Reviews

Historical Sci-Fi Novels

The newest review from Blue Ink Review

Author A.K. Frailey’s first installment of the OldEarth series, Aram Encounter, drops readers into a prehistoric time where clans of early hunter-gatherers, farmers, herders, and others clash and collaborate while being observed, unknowingly, by more technologically advanced galactic neighbors.

Top among the celestial crowd is Teal, a shape-shifting guardian whose job is to travel the galaxy observing and assuring no planet or being is exploited by other galactic peoples (earthlings are the most vulnerable, given their simpler technology and ignorance of the others). Other galactic colleagues, some well-meaning and others murky, join him on excursions to Oldearth as the story reveals the extra-terrestrials’ various dramas.

But the bulk of Aram Encounter centers on the earth characters from three clans—Lake Clan, Grassland Clan, and River Clan—who compete and cooperate with each other over the course of Lake Clan leader Aram’s lifetime. These characters include: Aram; his grudging and handicapped wife, Namah; friendly Grassland Clan leader, Onias; his wise healer wife, Jonas and the haunted and edgy River Clan leader Ishtar. Together, the clans face warring outsiders, ruthless giants, wild animals, and natural disasters.

Frailey writes in a crisp, lean, and richly detailed style, building a fascinating, absorbing world. The story has a few impediments, as well, however: Some key figures feel undeveloped, including Teal, Namah and Ishtar. We learn Namah’s backstory late, and when we do, it doesn’t explain enough about the long tension between her and Aram: Why did Aram choose to marry her when he has deep prejudices towards the handicapped? And Ishtar, who rises through his strong morals and character to succeed his cruel father as the next River Clan leader, then becomes the opposite with no clear explanation

These issues aside, Frailey delivers a dynamic multidimensional twist to an otherwise prehistorical drama, something of a cross between Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear and Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series. Readers will hope to learn more in future sequels.

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A wonderful review from D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review.

OldEarth ARAM Encounter will delight readers of alien invasion sci-fi works with its story of space visitors to OldEarth; and Aram, Ishtar, and others who lead primitive lives on the young planet.

Think Clan of the Cave Bear mixed with extraterrestrial perspectives and influences for a sense of the unique approach A.K. Frailey cultivates as the story unfolds to juxtapose old worlds with futuristic alien overseers.

When an Ingoti trading vessel on an intercept course with Earth changes perspectives about the planet’s future, readers receive an introductory insight into the events destined to connect the very different races sooner than later.

Information always pays. But, does it? As magical abilities, powerful desires, and portents of the future change OldEarth, humans and aliens alike adopt new responsibilities as their lives intersect.

From the rigors of the guardianship role to confronting evil in its different incarnations, OldEarth ARAM Encounter romps through warriors’ lives, good fights, and clans that take risks to fulfill destinies.

As Frailey moves through these various clans and their changing worlds, quests, confrontations, and questions keep their stories and encounters fast-paced.

There are a host of earthly and alien characters and special interests at play in OldEarth ARAM Encounter, which make it more complex and thought-provoking than your usual alien/human encounter. These juxtapositions of purpose and place may stymie those who anticipated a linear, predictable production, but will delight readers who look for originality and plots that are anything but staid.

From obsessions with gods to visions of a different future, Frailey provides a story that considers the sources of evil, good, and evolving moral senses.

OldEarth ARAM Encounter is more than another alien invasion story. It’s an inspection of budding ideals and values that charts a course through turmoil to find the path that brings peace and resolution to a world, and will prove a satisfying read for sci-fi fans looking for more than a series of confrontations from their alien scenarios.

An official OnlineBookClub.org review

OldEarth Aram Encounter by A. K. Frailey is a book that you’ll read and not forget in a hurry. It is the first of a series of five novels. The history is fascinating, the characters are uniquely intriguing, the plot is very rich, and the events are fascinating.

OldEarth Aram Encounter started with the migration of Aram’s clan. The land they knew had become dangerous to them; they needed a new and safer place to dwell. As can be expected, everyone had their opinion of the right choice to make, but Aram did his best as a leader. Finally discovering a land to their taste, they settled down. Soon enough, other dangers came calling. They encountered their neighbors from different clans; some were good, and some were bad. They faced many battles — with their emotions, choices, each other, and enemies. All the while, supernatural beings that they were not aware of watched them. But they looked up to a supreme being to help them through life.

I’ve often wondered how a group of people begin to dwell in a place and call it their own. This book gave me a good picture of the answer. Living in the early ages couldn’t have been easy with all the negative factors — wild animals, famine, diseases, bandits, and enemies. In today’s modern world, we take a lot for granted. All the necessities of life are easily accessible to us. Here, in this book, are people who had to fight to lay hold of just food and water. Danger could come from anywhere. They were at the mercy of the elements. And it was not surprising that they looked up to a supreme being to help and save them through it all.

