Saturday, November 15, 2014

Title:       Champions [The Lost Chronicles of Eden, book 1]
Author:   Karren Renz Seña
Rating:   ★★★
Availability: Shepherd's Voice Publications | National Bookstore
*Copy given by Shepherd's Voice Publications in exchange for an honest review.

Champions caught my fancy with its talk of swords and the Garden of Eden. I hadn't thought about the Garden of Eden in fiction in a long time, although it is a point of fascination for me since it was paradise on earth. At first, I thought 'champions' were just another way of referring to angels, but I was wrong, and the book proved to be more interesting than I expected, in several ways.


Present day, Cielos, the city closest to heaven. The Sword of Sargatanas has been stolen from the most powerful stronghold in Cielterra. When used at a time when the planets align, the sword has the power to open Gate Pandora and unleash unto the Worlds legions upon legions of monsters and beasts from hell.

Present day, location undisclosed. One clueless Human acquaints himself with the barrel of a gun—belonging to the woman he almost fell in love with, no less—and finds himself kidnapped and whisked to a world standing on the brink of war.

The Worlds—both visible and invisible to us—are in danger. The Towers that guard the Flaming Sword of Eden have chosen the heroes. It just so happened that the heroes aren’t really… hero-material. Not at all.

Seven angry, sarcastic, violent, belligerent, uncaring and uncompassionate young men and women were forced to team up to stop a possible apocalypse from happening. As they journey towards the Far West to retrieve the stolen sword, the seven Champions brave one trial after another (including, but not limited to, falling in love with ill-tempered bullies) and ultimately find out what it means to become a true hero.

The "good vs bad" theme in fiction is nothing new, and I thought, coming from Kerygma, the book would be heavily laced with not-so-subtle moral lessons. But I was happily proven wrong. A point in Seña's favor: I did not feel like I was being preached to, but integrity, human frailty, and perseverance were evident in the champions' journey from day 1.

Champions turned out to be a book I spent several days reading because I wanted to savor every page. The last page became something I dreaded to reach - something that only occurs when I've become emotionally involved in the story. I wanted the book to last longer because I've gotten caught up in the battle and I just wanted to know that things will turn out okay. I know, I know, things almost always turn out okay in books like these. But as a reader who has read thousands of books, this is a feeling and edge I have never gotten quite used to.

The characters were "champions" so to speak, because they were chosen for their abilities, and were deemed deserving to wield special swords. I thought they were angels, but they were just more than human, but below angels. The seven champions felt very human, and I was able to sympathize and empathize with their hopes and dreams, fears and triumphs, confusion and arrogance. I love kick-ass heroines, and Champions did not disappoint. But what I loved even more is that there was a balance between the male and female protagonists. While the women were strong, the men were also capable of holding their own. They each had their weaknesses, and they each had their triumphs.

A portion of the story happened in present-day earth, but most of the story took place in Cielterra. Cielterra is how I imagine future cities could look like maybe in a few hundreds of years. The most graphic comparison I could think of is the city of Asgard. Their way of transportation, from the hover boards to the puestos, made me wish I'll live long enough to see them become a reality.

By the end of Champions, there were several questions that I am just burning to have answered. What does it mean to be the "King" of Cielterra? Why did Xandros become a traitor? Will Solomon be able to fight his internal demons in time to be a more effective warrior and leader? These are not questions that the first book was unable to answer, but questions that I hope will be (and should be) answered in the next books.

And when I turned the last page of the book, I could not help but wish that it was twice as long, or that its sequel will be out not long after (please Kerygma!). The writing felt raw in some places, but it did not detract from my overall reading pleasure. I have high hopes for the overall plot and story, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series as soon as they're out. Good job, Karren Seña!

KARREN RENZ SEÑA is a Teacher, a Speaker, a Writer, an Author and a Writing Coach.

She is a teacher and mother to thousands. She has taught in the the prestigious Catholic, Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas as a Literature, Humanities and English instructor. It is where she has nurtured the minds and hearts of thousands of individuals by exposing them to the various literary and artistic masterpieces of the world. She has taught them how to read books, art, culture, and most of all, life.

She is a powerful speaker. With her humor, dynamism, and charm, she has been invited to speak about the power of writing, the heart of writing, and the importance of reading.  Her modules The Might of Ink and The Heart of Ink are her most popular yet. She also gives motivational talks on determining passion, following purpose, and claiming God’s prize here on Earth. Her talk From From Zero to Hero: How to Become The Champion You Were Meant to Be inspires participants to take charge of their dreams and fulfill God’s purpose and destiny for their lives.

She is a warrior and her weapon is the pen. She now writes for several magazines, including Kerygma and FiSH magazines, POP Mag and Rogate. She has participated in several writing workshops, such as the UST Summer National Creative Writing Workshop and the J. Elizalde Navarro National Workshop for Arts Criticism. She is also the author of the pioneer epic adventure fiction for Filipino young adults, The Lost Chronicles of Eden: Champions.

She is also a Writing Coach. She sits down with aspiring authors and helps them turn their dream books into a reality by helping with the conceptualization, assisting with the outline or plot of the book, closely monitoring their progress, editing the draft and manuscript, and connecting them with potential publishers.

Karren wouldn't mind getting flushed down the toilet as a means to get to Narnia. She also believes in Neverland and Middle Earth, and is still bitter about not receiving her Hogwarts acceptance letter.

The Lost Chronicles of Eden: CHAMPIONS is the first of her many books. Beware.

Visit and join her and Solenn as they carefully lay down their nefarious plans for world domination. The awesome kind, of course. Contact for inquiries about her seminars, or if you want to know how to turn that dream book into a reality. Prepare to be wowed.