“At first glance, they were a sight to pity. No face was without a scar or a peeling scab, not even Fin’s. Their cheeks were hollow, their beards thin. They were bent with infirmities, twisted by abuse, purples with bruise, and winnowed down to clattering bones. But their eyes, their eyes were fierce. Their pupils radiated color, and they held their heads high and unbowed. They’d among them seen wonders and horrors both, and they breathed yet to think on them and carry forth their hard-bought memories like badges to confound lesser men. They collected around them a silence that no man deigned to sully, and they stood in their rags, resplendent.” – The Fiddler’s Green by A.S. Peterson
Due to my regular need to rest, I am reading a lot of books these days. I was trying to do a detailed review on my blog for each book that I read, but I found that to be too stressful. Instead, I’ve decided to try and hit the highlights, focusing on books I really loved.
The Fiddler’s Green
By A.S. Peterson
As a writer, one of the questions you get asked periodically is who you write like. You know the: If you liked this, you’ll like my book comparison.
Until I read Fiddler’s Green I was at a loss as to how to answer this question. I could tell you it was a bit like Lord of the Rings meets WW2 meets Steampunk, but that doesn’t really give you much information. All it does is tell you what has influenced me.
Then a dear friend put this book in my hand.
What a surreal experience to read something so very much like my own soul, my own voice, my own loves. Here was a book of visceral beauty, harsh reality, battles, loves, comradery, adventure, and faith. I read his battle scenes with great joy both for their poetic rhythm and the way they mirror my own desire to write something terrible in a beautiful way.
Peterson also doesn’t pull punches with his characters. As the story progresses, he constantly ratchets up the level of suffering.
I tend to prefer lead males, but Fin is a wonderful exception to my rule. Her journey from orphan to pirate ship captain and the men she leads is one you can buy into. Her struggles to find herself and her place in the world are heart breaking. Her loyalty is perfect.
I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages. It is well written, with exceptional prose, meaty paragraphs, and a fun and exciting world…plus, it’s a tiny bit like me. 😉
Rated: PG-13: This is a very clean PG-13. Minor language, well-handled adult situations.
The Stories We Tell
By Mike Cosper
I have often found great joy in noticing Christian themes in movies that didn’t intend to have any. I think the best stories resonate with us because they have captured a tiny amount of the real and true Story written by God. Even men who hate the Lord can’t escape that His stories are the best stories. They try and try, but in the end the tales of friendship, love lost and regained, redemption, self-sacrifice, family, saving, good winning over evil are what resounds with the every-man. From action flicks, comic book movies, war movies, and well done love stories, the writers just can’t escape the fact that to tell a good story they must include elements of Christianity.
This book basically teaches the same thing.
I found it encouraging to know that I wasn’t the only one who looked at movies and TV shows through Gospel-colored glasses.
I also found it very interesting to see how far he took this idea, even into paradise lost, fallen and flawed heroes, violence, and reality TV. Before this book, I’d never looked at the negative sides of the Redemption story as also being re-told over and over again in various forms.
If you’re a movie buff, or a story buff, I highly recommend this book. It can be helpful in starting conversations with people, giving you ideas on how to express your views, and further training your eye to see the mark of being made in the image of God.
This book would be a great book for home-schoolers as well. It is a great way to help your kids think through what they’re watching, along with sparking lots of good conversation.
I have seen many of the movies he talked about, though not all of them. I’ve only seen a few of the TV shows he talked about. As he repeats often, just because he can see a facet of Christianity in something doesn’t make it 100% worth watching. Pulp Fiction is one of the movies he covers in the chapter on Redemptive Violence. It is not a movie I casually recommend, even though I think it’s brilliant. Please keep that in mind as you read this book.
Here is a sample:
“Fall stories help orient us to a world that doesn’t work out how we expect. They help us make sense of the ruin we see around us. They help us know we’re not alone in our sorrows and failures, and they point to the deep need we all have for answers, for hope, and for redemption.
We have all lived our own fall stories in one way or another, and most of us hope that they’re not the last word on our lives.”
Rated PG-13: Some of the movies and shows talked about are very rough.
“What do you know of the Knights?” he asked.
Fin shrugged. “I thought knights were only in children’s stories until a few days ago.”
Jeannot smiled. “A man could do worse than to live in the stories of a child. There is, perhaps, no better remembrance.”
“Until the child grows up and finds out the stories aren’t true. You might be knights, but I don’t see any shining armor,” Fin said.
Jeannot stopped near the gate of the auberge and faced her. “Each time a story is told, the details and accuracies and facts are winnowed away until all that remains is the heart of the tale. If there is truth at the heart of it, a tale may live forever. As a knight, there is no dragon to slay, no maiden to rescue, and no miraculous grail to uncover. A knight seeks the truth beneath these things, seeks the heart. We all it the corso. The path set before us. The race we must run.” – The Fiddler’s Green by A.S. Peterson
“As sailors kept by long bouts of shipborne boredom do, they bloodied each other with a sort of grim amusement. Tables and chairs flew about, splintering here and there on heads or hinds, and despite all the broken knuckles and noses, there didn’t seem to be an angry man in the room, save Jack Wagon and Captain Mullan. The Irish however, far surpassed amusement and appeared to be in the throes of pure glee–much to Fred’s misfortune.” – The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson