Niamh and the Hermit : A Fairy Tale [Paperback]

The daughter of a king and a fairy, the Princess Niamh is glorious fair – perhaps overly so. Her incredible beauty proves a curse for no man can withstand even a moment in her presence without running mad. Suitor after suitor is turned away, since no one regardless of family name or credentials is able to approach the Princess without suffering intense burning. The kingdom’s only hope rests upon a most unusual bridegroom: the Hermit. With the claws and wings of an eagle, and the head and tail of a lion, the mystery of a magician, and the piety of a saint, he alone may hold her – that is, if he can find his bride before she is led to perdition by the wicked Count and his shadowy minions.

Written in the evocative lyric style of Lord Dunsany, Niamh and the Hermit is an exploration and exultation of the classic fairy tale, blended with the imaginative complexity of a Tolkien-esque subcreated world. The author weaves fantasy and fable together in a beautifully written tale of love and deception, valor and weakness, hope and fury.

Ages 12 and up

3 maps – 21 illustrations by the author.

Arx Publishing (June 2003). Trade paperback. 278 pages.

Author Web Site(s):

Check out reviews at of Niamh and the Hermit : A Fairy Tale.

Edenstar Review:
The subtitle for “Niamh and the Hermit” by Emily C.A. Snyder is “A Fairy Tale,” but this is not your typical bedtime story. It’s not even a children’s story, strictly speaking. This story of courtly romance and a dangerous quest may be best appreciated by ages 12 and up.

In “Niamh and the Hermit,” the king and queen have an unusual problem. Their only child, the princess Niamh (pronounced Nee-EHV according to the book’s end notes) is too beautiful and pure for any suitor to approach her. The only hope for the continuation of the royal line rests with a mysterious Hermit, rumored to have the head of a lion, the wings of an eagle, and the humility of a saint. They correspond before they meet and fall in love.

But a power-hungry Count opposes the match and lures the princess into debasing herself and destroying her beauty. The king fails to recognize his disfigured daughter and unwittingly banishes her. Niamh flees in shame just before the long-awaited arrival of the bridegroom.

Heartbroken, the Hermit embarks on a quest to find Niamh, who has become such a shadow of her true self that others can no longer see her. Meanwhile the Count continues to oppose the Hermit, aided by demonic shadows that few can see. Knights and fairies and a unicorn all have a part to play in the unfolding drama of the Hermit’s search. And the princess herself must face many dangers and undergo a long journey of transformation.

“Niamh and the Hermit” portrays a medieval Christian society. At one point under the queen’s questioning we learn that the Hermit in his inner torment has refrained from Holy Communion (“the cup and the host”) for twenty years. Themes of sacrificial love recur throughout the story, as well as other themes of the Christian faith such as humility and forgiveness and right uses of power.

Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of “Niamh and the Hermit” is its use of language. Younger readers may find the “thee’s” and “thou’s” a challenge, but help is available in “A Brief Note on Pronouns” at the end. The broad vocabulary used in the book offers many lessons in medieval terms and practices. Though it may not appeal to all tastes, the highly formal style suits the story’s dramatic context. “Niamh and the Hermit” is beautifully written, an elegant and artistic addition to Christian literature.

Beautiful language may be the greatest strength of “Niamh and the Hermit,” but the attention to style at times comes at the expense of story and characters. It is a small weakness, however, in what is overall a very strong book. The book represents an artistic achievement on another level as well: It includes numerous illustrations by the author of key characters, and sheet music for the melody line of four songs related to the story.

For the literary-minded reader, “Niamh and the Hermit” offers a delightful tale of heroism and romance, well worth the read. Recommended.

Reviewed October 1, 2003 for Edenstar by Cheryl Bader.

Portal [Hardcover]

What would you give to change your past?

Joseph Turner’s life was irrevocably altered by a mistake he made fifteen years ago. As a result, the girl he loved died while he was powerless to save her. He never forgave himself.

Now, he has the opportunity to change that event and shape the past to his own design. Haunted by his mistakes, Joseph invents the world’s first working time machine – and he’s going back to make things right. Unfortunately, each time he steps through the portal, things get worse. But he will find a way to save her – no matter what the consequences. And if he succeeds, the last fifteen years will have never happened.

The only person who can stop him is Tim Jarrell, Joseph’s best friend who’s running through the years to reach him before it’s too late.

Two men fight to control yesterday. Only one will succeed. The race has begun. The past…is history.

Volume 1 of The Timeslip Trilogy

iUniverse, Inc (August 2003). Hardcover. 244 pages.

Author Web Site(s):

Author Interview: See the November 7, 2003 Edenstar interview with Brian Reaves.

