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Showing posts with the label fantasy

Reading journal: Stranger at the Wedding by Barbara Hambly

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Genre: Fantasy Published: 1994? Date read: July 2018 Kyra, a wizard, returns home for her sister’s wedding. It’s not a happy occasion. The sister is in love with someone other than the groom, Kyra’s father isn’t pleased to see her return from exile, and Kyra is certain that her sister is cursed and will die on her wedding night. This book was deceptive. At first it feels like a standard fantasy story, with family conflict, humour and an unexpected romantic attraction. That doesn’t last. The story becomes dark and horrifying as the source of the curse is exposed and the events that surrounded Kyra’s exile are revealed. Kyra’s efforts to save her sister are accompanied by increasing desperation, and the final magical battle is scarifying. I highly recommend this book, although its availability is a bit of a challenge. I have a Kindle version which seems to have been withdrawn from sale everywhere, and in Australia there is now only an audio version. I’ve no idea what the publ

Reading journal: City of Lies by Sam Hawke

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Genre: Fantasy Published: 2018 Series: Poison War Date read: September 2018 This action/mystery story is set in a well-constructed fantasy world where the people of the city of Silasta are disconnected from their country cousins and have forgotten their own religious and historical roots. The plot revolves around Jovan, a young man responsible for protecting the city’s Chancellor from being poisoned, Jovan’s sister, Kalina, and the new Chancellor, Jovan’s friend Tain. The city suffers disaster after disaster; unexplained deaths, an attacking army, a siege, sabotage and threats from a menacing traitor within. The young people have personal problems too. Under stress Jovan becomes anxious and obsessive-compulsive, while Kalina battles asthma-related frailty. This is a solid read for fantasy lovers, with plenty of action, high stakes, entwined coming of age stories, and a reasonable mystery to be solved. I found the descriptions of the city and the caste system particularly

Reading journal: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin

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Genre: Fantasy Published: 1968 Series: Earthsea Cycle Date read: May 2018 Wonderful fantasy series about the life of a young and powerful mage, Ged. Ged is arrogant and fool-hardy, and pushes the boundaries of magic in his home village, living with a mentor and then at the Mage’s school on Roke. He awakens something evil, and must travel the world in peril of his life until he can defeat it. A classic story, beautifully told. Ged is such a typical young man, so careless with risk. Wonderful world-building, with the islands and seas totally realistic. I’ve read this before, but not for a long time. It’s still a perfect gem, to come back to again and again.

Reading journal: The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

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Genre: Fantasy Published: 2018 Date read: April 2018 A retelling of an old story, although I don’t recall ever reading Beauty and the Beast, only seeing cartoons of it. The author has created a lyrical work, choosing a language style that fits the story very well. A young man has been cursed by magic and lives alone in a forest. After a long time, he begins to return to human awareness although still in the form of a beast, and returns to his abandoned home. The beast tricks a traveller into sacrificing his daughter, sending her to the beast’s domain to live. In the best traditions of fairy tales, the story becomes a love story and the beast is redeemed. The story is beautifully told and very true to its origins, although I was never sure quite what terrible flaw the young man had shown that merited such a severe punishment. Still, fairy stories are often cruel and arbitrary. The cover is extraordinary. Another talented Canberra author.

Reading journal: The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

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Genre: Fantasy/Children Published: 1946 Date read: April 2018 This charming tale is set in the early Victorian era. Maria, an orphan, accompanied by her governess Miss Heliotrope and by the world’s most conceited dog, travels to the West Country to live with her cousin, Sir Benjamin Merryweather. A rich cast of characters helps Maria solve some mysteries, find out some secrets, and right some wrongs, ensuring everyone lives happily ever after. There is Old Parson, a musician; the evil Black Men led by Monsieur Coq le Noir; the courageous shepherd boy Robin and his mother Loveday, and a host of semi-magical animals. I loved this book as a child, and enjoyed it again this time. There is plenty of humour and lovely descriptions of the real landscape and the dreamlike fantasy world only a heartbeat away. Unfortunately, my nieces from the Harry Potter generation thought it was boring and refused to read it. Recommended, therefore, for adults. Worth it for the six-page descript

Reading journal: Three wishes: Maybe, a love story by Peter Quinton

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Genre: Fantasy Published: 2018 Date read: April 2018 An imaginative story. Mary’s life is a mess, until a genie offers her three wishes and she liberates him from her computer. From then on things get complicated, dreams or possibly time travel are involved, as is plenty of medieval poetry from Persia and Andalusia. Very romantic interludes interspersed with confusing modern day actions eventually resolve into what might be a happy ending. I enjoy Peter Quinton’s experimental works and the way he melds stories from the past with modern experience. This one was light hearted and fun, and I had no idea what was going to happen next. Give it a try.

Reading journal: Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold

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Genre: Fantasy Published: 2015 Series: Penric and Desdemona Date read: April 2018 Penric is a young man whose life is transformed after an act of kindness. On the way to his betrothal ceremony he stops to help an old woman dying by the roadside. In return he receives a demon that gives him magical powers and knowledge that sets him on the path to becoming a sorcerer and temple divine. The twist is that the demon is not a single personality, but an aggregation of twelve assertive women. Quite a shock for a young man, to have twelve older sisters inside his head critiquing his every thought and action! Penric gifts them with the collective name of Desdemona. I love this book and this series. Whatever this author writes, I read it. Several times so far, in this case. Highly recommended for lovers of fantasy and humour.

Reading journal: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

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Genre: Fantasy Published: 2000 Series: Dresden Files Date read: April 2018 Great first book in a long series. Harry Dresden is a wizard in Chicago. In this story he takes on a black wizard while fending off destitution, a persistent reporter/girl friend, a fed-up police lieutenant, a crime boss, a hostile vampire, deadly magical scorpions and the enforcer from the wizards’ White Council. Harry’s story is told effectively in the first person with lots of humour and masses of wizardry action. I loved the first few books in this series, although the later ones dropped off in intensity a little. The books are better than the television series. Recommended.

Reading journal: Spectred Isle by KJ Charles

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Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery Published: 2017 Series: Green Men Read: January 2018 Set in Britain after the first World War, which had been fought in the occult world as well as the muddy and lethal real one. Saul Lazenby, a disgraced archeologist, takes a job working for an obsessive amateur researcher, the kind of man “liable to end up with ancient masonry falling on his head”. The investigations put Saul in danger’s way too often to be coincidental. Saul meets Randolph Glyde, a man responsible for keeping the mystical world on an even keel. The action shifts to the fens, where Saul and Randolph are trapped out of time and attacked by horrible fen-grendels rising up from the marshes. They survive through courage and “kissing for dear life in a dead land”. A great story, excellent pace, scary scenes, suspense, interesting ideas, sarcastic humour and a happy ending, everything I’ve come to expect from KJ Charles. Highly recommended.

Reading journal: Land of the burning sands by Rachel Neumeier

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Genre: Fantasy Published: 2010 Series: Griffin Mage Read: January 2018 Second in the wonderful Griffin Mage trilogy. Gereint is bound by a magic compulsion, a geas, as punishment for his crimes. When the griffin’s desert spreads and destroys his town in the aftermath of war, he escapes, wanting nothing but to be released from the geas. He falls in love with the brilliant maker Tehre and is enslaved once again to help an ice mage’s last desperate fight against the griffins. Great world building and exploration of the nature of compulsion and consent. I enjoyed all three books in the trilogy. Highly recommended.