I couldn’t help but notice the unique way the author presented the chapter titles. Above each heading was the name of the period or location of the events in that chapter. I found it as intriguing as the author’s choice of fonts. Readers would never get lost navigating the content of the book.

This book is one of the best books I’ve read in a long while. The author crafts her words very well as she creates the characters and the events in the book. She does an excellent job of taking us into the mind of the characters. I find no fault with the writing and editing; everything is perfect. Therefore, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars.

This book has a religious undertone, as it talks about the different gods to whom different characters looked up. Someone who has no tolerance for that may not need to read this book. Besides that, I recommend it to lovers of adventure and science fiction.

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“This bold blending of historical fiction with science fiction from Frailey (author of the Newearth series, among other titles) centers on the struggles of ancient peoples on an ancient Earth. A tribe has moved beyond the forests to the lake land despite a haunting generational memory, vivid in the nightmares of tribal leader Aram, of a great and deadly beast. Aram’s people hold to the belief that their struggling clan might rise to greatness; as they settle new lands, they encounter other tribes who might help or impede them: the peaceful and relatively prosperous denizens of the grass lands, led by Onias, and the war-hungry clan from the river lands.

Complicating the tribal politics is the attention of aliens from other planets, some of whom are mining Earth without the natives’ knowledge—and without much concern for human life. Frailey exhibits a strong command of survival storytelling, plus a welcome interest in the customs and beliefs of her invented clans. One pressing theme is renewed belief in tales of a “Creator God” whose “mighty hands and scooped out vast lakes and rivers,” while the philosophical idea of evil gets evoked with power. “These men will destroy you because they like the feel of the act,” one character warns. “Their evil is stronger than your good.”

Tense encounters, crisp action, failures of leadership, and dramatic surprises power the story’s main thrust, which concerns the relationships between the ancient humans, both at the tribal and personal level. Frailey creates compelling characters in each of the human factions, especially Aram, who is haunted by loss, and bold Pele of the river clan. The stakes of their conflict are urgent, as the fate of human development hinges on them.”

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Well written and entertaining , totally enjoyed this book.👍 Can’t wait to read the next book when it comes out. ⭐ ~Higgins, GoodReads Review

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“Aram was an imaginative, creative work. The book was action-packed, not a dull page. Keen insight by the author. She seemed to grasped the time period and filled each page with compassion. I can’t wait for her next book to be published.” ~Linda, Amazon Review

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“Frailey’s characters are complex and varied – no cardboard cut-out Good Guys and Bad Guys here, but no attempt to render right and wrong ambiguous or iffy.” ~Ostermann, Amazon Review

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“Frailey masterfully combines a story that both looks to humanity’s past and its future, while at the same time creating a suspenseful story that is hard to put down.” ~NickofTime, Amazon Review

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Review by California Bookwatch:

Night Owl Reviews

“Wonderfully written and an amazingly told story. The author brought to life an ancient time in history and made it real and relevant in the “now” if you will. Richly woven history and adventure. It will speak to you whether you are religious, spiritual, or just looking for a great story. The characters were sharply brought to life against a beautifully drawn background. I’ll be reading the rest of the series.” ~GoodReads Reviewer

“Reading “ARAM” first definitely helps with understanding the plot and characters. All the clans join together again to fight more evil. Ann Frailey is a wonderful writer! Just like “ARAM”, this book makes me feel like each of the characters. I cannot wait to read the third book in the series…” ~Mandy, Amazon Review

“…Rather its characters walk in the sort of uncertainty that characterizes real life and real people trying to make our way in a big, complex world…” ~Pam, Amazon Review 

When a kind patriarch’s son is accused of murder, buried family secrets arise and the Earth’s destiny is questioned in A. K. Frailey’s historical novel OLDEARTH MELCHIOR ENCOUNTER.

A. K. Frailey’s OLDEARTH MELCHIOR ENCOUNTER is an ambitious historical novel with speculative elements. Set in the middle ages, the book follows the arc of a few years in the life of a kind, aging patriarch named Melchior. When his son Wilfred is accused of murder, Melchior learns of long-buried family secrets that change the way he views his children and his late wife. Meanwhile, a group of extraterrestrial beings observe Melchior and his community as they reel from these discoveries, evaluating the human race’s value in the grander scheme of the universe. Unknown to him, the fate of the planet Earth rests in Melchior’s hands. Part murder mystery, part family drama, part science fiction epic, OLDEARTH MELCHIOR ENCOUNTER addresses themes of the line between good and evil and what makes a family.

