Christ's Glory, Not Mine

by science fiction author Andrea J. Graham

CFBA Book Tour: The Reliance

Get ready for swashbuckling adventure on the high seas of the Caribbean! This week, the CFBA is touring
The Reliance: Legacy of the King’s Pirates #2 (Barbour Value Fiction) by Mary Lu Tyndall. I checked my dictionary, and interestingly enough, swashbuckler is actually what I’d consider a negative term, as it means, “a blustering, swaggering fighting man.” Exactly the sort of lifestyle pirate Captain Merrick left behind when he became a Christian, when we meet him in the Reliance, he has dedicated the rest of his sailing days to chasing down wicked pirates and bringing them to justice.

Then an old foe, Kent Carlton, tricks him into believing Merrick’s pregnant wife Charlisse is dead, and sends both of them spiraling into a crisis of faith, and Merrick backsliding into his old ways. Besides nearly air-tight wordsmithing (I have to agree with Frank Creed’s assessment there from his review of the first book) the Reliance’s strength is all too human characters modern readers can relate to.

In my view, it’s also contributes to it’s weakness. If you have a strong policy against buying historical novels that are nonchalant towards female cross-dressing, you may want to skip this one, though over all, it’ll be your loss. In truth, it’s a mere minor annoyance on my part that if you rely on historical fiction for your history, you get the impression most of our female forebears slipped into men’s garments at every opportune moment and otherwise behaved like modern women who think the way to advance the freedom of women is to become men.

But, it’s what the readers want to read, and as long as the publishers think that’s what the readers want, historical writers who care about both getting published and historical accuracy will find themselves scouring the pages of history for a rebellious heroine to meet their publisher’s demands. That’s why I actually liked the snobby child named Lady Isabel. However flawed, the young woman was clearly a creature of the society she lived in and that was a nice touch.

Not to say I didn’t like Charlisse, I did, her motivations and insecurities throughout the story made sense internally, springing from the kind of abusive background that leads many ladies today to fear and even feel ashamed of their feminine nature. So it’s easy for many of us to relate to Charlisse and her personal demons.

I dare say, this book could lead some women to healing and freedom. We can learn from her mistakes, and at least these issues are broached at all, even with the popular mistaken impression about the modesty of bifurcated garments remaining intact. I can see how the baggy men’s pirate garb the heroine donned would be less attractive than a tight-bodiced gown, and certainly less so than the modern invention known as a miniskirt, but most modern female bifurcated garments, while not a man’s garment, are form-fitting; designed to accentuate the female figure and show off a woman’s most intimate parts.

But I digress. Unless you have very strong feelings on this issue—which again are minor in the context of the book’s major themes—I doubt this would register as more than a slight bump in an otherwise smooth road. The Reliance has plenty of other things going for it, and more than merely entertaining, the novel is engaging. In truth, I quickly devoured this book, and stayed up late to finish it when I really didn’t have to.

The themes of relying on God, and learning to trust Him even through times of great loss, struggle,
and grief, though strong, are conveyed without using a sledgehammer, even with the use of scripture, also well done. The theme surrounding “God works all things for good” made me smile, as it’s a favorite of mine in my own work, though I write an entirely different genre.

I especially enjoyed the way the author highlighted the spiritual battles the Merricks go through, the whispers from the father of lies and the father of light were very well done and this exposure as I said before, could well set free souls held captive by the exact same kind of lies that attack the Merricks. That power to change lives is one I highly respect and commend.

Also, I should note my copy of The Watchers, which the CFBA toured last week, decided to wait to show up until the last day of the tour, so I’m going to try and get that one in later this week as well.