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FantasyReader

Traditional Fantasy

Reviews of books traditionally from the Fantasy genre, not Romance, and some science fiction.

Fantastically Medieval

Plague Land - S. D. Sykes

Set in London, 1350, two years after the start of the bubonic plague in that city.

 

Not for the squeamish. The opening scene is pretty gruesome and had me muttering about superstition and stupidity.

 

In a wonderfully medieval tone, a first person account begins, told by a Lord of the manor, far too young. With several of the local authorities dead of plague, responsibility is brought to his door when a dead girl is found in the woods.

 

As a younger son who is only Lord because his older brothers fell victim to the plague, Oswald is unprepared for his role but rises to the challenge with admirable self-discipline and intelligence. Plots and intrigue make it necessary for him to learn the ways of land-grabbing Lords fast, and a superstitious priest complicates his every move.

 

I loved the writing in this. Despite the stress and some gory scenes, it's wonderfully medieval and at times even poetic in well written prose. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Historical Fiction or Fantasy.

Reblogged from Debbie's Spurts:
"The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.
"

—T.S. Eliot

Wow, followers!

I seem to have been followed by several people recently, so I suppose I had better write an introduction.

 

My name is Victoria and I like to read most anything but have a special love for good fantasy. I don't spend a lot of time online so I'm not here constantly. I just drop in to post a few reviews and make random comments. If I spent all my time online I would never get a chance to read!

 

So Hi everyone. If you have any good recommendations for fantasy books, point me that way! I like werewolves, vampires and other creatures, but not the Romance kind. I'm old fashioned about my monsters and other non-humans. Mostly I like good world building and of course a well told story. Not too many child protagonists. I'm no teenager and passed the coming of age stories long ago.

Good character development

The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper - Phaedra Patrick

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a whimsical story about a man who has recently lost his wife and finds a mysterious charm bracelet while clearing out her belongings.

 

Arthur is a man of routine and habit and finds the discovery odd because he thought he knew everything about his wife, including the jewellery she owned. A phone number engraved on one of the charms begins a journey that takes Arthur through adventures while he discovers the life his wife had led before they met, one filled with exotic travels and interesting people.

 

The clues that link one charm to another were done in a believable way and the characters he encounters are each interesting in individual ways, though not always what you might expect. One of the strengths of the book is Arthur's development as a character himself and how it affects the dynamics with the people closest to him.

 

The end was a surprise, but I liked the way it was done. This was a very entertaining read and I'll look for more stories from this author.

DNF

Lycan Fallout - Mark Tufo

I was just. So. BORED!

Not really, only if you watch the news. Still, only in fiction can you ride dragons.
Reblogged from Dilettante:

Plus, fiction makes more sense!

Another DNF

THIS SIDE OF THE SUN - Blythe Santiago

I hate to DNF books but sometimes reading becomes torture. This appears to be written for a high school level. It babbles on about nothing for so long it was difficult to work out what it was supposed to be about.

Parts of it were completely unrealistic. After an explosion, a man picks her up? What about possible internal injuries?

It was obvious before the first chapter finished exactly how it was going to end, but I didn't get that far. I started feeling nausea at "The thought of this stranger leaving my side sent me into near-panic" (inappropriate use of hyphen aside)

It goes downhill from there.

"His face was full of intense tension"

 

Yeah. Gave up on this one early on.

DNF 50%

There Will Be Time - Poul Anderson

Like many older science fiction stories, this one feels dated, but I allow for that. It sort of dragged in the first few chapters but by chapter four, the time travel aspect became a little more interesting. It was in some ways over explained and became like 'telling', but the idea itself worked well enough.

 

Admittedly the story moves slowly. Maybe it's too much attempt at explaining something that very little was known about in its time, or maybe it's just the author's writing style. I haven't read anything else by him so I can't be sure. I persevered because it had a lot of recommendations, though it was hard work. Unfortunately it got to be drudgery a little past halfway and the misogyny was getting irritating. I allow for a certain amount in these older scifi books but it was getting a little too thick and the lack of action was putting me to sleep, so had to DNF.

Perfect finish to the series

Power of the Dance - Jaq D. Hawkins

All the books in this trilogy are supposed to be stand alone, but I think this one needs to be read with background information from at least one of the other two. It occurs a generation after Demoniac Dance and the children in that story have grown up, some even having children of their own.

 

It's hard to say much about this story without giving spoilers for the previous one, so if you haven't read Demoniac Dance, you might want to read that one first before finishing this review.

 

Khemael, the main character, is mostly human looking in appearance, except for his large, dragon-like wings. If he allows a human to see him, there's an equal chance of being mistaken for an angel or a demon. He enjoys flying freely and this causes problems, because of course goblins are supposed to stay out of sight and one of the characters from the previous novel who is a dragon also breaks a few rules by going out to fly.

 

The ability comes in handy when a tribe of wild men move towards the old city and present a danger to the human settlements there. Old enemies have to cooperate once again against a common foe.

