Item description for Trackers (The Birthright Project, Book 2) by Kathryn Mackel...
Overview Far from home in a ravaged world, the Birthrighters struggle for survival. Raised in a new ark beneath polar ice, delivered by whales to a blighted surface, the young men and women of the Birthright Project have pledged their lives to a risky and redemptive mission--perserving God's original creation from the ravages of the Endless Wars and human depravity. They've roamed the earth tracking original species. They've successfully battled sorcerers, warlords, and armies of mutants. But now a twisted new enemy is on the march. An explosive old secret lurks beneath the glitter of a decadent city. And the mysterious darkness that swallowed a mountain spreads toward an innocent mill town. Before they can prevail, the Birthrighters must confront their most difficult challenge: overcoming their individual desires that threaten to betray the group. The adventure draws to a dramatic close in Book Two of Kathryn Mackel's imaginative and absorbing Birthright Series...a fantasy thriller with a heart of faith.
Far from home in a ravaged world, the Birthrighters struggle for survival.
Raised in a new ark beneath polar ice, delivered by whales to a blighted surface, the young men and women of the Birthright Project have pledged their lives to a risky and redemptive mission--perserving God's original creation from the ravages of the Endless Wars and human depravity.
They've roamed the earth tracking original species. They've successfully battled sorcerers, warlords, and armies of mutants. But now a twisted new enemy is on the march. An explosive old secret lurks beneath the glitter of a decadent city. And the mysterious darkness that swallowed a mountain spreads toward an innocent mill town.
Before they can prevail, the Birthrighters must confront their most difficult challenge: overcoming their individual desires that threaten to betray the group.
The adventure draws to a dramatic close in Book Two of Kathryn Mackel's imaginative and absorbing Birthright Series...a fantasy thriller with a heart of faith.
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Studio: Thomas Nelson
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.18" Width: 5.76" Height: 0.86" Weight: 0.72 lbs.
Release Date Oct 31, 2006
Publisher Thomas Nelson
Series Birthright Project
Series Number 2
ISBN 1595540407 ISBN13 9781595540409
Availability 0 units.
More About Kathryn Mackel
Across many markets--CBA, ABA, and Hollywood--Kathryn Mackel is known as a creative wordsmith who can write fast-paced action with well-developed characters and imaginative plots. She is the author of both adult and youth fiction and is an accredited screenwriter. She pioneered the supernatural sub-genre known as "Christian Chillers," including the critically acclaimed The Surrogate, The Departed, and The Hidden. Her fantasy offerings include books 1 and 2 of the Birthright Project, Outriders and Trackers.
Kathryn Mackel currently resides in Boston Boston Boston. Kathryn Mackel was born in 1950.
Reviews - What do customers think about Trackers (The Birthright Project, Book 2)?
Wonderful fantasy series May 10, 2007
Kathryn Mackel invites us into a post-modern future where the future of mankind is bleak at best. The land has been ravaged by nuclear war and deadly toxins have made much of Earth uninhabitable. Evil men hold seats of power and they have perverted God's creation through DNA manipulation, a process known as transmogrification. Innocent men, women, and children are continually taken captive and subjected to these horrific tests and experiments. Man has forsaken his Creator, and evil ravishes the land. However, there is hope.
A remnant of believers has built a modern day ark that is hides beneath the polar ice caps. They teach and train their children in the ways of the Lord, with the hope that they can impact the world above. As the children mature they are sent to the surface to live as Outriders and Trackers. Their mission is to scout the land and teach a lost world a message of hope it so desperately needs. Can they make a difference before mankind is truly lost?
This is a wonderful fantasy series that is chocked full of action, suspense, and heart. Mackel gives us a frightening glimpse into the future of mankind that is both original and eye-opening. The story seems to wander a bit at times, but overall the plot development is cohesive and effective. Mackel's strength is in the action sequences which are thrilling and full of excitement. Violence and gore are effectively used to draw readers into the heart of the battles. The heroes of this story are teens and young adults who have nothing to rely on but their training and a deep faith in God. Their faith is inspiring and encouraging as time and time again they trust in God, no matter how difficult the task.
