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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

“Love is like a lot of things, it is always best done with the head. Save mindless efforts for mindless things.”-Raymond E Feist, Magician: Master

I reread the entire Riftwar Saga. It is still as good as I remember ūüôā

MagicianSilverthornA Darkness at Sethanon

What I most liked about it then, and still like about it now, is that plans don’t always turn out as expected, and the books take truly unpredictable turns. Instead of the¬†standard “orphan turns magician and weds the beautiful princess” that it starts with, the Magician needs to go through a lot to become the magician, he doesn’t wed the princess (oops, spoiler) and so many other things and people come into it and make it even more interesting: monks, priests, aliens, tigers, eagles, dragons, giant ants, centaurs, elves, dwarves, you name it. And a really great story.

Even the quote above illustrates this. Instead of “follow your heart” and “go with the flow” and “the heart wants what the¬†heart wants” the message is “leave mindless efforts for mindless things.” Beautiful!

5 stars.

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I haven’t been in a mood to read new books lately, I’ve been sticking to old favorites – comfort books. But I did read this gem.

On the back:

” ‘Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.’ The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things. When Brimstone called, she always came. In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole. Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.”

This isn’t exact, but it does express the general concept of the book. However, it doesn’t do justice to the witty writing style, the depth of the characters, and the laugh out load moments. I admit to a certain disappointment when I realized that this wasn’t a fantasy with romantic overtones but half fantasy, half romance; but this was more than made up for as the story unfolded and additional mysteries were revealed. But be warned: It’s the first of a trilogy.

In short, read it. 5 stars.

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I’ll tell you something in confidence, just between us. I hate epic series.

I hate the waiting for the new book; I hate that by the 4th (or 5th, or 10th, or…) book you can’t remember what the point ¬†was to begin with; I hate that authors loose their way and begin making up new people and problems that weren’t planned; I hate the endless quality of epics, where things just keep on happening and happening and happening…

In spite of this, I did read the Way of Kings, because it’s Brandon Sanderson. And I was stunned with the depth and texture and general wonderfulness of Way of Kings, so I also got this second book, Words of Radiance.

And while I still hate epic series, I love the Stormlight Archive. Each book so far could double as a door stopper, and still it’s gripping, and funny, and sad, and opens a completely different and new (though not necessarily brave) new world. The genius of Sanderson (so far, at least) is that he knows where he’s going, and he knows why he’s mentioning this scene in this place, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t disappoint me like all the other epics.

In short: so far, so amazing. Go read it. 5 stars.

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On the face of it, this looks like the most boring book on earth. If a friend hadn’t recommended it I wouldn’t have thought of it twice. A retelling of sleeping beauty? Who cares? I don’t even¬†like sleeping beauty!

But oh, this is beautiful.

If I had never heard of sleeping beauty, it would still be an amazing book. Magic, friendship, family, battles, fairies, strong and interesting characters (most of them female!) and a sweet style of writing that just sucks you right in. The real and the magic mesh so seamlessly. Forget fairy tales. Forget retellings. Just read it. 5 stars.

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Front Cover
It has been said before that I have the literary taste of a teenage boy. This is because I like adventure and fantasy, which is considered “not serious” literature (and Nora Roberts is?). However, I find nothing wrong with that, and this way I get to swap books with the neighbor and the neighbor’s son ūüėČ

This book I actually got from the library (from the teen section). And it is awesome. It tells the tale of three¬†teenagers who discover that they are demigods, of the Greek mythology type. So you’ve got teenagers with awesome¬†powers¬†who need to save the world. What could be bad? And even though the plot sounds old and worn, Rick Riordan manages to make it sparkling new. I’ve read so many books that try to emulate this plot with mediocre success (Paolini’s¬†Inheritance Cycle comes to mind ūüėē ). This one managed to be suspenseful yet funny, icky yet still compassionate. It made me laugh out loud. So I’ve signed on for another series of fantasy books…

Apparently, I’ve signed on for two or more series, as this is not Rick Riordan’s first series of fantasy books. I saw that the rest were of the same type: One series precedes this, and it should be interesting; another series explores Egyptian mythology instead. Definitely reading them ūüôā ¬†Rick Riordan also has an adult series, but it isn’t fantasy – it’s thrillers. Based on some of the reviews I assume it will be violent, so probably not going to try them. But anything else of his is going down in my reading list.

5 stars. Caveat: This is teen fiction. Expect teen language and potty humour.

* Only after I read it twice, it occurred to me that the the main character is a serious, moral and brave boy; whose best friend is intelligent yet comic; and their friend is a girl who is well read and yet quietly beautiful, and all of them have magical powers. But this is where the similarity ends. The entire feel of the story is completely different from the Harry Potter books, from the language to the atmosphere to the suspense. But maybe the ideal set of characters for a YA book has been found ūüėÄ

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“The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory. He’s got esprit up to here.¬†Right now, he’s preparing to carry out his third mission of¬†the¬†night. His uniform is black as activated charcoal, filtering the very light out of¬†the¬†air. A bullet will bounce off its arachnofiber weave like a wren hitting a patio door… Where his body has bony extremities, the suit has sintered armorgel: feels like gritty jello, protects like a stack of telephone books. When they gave him the job, they gave him a gun…The Deliverator’s car has¬†enough¬†potential¬†energy packed into its batteries to fire a pound of bacon into the asteroid belt…Why is the Deliverator so equipped? Because¬†people rely on him. He is a role model.” (Snow crash, pages 1-2)

It is only some paragraphs later that you¬†discover¬†that the Deliverator is… a pizza delivery guy. For the Mafia. It just gets more¬†interesting¬†from there, as Neal Stephenson builds a¬†picture¬†of the future that is at once chilling and amusing, and totally believable. And being¬†Stephenson,¬†he also explains complex abstract subjects in clear and simple language, so you barely notice he’s just substantially increased your knowledge of virtual reality, religion, samurai and ancient civilization.

Amazing.

I tried to read this originally in the last stages of¬†pregnancy¬† and couldn’t (I was reading Nora¬†Roberts¬†exclusively at the time, which should give you an idea of my condition). I got back to it now, and boy was it worth the wait! This is at once amusing and thought provoking,¬†suspenseful¬†and¬†emotional,¬† intellectual and action-packed.

Go read it. 5 stars.

Note: this was published in 1992, so “the future” in the book is more of an alternate reality by this time. But it could still happen.

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Moonheart

It is after all possible to have too much of a good thing. After staying at home for almost 5 months, I am done reading light literature, and I have¬†actually¬†resumed work on my thesis. I’m going back to work this Sunday. I can feel my IQ draining slowly back into my brain ūüôā

As part of the¬†celebration¬†of that, I reread de Lint’s Moonheart. I remembered it vaguely, but no more. And there is so much more!

Moonheart at its simplest explores Sara Kendel’s discovery of the Otherworld, a world close to this one yet with elves, manitous, faerie and more, and her battle with an evil being that stalks her. Woven in it are the stories of Keiran Foy, an apprentice in the Way; John Tucker, of the RCMP; and Jamie Tams, Sara’s uncle.

On a less simplistic level, Moonheart explores the world that is merged with this one, but unseen, and the workings of the soul that are just out of our reach. de Lint’s talent lies in weaving mythical tales not in a place “far far away and a long long time ago”, but here and now *, in the middle of the city. After reading his books, you keep feeling that if you turn your head faster, you’ll see an elf run between cars, and if you listen harder, you’ll hear the strains of¬†the¬†harp pulling you on…

Pure magic. 5 stars.

* Well, in Canada in the 1980s.

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