The murder mystery plot is wrapped up about halfway through the book, and a new drama begins as Melchior’s daughter Adele is forced to marry a king while she is in love with someone else. This, too, is resolved before the end of the book, with the last quarter focusing on a third plot. The aliens’ revelation that the Earth is in danger is not revealed until three-quarters of the way through the book; until this point, their purpose and relation to Melchior’s story is unclear. The aliens are featured in a few chapters scattered through the story, though, with Melchior’s tale dominating, so once the danger the Earth is in is exposed, the aliens’ plot line evolves and offers a new perspective on Melchior’s story up to that point. While the various plots on Earth that take place several years apart—the murder mystery and the drama with Adele—feel like distinct, separate stories, the book does not feel fragmented. Instead, the overarching plot with the aliens ties everything together to make a cohesive, epic novel.

Aside from mentions of the Romans, Anglos, Saxons, and Britons, there is little detail that reinforces the place and time of the story’s setting. The many—at times too many—characters, however, are tangible people with strong personalities that bring a solid sense of purpose and identity to the book. Melchior is likeable, though flawed, and even the antagonistic characters, like the king Adele is forced to marry, have positive traits that provide a balanced view of human nature for the aliens to observe. Dialogue is dramatic and feels real, revealing character personalities while propelling the plot forward. The dialogue performs at its best when it is punchy and expressive, such as when Melchior faces his son Wilfred alongside members of a court to learn about the true murderer and Wilfred’s true identity. Characters love and support each other, or treat each other cruelly, and their actions offer poignant thoughts on family, justice, and what gives life meaning.

OLDEARTH MELCHIOR ENCOUNTER’s unique science fiction twist ties together the dramatic historical events the strong characters experience, which address themes of family and justice.

~Aimee Jodoin for IndieReader

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Kirkus Review

Indeed, the self-contained historical storyline is a remarkably effective mix of bittersweet romance and murder mystery—one that also examines the dynamics of politics and power as well as cultural conflicts between pagans and Christians, Anglo-Saxons, and Britons, and landowners and workers. It does it all via the personal perspectives of a family of intriguing, earnest characters. 

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Reedsy/Discovery Review by Dustin Lovell

OldEarth Melchior is the next in A.K. Frailey’s OldEarth historical science fiction series. Set simultaneously in the fifth-century British isles and in an eternally reaching cosmos, OldEarth Melchior integrates historical and science fiction in unique and intriguing ways.

The secondary plot of the planetary observation by extraterrestrials frames the main plot involving Melchior, King Radburn, and other Britons as they conflict not only overpower and land claims but also over the broader merits of paganism and burgeoning Christianity. With these two realms—the medieval and the scientific—Frailey juxtaposes elements that are not always placed together but which nonetheless work, such as the extraterrestrials’ conceding, and at times assuming as obvious, the existence of a non-contingent Creator God. The integration of supernatural and faith-based topics into science fiction causes OldEarth Melchior to resemble less Star Trek’s Prime Directive and more C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy.

As OldEarth Melchior is a historical fiction set within a science fiction series, and as it is my first book by Frailey, I found the former easier to follow than the latter. The extraterrestrials’ features are touched on gradually, but at times the lack of explanation caused me to be uninvested in the science fiction plot for most of the book. Because of this, the extraterrestrials’ scenes sometimes felt like jarring and obscure interruptions of the Melchior plot. However, this may be due to my not having read the previous OldEarth installments, which I assume flesh out the traits and politics of the extraterrestrial species more explicitly. 

The medieval plot, on the other hand, is excellent, following the emerging and changing character conflicts over several years rather than one single conflict with a final cathartic climax. Without placing Melchior too rigidly within his times, Frailey incorporates the historical context and cultural changes of the Early Medieval period in ways that inform the character conflicts while letting the universals of family, local politics, and differences in worldview guide the bulk of the plot.

With its combination of genre and its swath of characters in both plots, OldEarth Melchior features many of the best aspects of both historical and science fiction. While some events in both plots happen quite suddenly, with little buildup before or explanation afterward, and while different chapters at times jump over several years in succession, the book’s themes are consistent, and the main characters—even the nominal antagonists—round and sympathetic. Above all, the unique maneuvering of a standalone plot within a series plot makes OldEarth Melchior accessible to new readers as well as old.

