Friday, May 15, 2015

Praise and Arrows, Redux

A couple years ago, I wrote a gushing review of Cliff Graham’s Lion of War series, about King David’s mighty men. I had read them all in rapid succession and have since read them several more times (as well as literally everything else by Cliff that I can get my hands on).

Cliff is what I would call a true innovator in how he produces and distributes his work. He’s not in any sense a slave to convention, which is truly odd in an industry where convention is something of a demigod. His first couple novels were published by Zondervan and sold through the normal channels for Christian fiction, becoming bestsellers (despite the potential shock value of uber-graphic war novels on shelves next to bonnet fiction). For his next few projects, he established a publishing imprint (or, he would say, a transmedia empire!) and released them himself. Demand did not, it seems, flag. It seems like almost every day, Cliff’s team was giving updates about how they were doing their best to keep up with all the orders and thanks for your patience and sorry for the delay and all that. (I’m guessing that, with the cult following his stuff enjoys, no one complained all that much.)

Here's when this former soldier and youth pastor made a couple of really groundbreaking moves. First, he released an album full of songs about his Lion of War books (especially the first book, Day of War). Only these aren’t written or performed by Cliff. No, these are songs by Trip Lee, Stellar Kart, Audio Adrenaline, and other chart-topping artists. It’s one of my favorite albums and contains the first song to which my six-year-old son spontaneously head-banged. Then the guy (Cliff Graham, not my son) announces that he’s selling memberships to something called the Warpath. What’s that, you ask? It means that you receive advance copy e-books of every single book Cliff writes in perpetuity, including his ongoing (and spectacular) “Hall of Mighty Men” short story series. If you're more of an audio book kind of guy, he's also podcasting these stories. Oh, and he's using a bunch of the money from these projects to go on sting operations to break up human trafficking rings.


Now he’s back on bookstore shelves with a new novel, kicking off a new series about the Exodus and Conquest, through the eyes of Caleb. The first novel is called Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus. I had a chance to read it early and, believe me, it is as good as Day of War, which is crazy-high praise. It came out a couple days ago, and you can pick it up at any bookstore.

I hope I’ve convinced you of how compelling and full of truth Cliff Graham's words are. So let me leave you with a couple quotes of particular interest to me:

1. “This is an exciting step forward for thrillers. Playing Saint grapples with complex themes as well as being richly suspenseful. Highly recommended.”
CLIFF GRAHAM, bestselling author of Day of War
and Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus

(If you don't already have it, you can buy my book Playing Saint at your local bookstore or through Amazon, iTunes,, or

2. “Hemingway stilled the demons with booze. I still them with the Gut Check Podcast.” 
CLIFF GRAHAM, 4/19/2015

(He said this on the podcast I co-host with Ted Kluck, during one of the most hilariously enjoyable conversations I've had in years. You can listen to it here.)
I’m encouraged that there is more and more good Christian fiction written for men out there, and Cliff Graham’s is some of the best there is. I hope he keeps on writing until he’s an old, grizzled man, like Caleb, telling tales of Good Battle to young warriors.

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