Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs -- Day 3

Here it is, the wrap-up day for the blog tour for A Book of Names. It's been interesting to read what various folks have said about it. (Check my Day 1 post for the complete list of tourists.)

Steve Rice doesn't let the fact that he hasn't read a book stop him. Check out his Genuine Fake Review for a few laughs as he reviews the Amazon book reviews.

Becky Miller and Chawna Schroeder expressed concern about the darkness portrayed in some of the scenes, particularly from the villains' pov scenes. To be honest, this level hadn't quite caught my attention, perhaps in part because it's been quite a few years since I've had a young teen in my house and, in general, I tend to read more mainstream fantasy than specifically Christian. So the advice for parents to preview for younger readers may not be a bad idea.

On the other hand, Keanan Brand got the goods from his 10-year-old niece, Jamie, who read the book and agreed to be interviewed about her impressions. Here is the link to the first segment, and here is the link to the second. I'm heading back later today to check for the third installment. After all, Keanan says this (emphasis my own):

I'm still reading the book, and should finish it by tomorrow, in time for my last post for this month's tour. I liked the poem and the map at the beginning, but--I confess--aside from the opening sentence, the first page just didn't grab me. Maybe that's because it wasn't intended to get a grown-up's attention. Jamie, however, devoured the book like a bear raiding picnic baskets at the park, and would have consumed more if the second book had been available.

(Hang in there, Jamie. Book 2, Corus the Champion is available for pre-order now!)

So of course, you know me. I have to post up the opening bit of the novel for you. Like Keanan, I wasn't smitten with the poem (too long, too cryptic), so I'll just head straight into Chapter 1:

The day was gray and cold, mildly damp. Perfect for magic. Strange clouds overhead teased the senses with a fragrance of storm, wind, and lightning, and the faint, clean smell of ozone. Invisible energy sparkled like morning dew on blades of grass.

Standing alone in an empty field on the back end of their new acreage, Hadyn Barlow only saw the clouds. By definition, you can’t see what’s invisible, and as for smelling magic? Well, let’s just say, unlikely. Hadyn saw what was obvious for late November, rural Missouri: leafless trees, dead grass, winter coming on strong. Most of all he saw (and despised) the humongous briar patch in front of him, feeling anew each and every blister and callus earned hacking through its branches.

Making room for cattle next spring, or so he was told; this, even though his dad had never owned a cow in his life. He was a history teacher, for crying out loud. A college professor. Hadyn’s shoulders slumped. It didn’t matter. Everything was different now.

Mr. Barlow didn’t let his boys curse, but low under his breath, Hadyn did, mildly, just to prove the point. Life stunk. That was the brutal truth.

All true for the most part. Yet standing alone in the field, bundled in flannel, something else prickled his skin--something hidden in the rhythm of the day, at its core--and it wasn’t just the chill wind. He couldn’t shake it. A sense of something. Out-of-placeness. Faced with a friendless sophomore year, Hadyn knew that feeling all too well. It attacked him every morning, right before school.

But this was something more, more than the usual nervousness and name-calling stuff. His intuition was maddeningly vague. Hadyn sniffed the air, eyeing the field. A fox scampered in the distance. Bobwhites whistled softly. This had been his routine for weeks. Go to school, come home, do chores. Today was no different. Except for the clouds.

Download and read the entire first chapter here.

Even though The Book of Names doesn't have a rapid-fire opening scene, I still found it intriguing. What was different about this day, really? What, in combination, made Hadyn's life stink? Why only mention his father? Why would a man, a history professor, who'd never raised cattle decide he wanted cows at this stage of his life?

I can feel the day, and I can feel Missouri in November. I believe that author D. Barkley Briggs has been there. I'm grounded, rooted, and already feeling the magic in the air that he is certain to spring any minute now.

And he does.

Thanks for touring with me!

1 comment:

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Val, another great post. You've given your readers a good introduction to the book. Great stuff.