Celebrating the Release of Kristen Stieffel’s Debut Novel
I am so excited about the release of our own Kristen Stieffel’s Alara’s Call, The Prophet’s Chronicle Book 1. Although Alara’s Call fits into the fantasy category of speculative fiction as a “sword opera” set in a fictional world, there is no magic. Alara’s visions, and other characters’ supernatural abilities are more like enhanced spiritual gifts. Because of this, Alara’s Call reads like a suspense novel set in a quasi-Victorian world. Each scene moves the story forward in a tight plot that alternates beautifully between dialogue that sets up the political machinations and action scenes that put the reader into the danger Alara and her allies face.
There’s great world-building that explores diverse religions, male-female relationships, politics, and culture. World-building is probably what I love most about speculative fiction from Gulliver’s Travels to modern dystopians. Alara’s Call delivers, immersing the reader into a rich story world where each nation has a distinct culture.
Another aspect of Alara’s Call that I loved were the religious details of the book. Telshan is clearly meant to evoke Christianity and yet challenge tradition. There is a triune god but one with female aspects. Because it’s a fictional story world, it doesn’t come across as a mockery but as an honest interpretation of the Trinity. Alara is a curate who receives visions of the future. That she’s a religious leader and prophetess highlights a strong feminist message and yet features male characters who are equally wise and devout. With this, the overall message is one of obedience, faith, trust, and hope.
The final reason I loved Alara’s Call is the cast of characters. Not only is Alara as strong heroine, Dorrel is a well-developed hero who provides a fitting complement to Alara. The supporting characters are equally endearing from Alara’s oily politician father and socialite mother to the scheming villains, each character is more than a cardboard cutout. Alara’s brother, Camrun is my favorite of the minor characters, and the aged Jentierri provides some hilarious asides.
Fans of fantasy as well as those who love historical fiction, will enjoy Alara’s Call.
From the Back Cover Copy:
Tales are often told of heroes who fulfill ancient prophecies. Alara’s Call is the tale of a woman who gives new ones. Alara sees visions of other’s futures, but never her own.
A young clergywoman with a fiery passion for her Telshan faith, she has been assigned to a mission abroad but longs to lead a congregation in her homeland. Her father, the prime minister, jeopardizes her dream and her safety when he coerces her into what he calls a diplomatic mission.
But it’s a ruse.
The trip is meant to end with her marriage to the crown prince of a foreign nation, where members of Alara’s faith are persecuted and women oppressed. All for a trade agreement her father is desperate to enact.
But her mentor intervenes and takes Alara to Dorrel, the suitor she left behind. They
believe they are safe, but foreign soldiers are under orders to bring Alara to the king’s
palace…by any means necessary.
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Thursday, September 21, 2017