Tag Archive | Epic Fantasy

Review: Ciara’s Song by Andre Norton

Ciara's Song

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The wonders and adventures of Andre Norton’s “Witch World” saga have thrilled millions. Now comes a new chronicle about the hidden realms of the Witch World.

Ciara of Elmsgarth is only a small girl when the edict is issued by the Duke of Kars: KILL ALL WITH WITCH BLOOD, AND TAKE ALL THEY OWN.

A greedy mob murders her family, but Ciara is protected by the powerful Lord Tarnoor and his son, Trovagh. Safe in the isolated, siege-proof citadel of Aiskeep, Ciara and Trovagh grow, marry, and raise children.

Then the folly that grips Karsten worsens. Bigotry and corruption lead to crime, civil strife, war, and poverty — and the rise of an evil sorcerer, a black mage on a vendetta to destroy all Ciara has, and everyone she holds dear.

I love this book and the sequel The Duke’s Ballad.

This is one of the few books in Andre Norton’s Witch World series that I feel allow for new reader explanations. It’s also an unusual Fantasy book by today’s standards: It’s mostly a stand-alone, it follows the lives of three generations but it’s under 300 pages. This is one of the strengths of Ciara’s Song, in my opinion.
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Coursera: Online Games Week 2

This week in Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative

This week the class is going to dig a little deeper into Tolkien, the social aspect of MMOs and take a look at one of my favorite epic poems: Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.

Readings
– J.R.R Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring (complete novel)
– Robert Browning’s poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”

Gameplay
This week’s in-game activities ask you to explore (or if you are a more experienced player, help others to explore) the social world of LOTRO. You have two options for completing the in-game assignment:

1. If you are in one of the four Coursera kinships, participate in the games planned for Saturday, July 26, 2014. Take a screenshot of yourself and some of your kin mates at the games.
OR
2. If you are not a member of one of the Coursera kinships, you should join a kinship and have a conversation with another member of the kinship in /kinship chat. Then travel to your kinship house and take a screenshot of yourself in front of or inside it. If your kinship does not have a house, travel to one of the housing areas on your own and explore. Find an interesting place to take a screenshot of your character in the kinship area.

I’ve started watching (well, listening) to the videos for this week already. I’m SUPER excited about Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came! I first ran across this poem in college and I even got a chance to study and discuss it one-on-one with a professor. Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came was also Stephen King’s inspiration and muse for his magus opus: The Dark Tower series (which was originally titled series titled “Wizard and Glass.”

I have to admit – I’m a little behind. I haven’t completed all of the readings and gameplay for last week as of yet. O_O I need to get on it as I have some assignments to turn in.

Review: Alta (Dragon Jousters #2) by Mercedes Lackey *Spoilers*

Alta

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National best-selling fantasy legend, Mercedes Lackey created a vivid, dynamic fusion of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms of ancient Egypt with the most exciting, authentic and believable portrayal of dragons ever imagined.
In the second novel in Mercedes Lackey’s richly-conceived Dragon Jousters series, the dragonrider Vetch escapes to Alta, the subjugated land of his birth. There, he hopes to teach his people to raise and train dragons-and build an army that will liberate his homeland.

NOTE: This review will contain spoilers for the first book in this series, Joust. If you haven’t read Joust, please do not read this review unless you are ok with spoilers.

This one is cute. I enjoy this book but not as much as Joust.

Alta continues the story of the serf Vetch from Joust. In Alta, Vetch is no longer known as the serf “Vetch.” He is “Kiron, son of Kiron,” a displaced but well-born son of Alta and a dragon rider. Kiron arrives in Alta, gets settled and becomes a jouster-in-training almost immediately. He is also given lessons: reading, writing, philosophy and history. Throughout the book the reader can see Kiron’s change from unlettered serf to educated noble by the way he speaks and carries himself. I felt Lackey did a good job showing Kiron’s maturation.

Kiron has achieved his goal: he is no longer a serf – he is a free Altan and dragon rider. But in Alta all is not what he expected: there’s something rotten at the core of Alta and Kiron seems to get into the midst of things very quickly.
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Review: Joust (Dragon Jousters #1) by Mercedes Lackey

Joust

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For the first time ever, national best-selling legend Mercedes Lackey draws from her extensive knowlege of animals—and her professional background as an avian expert—to create something truly special…

The most exciting, authentic and believable portrayal of dragons ever imagined.

It is a richly conceived, fully realized vision, inspired by the culture of ancient Egypt, the legends of Atlantis-and the science of animal behavior and biology. This is how dragons would live, breed, hatch, hunt, and bond.

The first book in this thrilling new series introduces readers to a young slave who dreams of becoming a Jouster-one of the few warriors who can actually ride a flying dragon. And so, in secret, he begins to raise his own dragon.

Joust, the first book in Mercedes Lackey’s Dragon Jousters series, is a wonderfully rich re-imagining of ancient Egypt. The story follows a young serf, Vetch, as he slowly gains agency.

Vetch is an Altan serf. He became a serf when Alta lost a major war with their neighbor Tia. Vetch’s father was murdered and the rest of the family were turned into serfs and bound to the land they once owned.

As a serf – which are considered less than slaves – Vetch was severely mistreated. He was beaten, starved and overworked by his master. During one of the many miserable days in which Vetch lived this spirit-breaking life, Dragon Jouster Ari happens to see him. Ari – noticing that Vetch was being mistreated – decides to take him and make Vetch his dragon boy. Dragon boys live in a complex with their dragons, Jousters and support staff. Dragon boys were not mistreated, overworked and they were fed well and regularly. For Vetch, starved as he was, it was like he’d almost reached Heaven.
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Andre Norton’s Witch World: Estcarp, Escore, and Karsten

Estcarp, Escore, and Karsten
Estcarp and Escore are the primary countries where the following books are located. Estcarp and Escore are both rife with magic (witches, warlocks and Adept Sorcerers) while Karsten has very few and mostly hidden magic practitioners. Witchcraft is outlawed in Karsten and is punishable by death.

 

 

Witch WorldTitle: Witch World
Series Cycle: Witch World #1, Estcarp Cycle #1
Published: 1963
Status: Owned (Omnibus: The Gates to Witch World)
Rating/Review:

Ex-colonel Simon Tregarth was a hunted man–and the hunt was beginning to come to its inevitable deadly end. Tregarth was desperate, and his situation required a desperate solution. His only alternative was wild beyond imagining–sorcery.
Simon was forced to give himself up to the mysterious Siege Perilous, the ancient stone of Power. It would judge him, determine his worth, and then deliver him into a world in which his mind and spirit should be at home.
Simon Tregarth’s lot would pit him against an uncanny world where the laws of nature operated… differently. Where in fact, “magic” was science.
For Simon Tregarth there would be no return, he could never escape from the WITCH WORLD.

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SPA-F: The Madness of Hallen (The Khalada Stone, #1) by Russell Meek

The Madness of Hallen

Half a millenium ago, the mind of Husam al-Din was ripped apart and scattered beyond the borders of the known lands. Although secured by bloody war, the peaceful legacy he brought has begun to collapse, and the world once again starts a slow descent into chaos. Against all who betrayed him, al-Din will be forced to reclaim those who survived.
There are none who can prevent his return, but there are three who would control him. All that stands in their way is their own sanity, and everyone they love.

In the mountain city of Brunn, a darkness gathers around Ohrl. Restlessness, a sense that his life should mean more than it does. On his first journey beyond the mountains he begins to understand that destiny cares not for his petty desires. It is vicious and brutal, and it will not stop until either he, or it, are totally consumed.

Na’ilah’s search is almost over. She can feel his mind pulsating here in the city, but she cannot take it through strength of arms alone. Her armoury is cunning, manipulation and betrayal. Her will is to be obeyed, and her cruel heart will show no mercy to those that stand in her way.

His mind will be a vessel for the betrayals of his kind, and in time he must decide upon their right to survive. Yet before that decision can be made, Faerl must release the six most powerful men that brought this curse upon them, men who died half a millenium ago.

The Khalada Stone is the first of four epic novels following the lives of two brothers in their quest against the rightful heir to the mind of Husam al-Din.

Amount Read: Prologue and Chapter 1

What did I think? Well, I feel like I have previously established a relationship with Russell Meek. When this book was originally released, Meek posted about it in a group I belong to. I thought the cover was really pretty and his website is beyond beautiful…I love his website. Everything is so polished and professional and branded that it was astounding that Meek is self-published. The blurb was horrific but Meek’s demeanor and professionalism really intrigued me. My biggest issue at the time was that there was no ebook available (that has changed) and Meek is a New Zealand author. Shipping from New Zealand is…cost prohibitive.
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Review: The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress #1) by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Thief

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Eli Monpress is talented. He’s charming. And he’s a thief.

But not just any thief. He’s the greatest thief of the age – and he’s also a wizard. And with the help of his partners – a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls – he’s going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he’ll need to steal some big things. But he’ll start small for now. He’ll just steal something that no one will miss – at least for a while.

Like a king.

 

 
This one was a slog.

I bought this as part of omnibus based off of a great blurb. I started and stopped it a couple of times but I finally buckled down and read in starting in January.

It took me forever to finish this book – it’s not particularly small but it’s not that big, either. It’s well written and the writing is engaging.

So why was it such a slog for me?

I’d have to say it was the characters. Well, one character in particular: Eli. Eli Monpress is supposed to be rather charming. I’m guessing he’s supposed to give the reader a “gentleman thief” kind of feel – someone extremely likeable but untrustworthy – maybe like Pierce Bronsan’s Remington Steele or Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora.
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Andre Norton’s Witch World: Inspiration

Andre Norton is my favorite author, period. I’ve been reading and collecting her work – with an emphasis on the Witch World series – for over 10 years. I often read her books or refer to them and since this is my blog… I’m going to selfishly read, review, and list them. All. 😀

What is the Witch World? How was it created?

From Andre Norton.Org:

Witch World really grew from another idea altogether. Years ago, before I entered the sf-fantasy field of writing (no one was interested in buying ms. that were book length then), I had an idea dealing with the Norman holdings in Outremer during the Crusading period – those small baronies (ect) which were carved out and held by landless knights who did not wish to return to Europe after their long travel to the Middle East.

The section in the first book which deals with Verlaine and its heiress was an incident I had imagined for such a book. The book was never written except as scraps at the time. Then, much later, I came across the legend that the mysterious seat at the Round Table which came to be Galahad’s – The Siege Perilous – in reality dropped into another time and place those rash enough to try it who were not fitted to be seated there. That gave me an opening for an adventure tale.
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Review: Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1) by Steven Erikson

Gardens of the Moon

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The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…

Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order–an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice.

There are no words. I just don’t have the words to describe this enough to get out a review.

I don’t have the words to express my relationship with Gardens of the Moon.

I am…my mind is BLOWN.

It’s genius.

It’s intimidating. The sheer scope of what was going on is amazing. There’s so much going on and I don’t know what to even say. The world is so textured and layered.

There are ten books in this series. O_O

I went through a gamut of emotions – the emotional roller-coaster had me strapped down and didn’t let me off until the end.

The sheer…magnitude of the book was on the scale of what I [previously] would have thought to be impossible.

During my reading of this book I felt confused, I felt astounded, tired, irritated, exhilarated, exhausted, engaged, exasperated, drugged, emotionally traumatized…and totally at Erikson’s mercy.

O_o
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Flights of Fantasy: March 2014 Books of the Month

The March 2014 Flights of Fantasy group reads and my early decision on reading them:

 
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own MakingYA/MG
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)
Decision: Yes

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

 

Lord of the Silver BowFantasy
Lord of the Silver Bow (Troy, #1)
Decision: Might read – ordered from library

He is a man of many names. Some call him the Golden One; others, the Lord of the Silver Bow. To the Dardanians, he is Prince Aeneas. But to his friends, he is Helikaon. Strong, fast, quick of mind, he is a bold warrior, hated by his enemies, feared even by his Trojan allies. For there is a darkness at the heart of the Golden One, a savagery that, once awakened, can be appeased only with blood.

Argurios the Mykene is a peerless fighter, a man of unbending principles and unbreakable will. Like all of the Mykene warriors, he lives to conquer and to kill. Dispatched by King Agamemnon to scout the defenses of the golden city of Troy, he is Helikaon’s sworn enemy.
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