 

This had some very dramatic scenes in it and wrapped the series as a whole up very neatly. It's definitely one of my favourite series and I highly recommend it to any Fantasy readers. If you read on Kindle, the complete series in one volume periodically goes on sale very cheaply and it's just called The Goblin Trilogy so keep an eye out for it.

 

I'm partly sad that the ending worked so well because that means no more books in this world, unless the author does a parallel timeline series like Anne McCaffrey and others have done.

Flavour of Zelazny

Jack of Shadows - Roger Zelazny

This was an interesting read. It wasn't quite up to the level of his Amber series, but it showed a similar panorama of the bizarre imagination of Roger Zelazny.

 

Jack is a likeable antihero who is a talented thief, not least of all because he is a darksider and can disappear into shadow. Darksiders have multiple lives, but no soul. Death means starting again, but he has to make his way back to the world through an otherworldly realm of the dead where magical beings rule.

 

The story stretches the imagination, as Zelazny tends to do, though being a thing of its time it could get some complaints of misogyny. Not something I'll re-read but a classic to tick off the list.

End of the series for me

Black Powder War - Naomi Novik

I loved that this story started right after the previous one ended. Temeraire and his crew are still in China, but both weather and a problem with the ship are preventing their return to England, when they get an urgent missive to transport some eggs. A dragon can fly distances over land, but there are dangers. Urgency and Temeriere's enthusiasm drive Captain Laurence to try that route.

 

Much of the story takes place in Turkey this time so we get a different cultural flavour. I had mixed feelings about the story overall. It was different from their previous adventures, yet in many ways it seemed samey. I actually put the book aside for a while and came back to it, determined to finish though finding it a slog. I think this is the end of the series for me, though there are six more books. It's just not holding my attention anymore.

DNF at 16%.

Rise of the Dragons (Kings and Sorcerers--Book 1) - Morgan Rice

I'm bored.

 

The first chapter showed promise, but I started feeling like I was reading off a Fantasy template and just couldn't get involved in the story.

Interesting new concept in Fantasy

Ephraim's Curious Device (Clockpunk Wizard, #2) - Lita Burke

Imagine Fantasy wizards selling magical services from an airship that can allow them to travel. It's one of those concepts that a Fantasy writer naturally wishes they had thought of first!

 

This story is a new adventure for characters that we met in The Forever Boy, but stands well on its own for those who have not read the other story. Still I would recommend reading Forever Boy as it is a wonderful introduction to these characters and gives the reader the background of Furgo.

 

The story is rather fun and has an interesting and unique approach to magical curses. Despite some trepidation of one rather long name - Hissalumieon - the story flows well and keeps the reader interested. The rules of magic are well explained within the context of the story and used to good effect in the plot as it unfolds.

 

This was one of the best Fantasy novels I've read in a while.

Cute YA Fantasy

Ink: A Mermaid Romance: A Falling in Deep Collection Novella - Melanie Karsak

Like many YA stories, this started out with slightly amateurish sentence structure and concepts that don't fit into my Fantasy world view, like the idea of mermaids transforming into human form temporarily, plus too much information dumping in the first chapter. Despite all that, I found myself interested in the story and read on.

 

It was actually a rather interesting story. Whatever else I might say, I did enjoy reading it. I liked the main character, Ink, and the balance she fund between being an independent personality and having the foresight to think about how her actions would affect her people.

 

I liked the way the factions were set up and the realism of mer foibles when living among humans.

 

The drama towards the end could have been more drawn out with suspense and a couple more things going wrong, but overall it was a satisfying conclusion. What it lacks in details and other qualities of great storytelling, it makes up for in good, strong characters and storyline.

Series slowing down

Throne of Jade - Naomi Novik

This felt a lot slower than the previous books. The plot has a new direction, yet it's all starting to sound samey. Battles in the air with dragons. More battles in the air with dragons.

 

The first book was really good, but I think I'm done with this series. It just isn't holding my attention anymore.

Fantastic Dragon Series!

His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

This has to be the best dragon book since Pern. It starts out on an English navy ship in the time of the Napoleonic wars, only when they capture a French ship, they discover a dragon egg. We get a good feeling of naval protocol from the main character, Captain Laurence, but it becomes an alternative history where an air corp of dragon riders plays a part in the otherwise historic tale.

 

I thought it was extremely well done. The characters are strong and distinctive and several significant ones develop and grow in the telling. This includes dragon characters as well as humans. Some battle scenes add action but mostly it's about the relationships among military personnel and the details about how to sustain a fighting force of dragons. What the dragons think of the whole set up adds both humor and thoughtfulness.

 

The series has nine books at the time of writing and I'll be interested to see how long the whole of it can keep my attention. I have the first three books in a combined volume so I'll certainly read that far. I usually prefer a series to go three to four books. Any longer and it becomes either samey or tedious. I'll keep an open mind. For the moment I'm looking forward to reading the second book. I can't help wondering how people from countries who were on the other side of that war would like it though. It's very much an 'English are the good guys' point of view.