23 Followers
70 Following
FantasyReader

Traditional Fantasy

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

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.

Nice fairytale

Daughter of the Forest - Juliet Marillier

This story has a fairy tale tone, sort of like The Mists of Avalon or Snow White. In some ways it's very magical and has the feel of being set in a mock-Ireland that is at war with the English.

 

The main character is the seventh child of a seventh son and has healing abilities that are used to help a young English man who has been tortured by soldiers, but helped by her Druid brother and hidden in a cave. Of course complications arise so that she cannot care for him any longer.

The story depicts a battle of different types of spirits, one the benevolent spirit of the forest that guides and the other that appears in human form to disrupt the closeness of the family who practice a form of Pagan magic.

 

It got a little slow in the middle, but overall a good story.

A surpisingly warm Christmas story

A Christmas With The Dodger - Charlton Daines

Imagine being part of the family of The Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist when he grows up and what Christmas might be like with an expert thief as the head of the family.

 

Actually, Jack has gone straight to please his honest wife. Well, mostly anyway. Reg, his adopted nephew, comes from the streets like Jack and together they can't always manage to be squeaky clean.

 

The story is mostly about Reg and his struggle to choose whether to please his adopted mother, Lily, by being honest or to be tempted by his childhood among cut throats and thieves to commit at least small acts of pilfering.

 

The characters were nicely fleshed out and there was plenty of action and adventures. I'll definitely have to read the author's other book!

Lightbringer series

The Black Prism - Brent Weeks

This is a well written Fantasy story. By the end of the first chapter I had got to know the main character and the world we were in and it had thoroughly grabbed my attention. It has a fairly complicated magic system having to do with colored light, so that aspect takes a while to absorb (or did for me), but once it becomes generally familiar, the title makes complete sense.

 

Like most first books in a Fantasy series, this one builds the world and the magic system is revealed in stages, as is the usual mock-medieval world it happens in. It was a good read though and I'll probably continue the series in time.

This has to be the best dragon book since Pern.

His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik

I've heard this series if really good. I'm about halfway through this first book and I can believe it.

DNF 38%

The Last Knight - Nicola S. Dorrington

This was a little more YA than is my usual taste, yet it drew me in. A girl in high school meets a cute boy and despite seeing herself as ordinary in comparison to some of the pretty popular girls, his attention is on her. Events transpire and a thinly veiled Arthurian theme comes in with some friends of his with evocative names protecting her from an unknown threat.

 

It's the unknown factor that loses believability. Not the supernatural goings on themselves, but the idea that any halfway intelligent girl would put total faith in a group of boys she's just met when all she gets out of them is "Something's going on but we can't tell you because you couldn't handle it." It just doesn't wash.

 

Eventually this just got boring and I had to give up. A shame because it had potential, but it was drawn out far too arduously.

I made a list! Heartfelt Christmas stories

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings - Charles Dickens, Michael Slater The Christmas Day Kitten - James Herriot, Ruth Brown The Christmas Angel Project - Melody Carlson A Christmas With The Dodger - Charlton Daines Letters from Father Christmas - J.R.R. Tolkien, Baillie Tolkien The Cat Who Came for Christmas - Cleveland Amory, Edith Allard An Irish Country Christmas - Patrick Taylor The Magical Christmas Horse - Wendell Minor, Mary Higgins Clark A Dog Named Christmas - Greg Kincaid A Redbird Christmas - Fannie Flagg

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/726/heartfelt-christmas-stories

 

As it's December, I thought a list of feel good Christmas books was due. Some of these I've read and enjoyed myself while others have been recommended to me by people I trust and I hope to read as many as possible before Christmas.

 

What they all have in common is leaving you with that warm feeling of the holidays.

I'm not dead!

I got distracted by R/L for a while then the site wouldn't let me upload reviews, so I haven't said anything for a while. I'm still here though. Still reading Fantasy books and some other stuff. Getting ready for Christmas reads, Yay!

Another re-read

Fevre Dream - George R.R. Martin

This is a book I read when I was young and had never heard of George R.R. Martin, long before Game of Thrones. The funny thing is that although I could remember really liking it, I couldn't actually remember much about it except that it was about vampires on a Mississippi steamboat.

 

So, a second reading was in order and I'm glad I did!

 

Martin can really do suspense. I wonder how many of his earlier books are treasures still waiting to be rediscovered? His characters flow with their own individuality and the plotting is well paced.

 

There are two main storylines in this which come together around halfway through the book. One is about a bloodmaster, a leader vampire, and the situation on his plantation where the slaves are noticing things to an extent that it's becoming dangerous. The other is about, well, someone who seems a little mysterious, odd and reclusive and the reader will immediately suspect of being a vampire, but it's a little more complicated than that. It gets fully explained in context of the story.

