Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book Spotlight: Shadows: Book of Aleth, Part One by Michael Duncan

A stolen text...

When the Book of Aleth is stolen, Aaron, captain of the Royal Guard, is ordered by Emperor Therion to reclaim the ancient tome. The mission thrusts Aaron into a world he's never known--a world of elves and dwarves, races long thought extinct; a world where everything he has known and believed is a lie.

A secret past...

Forced to challenge his long-held beliefs, Aaron and his companions, two soldiers of the Royal Guard and two men of the Dwarvish kingdom of Brekken-Dahl, set out on a quest to recover the Book. Aaron resolves to discover the truth, and rescue the empire he is sworn to protect.



The Coming of Darkness

He stood alone. As the Usurper’s army approached, the tall, solitary figure kept silent vigil outside the high-walled city of Charis, the last free city of the King. Captain of the royal army, Protector of all Celedon, the lone warrior positioned himself like a bulwark between the unbreached gates and the Usurper’s evil horde, determined to stop the tide of vile creatures that continued to advance. At his command, those who remained faithful to the King waited within the protective fortress leaving him to face the enemy alone. He gripped his sword. Cold steel flashed with brilliance as the silent warrior waited. A halo of emerald light radiated from a small gem in the hilt and surrounded the protector.

A gentle summer breeze drifted across the vale, but it carried no scent of hope, only the half-dead stench of the Usurper’s army. Miles beyond the walls, the ancient forest burned unabated and belched thick clouds of smoke high into the air. Acrid smoke darkened the sun and shadowed the world in a ghastly twilight as embers drifted like snow from the sky. Thousands of vile creatures and traitorous men marched against Charis. Their approach echoed like thunder across the valley and shook the ground with every step. Through the haze and smoke, the Protector saw the Usurper, mounted on his black steed on a small hill behind his forces.

An explosion of fire shook the ground. The Protector stumbled to his knees and gazed upward at large daemons soaring through an ash-filled sky. The dark, leathery-winged creatures hurled flaming spheres at the lone defender. Each ball of fire burst in a violent detonation that shook the earth, but the sword he held radiated even brighter, its emerald glow thwarting every attack. No magic could penetrate the radiant circle of light. Undaunted, Celedon’s captain rose to his feet and held his ground.

The Protector’s heart raced with anticipation. In his steeled eyes, a fierce anger burned against the Usurper. He knew that his greatest challenge drew near. He suffered no fear, but hungered with the desire to avenge himself upon the hosts of evil. He knew his duty—to protect the King and defend Celedon, and at that duty, he believed he had failed. He thought of his wife and son and all those who remained inside, of those who stood loyal to the King. He gazed back toward the last, great city.

The high, granite walls of Charis guarded the hosts of those loyal to the King. Atop the battlements, the Protector saw archers of the High-Born elves, vigilant and ready to defend the city. The tall, oak gates at the center of the city wall remained closed. Along the ramparts, flags displayed the crest of the King of Celedon and fluttered in the breeze. Beyond the massive wall, in the midst of Charis stood the Tower of the Wind, a regal spire of white marbled stone. It shimmered in contrast to the black curtains of smoke. The Protector gazed up to the pinnacle of the tower where he saw a rampart and upon the rampart stood the King.


"This debut novel by Michael Duncan is a fantasy novel far surpassing anything I've ever read. I read a lot of Tolkien and Le Guin and this is right up there with them.

The characters spring to life off the page. Vivid descriptions pull you deep into the amazing world Rev. Duncan weaves on the pages. Sword fights, dwarves, elves, daemons and horros. A gripping tale of good and evil where you never know who the good guys are and when you think you know what's happening, another twist takes you by surprise.

My only complaint is having to wait for book two.

If you only pick one fantasy novel to read this winter, it should be this one."

--Clare Revell, Author

"Michael Duncan writes an attention grabbing novel full of twists and turns that carries the reader to a world filled with mystery and intrigue. From the opening chapter detailing personal sacrifice on the battlefield, to the closing page of determination against overwhelming odds, readers will be unable to put this book down. The story has just the right number of twists and turns to keep the reader wanting to turn the page and find out what happens next. I read the entire book in one day!

The characters are described in ways that the reader can picture them in their minds. The geography can be pictured just as easily. The basic storyline is the epic battle between good and evil, but what makes this story stand out from similar ones in the fantasy genre is the underlying concept that some of what the characters think is 'good and normal' is actually evil in disguise and some of what the characters have always assumed is "bad and evil" is actually good waiting for the right moment to reveal itself. It keeps the readers thinking while they read. Can't wait until book two comes out!

One personal caveat I would like to share is that the book made me think about the possibility that perhaps in the real world some good is called evil and some evil is called good. I do not know if the author's intent was to make that kind of statement about the real world or not. But I did get a sense that it was something I should be thinking about.

Overall, a great read by a fresh new voice in fantasy fiction."

--Dr. Terry Dorsett, Author and Missionary

"Excellent book, the story kept flowing and it kept me reading. I loved the little map that was given in the front of the story to show what the area is like. The characters and areas were well described so much so it felt like you were actually there with them. If you are a fan of Tolkein you will definitely love this book as I have. Well worth a read and I can't wait for the next in the series!"

--Kim Thomas


Michael Duncan has spent more than 20 years preaching and teaching God's Word. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Rev. Duncan entered into public ministry and has served in four churches. He currently resides in Washington State with his wife and three children and serves as pastor.

When Michael is not preaching or teaching God's word, he spends time writing. His first novel, Shadows: Book of Aleth, Part One, was released in October, 2011 with the sequel, Revelation: Book of Aleth, Part Two due to release in the summer of 2012. He is an apprentice-level alumnus of the Christian Writer's Guild. Michael is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and serves as a board member and a critique group facilitator.

Pastor Duncan also serves on the executive board of the Northwest Baptist Convention and as an associate producer and Bible commentator on the Alive in Christ radio network (www.aliveinchristradio.com).

Given the opportunity, he also enjoys time on the golf course.

You can visit Michael online at www.michael-duncan.net. 


Tanya Stowe said...

Just started reading the book. I've been saving it for a time when I can enjoy it. Looking forward to the read!

Rev. Michael Duncan said...

Thanks for having me over, Cheryl! God bless.

Cheryl said...

Great to have you, Michael.

Thanks for stopping by Tanya.

LoRee Peery said...

I don't read much fantasy, but this gripping story had me hooked on page one. Bring on part two!

Marianne Evans said...

Congratulations, Michael - Cheryl, what a great book spotlight. Looking forward to reading it!!! God bless ~


Donna B said...

I really can't wait to read this one! I made the mistake of picking it up in between things while I don't really have time yet and I dreaded having to put it down for now. I used to gobble fantasy. Tolkien, Herbert, Anthony, Wren, Zelazny, and so many more I've forgotten. But just the premise brought it all back to me. It sounds wonderful and just the first chapter was tugging on me!

Rev. Michael Duncan said...

Thank you, everyone, for your kind comments! And, for those waiting for book two--fear not! It comes out this summer. :)