Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Restorer's Journey- Sharon Hinck

Well, I'm back with the final review in the Restorer trilogy. {Read my review on the first two books here.}
And as a bonus, there's an exclusive Q&A at the end with Sharon Hinck herself, who was gracious enough to let me interview her. (Thank you again Mrs. Hinck!!)


With a loved one's life at stake, Jake charges through the portal into Lyric to stage a dramatic rescue, trusting that the signs that mark him as Restorer will guarantee success. But everything familiar in Lyric has vanished, swept away by deadly lies and a corrupt king. As inexorable forces conspire to turn him from his purpose, Jake finds his path leading to places beyond his courage.
While he confronts the temptation to flee his calling, Susan struggles in brutal captivity. Can she gain freedom before the enemy destroys her spirit, and will Jake choose to follow his destiny before everything is lost?

Needless to say, this is about one of the most intense books I've ever read. Things appear to be falling apart all over the place for our beloved heroes, Susan and Jake. What with Cameron and Medea at their confounded mischief again, things could not get worse. Crazier yet, when Jake gets to Lyric, it appears that the land through the portal is not the same as it was only the last time he was there... and drastically so.
But somehow, while wrestling out their faith with the One and figuring out the now twisted, more complicated world of swords and syncbeams, they have to set rights to the land and come up with a happy ending.

I wouldn't be crazy enough to give anything away. But let me tell you, this is one of the coolest, well-written endings to a series I've ever read. As I read the book about a month ago and don't have it on me, I won't divulge into the plot as much as I might have.

But those who enjoyed the previous books will, without a doubt, find this a satisfactory conclusion. Again, we see characters rise to faith, struggle with faith, and live out their faith- things we as believers definitely can relate to, and even be convicted by in this story. Endearing, epic, amazing, inspiring, and laced with a pinch of humor, it's become one of my favorite books.

Liker Susan in the first book and Kieran in the second, Jake- our third Restorer, has to come into his own and wrestle out his faith. And even Susan faces serious challenges and grows in her faith as well.

Something interesting, in this final installment, is that we get to see the Rhuscians on a much larger scale. In fact-- we're taken to their country and see it firsthand through Susan's eyes. While I can't say that I thought that the Rhuscian people were symbolic of anything in real life, they are an interesting bunch to observe in the book. (Of course that's an understatement.) The land through the portal definitely becomes even realer in our eyes as see another piece of it. And again, Mrs. Hinck does any amazing job at keeping the world real, but in the background.

The few drawbacks that I saw with it were these: I would have wanted to see Tristan and Kieran one more time, as they are talked about but never make an appearance in this last book. (Though, Jake certainly makes up for their absence- he's great.) It wasn't until after I had closed the book after reading the last words that I realized they hadn't showed up, though.
Also, (as far as my memory goes) there wasn't a complete conclusion with the Rhuscians (not to say that it's incomplete, but... it's complicated.) That may bother some people, but while I wasn't bugged, I would certainly have welcomed a more thorough conclusion.
You may remember that Jake was rather attracted to Linette in the second book. You may also remember that we learn that Kieran is in love with her. Well, while it's hardly made a big deal of, there is no conclusion to this love triangle (if you will), though the reader is provided with enough to make some good guesses.

All in all though, this last book follows in the footsteps of it's predecessors, and even surpasses them in epicness. Anyone who has read the first two absolutely have to read The Restorer's Journey. However, if you're new to the series, start at the beginning, please! Don't pick up this one until you've read the first two.

I don't have anything but praise for the book, seriously. It was a bittersweet ending in a way that has a "to be continued" feel to it- you know the story goes on, and we are left with a pleased feeling of accomplishment, and are able to dream and imagine the rest of the heroes' lives.


And like I promised, here's a very special interview Mrs. Hinck was gracious enough to give me. Enjoy :)

Me: Which one of the main characters: Susan, Kieran, or Jake, do you most identify with?