Check out reviews at of Portal.

See the review at

Edenstar Review:
Joseph Turner is a brilliant researcher who has one driving goal: to perfect a time machine. His secret plan is to go back 15 years to correct a tragic mistake that cost the life of Carla Gerrard, the girl he loved.

Thanks to the financial and technological backing of Strand Industries, Joseph succeeds in building a TMD: a Temporal Manipulation Device. With Thomas Strand pushing for results, Joseph risks his life as the first human subject in his experiments-even though the first time traveler, a rabbit, died. Joseph embarks on a quest to rewrite his tragic history. And it will all be so easy….

But his haste leads to new and potentially disastrous consequences. Joseph’s assistant and best friend, Tim Jarrell, discovers a critical flaw in the settings that results in psychotic changes in Joseph. Tim corrects the flaw and chases Joseph back to the past to prevent Joseph’s destruction. After some unexpected interference, multiples of Tim and Joseph appear, chasing and being chased through the past. With history being continually rewritten for the characters, the plot takes several turns. It is to the author’s credit that he brings this complex story to a satisfying conclusion, with room for two announced sequels.

Author Brian Reaves has created a complex storyline the reader can follow, although I did need to reread some of the trickier sections. But they work. There are several throwaway bits that are easy to ignore as incidental, but they become crucial later. There is no deus ex machina. The subplots are integral and can’t be told linearly.

A key aspect of this kind of story is that time travel changes reality. The descriptions of the changes are vivid and imaginative, especially when characters see them coming. Joseph’s gradual adaptation to the new reality that he’s caused is also believable.

There is comic relief, both in dialogue and in situations. It adds to the realism in a story that’s otherwise far-fetched, as are all time-travel stories. Joseph’s escape from Strand’s bathroom is a hoot, as is Ted the overly enthusiastic security guard.

Portal is primarily a story of two likeable, plausible friends who happen to be involved in a time-travel adventure. Mr. Reaves successfully keeps the emphasis on the characters-their personalities, relationships, and motivations. For example, Tim has been a Christian since his youth. His faith is clear and present, but isn’t regularly thrust at the reader. His one extended faith conversation with Joseph is believable, not a cliché.

Carla’s scenes are heartwrenching. They have an emotional dimension that is uncommon in science fiction and they show that the author understands his characters and what drives them. In spite of her minimal presence, we can see why she moves Joseph so much, and why he will do anything to save her.

Ashton is the most enigmatic character. He’s barely there, but has a commanding presence whenever he appears. Clearly, his role will grow in the next two volumes, but in this book it’s ambiguous.

Mr. Reaves introduces the necessary science without distracting the reader. His explanations are plausible, clear, and coincide with established speculations. I don’t know whether he could have elaborated about “light cones” without becoming unreadable, but this is a small quibble. The only actual gap is the reference to a “mysterious substance” used in building the time machine. A brief explanation of its origin would be helpful.

My single concern is the violence. It’s brief, but it’s intense. However, it involves a semi-psychotic character acting out of uncontrollable rage. It’s not a significant factor, but it does illustrate the evil that has begun to corrupt him. His return to sanity is believable.

Overall, this is one of the most satisfying books I’ve read in a long time. Since it’s the first in a trilogy, there are questions that won’t be answered until the next books. And we can be sure that the story won’t be dragged out until the end of time! Highly recommended.

Reviewed October 25, 2003 for Edenstar by Bill Bader.

Product Code: 1514
ISBN: 0595658962

Beyond the Summerland [Paperback]

The Binding of the Blade is an original fantasy series based in part on prophecy from the book of Isaiah. Book 1, Beyond the Summerland, is where the adventure begins for a band of young Novaana, eager to serve and rule the four regions of the world of Kirthanin. Kirthanin is enjoying a time of peace, though Malek, Master of the Forge, and the betrayer of old, controls Agia Muldonai, the Holy Mountain. Malek’s servants are growing bolder and venturing further from their mountain stronghold, and the fragility of Kirthanin’s peace is growing ever clearer. Join this adventure of friendship, love, and betrayal. Ride through majestic forests and sail the forgotten waters. Rest a while in a summer paradise and walk the streets of an ancient and forbidden city. It will be the greatest challenge of their lives, but it is only the beginning.

Volume 1 of The Binding of the Blade

P & R Publishing (June 2004). Trade paperback. 594 pages.

Author Web Site(s):

Check out reviews at of Beyond the Summerland.

