It was Robin Hardy who introduced me to contemporary Christian fiction. Friends from the Navigators, a Christian organization with a publishing arm, gave me the Navpress-published Streiker saga and I fell in love with it.
But it was the 90s, and Christian fiction didn’t have enough following in the Philippines to warrant shelf space in bookstores. You’ll find Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High, sure, but definitely not Robin Hardy, or any other Christian fiction author, for that matter. So when my Navigator friends gifted me with another set of Hardy’s books, The Annals of Lystra, I was ecstatic.
Fast forward to adulthood, and I’d almost forgotten about Robin Hardy. It just seemed like she fell off the grid. I continued to consume novels like I consumed rice, which in the Philippines is an absolute staple in every meal, and eventually found access to Christian fiction through a local publisher. But I never came across new titles from Robin Hardy.
Thank God for the internet. I found Robin Hardy online and saw she had been productive, but with a smaller publisher. Probably why I missed her new titles entirely, and why my fiction-loving friends haven’t heard of her.
Robin Hardy is one of the most creative and original authors I’ve read. And unpredictable! I simply can’t peg her characters or figure out what they’re going to do.
I sampled a few books from The Latter Annals of Lystra and happily discovered that Hardy hasn’t lost her touch. Admittedly, her books could benefit from better packaging and sharper editing. Still, more people should read her—it’s just pure enjoyment to be lost in her creation.
I’ve just finished reading two of her latest books, and they don’t disappoint.
All Mirrors, All Suns
(Book 8 of The Latter Annals of Lystra)
Surchatain Ares and his wife Nicole struggle to rule Lystra with righteousness, but the latest threat to Ares’ life has forced him to feign death to smoke out his would-be murderer. Meanwhile, their twin daughters grapple with growing up and falling in love.
All Mirrors, All Suns is rich in detail and full of the flavor and drama of medieval royal life. The book cover does it a big disservice; I wish it was more eye-catching, more telling of what’s inside. And while Hardy is an excellent storyteller, the book could still do with some editing to tighten the narrative
The Laughing Side of the World
(Book 9 of The Latter Annals of Lystra)
In the conclusion of the saga, Ares abdicates the throne and goes undercover to expose corruption in the monastery and leprosarium. With the help of Nicole and those loyal to him, he uncovers a secret rebellion and rallies to preserve the kingdom.
The Laughing Side of the World ends the whole saga well. I was just a bit confused about the persons behind the rebellion—it seemed to have come from nowhere. Maybe if some hints were planted earlier on, it would’ve made more sense to me.
In classic Robin Hardy style, these books shares insights from God’s Word with subtlety and grace. I read Christian fiction regularly and always, always, I get Scripture and religious jargon rammed down my throat, and I either gloss over it or swallow it like a bitter pill. Sometimes, it’s an inspired addition, but more often than not, it feels preachy and contrived.
In All Mirrors, All Suns, and The Laughing Side of the World, there are no lengthy prayers or verses, no nicely wrapped moral lesson delivered in dramatic dialog.
But the thoughts, actions, and struggles of the characters invite a closer look at what it means to follow Christ, especially when it means going against the grain—and that, for me, can sometimes be more powerful than pounding on the pulpit.