I finally got to read Overstreet’s The Ale Boy’s Feast, and I loved it. The story that appears to be about a magical rebellion to small, oppressive rulers in the first book becomes an adventure about radical reconciliation by the fourth book. It asks big questions: Can the great curse be revoked? Can a traitor return to his kingdom or be accepted in a new one? Can criminals build a new place of law and order? And more than these questions are the ones driving the narrative behind the scenes: Does the glorious beauty we see in this world point to a glorious otherworldly source? Is that beauty sewn together with love, peace, joy, and hope? Is life (in the land of these books) about rejoicing in the hope of beauty, both natural and crafted?
Of course, this weaves cleanly and smoothly into the biblical theology of this world, because our goodness is defined by the Lord and peace on earth will be to those on whom God’s favor rests, but that doesn’t appear to be the central thrust. Wonder and beauty as they pull us back to God appears to be what this adventure is all about. (Blue flowers are signs that magically refreshing water is nearby.)
In the third book, we learn explosive details about Overstreet’s world. The real enemies are revealed. Plots and deceptions are discovered. A new threat, a pervasive weed that lives on blood, is tunneling from its Cent Regus heart throughout the country. Cal-raven is running for his life as well as trying to discover a new home for his people, the House Abascar which is ruined in the first book. At one point, he is compelled to rescue prisoners in House Cent Regus and is broken by what he learns there and in its aftermath.
In this book, Cal-raven begins to wander, despairing of ever answering his life-long questions. In the meantime, his loyal men attempt to follow his plans for establishing a new house without him. As they go, something seems to be poisoning everything around them. This book is the fourth of a rich, complicated series, so begin with book one. There’s no other way.
In fact, the story may be too complicated. Continue reading Thrilling, Beautiful Adventure in “The Ale Boy’s Feast”