Edenstar Review:
In the field of fantasy literature, many novels seek to emulate Tolkien’s style, but few actually approach the immersive, epic potential of fantasy as well as L. B. Graham’s Beyond the Summerland. The first title in the projected five-part Binding of the Blade series introduces the world of Kirthanin and the journey of a young man named Joraiem.

As a member of the Kirthanin nobility, Joraiem must journey to the outpost of Sulare, commonly known as the Summerland, to train with his peers in skills needed to govern and defend Kirthanin from its enemies. The central enemy is a powerful Titan named Malek, whose rebellion against Allfather caused the ruin of Kirthanin in ages past. Corrupted creatures under Malek’s control routinely harass the people bordering the northern wasteland, but increased sightings and attacks by the vicious Malekim further south suggest that another invasion may be imminent.

When a brilliant light appears over the Forbidden Isle, Joraiem and his peers must put to the test their new skills in defending Kirthanin much sooner than expected. The evidence of Malek’s handiwork prompts the young nobles and their instructors to sail to the Forbidden Isle, their mission to investigate and disrupt Malek’s work. But disrupting a Titan is risky business, and enemy forces take captive a portion of their party, and leave stranded the remainder. For Joraiem, the quest to defend Kirthanin and to rescue the captives becomes even more personal, as his beloved Wylla is among the captured.

Author L. B. Graham excels in the details of epic storytelling in Beyond the Summerland. The prologue and opening chapters offer a series of skillfully woven flashbacks that set the scene for Joraiem’s role in Kirthanin history. Non-linear storytelling is no easy task, but Graham’s capable style makes the narrative time shifts easy to follow, and draws the reader in to the immersive experience of the novel. By the time Joraiem leaves home and sets out for Sulare in chapter 3, I was ready to come along, wherever the journey might lead.

While pacing in a “travel” story like this can be a challenge, Summerland doesn’t drag. Joraiem’s internal reflections and occasional visions provide a counterpoint to action sequences and the introduction of new characters. Among the cast of memorable characters is Valzaan, the mysterious ancient prophet who joins the traveling companions and takes a special interest in Joraiem’s visions. The tight focus on Joraiem’s viewpoint is especially effective at the story’s end.

Beyond the Summerland illustrates a fallen world that is perhaps not quite as fallen as our own. Most of the Kirthanin nobles demonstrate servant leadership, and put the needs of those they govern ahead of their own. Though their world has been darkened by the influence of Malek, the people of Kirthanin have not abandoned their belief in the goodness of Allfather. Faith in their creator and the observation of symbolic, sacred rites are central elements in the story. Joraiem and other characters show how to live with noble courage in a world oppressed by evil, and in so doing they call us to do the same.

With a masterful blend of adventure, heroism, tragedy and romance, Beyond the Summerland succeeds as an epic fantasy tale. Richness in world-building and depth of characters make this novel one that will please fantasy readers. Highly recommended.

By Kathy Tyers

See the author’s web site at

Firebird Trilogy, by Kathy Tyers [Paperback]
Single-volume compilation of Tyer’s series.

Part 1:

Lady Firebird was born a princess of the royal family of Netaia. Because of her birthplace…

Shivering World, by Kathy Tyers [Paperback]
Dr. Graysha Brady-Phillips is suffering from a genetic disease that causes weakness and early death. When she is offered a position on planet Goddard,…

Crown of Fire, by Kathy Tyers [Paperback]
Lady Firebird Angelo Caldwell has been sentenced to death “in absentia” for treason, sedition, and heresy. The last thing she expects is a summons to…

Fusion Fire, by Kathy Tyers [Paperback]
Lady Firebird didn’t fully understand her former enemy, the Sentinel Brennen Caldwell. That might take a lifetime. But she knew enough, loved enough,…

Firebird, by Kathy Tyers [Paperback]
Lady Firebird was born a princess of the royal family of Netaia. Because of her birthplace in the family, however, her life is expendable. Honorable s…

Retribution [Paperback]

On April 30, A.D. 66, Gessius Florus, the Roman governor of Judea, randomly selected hundreds of Jews from the streets of Jerusalem and crucified them in the public market. In retribution. For an insult. Two time-travelers from the far future, Rivka Meyers and her husband, Ari Kazan, were present in Jerusalem to witness this horror.

The City of God seethes with rage against imperial Rome. Rivka and Ari know their only hope is to leave Jerusalem before war breaks out. But how can they abandon their beloved Christian community?

Rivka knows from her study of history that the church is destined to leave Jerusalem after it receives a prophetic message from an “oracle.” She doesn’t know that this oracle will be Rivka herself. But will her people follow the word of a mere woman?

Meanwhile, Jewish zealots apply more and more pressure on Ari to use his engineering skills to build machines of war. Will Ari join them in their hopeless quest for freedom? Or will he abandon them to die at the hands of Nero’s legions?

