SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 1364 Transforming Realities, by R. L. Copple Book Review |

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Transforming Realities, by R. L. Copple
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Double-Edged Publishing
Published: 2009
Review Posted: 8/8/2009
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

Transforming Realities, by R. L. Copple

Book Review by Lyndon Perry

Have you read this book?

R. L. Copple's first novel, Transforming Realities, picks up the theme and expands the storyline of his earlier novella sized collection of short fiction, Infinite Realities. In many ways, this sequel reads like an anthology of adventure stories with the chapters (37 of them over 215 pages) serving as bite-sized scenes -- most of them ending in a "cliff-hanger" that sets the stage for the next scenario. One of Copple's strengths is his ability to develop drama, create tension, and reach a climax in just a few pages. This approach works well for short fiction but a novel requires a longer view. While Transforming Realities does have an overarching plot that is advanced scene by scene, the drama-tension-climax-repeat formula made the journey a bit tiresome, in my opinion. Having followed the characters through storm and peril, ambush and imprisonment, evil wizard and demon encounters, as well as numerous fights, flights, and escapes, there just wasn't much "punch" left by the end of the story.

That being said, if you enjoy the continuous adventure narrative (like the rollicking western or the fantasy quest where the protagonist advances from danger to danger) but want to avoid the blood, gore, and sexuality that so often accompany such tales, then this book might be what you're looking for. Like his first collection, this novel was released by Double-Edge Publishing, a small press that seeks to entertain, uplift and enlighten "from a foundation of Christian principles and traditional values." Although set in a fantastic world of myth -- which includes magic charms, wizards, trolls, and flying horses -- Transforming Realities is nevertheless a very spiritually themed project. Not overtly preachy or agenda-laden, it is, however, a morality tale set firmly within the Judeo-Christian worldview. It's not as subtle as, say, The Chronicles of Narnia, but it does try to weave a more mature subtext into a fairy tale setting in order to appeal to both YA and regular fantasy readers.

The story itself concerns the adventures of Sisko and his children who must find seven keys of virtue (humility, honesty, generosity, etc.) that will literally unlock the hand-sized crystal that imprisons Gabrielle, Sisko's wife and the children's mother. This is set within the larger frame of Sisko returning to his home village, after many years of self-imposed exile due to a moral failure, in order to introduce his children to the steam house, a mysterious rite of passage experience that figured prominently in Infinite Realities. Reminiscent of a Native American sweat lodge, the steam house reveals the character, or soul's desire, of the person who enters and bestows a gift (or curse) commensurate with their true self. When Sisko was a child he was given a ring of healing by the steam house that allowed him to perform miracles for God throughout the land. But after using his power selfishly, Sisko presumably lost his ability to use the ring. After years of regret, he finally learns release and forgiveness in his quest to free his wife. Facing danger at every turn as they race home, Sisko and his children discover seven "virtuous realities" -- the keys that will not only unlock Gabrielle's crystal prison, but will begin to unlock their hearts as well, opening them to spiritual transformation. Thus the title of the book.

Overall, Transforming Realities is "a thoughtful Christian fantasy adventure in the spirit of role-playing games" (so one author's perspective found on the back cover of the book, and one with which I agree). It fits very nicely in what might be described as second tier sub-genre fiction -- publications that aren't quite up to big publishing house standards or popular appeal but still, thankfully, fill a niche while providing a good, if imperfect, addition to the Christian science fiction and fantasy catalog. And for those who enjoy this catalog of literature and like to camp in this niche, Copple's book is a recommended read.

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