This is the second post in my series "Great Christian Fiction," dealing with awesome and usually indie Christian books that might go under your radar. For the first one, click here.
A Christian fantasy series that takes place in a fantasy version of the Wild West, includes assassins, and has no magic? Sign me up!!!!!!!
The Blades of Acktar series by Tricia Mingerink is a daring adventure that denies no aspect of the Christian faith and defies convention. It destroys the world built by mainstream Christian fiction and delivers the fans of exciting, wholesome novels from boredom. Okay, that was forced, but you gotta admit--still pretty cool.
(All photos in this post by moi)
Some things to love:
There's assassins! And they're kind of brutal too!
I never knew how much I like assassin stories until I started reading these books. The "protagonist" is actually kind of a villain, and I have to admit I love him soooooo much (more on him later in this post....hee hee hee.) There's all kinds of weaponry and real-life-fighting and injuries and sneaking through the dark, and I LOOOOOOVE it. With all my evil heart.
The character development is to die for.
Our hero Leith Torren starts out book 1 as a cold-blooded assassin who can't decide whether it would be right or wrong to murder the kids giving him medical care. Our heroine Renna Faythe starts out book 1 terrified of her own shadow and uncertain as to whether she "claims" her faith as a Christian. Her younger sister Brandi is a lighthearted, carefree girl who's practically perfect.
None of them are the same by the end of this series, and they all change in different ways. That doesn't even start on the side characters--I don't think there's a single character who's actually in the book for more than a few pages who doesn't change substantially in some way. Some change for the better, some actually change for the worst. It's marvelous, and is honestly character development goals.
The Christianity is so clearly presented and so so beautiful.
The Gospel has the power to change lives. Not everyone in the church has a squeaky-clean background, and even worse, not everyone in the Church is willing to invite those with a Past in. That's part of what makes these books so wonderful. They're real to the church as it is--but they're also full of hope and beauty. There's prejudice, but it is presented as an evil within the church. That plays into what I said before about character development--EVERYONE changes.
Let's talk about Leith for a second...
I know, I know. I tend to get very infatuated with male main characters. But Leith Torren is something special. He's an assassin with thirty-four kills to his name and he serves the impostor king with all his devotion.
But then he changes.
I love Leith with all my heart. He's so cold but precious and he puts me into full-scale fangirl mode. He is my favorite thing about this series, and that's saying something. LEITH. <3333333
You need to read this series for Leith alone.
The sister relationships are just the absolute best.
Renna and Brandi are amazing both as individual characters and as sisters, but I almost love them better together. Tricia Mingerink manages to perfectly bring together the beautiful relationship that close-knit sisters have in all its glory--they bicker, they hug each other, they hide from danger together, they splash water on each other and tease each other about their crushes, they're best friends even though some days they just want nothing more than to bite each others' heads off...I love the two of them with all my heart.
A slight disclaimer: These books are about assassins.
I know I said above that I love this aspect of them, as well as how realistic they are, but that does carry a slight problem with it: the Blades of Acktar are very, very violent.
There's murders in the dark, talk of assassinations, and lots of wounds and bleeding. A major character is horrifically tortured at one point, and this lasts a while. An entire church is executed for refusing to denounce their faith in Jesus. Sometimes the violence feels gratuitous, but the thing is--it isn't. It's horrible and hard to look at, but it's REAL. The people who suffer in these books suffer because they profess faith in Christ, and that's not smooth sailing. This isn't violence like the Hunger Games. Sometimes, it might even be worse, especially on an emotional level. But it's there for a real reason, and it's resonating. Especially because in the real world things of equal or even worse pain are taking place for our brothers and sisters in the church.
So if you can handle some very dark violence that's not glossed over but is also not glorified, I ABSOLUTELY recommend the Blades of Acktar!!!!!!!
Chat with me! Have you read the Blades of Acktar? If so, what did you think? Are these books on your TBR yet? Do you have any ideas for future posts you'd like to see me do in the Great Christian Fiction series? Talk to me in the comments!!!!!!