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DVD Review

I apologize for not being more active, but not having other reviewers or books to review, it's been a little difficult. However I want to let you know about this wonderful DVD "God's Not Dead." Working at the library I found it on our shelves and took it home. When I brought it back I raved about it. I wanted to take it out again, but it seems word gets around. It's always on hold for someone else. That's great.

The opening scene is in a freshman college philosophy class. The professor states he is an atheist, and asks that if everyone will sign a paper with 3 little words on it he can dispense of the dust and get to the subject. Those 3 words are "God Is Dead." One student cannot sign that. He is given 3 chances to argue the case of the existence of God before the class.

Fueled by hate on one side and a determined love of God on the other this is not your simple movie. The poor kid researches and goes off on a journey of his own to state his case. The end is nothing short of amazing. I guess telling people stuff like this is one of the reasons I can't get a hold of it a second time. It's really that good.

For more you can go here:

To purchase a copy try these links:
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May our Lord be with you now and always. Remember, God is in control, even when things look like they're crashing all around you. David

Saturday, July 10, 2010

THE DUKE'S HANDMAID, by Caprice Hokstad

Saturday - Finally, a special treat.

We’re here with Caprice Hokstad, author of The Duke’s Handmaid. Caprice has been a member in good standing with the Christian Fiction Review Blog almost since its inception. She had some doubts about touring her book in 2007, and after some correspondence she allowed us to tour her work. Back then her work was self-published, and the treatment of the publisher she used did not set well with her. She has now republished with Splashdown Books, run by yet another member of the Christian Fiction Review Blog, although she probably would lay greater claim to her membership with the Lost Genre Guild, Grace Bridges. That being the case, and Caprice’s work being so wonderful, we decided to tour her again, this published by Splashdown Books. (You may remember another Splashdown Book, The Muse, by Fred Warren). In any event we’d like to open things up and let Caprice Hokstad give us some of her very special thoughts about such a marvelous piece of literature.

CFRB: You state that The Duke’s Handmaid is a “sword opera”. What do you mean by that, and could you give us a working definition of what a sword opera really is?

Caprice: Most fantasy falls into two broad categories: quest or sword & sorcery. The Duke's Handmaid is really neither. So I had to come up with something else to describe it for people to whom "fantasy" just wasn't enough. I borrowed from the science fiction term, which is relatively new, ostensibly to describe Star Wars's genre: Space Opera.
The Duke's Handmaid is very much an adventure story about characters. But they aren't on a quest to save the world or to obtain some valuable object. There's very little magic, so any mention of "sorcery" is also misleading. I used "Sword" in conjunction with "Opera" to help place it squarely in fantasy and a bit as a warning. There is some blood in this book. I don't think it's too much, but if even a small amount of blood or killing bothers you, then my books is definitely not for you.
However, the title character is a simple farmgirl who does NOT become a warrior. She saves the lives of the king, queen, and duke without ever touching a weapon herself. Her heroism is more of a quiet strength that comes from her heart, not physical strength or skill with weapons.

CFRB: Did you intend for this to be a sword opera, or did things just happen to fall into place that way?

Caprice: All I intended from the beginning was to write a fantasy story. After it was written, people kept trying to narrow down what box it fit into and I think this was the best fit.

CFRB: You create a wonderful planet of Byntar, although we are confined basically to the country of Latoph in your book. Can you tell us a bit about Byntar and it’s people that we should know?

Caprice: The world of Byntar has twin suns, twin moons, and twin continents, though neither continent knows of the other’s existence because they are separated by vast ocean like two islands on opposite sides of the globe. The continent of Raeru is the one I've focused on in my books and I have a rough map of that continent inside the books and also on my website ( Latoph is located on the western coast, probably because I'm from California, so I feel more comfortable using that particular landscape.

CFRB: I notice that you have 2 suns, 2 moons, 2 races of humans, and that even Duke Vahn Rebono is a twin. Does this translate into the way they refer to God or Heaven and Hell? If so, could you explain it for our readers.

Caprice: Well, there are two races but neither one of them is "human". I assume you just meant "sentient" or "humanoid", which is true. I didn't try to make them too different from humans because I wanted readers to be able to relate to them. I wanted to use duality and differences as a running theme, so much of this was intentional. My characters actually refer to the difference as "breed" rather than "race", which I did to try to minimize readers thinking Itzi and Elva were like Caucasian and African, it's more like Humans and Vulcans; the differences are much deeper than just appearances.
And yes, since Latophians have not done a lot of interbreeding, they each have their own cultures and traditions. I have figured out a LOT more points of their cultures than is practical to go into here or even in the novels, but yes, they each have their own ways to refer to their Creator and his realm. They both use a sort of majestic or royal plural when speaking of deity ("the Heavenlies" for Elva and "the Nymphs" for Itzi) but this is the same type of thing as the passages in Genesis where God talks with a "we/us" construction even though neither Jews nor Christians consider themselves polytheists.
The Heavenlies and the Nymphs are roughly equal to the Christian idea of the Trinity. Christians break down the Trinity into Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and talk of them separately, but Byntarians NEVER do anything similar. They don't fix any particular number (like 3) nor do they ever pray to a single part of what is one whole, for them.

