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Today I am featuring The Thorn by Daron Fraley.

Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world – Earth – is about to appear in the heavens. During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon – a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others. In the end, Pekah’s selfless bravery is the means by which all the tribes are united. But there are dissenters, and Rezon escapes a well-deserved fate. When the promised heavenly signs appear, will there be peace at last, or will the malefactors once again threaten the safety of them all?

The Thorn, was filled with intriguing details that brought the world of Gan to life: the twin suns of Azure and Aqua, with their blue light, the glow stones that gave light to lanterns, and the three moons who cycles governed the calendar. Light is important in a world that looks forward to the coming of the “One Who Would Suffer.”

The people of Gan are descended from three brothers into separate tribes. Each tribe has distinct stewardships. The Gideonites were originally the guardians of the people, but now their men served in a vengeful, aggressive army. The Uzzahites are the priests of the people who served in the temples. The third group are the Danielites. They are the governing tribe.

When three men, one from each tribe, unite under difficult times, they determine to bring the three tribes together. To do so they face a large ferocious army that has been taught lies for generations. This army has superior weapons and armor. Betrayal, murder, and secret oaths are also the tools of their formidable enemy. Will faith and righteousness (and some skill with swords and arrows) bring the three “brothers” the peace they seek? And are the dreams visions of hope or of warning?

The Thorn is a compelling story of loyalty, the healing power of forgiveness, the strength of brotherhood, and the evil that will always try to destroy that. You can download The Thorn at Smashwords.

Daron Fraley was born in Powell, Wyoming, but doesn’t consider himself a cowboy. Living in France for a couple of years provided him the opportunity to hone his cooking skills and to become addicted to good food and chocolate. Apart from his loving family, teaching and writing are his two most favorite things in the world. A classic computer geek, he still likes to fish and camp, makes a mean apple or pumpkin pie from scratch, and once fixed a gas clothes dryer using photocopier parts. With all of his interests in music, art, the sciences, and religion (especially religion), he would have been quite comfortable living during the Renaissance. Having toured chilly castles while in France, he is glad he didn’t live during that time. This is his first novel.

After ten total years in the wonderful state of Indiana, Daron, his wife Jennifer, and their six children once again live in the beautiful Rockies, close to friends and family in Wyoming and Utah.

I had the opportunity to interview Daron recently:

Me: What led to writing The Thorn?
Daron: Just a dream. Not the sparkley-vampire sort of dream, but a dream to someday write a book. And then I had this thought bouncing around in my head: What would it be like to be one of God’s children on another planet? That thought got me started.
Me: In The Thorn there are three major characters: Jonathan, the heir to the Danielite throne, Eli, the priest and warrior, and Pekah, the soldier and new convert who risks his own life for Jonathan. Which of these did you relate to the best?
Daron: Hmm. That is a really tough one. I think I relate to Jonathan’s quiet introspective nature, and Pekah’s desire to be true and loyal. But Eli is hard for me to relate to because I have a hard time letting go of my daily stresses and just goofing off for a while. But I have had friends like that, and I enjoy being around them. Physically, I feel like Uzziel. 🙂
Me: As a climber of trees, (ok, it’s been awhile) I liked the idea of the hidden cave accessed from climbing a tall tree. Have you ever had a place you escaped to?
Daron: Yes, actually I have. There was a cave near my home growing up, but no nearby trees. But there was a grove of trees down by the river where some teenage friends and I built a fort. Every summer we would go down there and camp. We took our B-B-guns, our bows, fishing poles, and camping gear. We would leave in the morning and wouldn’t come back until late the next day.
Me: The setting of The Thorn is often in a city, yet each of them are unique. Did you have a favorite? Are you a city person?
Daron: I like Ain because it was modeled after Aix-les-Bains in Provence, southern France. Lots of fountains. But I am not really a city person. Hasor is more my speed.
Me: The Thorn seemed based in a culture developed to the technology level of the French Middle Ages complete with Norman castles and trebuchets. What was your favorite part of France?
Daron: I loved the Alps and the southern cities. The castles were AWESOME. Tarascon! I love the way the builders did the defenses on that castle. It was never taken by enemies until the advent of the cannon. If you look at this picture: you can see the cannon damage just under the battlements.
The top of the wall was destroyed, but restored in recent years. That is why the battlements look perfect and yet the wall has holes. Here are more pictures. Entrance to the keep was achieved by crossing a draw-bridge over a moat (fed by the river on the back side of the castle), under a portcullis, through the archway into a deep recess, up a ramp which circled back on itself, onto the courtyard platform, across another narrow bridge, through a hardened gate, through the gatehouse, then finally another door into the keep’s court. The entire path was guarded by murderholes, oil spouts, and arrow slits. OK, I’ll stop there. What can I say? I liked the castle. I plan on using this castle layout in one of my stories.
Me: Ok, I’m intrigued. Looks like a great place to go see. Thanks for sharing. So, when you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing? What consumes most of your time?
Daron: I love to read. I also enjoy fishing. I don’t get enough time to do either.
Me: You mentioned you like to teach. What do you teach?
Daron: I have taught Early Morning Seminary (Book of Mormon year). I am currently teaching Gospel Doctrine. Isaiah is one of my favorites. I love the imagery.
Me: I love Isaiah also. He’s all through my current work. But, back to you, do you have some favorite books that you’d reread?
Daron: LOTR, Chronicles of Narnia. Can’t think of many others I have read more than once. But I plan on re-reading the Mistborn series. Sanderson is my new favorite author. I loved Warbreaker. I am reading Elantris now.
Me: LOTR is forever a fav. And I read all the Chronicles to my children. You have six children—that’s wonderful. Tell us a bit about them and Jennifer.
Daron: I have really good kids, a gift for which I am grateful. I don’t have a lot of patience and so I think the Lord blessed me with kids who instinctively try to do the right thing. My wife Jennifer is a great mother. She has been a youth idol and a primary hero. Kids love her. So do I.
Me: If you could choose the perfect day, what would it be?
Daron: A day at the beach in the Caribbean with a good book and my laptop. Or perhaps fishing the Henry’s Fork River in late August. Henry’s Lake, beneath Kings Peak (highest point in Utah) feeds into it. It’s a wilderness area and I love them.
Or just enjoying a wonderful Sunday without my kids fighting at all. 🙂 Any of these would work.
Me: Thanks for sharing Daron. I enjoyed your book.