Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage


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Isle of Swords
by Wayne Thomas Batson

Reviewed by Melissa J. Carswell

"Wayne Batson is a master at creating a captivating story with colorful characters and chill-causing scenes."

Wayne Thomas Batson says that he “writes adventures set in imaginative locales because he believes that on a deep level, we all dream of doing something that matters and that we all dream of another world.” His novel, Isle of Swords, which is geared towards the younger generation, answers this call in all of us as Wayne quickly sweeps his readers away to the world of pirates and treasures to fight for.

Declan Ross, pirate captain of the William Wallace, is a pirate with standards. After all, “you could take a man’s gold. You could take a man’s silver. . . but you never took a man’s ship.” Captain Ross, his fiery daughter Anne, and the sea-worthy and loyal crew of the William Wallace escort the reader on a journey to another time and place with a mixture of mystery and adventure.

At an emergency repair stop at the island claimed by one of the cruelest and most notorious pirates of the world, Bartholomew Thorne, Anne discovers a man nearly dead on the beach. Because of another one of Declan Ross’s standards, “no crewman on the Wallace should ever leave another pirate behind”, the mystery man is taken on board the Wallace when they again set sail. From here, the crew sails on to St. Celestine, a sanctuary of monks which is now being threatened by Bartholomew Thorne.

In addition to the first unexpected passenger on board their ship, the mystery man they picked up on the island, the Wallace picks up yet another passenger from St. Celestine, Padre Dominguez. Padre Dominguez holds a detailed map to the treasure of all time, permanently marked on his back. This treasure, “The Treasure of Constantine”, not only holds great riches, it also contains a secret treasure that no one but Dominguez is aware of. To arrive at such a treasure involves treacherous seas full of cross currents, shards of coral that will rip ships into pieces, a terrifying sea monster that guards the key, and little creatures that can only be warded off with monkey pee.

Isle of Swords is a great read! Part of what makes it so great is all the stories within the story. The mysterious details surrounding “Cat”, the mystery man the Wallace picked up. . . the deeply emotional, yet at the same time, emotionally lacking relationship between Anne and her father. . . the mystery surrounding Anne’s mother . . . the obsession Thorne has over his first wife’s picture. . . Anne and Dominguez who are both captured by Thorne and chased by Ross . . . the British commander Blake who is pursuing both Ross and Thorne in an effort to rid the seas of their piracy. . . and the spiritual search within the hearts of many of the main characters as they wrestle through issues pertaining to God and their own spirituality.

Wayne Batson is a master at creating a captivating story with colorful characters and chill-causing scenes. Although the book is geared towards teens, this adult couldn’t put it down. Instead, I stayed up way too late into the night, turning “just one more page” in an effort to see what happened next and trying hard not to skip ahead for “just a peek”.

Not only is Isle of Swords full of adventures, but spiritual truths and allegories (should the reader be alert enough to notice them) also peak out through the pages. With this colorful combination of great writing and deep spiritual nuggets to be gleaned, Isle of Swords is not only completely captivating as far as fiction goes, it also calls to the spiritual heart in all of us as well. The spiritual heart that is probably the reason we all “dream of something that matters and another world”.

Melissa J. CarswellMelissa J. Carswell: Melissa is a Board Certified Christian Counselor. However, due to the appearance of a little bundle of Miracle in the past year, the counseling practice is now on indefinite hold. Instead, Melissa has entered the world of freelance writing from home. She is currently one of the content writers for TotallyHer.com (to be launched in September of 2008). Melissa has a passion for mentoring teen girls and young women and does so whenever possible. Her heart longing, along with her husband, is to use her education and credentials someday to have a home full of abandoned, abused, and terminally ill childen. They are still waiting for God's hand to unfold that particular chapter of their lives. When Melissa isn't changing diapers, doing laundry, cooking meals, mentoring the afore-mentioned young women, tending to her garden, being her husband's biggest fan, and soaking in every cuddly moment with her daughter, she reads and she writes. It is not unusual to see 2-3 books laying around the house at any given time and the hard drive to her computer houses several partially-written manuscripts to the secret dreamed-of-published books Melissa hopes for in the future. You can check out A Weak Rose here.