In particular, we are looking at his fourth novel, THE ALE BOY’S FEAST, the white strand of the Auralia Thread.
I’ve raved over every cover to date in this series, and I must say that this last one is excellent. It is also the brightest cover to date, which is very appropriate to end the series with, considering the dark days through which we have traveled the lands of the expanse.
Books One Through Three
I reviewed the first three books of this series as part of the previous CSFF blog tours, and if you are not familiar with the series or that book, please take a look at these posts:
- Auralia’s Colors – A Full Review
- Auralia’s Colors – Of Villains & Beastmen
- Cyndere’s Midnight…A Full Review
- Cyndere’s Midnight…An Interview With Jeffrey Overstreet
- Cyndere’s Midnight…An Interview With Jordam, The Beastman
- Raven’s Ladder…A Full Review
Not only have these posts proved popular on my blog, but the first one is STILL MY MOST POPULAR book review of all time.
In the past, I’ve always jumped into the plot at this point. Today, I will begin with the author, since I have now met him in person at the Laity Lodge Writer’s Retreat and have sat under his excellent teaching.
Jeffrey is a humble, caring, and contemplative person who thinks deep thoughts about story-telling, Christianity, and the world we live in. One of the best ways to get to know Jeffrey is to sit in on one of his video talks, and you can do so by clicking right here. Don’t miss it!
In particular, he really likes the Muppets, and I had the pleasure of hearing him sing a modified “Rainbow Connection” while holding a Kermit-like green sock-puppet playing a Banjolele (a ukulele like banjo). Very hilarious.
A short bio: Jeffrey lives in Shoreline, Washington with his wife, Anne. He is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response, posts perspectives on art and entertainment at LookingCloser.org, and his reviews have been published in ChristianityTodayMovies.com and Paste. His movie-going adventures are chronicled in his award-winning book, Through a Screen Darkly.
The Plot of The Ale Boy’s Feast
The king is missing.
His people are trapped as the woods turn deadly.
Underground, the boy called Rescue has found an escape.
Hopes are failing across The Expanse. The forests, once beautiful, are now haunted and bloodthirsty. House Abascar’s persecuted people risk their lives to journey through those predatory trees. They seek a mythic city – Abascar’s last, best hope for refuge – where they might find the source of Auralia’s colors.
They journey without their king. During a calamitous attempt to rescue some of his subjects from slavery, Cal-raven vanished.
But his helper, the ale boy, falling through a crack in the earth, has discovered a slender thread of hope in the dark. He will dare to lead a desperate company up the secret river.
Meanwhile, with a dragon’s help, the wandering mage Scharr ben Fray is uncovering history’s biggest lie – a deception that only a miracle can repair.
Time is running out for all those entangled in The Auralia Thread. But hope and miracles flicker wherever Auralia’s colors are found.
These books will appeal to anyone who loves fantasy—not just Christians. The spiritual themes are subtle enough, yet thought-provoking, that they would make a great gift for non-Christian friends (starting out, of course, with Auralia’s Colors).
A warning: the books are for mature teens on up due to some very minor adult content and intense, frightening scenes.
There is AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT to like in this novel:
Great Characterization – especially with the newly introduced characters such as Scharr ben Fray and his brother, Ryp. Their story begins the unraveling of many mysteries.
Beautiful Descriptions – I would venture to say that THE ALE BOY’S FEAST is the most poetic of the four, especially at the beginning when the Ale Boy is journeying with the Northchildren.
Touching Scenes – Okay, so I teared up at the last scene with The Ale Boy and Jaralaine, and a few other places. Gotta-problem-with-dat?
Original Plot – As with all of the books, everything feels new. And not just that, but just when you think you have the plot figured out, you will be surprised by new, shocking information. Hold onto your hats, readers! This is the wild, amazing conclusion to the series, and nothing is as it seems!
The Bad Guys – Okay, there’s some come-uppance for the bad guys in book four. (BTW, I especially liked Warney’s role in this come-uppance. That was one of the many enjoyable surprises in the book.) But not just that, we meet three of them in a much more intimate way—Cessyl, Ryllion, and Pretor Xa—getting inside their heads and learning what makes them tick.
Spiritual Themes – The Auralia Thread is, ultimately, a story of redemption. A bit like THE LORD OF THE RINGS, different characters show different aspects of Christ. In the LOTR, Frodo shows us the sacrificial side, Aragorn the kingly, and Gandalf the miraculous. In THE AURALIA THREAD (don’t take this too far) the Ale Boy shows us Christ’s redeeming love, Auralia his forgiveness, Cal-Raven his stand for truth (at the end), and the Keeper the revelation of that truth.
- The Mysteries Explained – Just about everything you can think of is answered—finally. Expect to be surprised!
Really now—The BIGGEST minus is that I was saddened by all of the poorly written reviews in Amazon where the person gave a bad rating but admitted that they hadn’t read the previous books.
Let me say it once… NEVER-EVER-EVER give a book a bad review if you haven’t read the previous books in the series. It’s just not fair. Talk about what you liked, that’s fine. But don’t complain about how confused you were. Don’t spout off your fevered exasperations. And don’t set the stars below a four. If you can’t abide by that, then don’t write a review. Leave it to those that have read the whole series to review it. Get the other books … read them … and then write your review!
If you write a bad review, you are only showing your own ignorance and hurting the author in the process. Honestly … would you write a bad review for a movie if you only saw the last 30 minutes? I doubt you’d even dare.
With that said, the only thing that caught me was a few of the unfinished romance threads in the book, such as Emeriene’s. But I must forgive Jeffrey for not tying everything up in a neat little package, for the story, ultimately, was not theirs. This is the story of Auralia, Cal-Raven, Jaralaine, Jordam, and the Ale Boy.
Another advantage of leaving a few threads hanging? I will continue to think about the book and mull it over in my imagination long after I’ve finished it.
An example of this is Stephen Lawhead’s character Pelleas. He disappears, and we only get hints as to what happened to him. I still think about his fate.
But life is like that. I still ponder many events and mysteries in my own life that I have no answers for— and will never have answers for this side of eternity.
The Ale Boy
This is an image from one of the alternative covers for the book. While I really like the focus of the current cover on the fantastic cave, this other option showed us more of what the Ale Boy looks like.
Let’s just say that he’s been my favorite character all along, and I was very pleased to see that the last novel highlighted him.
The really neat thing is that the title of the book, THE ALE BOY’S FEAST, will only take on its final, real, and lasting meaning in the second to last chapter.
More To Come
Make sure you come back tomorrow when I’m going to dig into the book and give some examples of Jefrrey’s incredible writing!
Here are the other participants to the CSFF Blog Tour who are also reviewing THE ALE BOY’S FEAST: