91. What If You Fought Astride Elemental Horses to Unify Your Kingdom? | Of Fire and Ash with Gillian Bronte Adams
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What if horses could breathe fire? What if other horses could swim in the ocean, or vanish into the shadows, or rain lightning from the sky? Or, if you’re human, what if you were a king’s daughter in a Rohan-like kingdom, exiled from the palace to guard the borders—and then your land was invaded? Naturally, author Gillian Bronte Adams can answer these questions, in her new novel from Enclave Publishing, Of Fire and Ash. Gillian joins us to explore this fantasy world with its elemental horses and elemental fantastical themes.
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Gillian Bronte Adams rides out of the sunrise
Gillian Bronte Adams is the horse-riding, word-smithing, wander-loving epic fantasy author of The Songkeeper Chronicles and Of Fire and Ash, book one of The Fireborn Epic. Rarely found without coffee in hand, she is also rumored to pack books before clothes when she hits the road. Now, she writes stories that ring with the echoes of eternity, following outcast characters down broken roads through epic battles and onward to adventure.
Of Fire and Ash
She rides a fireborn, a steed of fire and ash, trained for destruction.
Ceridwen tal Desmond dreams of ruling like her father over the nation of Soldonia, where warriors ride to battle on magical steeds—soaring on storm winds, vanishing in shadow, quaking the earth, and summoning the sea. After a tragic accident claims her twin brother, she is exiled and sworn to atonement by spending her life—or death—for her people.
But when invaders spill onto Soldonia’s shores and traitors seize upon the chaos to murder her father, Ceridwen claims the crown to keep the nation from splintering. Combatting overwhelming odds and looming civil war, she begins to wonder if the greatest threat to the kingdom may, in fact, be her.
With fire before her and ash in her wake, how can she hope to unite instead of destroy?
Book 1 of The Fireborn Epic series.
1. How did you discover biblical faith and fantastical stories?
2. How did you ride into the Fireborn Epic’s fantastical world?
3. What’s next for the Fireborn Epic and your creative future?
Several fans questions the conclusion to Mike Duran’s article last week:
Augustine suggests the Church in all ages should take good and useful things from pagans and use them for God’s purposes. The Christian need not have copyrights to quote from pagan poets, nor patents to use technology for missional ends. Using wealth, cultural commodities, or intellectual properties, the Church should mine the field of culture for their riches, redeeming them for good ends whenever possible.
Indeed, those Egyptians must have felt infuriated to watch their Israelite neighbors tromp off into the wilderness with the family’s silverware and sphinx bust. But even worse—they may have realized the Israelites would use these very riches to undermine the pagan gods.
Likewise, the Christian church should continue to “wage war,” using “books, cartoons, nature documentaries” or whatever cultural commodities are at our disposal. Drinking the tears of our oppressors is a fitting toast to their plunder.
- People took exception to Mike’s “taste those sweet oppressor tears” line.
- This may resemble a sin. But appearance of evil does not always = actual evil.
- Mike is talking about actual oppressors of Christians (who may be pagans).
- If you picture “oppressors” as only bad Christians, that’s an unfair imagination-swap.
Next on Fantastical Truth
“I amar prestar sen … han mathon ne nen … han mathon ne chae …” Well, it’s some form of Elvish. In the Common Tongue, it reads, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring film released twenty years ago this month. So don’t you now feel old? Older even than a Dúnedain ranger?” This film truly changed our world forever. Now we shall host a good Narnian prince, Rilian himself, returning from last Christmas to explore how Christians loved exploring Peter Jackson’s one film trilogy to rule them all, from 2001 until today.
Explore the best Christian-made fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond, and apply these stories' meanings in the real world Jesus calls us to serve.
I didn’t get around to commenting on Mike Duran’s article, but I guess I’ll do so now, in relation to your comments in the podcast:
For context, I’ve watched the nasty aspects of cancel culture over the years and hate it with every fiber of my being. Even though I’ve never been canceled, it gave me a huge feeling of fear, anger and sadness that came from realizing that if I didn’t walk on eggshells just right, people would turn on me, even if I didn’t actually do anything wrong. I’ve mostly come to terms with it, in the sense of finding a balance between reducing risk but also standing firm in who I am and what I believe. I will not allow myself to be pushed around on a long term basis, but in spite of that resolve the issue still bothers me, so I am very aware of the problems. When people run around hating and demonizing an entire group so much that they can’t even stand them doing something innocent like using their own money or energy to publish books, documentaries, whatever… That’s part of what I have a problem with in society, regardless of who does it.
There were a few times when I’ve been slightly glad to see a ‘perpetrator’ of cancel culture get canceled, because maybe that’s an experience that can help them see how terrible it is. But I tend to catch and correct myself fairly quickly, especially if those feelings start to turn in a vindictive direction, because that’s not the best way.
More often than not, though, I instead feel genuine sympathy for those getting canceled, because even though I might detest their behavior, I actually examine the cause and effect of what happened, what these people were probably thinking and why they behaved the way they did. Cancelation and all that can happen to anyone, and it’s shortsighted to be ok with it just because it happened to someone ‘on the other side’. Regardless of how their actions make me feel, I take no real pleasure in seeing others get hurt. Considering how painful the whole issue has been for me, cancel culture is a problem I want fixed the right way, and whenever someone gets canceled or whatever, it only shows how much further we have to go. It’s very sobering when we think about the broader societal implications of what’s going on. We need to get past this petty behavior or everything will continue to fall apart. I’m using cancel culture as an example since Mike Duran’s article was basically pointing out that some people try so hard to cancel conservatives, Christians, etc that they panic the minute a harmless Christian thing is made. I am relating all this to show that I’m aware of the problem and don’t take it lightly. But it’s still important to cultivate better reactions in ourselves.
As far as biblical precedent goes, it’s there in terms of Biblical figures rejoicing at their enemies’ downfall, but that doesn’t mean such behaviors are always right or productive. It’s a side of human nature that’s there and should be acknowledged, and it’s understandable to feel that way sometimes. But if we don’t learn to work past that for the sake of something more productive, then we aren’t doing our job as Christians. Anyone and everyone can feel vindictive. What Jesus showed us was how to be more than that. That doesn’t at all mean we should be doormats, but that doesn’t mean we should settle for defaulting to vindictive behavior sets either. There’s a certain kind of strength that can come when someone learns to handle things calmly and objectively regardless of how others around them are behaving. No one’s perfect at that, but it’s a good direction to grow in.
Note that just because someone has empathy or sympathy does NOT mean that they agree with or uphold the same goals and beliefs as the person they are empathizing with. It also doesn’t mean they approve of that person’s behavior. And just because someone has empathy for one side doesn’t mean they disregard the other. That is something that everyone needs to understand, whether they are secular or Christian. ‘Weeping with the persecuted’ and saying it’s messed up to ‘weep with the persecutor’ is precisely the mindset a lot of people on the cancel culture side of things have. That mindset blocks people off from figuring out the tools they need to solve problems or treat people decently. We can understand and care about what someone goes through without enabling harmful behavior. In that sense, there’s nothing wrong with empathizing with someone we disagree with.
In terms of Mike Duran’s article, it’s understandable for someone to express the attitude he did, and I don’t hate him for it, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong for people to point out flaws in the article. It doesn’t look like anyone was trying to instigate a pile on or cancelation, just express disagreement, which is fine. It IS important that people have ’empathy’ for Christians writing articles like that, but there should also be ’empathy’ for those criticizing the article, such that we actually understand that people criticizing the article aren’t just trying to please the world, be down on other Christians, etc.
For example, the article was flawed in other ways, like in the sense that it sounded like it was giving Christians a ‘license’ to violate copyrights, patents, and other intellectual property rights. That isn’t much better than people who want to disregard Rowling’s status/rights as an author just because they see her as a problem. Gaining inspiration and lessons from pop culture to help us write better stories is one thing. Writing one’s self a license to take from someone with different beliefs is quite another, and secular people are starting to do that more and more. We can fight in the culture war without committing that same mistake.
Also, it’s ok to be happy about a victory, but that probably wasn’t what most people were complaining about. Most Christians don’t mind the gospel being shared, and they don’t usually have a problem with The Chosen being number one or whatever. In fact, when someone criticizes an article like Mike Duran’s, it’s often because the rhetoric presented makes it HARDER for the Kingdom to advance. And no, it’s not because the critics are trying to be more like the world in hopes that the world likes us. The article kinda misrepresented the attitude of many Christians and how we should behave in the first place. It sounded like rejoicing at other people hurting instead of simply being thankful and happy when something like The Chosen succeeds in spite of the challenges. There’s nothing wrong with expressing frustration or pointing out secular hypocrisy, but acting like we’re advocating vindictiveness or theft is often unhealthy, whether or not it’s actually sinful. Maybe it’s fine when handled in certain ways, but I don’t really see how Mike Duran’s article helped much except by opening up a conversation on the matter.
We can’t just throw any old statement out into the breeze and expect it to land well. Of course the person hearing the statement should do what it takes to understand and react to the person correctly, but it goes so much better if we communicate as well as possible. There’s a point where we should stop worrying about it, but this article seems like a more obvious case that’s at least worth examining.
Miscommunication is inevitable, but it’s worth understanding and learning from whenever it does happen. There are so many horrible things going on in society, and so many layers of nonsense to cut through on the way to fixing it. For those trying to cut through the nonsense, it feels like we manage to take two steps forward in promoting free speech, etc and one or more steps back when a Christian (or anyone, actually) communicates so poorly that they may not even be portraying their own beliefs accurately. (In the case of Mike Duran’s article, it communicated rejoicing at harm coming to someone else when, from what you say, the article was more about rejoicing when a Christian thing succeeds even in the face of adversity.)
It’s hard to communicate well, but as Christians we should be making a better effort than this. I’m not saying the article should be taken down or anything, but there were more effective ways to communicate its point. And if we aren’t trying to communicate such ideas effectively, why bother writing about them? It’s not just Christians that are going to see this site, after all.