What deep personal sacrifices will Ari and Rivka be forced to make when Rome unleashes her terrible fist of retribution?

Prequels: Transgression; Premonition (first in City of God series)

Volume 2 of City of God

Zondervan (September 2004). Trade paperback. 333 pages.

Author Web Site(s):

Author Interview: See the August 13, 2003 Edenstar interview with Randall Ingermanson.

Check out reviews at of Retribution.

Edenstar Review:
Randall Ingermanson’s Retribution picks up a few years after the close of Premonition. Ari has used his knowledge of physics to land well-paying work as a first-century construction engineer, but there are those who want him to use this knowledge to build war machines to fight the Romans. His continuing rejection of Rabban Yeshua (Jesus) adds to the stress between him and his wife Rivka, a believer. (The couple were born and raised in the twentieth century, but a botched time-travel experiment stranded them irreversibly in first-century Judea.)

Rivka is an outcast—a witch-woman. A student of history, her familiarity with Josephus’ writings lets her make prophecies that usually come true. Her recollections aren’t perfect, and Josephus was selective in his reporting and accuracy. So her misses have labeled her unreliable and suspect. In spite of this, Berenike (sister of Agrippa, the last of the Herods) often consults with her about the future. It’s an uneasy relationship.

Baruch’s gentle insistence that Ari pray about Yeshua threatens their intimate friendship. He loves Ari like a brother, without knowing that Ari has personal reasons to be repelled by anything Christian. His persistence and his passionate love for Yeshua brings results that neither could anticipate.

Meanwhile, Hanan ben Hanan, the high priest who engineered the execution of James in Premonition, is now without influence due to his abuse of power. Blaming Ari and Rivka, he has Ari flogged to within a millimeter of his life.

While all this is happening, Rome’s grasp on Judea tightens. Gessius Florus has replaced Lucceius Albinus as governor, and has brought an entirely new dimension to the concept of cruelty. In the year A.D. 66 he reached his zenith with an act of spectacular viciousness, as retaliation for an insult by unknown offenders. This became the foundation of the Jewish revolt.

Retribution is more than the typical modern-person-trapped-in-the-past tale. Mr. Ingermanson takes a familiar idea and gives it a depth and content that brings a real significance to his book.

One of the most compelling paradoxes of Christianity involves the seeming contradiction between God’s sovereignty and our free will. Add to the mix two individuals who know the future, even if imperfectly, and the question becomes more complex.

A compelling subthread is the contrast between Rivka and Baruch on the one hand, and Ari on the other. They cannot understand his adamant refusal to consider Yeshua, and he cannot accept their acknowledgment of Jesus as Messiah. Like many, he blames Jesus for the failings of Christians. The more they submit their lives to the lordship of Christ, the more he stubbornly insists on his approach. The consequences of living an ungodly life become increasingly clear as the story progresses. Too late, Ari sees how the results of godlessness contrast with a life of utter faith.

Like most Judeans, Ari and the others resent Rome’s growing dictatorial control over the city. Having rejected Yeshua and doubting God more and more, Ari connects with Eleazar ben Hananyah, the Pharisee who triggered the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66. Eleazar has heard of Ari’s skill with construction and recruits him to design and build mechanical devices that he believes will make the Jews invincible when they rise up against Rome. Ari faces a difficult choice: participate in the doomed rebellion he knows will happen, or trust God in spite of his misgivings.

Forgiveness and sacrifice come to the front in the climax of Retribution. Through his characters, Mr. Ingermanson demonstrates how far followers of Jesus might go to forgive their enemies. One of them in particular shows a Christlike sacrifice that stuns both Ari and the reader.

Mr. Ingermanson carries the story by using different points of view. He does so clearly, without destroying the narrative flow. He intertwines multiple plot lines, keeping them clear and relevant to each other.

The characters themselves are strong. The leads dominate in their scenes. Their children (Rachel and Dov, the daughter and son of Ari and Rivka, and Baruch and Hana, respectively) provide a light, innocent comic relief in an otherwise gripping story. Eleazar ben Arakh, a young mystic who befriends Rivka, adds a profoundly spiritual element to a story that’s already rich with faith. Various peripheral individuals add to the book’s satisfying realism as well.

I rated this book PG-13. The intense violence near the end, and the adult elements to the relationship between Agrippa and Berenike, are historically sound and essential. However, the author presents the issues without sensationalizing them, but without diluting them either.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed January 15, 2005 for Edenstar by Bill Bader.

Product Code: 1922
ISBN: 0310247071