This series is highly recommended for fans of fantasy and science fiction. Much of this material is intense and intended for mature readers, but it is appropriate for older teens. The lessons of strong faith and discipleship found in this series are worthwhile for adults and teenagers alike. (From Christian Library Journal)
More! Give Me More! Dec 17, 2006
You're going to be disappointed if you read the first 2 books in this series. You might notice that I gave both of these books 5 star ratings and wonder why I'd say this. Well, WestBow Press, at the time I write this, has elected to not publish the 3rd and final book in this series. You're going to be disappointed in the light that Outriders and Trackers are so good that you'll feel a certain emptiness knowing that book 3 is unlikely (not impossible) to be forthcoming.
I love the post apocalyptic sub-genre of mainstream science fiction as well as Christian science fiction in general and this series falls into both of those categories. It exceeded my expectations in terms of plot and character development to the extent that I've actually caught myself daydreaming about the story. Off hand I can only recall a couple of stories that have had that effect on me, "The Stand" by Steven King, and "The Time Machine" by H. G. Wells. "Outriders" and "Trackers" are definitely well worth reading even knowing that the story may never be finished.
It should NOT be the last Dec 16, 2006
Strong: Mackel is excellent at both character development and world building. As another reviewer posted her characters are very three dimensional, even the villains. And it's so very important to have three dimensional villains. It makes them even more creepy! The heroes are very real, flawed and conflicted. Their challenges, both physical and spiritual ring true. This painstaking development means a reader is drawn into the story, caring about the outcome and the path taken to resolution.
The very idea of this story is a strong point as well. While a post apocalyptic earth is no ground breaking concept, the idea of a remnant of people surviving in a 'safe house' under water certainly is. The whole premise of training up the youth of this community to leave the safety of the Ark and live on the surface, gathering samples of nearly extinct species of flora and fauna is very cool! To me it's not the kind of `quest' you normally find within the pages of a fantasy.
The action is well paced and the story moves along. I can't recall hitting any points where I skimmed words to get to the next action scene. Every word moved me forward which makes this a quick, engaging read.
Cover art! The cover art totally rocks! As a consumer I'm very drawn to the covers of books. I can't recall where I posted this before (I think it was comments on someone's blog) but when I shop for books I shop first for authors I know and love. If there are no new books or books I haven't already read, I shop by cover art. If I've got two books in my hand, and money for one, and both books are equally as interesting to me the book with the great cover art is the one that goes home with me. I would totally pick Trackers up off a book shelf because of the cover art alone.
Somewhere in between: Okay, this is something totally, totally based on my personal preference but I don't believe that Trackers stands alone as it's own story. Yes, it was meant to be part of a trilogy that became a duo, but I like it when my series books have enough background info to continue what was written about previously but not so much that if I've waited a year between books I'm lost because there is such a huge connection to the previous book. The beginning of Trackers picks up many threads from Outriders. This is great because it's a series. Not so great because anyone picking up Trackers is pretty much lost in the beginning. Take this observation with a grain of salt because, again, it's a personal preference of mine.
Weak: There are many, many point of view changes in Trackers. It makes it very difficult to deeply involve yourself any one character's story line. Each character is well developed but the frequent point of view changes take away from that.
Let's talk story line. As I said before, this is an excellent concept. And for the most part each individual story line is well developed but there were instances where I was jarred out of the story line but certain situations the characters were in. Stuart said it better than I could so I'll quote him here:
...two characters are infiltrating the stronghold of Traxx as a drugde (slave) and owner. The two are waiting in a security line, but are talking as themselves, bickering back and forth, and making reference to what role the other is supposed to be taking. It felt like they were being careless in the midst of a group of self-serving, backstab any stranger to get ahead type people, with no worries or consequences. May be a minor thing, but it broke the scene for me.
Yeah Stuart, me too.
I also had a difficult time with Merrihana's (the baroness) role in this book. Her story line did feel jagged to me and I can't quite place the reason why. Something about her did not ring true. For a woman who was so strong and hard to be so easily led by Ghedo (the royal sorcerer), it disturbed me.
The biggest problem I had this Trackers though was the end. It didn't seem like an end. It felt like there were threads hanging. Once I read today's post at Valerie's blog I understood why. Here is what Kathryn told Valerie about Trackers and about the trilogy being ended after two books.
Unfortunately, there are no plans right now for a third book in the Birthright Series. Fantasy continues to be a tough sell in the Christian marketplace and the sales for Outriders weren't robust enough to continue through a third book. That said, a dear friend reminded me that if the Lord gave me a vision for Scouts - and He has - then it would be so. Not in my timing or in that of my dear readers, but in His. I wait expectantly but patiently for that opportunity to present itself.
