I've been reading much lately, mostly absent from this computer. I have not read this much in a very long time. Usually, you can find me standing by the recycling can, reading a week-old newspaper, but currently I have been passionately involved with books. And, honestly, I'm happier doing that than being on the computer. I have no love affair with it at all. The longer I'm in its clutches, the more I can feel it sucking the heart and soul and humanity out of me - unless I'm writing.
(If you're curious, you can find out what I have been reading by visiting Seeking the Prince of Peace.)
This whole week I have been waiting for even more reading material - not entirely new material to me, but extremely special - and I have been blowing off putting a single word of my own on a screen.
Yesterday the special book, Kelven's Riddle Book 4: A Storm Upon The Plain, arrived. I was surprised at its heft when I lifted it out of the box. I had the great privilege of reading it in manuscript form, loose papers that I flipped over on the floor when I was done with them, occasionally marking them with my dribbled cocoa. I had no clue I had read so many words. And what words! They captivated me and broke my heart badly at the conclusion. Because of that, of course, the manuscript became my new favorite book, and now in all its final splendor it is here in my hands.
Somehow Dad, author Daniel T. Hylton, trusted me enough to grant me access to the story before many others read it. I can't convey the honor in that; I think you have to be a writer to understand. And then it is this astounding story - better even than A Walking Flame (Book 2 in the series), a wonderful read - and I couldn't believe my good fortune as a first reader, even when I spent the last four chapters crying like a fool late at night, knowing my kids would drag me out of bed at an ungodly hour the next morning.
For all the battles and tension and conspiracy and righteous revenge found in many of its chapters, Chapter 63 was my favorite. It is one of the tightest, most suspenseful chapters I have ever read. I, a simple girl who has always wished to write just one mystery book, admire so much what Dad did there.
But more than anything, this fourth book in the series made me realize anew that this epic fantasy tale is truly a love story. The final chapters in this book illuminate that in terrifying, powerful ways. Yes, I know it is full of violence, death, fear, foreboding, strange creatures and the absolutely necessary, terrible friction between good and evil, but that is all meaningless unless you understand that Aram and Ka'en love. That's what it's all for, that love, and the hope of peace to go with it.
I see them all lined up on my book shelf, all four completed books in this series together. The first three books I have read and read again, immersing myself in favorite chapters and endings repeatedly while I waited for the next installment. This fourth book, with its chapters that haunted me for days because of the magnitude of the loss contained within them, makes me prouder still of what Dad accomplished. Despite many interruptions and constant challenges and setbacks in the process, he created an incredible story with his slave/hero/king Aram and the horse Florm, the Lashers, warrior Thaniel, Ka'en and dear loyal Durlrang. Book 4 is his best yet, as it should be, and I can't wait for the last part of the tale in Book 5.
Dad, thank you with all my heart for allowing me to be one of the first to come along on this adventure. Send me number five as soon as you can!