Tag Archive | Top 100 Fantasy Books

Review: Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle

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Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

I’ve heard of this book (and Diana Wynne Jones) before but I’d never read any of her work. Jones was on Mt. TBR but I pushed Howl’s Moving Castle up because it was picked to be a book club group read.

WOW!

I really loved this book. It’s a quite the page turner. I loved it so much that I purchased a copy asap (the copy I originally read is a library loan).

Howl’s Moving Castle was one of those reads where I didn’t take any notes and I didn’t have any concerns – I just got pissy when I had to stop reading. 😀

Howl’s Moving Castle starts with an introduction to the main character: Sophie. Sophie is so convinced that she will never amount to anything (being the eldest of three sisters) that nothing can change her mind. This idea of worthlessness was so strong that Sophie could not see her own abilities and strengths. While the reader is easily able to see how great Sophie is, Sophie doesn’t realize her worth til the end of the book. I feel that Sophie is a great character! So many people – old and young alike – believe that they are less than just like Sophie, making her a very easy character to relate to. I loved being in Sophie’s head.
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An Aficionado’s Guide to the top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 10

A few things you should know about this list:
*It was voted on by a large group of fantasy readers (majority rules)
*If a single book is on the list and that book is part of a series, it’s a recommendation for the entire series.
*I have read some of the books, but not all.
*I provide a link to the books I have reviewed.

I decided to break this into parts because it’s a pretty long list.

An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 5
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 6
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 7
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 8
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 9
 

The Fellowship of the Ring1. The Fellowship of the Ring
Series: The Lord of the Rings (Including The Hobbit)
Movies: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2012, 2013, 2014

The dark, fearsome Ringwraiths are searching for a Hobbit. Frodo Baggins knows that they are seeking him and the Ring he bears—the Ring of Power that will enable evil Sauron to destroy all that is good in Middle-earth. Now it is up to Frodo and his faithful servant, Sam, with a small band of companions, to carry the Ring to the one place it can be destroyed: Mount Doom, in the very center of Sauron’s realm.

 

A Game of Thrones2. A Game of Thrones
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire
TV Series

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Series: Harry Potter
Movies: 2001, Too many to list all

Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He’s never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry’s room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him… if Harry can survive the encounter.

 
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Review: Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1) by Robin Hobb *Spoilers*

Assassin's Apprentice

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In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

This is another book I am having a hard time reviewing. There is a lot I like about this book. Fitz is a very engrossing character and the magical skills that he has are extremely interesting. Hobb seems to focus mainly on character development in this book. The book revolves around Fitz and his growth (both physically and as a person) and it is not very action based. There is action in the book but the majority of it is so remote that the reader barely notices it (with some exceptions). I found myself in tears rather often at Fitz’s plight.

I did learn something while reading this book:
Unlike all other surnames with the prefix “Fitz”, Fitzpatrick is the only name of strictly Gaelic origin. When the Normans conquered England in 1066, they eventually migrated to Ireland. Hence, the prefix “Fitz” is a corruption of the French word “fils”, meaning son. In time, “Fitz” came to mean “bastard son”, as the Normans were regarded with great disdain by the local Gaels. A noteworthy “Fitz” name of true Norman origin is “Fitzroy” which derives from the French “fils de roi”, meaning bastard son of the king.”

Some spoiler related concerns I had:

1- Why is having a bastard child enough to make Chivalry denounce the throne but the Queen could have a bastard? I’ve never heard of a Prince doing that before.
2- Why is he called “Fitz” and ok with it?
3- The ending? I hate the ending. What kind of ending is that?
4- I really hate what happened to Verity’s wife’s brother! That was BS. How in the world could you stop a war from happening with that crap??

All in all, it’s a good book and I will read the remaining books in the series – one day. I’m hoping that the next book won’t be so sad or end so abruptly. I hate crying and this author seems to put her characters through the wringer.

Review: The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” (The Chronicles of Narnia, #3) by C.S. Lewis

The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader"

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Lucy and Edmund, with their dreadful cousin Eustace, get magically pulled into a painting of a ship at sea. That ship is the Dawn Treader, and on board is Caspian, King of Narnia. He and his companions, including Reepicheep, the valiant warrior mouse, are searching for seven lost lords of Narnia, and their voyage will take them to the edge of the world. Their adventures include being captured by slave traders, a much-too-close encounter with a dragon, and visits to many enchanted islands, including the place where dreams come true.

Note: I love this series to pieces so this is more of my thoughts than a review.

Let’s start with great first lines: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” starts with Edmund and Lucy Pevensie going to stay with their aunt, uncle and their annoying son, Eustace. Eustace…is originally characterized as a snotty little asshole that was training up to become a psychopath. He liked dead bugs. *ew* Eustace also enjoys harassing people, hurting feelings, tattle-telling and embarrassing others. Not. Fun. So when Lucy and Edmund are pulled into Narnia (and to the Dawn Treader), Eustace comes with them – bad qualities included. I wonder, sometimes, about Eustace. What was Eustace’s purpose and why do we [the reader] get him instead of Peter and Susan?