As to whether the shortening of the series affected the second book, not much at all. We went with the story we had and, with the exception of asking me to resolve one character's struggle of the heart, WestBow allowed me to keep Trackers as written. Like any book in a series, Trackers stands alone as its own story but also builds on Outriders and leaves plenty of opportunity to continue on without leaving readers hanging.
Some readers have offered to "storm the gates" of WestBow and demand a third book. Better to pray and ask if this story yet has some value to expand the Kingdom or encourage the saints, then I have an opportunity to write it. If not, so be it. We have a thousand daily ways to serve the Lord and this tale - while a blessing to me - is only one of them!
Man, that really stinks. But it does explain why I didn't feel that sense of completion at the end of Trackers. The book I read was pretty much the second book in the series. It left me with so many....but what about so and so feelings.
A Frank Review of Trackers Dec 16, 2006
Biblical science-fiction? Many consider the term to be a contradiction in terms. As a fan of the nearly nonexistent sub-genre, I delighted at discovering Kathryn Mackel's Trackers. Like Christians of every age, modern believers think that the second coming is likely to occur any minute now, but Mackel has vision. The Birthright Project is set far enough in the future that genetic-manipulation resembles magic, and toxic zones dot the landscape. An "ark" that had been positioned under the polar ice-cap, served as a time-capsule, so that some Christians might survive the Endless Wars. In Outriders: The Birthright Project, Book One, some of these survivors left the ark on an Eden minded mission of gathering endangered species. In Trackers, these survivors must avoid warlord's city-states, and warlord's armies.
For fan's of Charles deLint's magic realism novels, Mackel's patient and descriptive style will delight. Her setting is mind-bendingly imaginative. The Wall of Traxx, for example, is a genetically engineered ecosystem, designed as a defensive barrier that surrounds the city-state of Traxx. This ecosystem is comprised of both flora and fauna that makes Australia's poisonous and desolate Outback look like a nun's terrarium. Through genetic engineering, antagonist "wizards" have mastered transmogrification, or shapeshifting, to defile any living thing according to their own will. This seems to be the birthrighter's mission--securing honest DNA.
And that's part of my problem with Trackers. This is not a book that can be appreciated without reading Outriders, its prequel. I struggled through Trackers' first eighty pages, uninterested by characters who acted like I'd already met them. I appreciated Kathryn Mackel's intelligent slang and terminology, but I was left to figure out what-had-to-do-with-what in her very original, and therefore unfamiliar setting. I began reading impatiently, searching for data.
My personal rule is 100 pages. If I'm not drawn into characters by then, it tops the used-bookstore stack . . . and Trackers slid into third base, capturing me around page eighty with a scene where a right-off-the-ark-Birthright-survivor on her first mission meets a slave boy with an honest heart. Ever met an unbeliever who lives more Biblically than most Christians you know? That's this Gabe kid. And the Birthright-rookie-noob working to free Gabe is so doing-her-best but failing; she's so compassionate, that you can't help but wonder what happens next between these two.
Don't read Trackers: The Birthright Project, Book Two, on its own. Do read Outriders: The Birthright Project, Book One, and then follow with Trackers. This Biblical sci-fi is subtle enough for ANY sci-fi fan on your gift list to enjoy, and who knows what beliefs might sprout? If you don't trust my recommendation, you got it goin' on, cause I'm the kind of guy who'd tie your laces together while taping a sign on your back.
Internal and External Battles, A Vivid World, Heroes and Villains--a Great Read! Dec 14, 2006
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the first novel in the Birthright Proeject--OUTRIDERS. If you plan to read OUTRIDERS, but haven't yet, you'll want to skip the first part--or all--to be safe.
"But why?" Anastasia said. "Why do this to another human being?"
"Because they want to be God, that's why." --from TRACKERS
Humans playing God is a dominant theme in the Birthright Project. The mogs--transmogrified creatures--are the prime metaphors for expressing the urge to be Creator and Lord over all. Conversely, submission to true and proper authority is also a theme. When people try to do things their way, rather than the wise and obedient way, or the way the Spirit leads, trouble follows.
