The Nicest Review: Guest Post

I recently received the following review of Minstrel’s Call in an email. It brought a smile to my heart and tears to my eyes. And, as I was given permission to share it, I thought I would here. One of the most difficult tasks for me as an author is to do any sort of raving about my own books. Don’t get me wrong, I love my books. They are exactly the sort of thing I want to read. But telling anyone that always feels like bragging or like it’s something that I’m not supposed to do… so when I get a review like this… it’s the sort of thing I can live on for years. I am grateful for you, dear Readers. And so humbled. Writing this series and sharing it with you has been one of my favorite things ever. I am honored by any who have taken the time to read these books, and touched by the words of encouragement and support from those who have loved these books. As I continue to write new stories, I do not in any way “move on,” or “leave the Minstrel’s Song behind.” They are my dream come true. Any new books I write are merely an extension of that same dream.

For those who have read the series and loved it, thank you. From the depths of my soul, thank you. You are more than readers, you are family.

Minstrel’s Call:

Minstrel's Call CoverNote:  I cannot possibly write a review that is worthy of this great story or that can adequately capture the beautiful writing, and perhaps more importantly, capture the “I LOVE THESE PEOPLE” descriptions of the Heroes and Heroines that permeate this book and ALL of the books in this Series.

Not in any particular order, I offer the following thoughts for prospective readers who may wonder if they should “commit” to reading this marvelous series of books entitled “The Minstrel’s Song” Series.  My comments are restricted to the Final Chapter entitled “Minstrel’s Call” but these comments are the building crescendo of thoughts that have grown and developed since first reading Book One of this Series called “King’s Warrior”.  

I cannot tell you plot lines…..or re-tell the story for you…..but I can tell you………..

I absolutely LOVE how the characters are ALWAYS AT THEIR BEST………there is no pettiness……no immaturity…… wasting my time on trying to make our Heroes and Heroines…….human……or gross………or…….small.  Brant, Kiernan, Oraeyn, Dylanna, Kamarie, Leila, Jemson, Devrin, Tellemyack, Graldon, Kitry, Justan (the list goes on and on and on) are all Heroic……all the time………and they are believable……..they are what we aspire to………..and their BEAUTY… ALWAYS…..reflected in their courage…..their honor…….their decency………their self-sacrifice…….their work ethic…………all the while…………..LOVING BEING…..courageous, honorable, decent, sacrificing, hard-working……….without any inkling of a desire to be anything LESS than what they are…….and what they willingly embrace as………what is expected of them.  Thus they are very normal…….and very human…….and inspire the reader to adopt the absolute normalcy of that exact same code.  Time and Time Again while reading “Minstrel’s Call” tears would flow….not because of sadness…..but because of beauty.  An example of this is when Kiernan Kane reminds Brant, not only of who he is……but who he has always been..and who he has always been training to be:

”When at length he spoke, his tone was gentle, but his expression was filled with steel.  “High King, I tell you now that you already possess all that you require in order to defeat your enemies.  You have been gathering your weapons since you were but a child.  You have the Oath of the Aethalons running through your blood;  its power has come to your aid in the past and it will sustain you further in the future. You have the character bestowed upon you by Cruithaor Elchiyl, integrity and honor that you have strengthened throughout your life with diligence and discipline.  You have true friends and allies, each of whom will expend his last breath to fight for you.  And you have the Hand of Yorien; although you do not yet truly understand its power, I am confident that you will before this is all over”.  As the Minstrel spoke, it was as though scales fell from Brant’s eyes, allowing him to see clearly.

Wouldn’t we all love to have a friend who we regard more highly than ourselves……..say such things about us?  Wouldn’t we love to be worthy of such a description?   We have seen everything Kiernan describes about Brant for ourselves and we do not doubt Brant’s Quality…..but we understand why Brant does.   Our Great Hero has been defeated and his confidence shattered……….but not one time is he diminished in the readers eye…….or in the eyes of his friends…….but he feels diminished within himself………and the GREATEST HERO for mankind………gently…….but adamantly………….raises him up…… see himself again…… he has always striven to be and as he has always wanted to be…….and quite honestly as he has always been.  Brant’s character (quality of) raises everyone he comes in contact with.  Perfect examples of this is the Hero Worship that both Oraeyn (his young friend and brother-in-law) and Jemson (his young nephew) unashamedly bring to Brant.  We see this same kind of “inspiration to be the best” throughout virtually every character that is on our side in this great fight.   

I LOVE the mystery that surrounds Kiernan Kane…….and even though much is revealed…….it is revealed in mysterious ways.  The Dragons play such a critical role in letting us get a glimpse of who Kiernan Kane is.  The Dragons are the “keepers of history” and they have LONG MEMORIES and they are no less heroic or likeable or meaningful to the story as any of the names mentioned above.  Anybody who has read the full series knows that Brant “tolerates” Kiernan Kane and if the author was honest (and she is) it would be obvious that Brant is mostly annoyed by Kiernan Kane and believes him to be careless as well as useless……at least in the matters that are important to Brant.  However, we the reader, are not so blind to the Great Things that Kiernan does without any fanfare…..and so much of what he does seems to be easily forgotten by even his closest friends.  However……….the Dragons observe the same things…….and they do not forget……and their reverence for Kiernan may be annoying to Brant……but it is intriguing to the reader.  One of my favorite sections in the book is the conversation that happens between King Tellemyack (King of the Dragons) and High King Brant when Tellemyack says….

