Tag Archive | Fantasy

Review: Dealing with Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1) by Patricia C. Wrede

Dealing with Dragons

Photobucket
Meet Princess Cimorene – a princess who refuses to be proper. She is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart…
And bored.
So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon. And not just any dragon, but Kazul – one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons around. Of course, Cimorene has a way of hooking up with dangerous characters, and soon she’s coping with a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, a stone prince and some very oily wizards.
If this princess ran away to finds some excitement, it looks like she’s found plenty!

 

 

This was adorable! I quite enjoyed every minute of this read – and I’ve been a very fussy reader lately.

Cimorene is curious about everything – except those things deemed appropriate for princesses. After being told by her parents she was going to be married off to someone she didn’t want to marry, Cimorene runs away and volunteers to serve a dragon.

One of the things I adored about Dealing with Dragons is that Cimorene gets to be quickly known for her common sense and clear thinking. This is definitely a book I could see giving to a young girl to read! Cimorene isn’t “too good” to do anything, her problem is that everyone wants her to do nothing. Princesses are pretty and ornamental but they don’t learn Latin or magic or sword fighting – everything that Cimorene finds interesting.

Instead of being content with her lot in life, Princess Cimorene takes action. She becomes the servant of a dragon, Kazul, and then proceeds to make herself very comfortable. Kazul expects Cimorene to cook, clean and serve. She also expects Cimorene to know enough (or learn!) to be a Librarian and she trusts Cimorene in her treasure room.

I love that this book explores and embraces being different and experimenting with new and different things until finding what makes you happy.

This was a fun but quick read. It’s much more MG than YA but I loved every second of it. It’s not a book I can see myself re-reading but I would like a copy in my library for future young readers.

Review: Joust (Dragon Jousters #1) by Mercedes Lackey

Joust

Photobucket
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.
Continue reading

Flights of Fantasy: May 2014 Books of the Month

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

 
 

Dealing with DragonsYA/MG
Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1)
Decision: Yes

Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart – and bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon – and finds the family and excitement she’s been looking for.

 
 
Blood SongFantasy
Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow #1)
Decision: Yes

From ”a new master storyteller” comes the beginning of an epic fantasy saga of blood, honor and destiny…
The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the unified realm. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He cherishes the memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the realm, but the world.

 
Let the Right One InHorror
Let the Right One In
Decision: NOPE

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….

 
The MartianScience Fiction
The Martian
Decision: Maybe

Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller, set on the surface of Mars.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

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.

The Witch World Continue reading

Review: The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wizard of Oz

Photobucket
Dorothy thinks she’s lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival – will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?

 

 

 

I used to consider myself a Wizard of Oz expert. I’ve seen the 1939 movie a ton of times. I’ve seen the musical adaption movie The Wiz about a million times (Micheal Jackson, Diana Ross, Mabel King, Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor? YES, please). And then – just to put 10 on the 20 – I’m a theatre geek from waaaaaay back. I served as Technical Director and Lighting Designer (and I also danced in!) for the stage version of The Wiz. I used to know that script backwards and forwards. So you can’t fault me for thinking I knew my The Wizard of Oz.

Well, guess what? I did NOT know my Wizard of Oz!

I went into this read thinking I knew what was going to happen. I had the movies and the plays all circling in my head so I spent the entire read fighting with my memories and knowledge of the adapted works. The Wicked Witch that Dorothy kills is wearing silver shoes; the Good Witch that meets Dorothy upon her landing is NOT Glinda and she’s an old, weak witch about the size of the Munchkins; The Wicked Witch of the West has very little on-page time and Glinda doesn’t get page time til the very, very end. Like, Glinda didn’t even know Dorothy was in town til she came pounding on the Witch’s front gate. And those are just the initial big differences. There was just so much changed…
Continue reading

Hero & Quest: “True” Hero vs. Reluctant Hero vs. Anti-hero

What is a hero? What does it mean to be a hero?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty dismayed by the whole anti-hero craze. I’m pretty honest about my dislikes and triggers: bloody, gratuitous violence, violence against women, rape, torture and horror. While the list is short, the implications are large, lol. There’s a lot that I avoid.

And I have added the anti-hero to that list.

In my previous blog post I pondered the “True” or “Mythological” Hero. This is my preferred hero, for the most part. In fact, my favorite series are The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings. Eddings’ MC for this series – Belgarion – gets quite a few points on the mythological scale: I’d score Belgarion at 11/22 points (I credit Belgarion with points 1, 2, 4, 6-8, 10-14).

But some really thought-provoking comments by SophieCale made me think about other types of heroes. There are several types of heroes – not just two. SophieCale mentioned that she enjoys anti-heroes to a degree: Any MC who balks at their “quest”, complains about it, undermines it or bends the rules falls into my anti-hero category. Basically, if they aren’t selfless, courageous, honourable or fair I consider them anti-hero, but that’s just my own personal definition.
Continue reading

Hero & Quest: What is a “Hero?”

In today’s popular literature, the “anti-hero” has become the new hero. Why? Many claim this is in reflection of either A) reality (i.e. that no one is a “real hero”) or B) a symptom of the uncertain times we live in.

But haven’t we always lived in uncertain times? I can’t think of a single era or culture that was not lamenting the greatness of the past while gnashing their teeth at what they see as the destruction of the future (I mean, did nobody expect the Spanish Inquisition? *snerk*). So why has the tide changed against the “hero” in favor of the anti-hero? I don’t know but I’m desperate to discover why. Especially since my personal taste trends towards the typical hero.

I’m currently listening to a class, “Hero and Quest” taught by Dr. Larry George (subtitled “Heroes and Maidens”). This is a fascinating class thus far and it’s giving me great food for thought.

Today’s discussion was the “Mythic Hero.”

Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

Review: The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress #1) by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Thief

Photobucket
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.
Continue reading

Flights of Fantasy: April 2014 Books of the Month

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

 
 

SeraphinaYA/MG
Seraphina (Seraphina #1)
Decision: Maybe

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

 
 
ViciousFantasy
Vicious (Vicious #1)
Decision: No

A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Continue reading