King Caspian has set out on a long voyage after getting Narnia settled nicely. Caspian is (heroically?) searching for seven Lords of his land that his dictator Uncle Miraz sent off to sail the world. I always wondered how a King with no Queen and no progeny could do something this irresponsible but, hey…*shrug*
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An Aficionado’s Guide to the top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 9

A few things you should know about this list:
*It was voted on by a large group of fantasy readers (majority rules)
*If a single book is on the list and that book is part of a series, it’s a recommendation for the entire series.
*I have read some of the books, but not all.
*I provide a link to the books I have reviewed.

I decided to break this into parts because it’s a pretty long list.

An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 5
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 6
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 7
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 8
 
DaughterOfTheEmpire11. Daughter of the Empire
Series: The Empire Trilogy

Magic and murder engulf the realm of Kelewan. Fierce warlords ignite a bitter blood feud to enslave the empire of Tsuranuanni. While in the opulent Imperial courts, assassins and spy-master plot cunning and devious intrigues against the rightful heir. Now Mara, a young, untested Ruling lady, is called upon to lead her people in a heroic struggle for survival. But first she must rally an army of rebel warriors, form a pact with the alien cho-ja, and marry the son of a hated enemy. Only then can Mara face her most dangerous foe of all–in his own impregnable stronghold. An epic tale of adventure and intrigue. Daughter of the Empire is fantasy of the highest order by two of the most talented writers in the field today.

 
Wizard's First Rule12. Wizard’s First Rule
Series: Sword of Truth
TV Show: 2008-2010

The masterpiece that started The New York Times bestselling epic Sword of Truth

In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher’s forest sanctuary seeking help . . . and more. His world, his very beliefs, are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence.

In a dark age it takes courage to live, and more than mere courage to challenge those who hold dominion, Richard and Kahlan must take up that challenge or become the next victims. Beyond awaits a bewitching land where even the best of their hearts could betray them. Yet, Richard fears nothing so much as what secrets his sword might reveal about his own soul. Falling in love would destroy them–for reasons Richard can’t imagine and Kahlan dare not say.
In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword–to invoke within himself something more noble. Neither knows that the rules of battle have just changed . . . or that their time has run out.
This is the beginning. One book. One Rule. Witness the birth of a legend.

 
The Colour of Magic13. The Color of Magic
Series: Discworld

Terry Pratchett’s profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

The Color of Magic is Terry Pratchett’s maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins — with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…

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Flights of Fantasy: February 2014 Books of the Month

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

 

 

Gardens of the MoonFantasy
Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen #1)
Decision: Might Read. Ordered a copy from the library…we’ll see if it ever comes.

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.

 
Earth AbidesScience Fiction
Earth Abides
Decision: Maybe

A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he’d either dreaded or hoped for.

 

Mr. ShiversHorror
Mr. Shivers
Decision: NOPE!

It is the time of the Great Depression.

Thousands have left their homes looking for a better life, a new life. But Marcus Connelly is not one of them. He searches for one thing, and one thing only. Revenge.

Because out there, riding the rails, stalking the camps, is the scarred vagrant who murdered Connelly’s daughter. No one knows him, but everyone knows his name: Mr. Shivers.

In this extraordinary debut, Robert Jackson Bennett tells the story of an America haunted by murder and desperation. A world in which one man must face a dark truth and answer the question-how much is he willing to sacrifice for his satisfaction?

 
Howl's Moving CastleYoung Adult/Middle Grade (YA/MG)
Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle #1)
Decision: Yes

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

An Aficionado’s Guide to the top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 8

A few things you should know about this list:
*It was voted on by a large group of fantasy readers (majority rules)
*If a single book is on the list and that book is part of a series, it’s a recommendation for the entire series.
*I have read some of the books, but not all.
*I provide a link to the books I have reviewed.

I decided to break this into parts because it’s a pretty long list.

 

An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 5
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 6
An Aficionado’s Guide to the Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time – Part 7
 
 

A Wizard of Earthsea21. A Wizard of Earthsea
Series: Earthsea Cycle
2004 TV Mini Series

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.

Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death’s threshold to restore the balance.

 

Howl's Moving Castle22. Howl’s Moving Castle
Series: Howl’s Moving Castle
2004(2005) Animated Movie
Review: 4.5 Stars

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

 

The Last Unicorn23. The Last Unicorn
Series: The Last Unicorn
1982 Animated Movie

The Last Unicorn is one of the true classics of fantasy, ranking with Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Beagle writes a shimmering prose-poetry, the voice of fairy tales and childhood:

The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.

The unicorn discovers that she is the last unicorn in the world, and sets off to find the others. She meets Schmendrick the Magician–whose magic seldom works, and never as he intended–when he rescues her from Mommy Fortuna’s Midnight Carnival, where only some of the mythical beasts displayed are illusions. They are joined by Molly Grue, who believes in legends despite her experiences with a Robin Hood wannabe and his unmerry men. Ahead wait King Haggard and his Red Bull, who banished unicorns from the land.

This is a book no fantasy reader should miss; Beagle argues brilliantly the need for magic in our lives and the folly of forgetting to dream.

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