Night Owl Reviews

Amazon Reviews

Night Owl Review

“A classic good vs evil scenario. Well written. Fast-paced and adventure-filled. Readers both young and old will enjoy “The Deliverance” Trilogy. I truly recommend reading all three in this amazing trilogy. The characters come to life on the pages. A must-read! Received for an honest review from the publicist and/or author.” ~My Book Addiction

“Neb the Great looks at humanity’s ancient past. The vivid descriptions of different clans bring early humanity alive. While part of a series, Neb works well as a standalone.” ~Rachel, GoodReads

—Science Fiction Novels—

Last of Her Kind by [A. K. Frailey]

“This was unique, entertaining and I really loved the character development. People I can relate to and actually care about have become few and far between. These characters were so real. I love that.” ~Sandra, Kindle Review

“It is hard to write about a book that moved me so much. Anne made me cry and yet I shook my head at her courage. My belief has actually increased a little by the beauty of this tale. Not so much because of all the inspirational messages but for showing the good, the bad, and all the breadth in between.” ~Glenda, Amazon Review

—Short Story Collections—

“…this is a great collection of short fiction.” ~Amazon Reader

I have read several books from the pen of A.K. Frailey, in fact, this is the seventh volume from her pen that I have read. And it is the third collection of stories I have read the other two being It Might Have Been: And Other Stories and Encounter Science Fiction Short Stories and Novella, and all three are an excellent read. This was one of three new offerings from Frailey that I picked up on the same day, the others being My Road Goes Ever On: A Timeless Journey and a stand-alone short story For Me? which also appears in this collection. But back to this volume.

Normally when a new collection from Frailey is available I devour it, and often go back and read it at a slower pace. When this one came out, I already had some books on the go, but kept circling back to this book and read a few stories a day, sometimes reading a story at a time at different times during the day. And read it over 2 weeks. Normally I cannot put her books down but I wanted to really appreciate each story. There were a few I had encountered previously. 
I must state this is a wonderful collection. Many of the stories are very moving. Some are humorous. And they are all well written. The stories are set in the real world, they could be about you, or me, or people we know. They could be about family both near and far. Much like Madeleine L’Engle’s Austin family books. But a few remind me of the works of Adrian Plass or Fred Secombe in their sense of humor or way of looking at life.

All Frailey’s works I have read to date have been excellent. I love her collections of stories. They can be returned to again and again. Can be read from front to back, randomly pick a story, or maybe even from back to front, reading the last story and working your way to the first. But no matter how you read these stories I am certain you will be entertained, blessed, and maybe even challenged. So, in that vein, I challenge you to pick this up and give it a read. 

“When I found out she had a new collection out, this volume, I grabbed it immediately and started reading it that day…This collection is just shy of 400 pages of masterfully written stories. It is immensely entertaining.” ~Top 1000 Amazon Reviewer

—Inspirational Non-Fiction—

Review by Fr. Daren Zehnle

“I love the comparisons snd the background of the characters. I have enjoyed The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit since I was 16 and read the first pages. This was enriching snd also during this tumultuous time I Am encouraged that others believe in the truth of Jesus and standing up for Truth. Thank you for writing such a wonderful encouraging book.” ~Dobbins, 2020 GoodReads

“Wow! This book blew me away. This was the fifth volume I have read from the masterful pen of Ann A.K. Frailey. I have loved everything of hers that I have written. Both the fiction and non-fiction. But as much as I love her fiction, I think this is the best of her works that I have read to date. I honestly believe this is a book any Catholic, any Christian would benefit from reading. To be honest, I bought it because of the author, but it was a very timely read. And one I know I will return to again and again.” ~McEvoy, 2020 GoodReads

“I loved reading Ann’s wise, hope-giving thoughts about life and love. Truly, life is the art of overcoming obstacles and becoming stronger to live a fuller life. Beautiful work!” ~Ksneia, Amazon Review

—Children’s Book—

“Our children really love this book — the two-year-old wanted to hear it again as soon as we finished! We get to experience the simple joys and beauty of life through Tally-Ho. We love how there are a few short stories with beautiful illustrations together in one book so that with younger ones, you can just take one story at a time.” ~Amazon Review

The Children’s Book Review

https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/2021/08/the-adventures-of-tally-ho-dedicated-review

Family, nature, faith, home, farming, self-sufficiency.

Tally-Ho lives a life full of wonder and joy, spending her days homeschooling, helping her family with chores, exploring nature, and playing with her brothers and sisters. Sometimes there are things to be worried about, like the big black snake that crosses the yard or the coyotes that howl in the night—but luckily, Tally Ho has a loving family to keep her safe and show her that there’s no danger that can harm her in her home. Whether she’s helping move a swarm of bees into a hive or petting the fluffy, newly hatched chicks, there is always something magical happening to Tally-Ho on the farm!

With an old-fashioned air reminiscent of Swallows and Amazons or Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Tally-Ho is bursting with warm and comforting scenes of idyllic pastoral childhood. Tally-Ho spends her days exploring the beauty of nature and being a productive member of a happy family, and each story in the book balances instruction with playfulness. Told convincingly from the child’s point of view, the narration encourages readers to relate to Tally-Ho’s desires, worries, and delights. At the same time, Christine deShazo’s sunny watercolor illustrations help bring the woods and farm to vibrant life.

The Adventures of Tally-Ho is an excellent choice for providing gentle moral modeling and entertainment at the same time.

—Poetry Collection—