“High King Brant, I believe the time has come to explain to you why the dragons regard the Minstrel as we do.”

I personally could care less if Brant is interested…….but I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR (4) BOOKS to read what follows and the Author does not disappoint.  The Dragons and the Myth Folk do not obey………they do not acknowledge……..they do not fear…………they LOVE Kiernan Kane………..and for good reason.  It is truly a BEAUTIFUL MOMENT in the Story for many reasons……..the reverence we have for the Dragons (King Tellemyack bows to no earthly king and we don’t expect him to)……….the opening of Brant’s Heart…………and the WORTHINESS of the Minstrel.  As Brant inspires those around him………..Kiernan LIFTS everyone in his care……….and without any fanfare.  The Allegory is SUPERB and brings tears to my heart every time I read this……and I have read it quite a few times.

I am a HUGE FAN of stories where children and adults interact………..on an Adult Level.  I think of “Captain’s Courageous” or “Second Hand Lions” where the young boy is thrust into the world of grown men……..and the boy is expected to reach towards the adult level with zero expectation that the adults will lower themselves to the children’s level.  I don’t know if this is how life is meant to be……but I always find this beautiful.  The Author does a Fantastic Job of “lifting the lives of young people” through their necessary involvement with the adults.  There is a powerful interaction between Kitry and Brant where Kitry says:

“What is it about Kiernan that irritates you so?  Why do you hate him?”  

The exchange between the girl Kitry……..and our Hero Brant who is fully 70 years older than Kitry………..measures up and surpasses any exchange that I LOVE in the two stories noted above.  You have to read it!

In “Minstrel’s Call” Oraeyn and Jemson are no longer boys longing to be men.  They have become the very men that Brant has inspired in them……and they have become their own.  They both carry great responsibility and yet they are Servant Leaders.  They Love their men……and their people.  Many leaders would think that their people need to think highly of them……but the Author has a different and better worldview that requires that the Kings think highly of their people.  It may in fact be the number one requirement and we see this over and over again in Oraeyn and Jemson.

“Is it morning already?  Oraeyn sat up in his bunk, his thoughts groggy.  “No sire!  It’s the storm!”  The tumult of the wind and waves broke through the barrier of slumber.  Oraeyn stood and cast around for his boots, finding them at last in the corner where they had tumbled in the rocking of the ship.  “Thank you, lad.  Get yourself some breakfast, and when you are finished, bring me whatever the cook can spare,”  Oraeyn ordered with a wink.

A small, insignificant moment of time in this great quest…..but I LOVE how it reflects on Oraeyn.  

“Jemson stared up at the sky.  “It is not an easy thing that has been asked.  Even though Brant assured me that the  Enemy would not spread his forces too thin, I have to believe that the other kings are in some way being attacked or prevented from sending their sixth.  I know it would seem an unreasonable request to me, were I in their shoes.  Perhaps the ships are attacked even as they are on their way to us.”

When I read this, I wrote in the margins………..”Jemson is a MAN”.  One of those moments where he could have let his own fear and frustration cause him to “fault others” for not coming to his aid, but instead he chooses to believe the best about his allies and realizes that just as things are difficult for him right now…… may also be the same for these other countries and warriors.  

I want to share one more passage which is just one among hundreds………that causes me to read this book and as soon as I am finished…go right back to the beginning and start anew.  I thoroughly enjoy being among these very special friends.  Please read this book for yourself and be inspired as I have been.  The Minstrel’s Song Series is a worthy match for Tolkien………but there is no match for “Minstrel’s Call”…….in my humble opinion:

By the time night fell, the Plain of Battle had grown crowded.  The sight of Aom-igh’s knights lifted everyone’s spirits.  Brant was grateful for their arrival, but he dreaded the dire events that would soon follow.  He had not chosen this war.  He had never chosen any of his battlefields, but he knew how the final landscape would appear:  men who were full of life, strength, and courage—who had families that loved them, who Brant himself knew well, and those he had never met–would soon lie dead on this ground.  Perhaps he would join them.  He had ever loved the training and competition of combat.  He loved building a heart and soul in himself–in his men, in his people who loved justice, honor, truth, courage, compassion–and the commitment to live and die for those values.  These were the things he had been fighting for his entire life.  These beautiful, precious facets of his people, that resided within all mankind, would never be stolen from them.  He gazed around at the men readying their weapons, bolstering their courage.  Each and everyone of these brave souls standing with him would rather die fighting for virtue and beauty than surrender to a life without either.

In the movie “Master and Commander” captain Jack Aubrey is describing an interaction he had with Admiral Nelson who told him that “he did not need a coat because zeal for king and country kept him warm”.  Aubrey said that if it were any other man you would dismiss the comment as “pitiful stuff” but with Admiral Nelson, it made your heart glow”.

“Minstrel’s Call” does the same!

Out of (5) Stars…………..I would give this (6)!


~ jenelle


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