So, we've come from the first novel, OUTRIDERS, in a future world damaged by the Endless Wars. Birthrighters--those who survived the wars by building an Ark that is under the arctic ice, full of spiritual maturity and scientific know-how--send outriders topside. We met the Horesh community birthrighters--the outriders, trackers, weaver, etc. It's just one enclave assigned to collect "natural" specimens of flora and fauna, those not tainted by genetic meddling. They also protect life and uphold goodness however they can without endangering theihr mission in a post-apocalyptic world fallen back into some sort of semi-medieval status. Brady is leader. Niki is our strong warrior-woman who came face to face with darkness and acquired a wolfen companion. We've gone with the birthrighters through trials in the fortified cities and out about the damaged, but not utterly destroyed, land. Dangers and a major battle left them battered and down one original outrider. Worse, one entire outrider community has been engulfed in a terrible, dark void. Disobedience by the weaver/teacher, Ajoba--who was seduced by a demon in guise of an angel--has left the group without a maker of shroud, the miracle substance only the chosen can create. Shroud is crucial to their defense, as it offers camouflage and armor, and to their word, as all specimens must be wrapped in shroud before being sent down to the underground second Ark. (Shroud is fabric that on one side is, well, fabric, and on the other is "out-of-time.") The weaving of it is a spiritual gift, as are the abilities to have visions and communicate with creatures and discern the transmogrified via a green glow. And the growing needs of the heart threaten the peace of more than one birthrighter who has vowed celibacy.
TRACKERS begins with Timothy, one of the birthrighters, heading into the great city of Traxx--using his gift of song to charm the "slungs" that guide him through the Sleeping Beautyish thorny hedge with the Siren flowers. Traxx is the city of Alrod, a baron of great evil and ruthless ambition and a powerful reach, whose right arm is the dark sorcerer Ghedo.
Timothy is out to rescue the girl he loves, a good-hearted non-birthrighter who has been selected by the baron and baroness as the "lolly" to bear a royal heir. The vanity of the baroness has resulted in barrenness. Alrod wants an heir and to rule all the lands. Ghedo wants to rule Alrod, and more, but he's lost some favor with his old pal the baron given the lousy outcome of the battle in book one.
But a new sorcerer with the ability to bring fresh and magically powerful troops into Alrod's service begins the spread of a new darkness across the world, one that threatens everyone, including the birthrighters, who are licking their wounds from the first novel's battles.
The fall-out from book one has lots of birthrighters on edge. The issues of honesty, loyalty, obedience, and forgiveness come to the fore. And the loss of a birthrighter enclave brings extra work to the folks of Horesh. Tensions are mounting there.
Of course, temptations and trials come and complications ensue. And everybody has longings and secrets, especially secrets. Alrod is willing to torture and kill to learn one particular secret, and his obession is bolstered mystically by Simon, the new and vicious and revolting chief sorcerer, whose power is fearful and whose appearance is chilling.
The birthrighters will, it seems, have to face a more powerfully allied & equipped Alrod.
The subplot I most enjoyed included a female rook (a new outrider) and a deformed teen boy who serves the dreadful Ghedo in his underground laboratory, a place full of mogs and potions and prisoners and horrors. The grace of God shines in this subplot--in all the plotines, really--and it's a joy to see how it plays out. Plus, hey, exciting stuff!
The stakes are higher. The opposition deadlier. And the birthrighters must make sacrifices of all sorts. And some had me teary-eyed, others sad, but all quite proud of the indomitable spirit of those full of His Spirit.
Some criticisms I've seen are correct: The conversation at the gates of Traxx seemed totally careless and out of character. A simple explanation that they were speaking in a silent code would have cleared that up.
I also find that the emotional turnabouts of the baroness seemed to come out of the blue, but that might well be explained by what was done to her by Ghedo.
And characters explain the whole birthrighter thing maybe one or two too many times. This may make it easier, however, for people who read only TRACKERS. I found it mildly intrusive, but it did not dilute my reading pleasure by more than by a few drops. You might think it a plus!
Overall, I think this was a rollicking good tale. Unlike some other reviews I've seen, I take no issue with the multiple and changing points of view. I enjoyed that. Made the pace hum for me. And this is quite a fast-paced, action-packed, drama-filled, spiritual story. I highly recommend it.
I enjoyed it more than OUTRIDERS, but then, the emotional content was stronger and the suspense was palpable. Book one had to do its introductory duty--characters, places, conflicts--which this novel can just run with.
If you want your science fiction (or science fantasy, as the case may be) woven through with spirituality and strong conflicts, this novel may be for you. Try it.