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Christian fantasy after Tolkien: a Top 12

If your kids are just gobbling books, and have already worked their way through all 7 books of Lewis’s Narnia, then what’s next? Or if you’ve read through Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings a couple times now, where can you go now?

What follows is a Top 12 list of Christian fantasy novels – some more obviously Christian than others – that are a fantastic follow-up. These aren’t all suitable for the very young, so be sure to click on the article titles for longer reviews.

12. The Seraph’s Path
by Neil Dykstra

Dyrk is a horse trainer who finds himself delivering the king’s mail on a flying tarn that may want to kill him. I can usually predict the general direction a story is heading, but not this time, which made for an especially intriguing journey – this isn’t like anything I’ve read before. And at almost 1,200 pages, this series isn’t for the casual reader.

11. Wings of Dawn
by Sigmund Brouwer

Thomas is a young boy seeking to win back his castle by using the technologies that might seem like magic in feudal England, but which were in use at that time elsewhere in the world (like gunpowder, or kites). This might have rate a bit higher, but it is getting harder to find.

10. The Winter King
by Christine Cohen

15-year-old Cora is resourceful, but boy are the odds stacked against her! Her dad is dead, her neighbors all avoid her, thinking she’s cursed, and the village god, the tyrannical Winter King seems to hate her. This beautifully written book is best suited for 15 and up because it has echoes of the Reformation – the “official” church is foe, not friend – that might confuse a younger reader.

9. In the Hall of the Dragon King
by Stephen Lawhead

This is a well-written sword-and-knights story set in another world. Lawhead had some clear Christian undertones to his earlier stories that get lost in his later books, so stick with early Lawhead series like this one.

8. Urchin of the Riding Stars
by M.I. McAllister

Squirrels with swords. Need I say more?

7. The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic
by Jennifer Trafton

A fun romp, with all sorts of inventive ingredients including:

  • Piles of poison-tongued jumping turtles
  • A castle built on top of a mountain that rises and falls once each day
  • A tyrant twelve-year-old pepper-hoarding king

6. Brave Ollie Possum
by Ethan Nicolle

The author was one of the guys behind Babylon Bee. A kid who is scared of everything can’t get his parents to believe him that there is something on the roof outside his window. But he’s right. Kind of a terrifying premise, but the comic hijinks soon take over, with the scared boy getting turned into a possum, a creature that faints whenever it is scared.

5. Dawn of Wonder
by Jonathan Renshaw

A nephew made me and most of our church read it and no one has regretted doing so. The only downside is that book 2 has been more than 8 years in the waiting. But book 1 is really, really good.

4. The Dark Harvest Trilogy
by Jeremiah W. Montgomery

I gave the first book in this series to my oldest daughter to test out. The cover looked a bit dark and ominous, but I figured It’s by a Reformed pastor, so how freaky can it be? I hadn’t gotten to it yet because, well, I’d also figured It’s an epic fantasy novel by a Reformed pastor, so how good could it really be? I was wrong on both counts. This was really good, and quite freaky.

3. The Green Ember
by S.D. Smith

Rabbits with swords! ’Nuff said.

2. Bark of the Bog Owl 
by Jonathon Rogers

Loosely and hilariously riffing off the story of David and Saul. But in the American South, if it had castles. It’s been described as a Mark Twain crossed with C.S. Lewis.

1. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness 
by Andrew Peterson

This sat on my bookshelf for more than a year because the author is a well-known and talented musician, so I figured, how can a person so good at music be any good at writing too? I mean, what are the odds? But this is fantastic, rating right up there with Lewis and Tolkien. Three children contending with the Fangs of Dang, lizard creatures that have conquered the land of Skree, and their ruler Gnag the nameless.

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Adult biographies, Articles, Book Reviews, Church history

10 great Christian biographies

A reason to read Christian biographies is to see and be encouraged by what God has done in other people’s lives. They're a way to learn about how God acts in the world around us. There's also a challenge that comes with true stories of Christians who have gone before us – when you see how God used them, you have to ask yourself, "What could He do with me, if only I trusted Him to keep hold of me?" The reviews are divided into 2 sets of 5. In every case, you can find a longer review of the book by clicking on its title. 5 to get you (or your kids) started This first set is for everyone who hasn't gotten into biographies yet. These are especially accessible, sometimes because they are shorter reads, and others because they are fictionalized biographies that read like novels because, well, they are novels... but grounded firmly in reality. 1. Luther: Echoes of the Hammer by Susan K. Leigh Graphic novel, yes; superficial? No! 2. When Faith Is Forbidden by Todd Nettleton 40 true stories from the front lines about God using miracles and persecution to gather His people. 3. The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter After a car accident leaves a wife with no memory of even meeting, let alone marrying, her husband she remains committed to the marriage vow she made before God. 4. A Promise Kept by Robertson McQuilkin Short account of a Christian college president who leaves his influential position when his wife is struck by Alzheimer’s because that's what love is. 5. Steal Away Home by Matt Carter and Aaron Ivey A fictionalized biography of Charles Spurgeon and his friend, a former slave, Thomas Johnson – a pain-free way to learn about the “Prince of Preachers.” Bonus: Douglas Bond’s The Thunder – A fictionalized biography of John Knox, the man and the legend, a bodyguard, galley slave, and a pastor to queens, including one who really didn't like him. 5 for those who already love biographies This second set is for those who already appreciate biographies. And while I'll readily concede that tastes differ, the top three titles here should be included in anyone and everyone's Top 10 biographies list – these are fantastic books! 1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  WWII veteran Louis Zamperini survived enemy fire, being alone on a raft for weeks, and a Japanese POW camp, all the while being “unbroken.” But Who was keeping him so? 2. God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew Dutchman dares to smuggle Bibles behind the Iron Curtain, counting on God to make seeing eyes blind. 3. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom Dutch woman and her family hide Jews during WWII, get caught and are sent to concentration camps, and Corrie shares us how God was with her in it all. 4. The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts A pastor’s wife starts a mommy blog, then uses it to share her journey when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer. She shows us how to die in the security, and to the glory, of God. Amazingly beautiful! 5. Man of the First Hour by George van Popta For anyone with Canadian Reformed denominational connections, this is a must-read. The story of the first pastor of the Canadian Reformed churches, and is as much a history of him and his family as of the founding of the denomination. Bonus: Rosario Champagne Butterfield’s The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert – Lesbian university professor meets a pastor who asks her, have you considered you might be wrong? You can find even more great biography recommendations by clicking here....