Tuesday, December 12, 2006

CSFF Tour - Review of Trackers

Trackers is book 2 of the Birthrighters series. The book follows a young group called by God to restore Creation and to spread the gospel. The world had been devastated by wars that ruined everything, pushing mankind back to times of swords, horses, and magic. Rampant genetic tampering has made monstrosities of people, flora, and fauna, and is the major way the magicians stay in service to despotic rulers.

Before the devastation, a modern day ark was built and hidden under the Arctic ice with a faithful remnant. After a long time, these people in their late teens are sent out to establish camps and fulfill their mission of restoration. However, their agenda runs afoul of the local warlords who brutalize their kingdoms like medieval serfs. Lord Alrod of Traxx is the particular stronghold prince who intends on wiping out the birthrighters.

Having not read Outriders, I was in catch-up mode to understand what was going on in Trackers. Mackel brought me into the action quickly, managing to give a pretty good overview of what was going on without backtracking into the previous book much at all. We follow Timothy as he sneaks into Traxx and attempts to rescue a beautiful villager Dawnray, before she can be used as a surrogate for Lord Alrod.

His initial attempt is foiled, and on returning to the Birthrighters camp he receives a mission that takes him once again into Traxx. Another group follows the leader Brady on a hunt for unaltered species until they run into danger and horrors they must confront. Lord Alrod travels the countryside with his new master sorcerer to recruit a master army, while his deposed magician Ghedo conspires in the court to keep his mysterious hold on the lands as well.

Mackel does a great job with details of a new world. Sometimes she has a little slang for the Birthrighters that is not all at once apparent, but it is not too difficult to overcome. The action is crisp, and you want to keep turning the pages to see what will happen. I found the characters for the most part engaging and believable, which is always a key ingredient for me if I'm going to enjoy a book. I did find the magician Simon too mysterious to really get an appreciation for him as an antagonist.

My biggest complaint is that the overall plot seems a little disconnected. The thread with Brady is an important subplot that (apparently) brings resolution to problems from the first book. It just lacks the import somehow to carry as much of the book as it does, in my opinion. The mission back to Traxx discovers some amazing secrets, but the conclusion there is dealt with too quickly.

I've heard that the series was meant to be a trilogy, but is being limited to 2 books. This is too bad, because the ultimate confrontation between the good guys and bad guys would be an epic ending, as she has set the opponents against each other well. I would like to read Outriders to complete my understanding of her world, and would gladly purchase a trilogy if it did come through.

For more fun, check out the official Birthrighters site. It has music written for the books, a test to see what type of Birthrighter you are (I am an Outrider), and more. Good stuff. Also check out Kathryn Mackel's web site, as well as fellow tourmates below. Mirtika has a book giveaway on her blog. Beth Goddard has an interview with the author. Those are just a couple highlights I know about, but sample them all to find more goodies!

Jim Black, Jackie Castle, Valerie Comer, Frank Creed, Gene Curtis, Chris Deanne, Janey DeMeo , April Erwin, Beth Goddard, Mark Goodyear, Todd Michael Greene, Karen Hancock, Elliot Hanowski, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Sharon Hinck, Joleen Howell, Karen and at Karen¹s myspace, Oliver King, Tina Kulesa, Lost Genre Guild, Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium, Terri Main, Rachel Marks, Shannon McNear, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Caleb Newell, Eve Nielsen, John Otte, Cheryl Russel, Hannah Sandvig, Mirtika Schultz , James Somers, Stuart Stockton, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Chris Walley, Daniel I. Weaver,


  1. Great review Jason, thanks for posting on the tour. Hopefully you'll get a chance to post this same review at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Christian Book. Gene Curtis, also on the tour, made some great points about the importance of reviews.

  2. Jason, I enjoyed reading your review. It's always interesting to see how some parts struck someone else.

    I got a feeling that Brady and Niki were the main protags in Outriders so it didn't bother me that so much of this book dwelt with their situation. My feeling was, as I mentioned in my review, that there was a cast of protags.

    Isn't it interesting that we are all wanting to buy the first one now? In fact, Karen Hancock said she did after reading Beth's interview with Mackel.


  3. Oh, and I forgot to mention, Valerie has a short Q & A with Mackel re. the cancelation of the third book.