CFRB: One thing I like about The Duke’s Handmaid, is that it works like a parable, giving you a picture of one thing at one time and another at other times. How intentional was this?

Caprice: Well, I guess that depends on how many parables one finds. Some of it was intentional and a lot of it just flowed naturally out of the story. About the closest I had to an agenda was I wanted to show that a female could be strong without becoming "just like men" and that choosing to serve is not weakness.

CFRB: I know that you will tell us that the Duke is not Jesus, but he does have Christlike characteristics. How like Christ did you wish to make him, or did you wish to make him more like a servant of Christ, or was it neither?

Caprice: I don't think I could have made voluntary servitude believable if the person to whom the slave pledged herself to didn't have a lot of Christlike qualities. She had to see him as benevolent and wise in order to be willing to do what she did. Otherwise, she just looks monumentally stupid (which some readers still argue for, and they're entitled to that opinion. Being a servant is not widely seen as "popular" in our society.) However, I could not make Duke Vahn completely like Christ because then he'd be first of all unbelievable (too perfect) and not very relatable. He has faults. He makes mistakes. Just like every reader on the planet.

CFRB: I love the way you created, then defined a complicated society of 2 races, among which were the free, the slaves, the servants, and the free will slaves. How did you manage to come up with such a rich, colorful, and believable society?

Caprice: A lot of trial and error. I had some ideas which just expanded as I worked on the stories. I wrote up slave laws. I imagined how a slave trade might work if it was not based on birth circumstances, but on things like indebtedness or criminality. How would something like indentured servants fit into this idea? I used some traditions from the Bible and history and then expanded and built on those ideas.

CFRB: Caprice, it’s been wonderful having you here with us today. Can we look forward to more of your work in the future? What would you like us to say to others about your work?

Caprice: Nor Iron Bars a Cage, the sequel to The Duke's Handmaid, will be coming out from Splashdown Books in November. As far as what to say about my work to others: just say what you think. If you liked the story or the writing or both, then please do recommend it. If you didn't enjoy it, then I hope in that case you'll just say, "It isn't for everyone." I think the very idea that slavery comes in other shapes and sizes and hides under other names is uncomfortable for people and not everyone wants uncomfortable situations in their fiction. But don't read my books looking for social commentary or sermons. Only read them if they truly entertain you and engage you (and then email me and tell me I did something right!).

CFRB: Thank you again for taking the time out to be with us. I pray that God will bless this tour and the sales of your book to His honor and glory.

Caprice: Thank you for having me a SECOND time.

Visit Caprice's website.

Purchase The Duke's Handmaid from
Splashdown Books.

(Coming soon to Amazon and Barnes & Noble) For a limited time, the .pdf eBook is FREE from Lulu or get the Kindle version from Amazon for just 99 cents!

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

According to Federal law I have to tell that I received this book for free so I can do a review. Such a statement is meant to question the actual value of the book, so I want to set your minds at ease. Although in 2007 I did receive a free, pre-release copy of her book to do a review I have deemed it, even in its original form, of a quality high enough to give Caprice Hokstad a 2nd tour with CFRB. In other words, for this tour I have used the older version, knowing that the work deserved another tour. As far as a fantasy is concered The Duke's Handmain a book that, by it's quality, stands alone among many naturally gifted and well known writers. If you own a copy of this book, I believe that somewhere down through time you are going to say, "Caprice Hokstad? Of course I've heard of her. Her work is amazing." And you will feel a special glow because you will have purchased this book before she became famous, which I totally believe she will become. No one paid me to say that.


Caprice Hokstad said...

A short addendum:
Splashdown Books has just decided (because another book needed more time to get ready) to move up the release date of "Nor Iron Bars a Cage". It is now slated for a September 2010 release instead of November. So that's two full months sooner!

David said...

Thanks for the update. I'm sure readers will want to follow Vahn and kee in their further adventures in Latoph. (And I highly recommend that the 3rd book be taken seriously. I know you kind of put that on the shelf, but your stats were great here. 27 page views on Wednesday alone. Just as people wanted to hear more about hobbits from JRR Tolkien, they are going to want to hear more about kee and Duke Vahn)

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