 

Naturally there has to be a clash between these two strong characters, and the real hero of the book, the steamboat captain, is right in the middle of it all. The story is multi-layered and full of surprises and as anyone who reads Martin will know, there is no guarantee of a happy ending. One of the great things about this author is that you never know quite what to expect.

 

The story holds attention all through and is hard to put down. I highly recommend it.

Catching up

The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes

Yes, the whole set. I missed these in childhood so thought I would do a catch up read.

 

The only real problem with these are they're written for children. I was very aware of this as I read. Not the most sophisticated writing in the world.

 

However, the stories have a special charm and they make for great movies. I would recommend these for small children, but they really are too much like children's book to be a great adult read.

A re-read

Elric of Melniboné - Michael Moorcock

This was a re-read because I hadn't read it in years. Classic sword and sorcery. Elric is one of the most depressing characters I've ever encountered in Fantasy, but he has a magic sword and a purpose in the grand scheme of things.

 

What's great about this book and the rest of the series is the writing and the world building. Moorcock shows Fantasy writers how it's done. This particular series in the broader Eternal Champion series has a tendency to leave me feeling melancholy, but it's still worth the read.

Collaboration that works!

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

Terry Pratchett an Neil Gaiman collaborate on a Fantasy Comedy based on the apocalypse. What's not to love?

 

An angel and a demon vie to make contact with the antichrist who got switched with another child at the hospital and ended up with the wrong family. That gives you an idea of the level of screw-ups that can happen. The four horsemen of the apocalypse are joined by four bikers.

 

It's a comedic ride through the end of all things with good and evil playing reality like a game. Possibly the best of both authors went into this to make it a classic in Fantasy reading. It's one that I highly recommend.

Great Gaiman

Stardust - Neil Gaiman

I saw the movie before I read the book and that kind of spoiled it because a lot is different between them. I still enjoyed the book and consider it one of Gaiman's really good ones.

 

The premise is Tristan, a village boy, loves the stuck-up girl in town, but she only has eyes for a boy with her own surface values. She sets Tristan a task to get rid of him and it takes him to the forbidden place on the other side of the wall. Here there is magic, fairies, witches and a fallen star.

 

His quest takes him through adventures and touches on the secret of his mother, who he has never known.

 

In many ways it's a classic fairytale, but it covers some very original ground and is among the stories that I highly recommend.

Not enough detail

The Dragon Masters - Jack Vance

I read this because I kept hearing Vance was so good and I thought maybe I missed one of the great Fantasy writers of a bygone era.

 

However, when I began reading, I saw it as very much a thing of its time. It was very dialogue heavy to the exclusion of description. I often wasn't sure who was who as it all had to be worked out from the conversation. here was a big information dump at the beginning of chapter two, but by then I didn't care. The book read like many of the newer amateur self-published books written by white males. all about war, enslaving dragons for the purpose and juggling for leadership or conquering.

 

It did make me think, but more about the evolution of fiction writing over time. These Fantasy books from the 1950s-1960s are very different from say, literature from the Victorians. But something that was considered great back then wouldn't pass muster today. We've become more sophisticated and maybe even arrogant, expecting certain conventions from our writers.

 

The information dumps for example. It was common in the books of that era. Now somebody has taught us that it's wrong, so to get the kind of detailed world building that Traditional Fantasy fans love, writers have to write huge books to work details in that might have been more easily communicated with a couple of pages of info dumping.

 

Vance gets this right. The info dump wouldn't feel like an info dump if I hadn't been conditioned to recognize it as such. He actually didn't do enough of it. It would have been nice to have more background information to the story to keep every thing in context.

 

Anyway, I've satisfied my curiosity about this writer and will move on to newer writers, leaving this in the historical SFF category.

Not enough magic

— feeling confused
The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker

I heard so much about this book that I couldn't wait to read it. I was expecting a lot of magic and wonderful things, but it wasn't really what I expected. It was an okay story and an interesting concept, but the characters didn't really appeal to me enough to get wrapped up in the story.

 

The premise is a female gollum is left without a master and has to try to learn to survive in old New York, while keeping what she is secret. A separate thread runs about a djinn who is also hiding his supernatural nature from the humans of the city. Eventually, they inevitably meet.

 

This part of the story took too long in my opinion. It was like two separate stories running concurrently that has little to do with each other. Then when they did meet, the dynamics between them were interesting, but not interesting enough to salvage the story.

 

I'm glad I read it, but it's not something I would read again.

Review catch up

Just warning everybody that I'm about to post a load of reviews. I seem to have forgot about BL for a while and have a backlog.

 

Don't give up on me!

 

I read. I review. I talk about Fantasy books. I'm just not here all the time. But I always come back.