer
          January 26, 2011 - 12:55 pm · Reply

          That’s a perfect description of Donita’s sort of humor! One of the reasons I like it is because it’s a natural part of her style, not something tacked-on or over the top.

          Yes, I saw Gillian’s post–it was creative and quite funny! I’m going to try to stop by for part 2. 🙂

  • Dave Wilson
    January 24, 2011 - 5:36 pm · Reply

    Great insights Sarah. And you’re right about the importance of the glossary for first-time readers of Donita’s dragon series. I probably would have given up early in my reading if it weren’t for this helpful resource.


    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 25, 2011 - 5:10 pm · Reply

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, Dave. I think the glossary adds a lot even if you’ve already read some of her other books. It can be a good memory refresher, plus it’s just fun! I’m glad it enabled you to read the book, even without being familiar with her world.

  • Linda Burklin
    January 24, 2011 - 9:49 pm · Reply

    I just recently finished this book and enjoyed reading your review. My twelve year old has just started reading the first series and hates to put it down. I like that Donita is able to handle serious subjects in a lighthearted way that makes it easy for her young readers.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 25, 2011 - 5:14 pm · Reply

      I like that too, and I look forward to sharing the books with my own children someday. They’re so much fun!

  • Phil
    January 25, 2011 - 11:45 pm · Reply

    Great review, Sarah. I also concur with the light-heartedness of the series. Though I generally read action/suspense/thrillers, sometimes a good, adventurous fantasy is what I need.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      January 26, 2011 - 1:00 pm · Reply

      Thanks, Phil! Most of the fantasy I read has a more serious, intense edge to it, which I love, but sometimes an upbeat, enjoyable read (like Donita’s) hits the spot perfectly. Out of curiosity, what makes you pick up a fantasy novel rather than your normal genre of choice? Familiarity with the author? Intriguing back cover copy? Something else? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

      • Phil
        January 27, 2011 - 6:55 pm · Reply

        Well, 1) I know the author, but more importantly 2) I grew up reading mostly Star Wars books, and fantasy was my next preferred genre. Stories that make me wish I was there with the characters, because of the happiness of the moment–those appeal to me. Action/suspense/thriller genre stories don’t generally have moments like those.

        • Sarah Sawyer
          January 30, 2011 - 12:23 pm · Reply

          Ah, that makes sense! Did you know that Marcher Lord Press is going to be re-releasing the Firebird Trilogy by Kathy Tyers (one of the writers of the Star Wars books) in April? That may be a series you would enjoy. 🙂

          Fantasy can portray those beautiful, triumphant moments in a way unique to the genre, I think. I read in many different genres and enjoy them all, but speculative fiction remains my favorite…and I think it always will!

          • Phil
            January 31, 2011 - 8:37 pm ·

            You know, I believe I actually did read “Star Wars: Balancing Point” and enjoyed it. I’ll have to check out this Firebird series you mentioned!

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