Former stealth pilot James R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. He has been shot at, locked up by surface to air missiles, has hunted insurgents with drones, and was once chased by an armed terrorist down a winding German road. James is the Carol Award winning author of the Clandestine Service Series and a three-time winner of the Silver Falchion Award for Juvenile Fiction for his Section 13 Series.

In this interview, James talks with us about book two in his Lightraider Academy Series, titled Bear Knight.

FF: What inspired the story in your book Bear Knight?
As a pastor’s kid in the 1980s, I had the opportunity to “guinea-pig” every new youth discipleship program from a range of Christian organizations. The one that stuck with me (the one that is still part of who I am) was DragonRaid, an “adventure learning system” that works like a cross between a choose-your-adventure and a roleplaying game set in the fantasy realm of Talania. 35 years later, Dick Wulf, the creator of that realm, has passed the torch to me. Bear Knight is the second novel in a whole family of interconnected games and stories set in that realm of Talania. Bear Knight takes a look at courage in the face of a range of fears, from physical danger to the fear of failing our friends and loved ones.

FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Connor Entrain and Kara Orso are cadets at Lightraider Academy, nearing a big promotion to the rank of cadet scout. Kara, having started later than the rest, is fighting to catch up to the class. Meanwhile, dark creatures are entering the land, and the cadets at the newly revived academy, led by Connor, are at the forefront of the battle to stop an invasion. As if this isn’t enough, Kara’s brother remains trapped in the Dragon Lands of Tanelethar. Her struggle to do it all—be the cadet she wants to be, be the friend Connor wants her to be, serve her homeland, and rescue her brother—places a great burden on her shoulders.

FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Tiran surprised me most. Tiran is a friend to both Connor and Kara who suffered greatly (due to his own hubris) in the first book of the series. His ability to bounce back and become the comrade-in-arms that Kara needed truly surprised me.

FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
A core principle of DragonRaid (and the upcoming Lightraiders Adventure Bible System) is “learning through story.” Allegory and storytelling help us see truths from a different angle or perspective. Dick Wulf knew this when he created the realm of Talania. I’m excited about the future of Lightraiders, since the system deepens that potential for learning and understanding by placing players inside the story and giving them control over the action and emotion.

FF: What can readers expect from the rest of this series?
Readers can expect to see the Lightraider Academy cadets grow together and experience new dangers and challenges. They can expect to see the mists peeled back and more of the fantastical realm of Talania revealed. And they can expect more opportunities to take part in the realm through additional games and stories from Lightraiders. In fact, they can participate in an online reader-directed origin story growing chapter by chapter right now on the blog at

FF: What kind of research did you do for Bear Knight?
I lived in the realm of Talania as a teen. And when I grew up, I wrote new adventures so my children, nieces, and nephews could spend some time there as well (that’s how Dick Wulf and I connected). I know every vine in Dayspring Forest, every smooth rock in the stream running past the gates of Lightraider Academy. I know them because I grew up there. I’ve been preparing to write this series of stories since I was twelve years old. To broaden that experience for Bear Knight, I dug into geography (for the strange canyon Tagamoor), linguistics (for the fantasy language in which the characters speak Scripture before translating key concepts for the reader), and the Word (for Biblical answers to fear).

FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
I want readers to understand that Christ is the first person to seek when they are frightened in any form. I want them to understand the hope and peace they’ll find in the Breastplate of Righteousness and the Helmet of Salvation. No matter what the world throws at us, our eternal hope is in Him.

FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
There are many competing voices here, and not all of them are shouting the truth. More and more, big publishers are sacrificing Biblical truth for world conformity and sales. I’m grateful to Enclave Escape for the opportunity to get the Lightraiders message out. Another challenge is creating something new out of the old. It’s no easy task to build a realm from a 1980s foundation for a 2023 audience, creating something unique that bridges the divide between the original game and the new system.

FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
Obviously, Dick Wulf inspired me (NavPress author, Christian counselor, Focus on the Family contributor, and DragonRaid creator). Also on the list are Calvin Miller (The Singer Trilogy, The Valiant Papers), C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien.

FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
My faith defines the way I tell stories. I write to encourage or edify others and to honor Christ. I hope that one day He’ll tell me I’ve done well in that endeavor.

Bear Knight
Lightraider Academy Series #2
James R. Hannibal
Enclave Escape
Genres: YA/Teen. Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Release Date: February 14, 2023

ASIN: ‎ B0B8M134P8
ISBN-13: ‎ 979-8886050301

Book Summary:
Darkness Looms in the Dragon Lands

War is brewing. New threats have emerged in Keledev. The watchmen of Thousand Falls and the Windhold find goblin tunnels in the slopes of the mountain barrier that may hold many dangerous creatures. At the same time, scouting missions into the Dragon Lands confirm that the dragons are building an army of tortured Aladoth villagers to destroy the Liberated Land.

To protect Kara Orso, the young woman Connor and Lee rescued, the headmaster sends them to the Second Hall to face the intrigues of the Assembly in her place. Far to the south, the two cadets learn of an old weapon designed to end the war between the dragons and the Liberated Land forever. To restore the honor of his family and renew the hope of his people, Connor believes he must find the weapon and use it to destroy the dragon leader.

While Connor, Lee, and an assemblyman’s daughter scour the Dragon Lands for the weapon, Kara and Tiran are drawn north into the Forest of Horrors on a mission of their own—to find and save one tortured man. To succeed, both parties must face their fears and lean on the peace and strength of the Rescuer.


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About The Author

Former stealth pilot James R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. He has been shot at, locked up with surface to air missiles, and chased down a winding German road by an armed terrorist. He is a two-time Silver Falchion award-winner for his Section 13 mysteries, a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series, and a Selah Award finalist for his Clandestine Service series. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. If he tells you the chocolate cake you offered smells blue and sticky, take it as a compliment.