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“Rebels” by Jill Williamson

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Rebels is book three of The Safe Lands series by Jill Williamson. (You can read my review of Outcasts, here.) The novels take place in a dystopian future where pleasure is promoted at the expense of real relationships and ethics. The heroes of the story are religious people from a patriarchal family where the men are always in charge and the women stay home to do laundry and homeschool children. The few instances where women step out on their own, something bad happens like they get captured. It’s like the antithesis of girl-power.

Instead of a central protagonist, Rebels jumps around between three brothers: Levi, Mason and Omar, as well as two sisters: Jemma and Shaylinn. There are also a bunch of kids, kindred folk, city people, bad guys, criminals, medics and other characters to keep track of. Even though I was already familiar with the series, it was really hard to remember who everyone was. To add to the confusion, a few of the characters have two different names.

On the plus side, Jill Williamson deserves a lot of credit for managing a very complex plot and tying up the threads neatly together at the end. At the two thirds mark of Rebels, I was wondering how the heck she was going to pull it off, and yet she did. The ending answers all questions, and provides a satisfactory conclusion. The only lingering concern I have is the book’s message that husbands are usually right and wives should do almost all of the housework. That type of future truly qualifies as dystopian!

P.S. I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinions and review.

I review for BookSneeze®

Merlin’s Nightmare, by Robert Treskillard


Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard is the third book in his Merlin Spiral series. (For my review of book #2, Merlin’s shadow, click here. )

The premise of Merlin’s Nightmare is that Arthur is now 18 and just discovering that he is the rightful heir to Britain. Merlin struggles to let his adopted son grow up and make decisions on his own–which might lead everyone to their doom.

Anyone familiar with Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory is going to be in for a shock!

Treskillard has taken the original cast of the Arturian legend and reshuffled it.  Morgana for example, is now Merlin’s sister.

For my part, I read this latest Treskillard installment and thought “Werewolves? He added werewolves?” But I’m not such a traditionalist that it bothered me. In fact, I really think the author has freshened the legends up. Arthur is ready for new YA fans.

P.S. I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinions and review.

I review for BookSneeze®

Merlin’s Shadow, by Robert Treskillard

I was expecting to be entertained–but not educated when I picked up the YA book Merlin’s Shadow by Robert Treskillard. Lucky for me I got both!

The premise of  Merlin’s Shadow is that Merlin, his fiancé, a baby Arthur, and a few Druid and Christian tagalongs, are on the run from the evil king Vortigern. Their only escape is to head north into the hands of the blue Picti.

This book is a real page-turner, but at the same time Treskillard weaves an extensive amount of Celtic history into his new interpretation of the Arthurian legends.

But (insert evil laughter), I can take Treskillard’s fascination with obscure history, and up the notch of nerdiness. This past fall I studied Celtic Christianity along with the rest of my local United Methodist church. One of the favorite books I read was Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Sprirtuality by J. Philip Newell.

Our Advent spiral from church.

Our Advent spiral, complete with harp music.

After the Romans left the British Isles, Celtic Christianity developed into it’s own culture, without interference from Rome. Whereas Roman Christians revered Peter and believed infants were inherently evil, Celtic Christians looked towards the apostle John and believed that God’s creation was naturally good, but that free will led to sin.

The famous Celtic Christian Pelagius, is either a heretic or a saint, depending upon whom you talk too. He encouraged women to read scripture and think about spiritual things.

The Iona Abbey in Scotland is still active, and people from all over the world travel there to learn about God and ancient spiritual practices that still have meaning today: praying while you work, blessing your children before they walk out the door, and enjoying nature.

If you take all of that history and put it side by side with Merlin’s Shadow, it becomes even more interesting. Treskillard is writing about a world right after the Romans left, when Celtic Christianity is just getting a foothold. Druids like Caygek, have their own sense of morality that will eventually be enveloped into the Celtic Christian church; the Earth is sacred because it is God’s creation.

I’m looking forward to reading the other two books in the Merlin’s Spiral series.

P.S. I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinions and review.

I review for BookSneeze®