Sharon: Great question! Thanks for asking. In some ways, there is a tiny bit of me in every character I write (yes, even the bad guys). In The Restorer, I created a protagonist I found easy to identify with. Susan has an awesome husband who is handy around the house, and she has four kids. Me, too! At the time I was writing the book, my own four kids were just a little older than Mark and Susan’s.

In creating Susan, 
I hoped readers could relate to the character of a wife and mom and that she could serve as an unusual “keyhole” character through which we would view a new world. I thought her unique perspective on her experiences might lend itself to a bit of humor, and a slightly different type of problem-solving than the usual fantasy, and I thought readers might identify with her spiritual questions and journey. I’ve always loved “fish out of water” stories, and knew I’d enjoy watching how Susan would respond to the challenges she faced.
But I also identify with Tristan’s noble and sometimes guilt-burdened heart, and Linette’s passionate faith. I enjoy Kieran, because he says and does the things I never would – yet I also identify some with him, and his confusion about the ways of the One. There is an exasperated honesty to him that I enjoy. Most people assume I’m like Susan, but I think those who see me on my bad days would recognize a bit of snarly Kieran in me, too. Jake feels a LOT like I was when I was younger – earnest, full of good intentions, but often frustrated at how many things can go wrong even when you’re playing fair.

Me: How did the story originally come to you? 

Sharon: The inspiration came from several bits and pieces. When I was the artistic director of a dance/theatre company, I began work on a script that I never developed, about a woman going into her attic for personal Bible study, and encountering women from the Bible stepping out of the eaves and interacting with her. I also had choreographed a modern dance piece based on Judges 5, “The Song of Deborah,” and had a particular interest in the character of Deborah and how she would translate as a modern character. Those ideas continued to simmer in the back of my mind.

Years later, I also played with some unrelated short stories with sword fighting, and wanted to develop that further.

As I shuffled around the odd variety of my interests and thought about ways these pieces could become a novel, I also struggled with choosing a genre. My bookshelves are a conglomeration of styles, with Shakespeare and Austen competing for space with Star Trek novels. Mysteries, historicals, contemporary women’s fiction, high-fantasy, spy thrillers, pioneer romances, literary fiction – I enjoy them all.

I decided to blend the intimacy of a first person voice, the pace and naturalness of contemporary fiction, and the imaginative freedom of the fantasy genre. Not a very standard combination – but loads of fun to explore.

Me: Did you outline it or did it just come as you went?

Sharon: I’m a “discovery” writer. I have an idea and a story question, and then set the characters loose to see what happens. I do a very loose outline, but most of the time I prefer letting the story surprise me. I envy my friends who can develop a logical detailed outline and then write gripping scenes to fill it in. When I’ve tried to work that way, the story has felt stale to me, and I don’t seem to do my best work. I wish I could, because sometimes I follow a tangent for a while only to discover it doesn’t work, and I have to backtrack.

Wow- thanks again Mrs. Hinck!

So thus, my reviews on the Restorer trilogy are concluded- now go read the books!! :) Epicness and awesomeness guaranteed. 


Jake said...

Great review. Fantastic book. :) It sure is interesting to find a book in which I am a main character. ;)

Saying just kidding feels weird, and so does JK. So, "I didn't mean that". But that sounds strange too. get what I mean. ;)

Eldra said...

Jake - I kept thinking of you while I read these books! It was rather amusing.

And I was a bit bugged about the ending as well, but also found it slightly unbelievable how quickly Susan "falls apart." The entire book actually reminded me of Kathy Tyer's "Firebird", which I enjoyed only slightly more than The Restorer's Journey, which I loved. I just thought everything happened a bit fast to be truly convincing. Maybe that's just me, though.

Everyone's Favorite Composer said...

I'll have to read these it sounds like. Do you think I'd enjoy them or would they be too much for me? Sounds interesting at least.

The Director said...

You're too funny, Jake ;)

Eldra- I didn't think it happened too fast, but that might just be me, lol.

EFC- Read the first one- if you like that one you'll like the rest :D

Anonymous said...

I should add these to my long "books I want to read" list. It sounds very interesting.

-Barriss :-D