Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

The Uncrowned King by Rowena Cory Daniells

The Uncrowned King

Rowena Cory Daniells
Paperback, 448 pages
Rebellion
July 27, 2010

* Thanks to Rowena Cory Daniells for sending me a review copy!

The Uncrowned King is the second book in the fantasy trilogy, The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin (click here for my post about the first book, The King’s Bastard).  There are so many things I want to say about the storyline but to ensure I don’t give too much away I’ll just give you the summary from the back cover:

Thirteen year old Piro watches powerless as her father’s enemies march on his castle.  A traitor whispers poison in the King’s ear, undermining his trust in her brother, Byren.

Determined to prove his loyalty, Byren races across the path of the advancing army, towards the Abbey.  Somehow, he must get there in time to convince the Abbott to send his warriors to defend the castle.

Meanwhile, the youngest of King Rolen’s sons, Fyn, has barely begun his training as an Abbey mystic, but he wakes in a cold sweat, haunted by dreams of betrayal…

After reading the first two books I am loving this trilogy.  Not only is the storytelling engaging, fun, and exciting, but the worldbuilding is spot on.  I love how I’m able to picture Rolencia and get a sense of its people and their beliefs and lifestyles.  The magical powers and abilities of those touched my Affinity continue to fascinate me as well, and one of the highlights for me was when Byren is accepted by an ulfr pack that adopts him as one of their own.  Love it!

The pacing is lightning fast as we follow Byren, Fyn, and Piro on their individual journeys to defy the king’s enemies and save their family.  Orrade isn’t in this book since he’s taken up his late father’s post as Lord Dovecote and is currently leading his people to safety, but Florin and Leif return and we’re introduced to a few new characters, my favorite being Lord Dunstany – the power worker who takes Piro as his slave after the fall of the castle. 

The helpless frustration I felt while reading The King’s Bastard stayed with me during this book (in a spine-tingling, good way).  The constant threat of betrayal, the uncertainty of who to trust, and the slurry of rumors and misinformation hiding the truth kept me on the edge of my seat with suspense and anxiety.  Piro and her brothers are all isolated, not knowing if the others are alive or dead, yet determined to push on. 

I’m so excited to see what happens next and how the power struggle will play out in the end.  I’m especially anticipating Piro’s role as a servant to King Merofyn’s daughter.  Looking forward to more intrigue and adventure in The Usurper!

Just finished…wizards and vagabonds

Just finished…

Two completely different books, but loved them both.  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Storm Front by Jim Butcher. 

The Glass Castle (thanks to Krystal for lending it to me!) is actually a memoir that focuses mostly on Jeannette’s crazy childhood.  It was unbelievable and amazing.  It had me completely captivated from start to finish and I found my jaw dropping several times as my brain tried to fathom the existence that this family had.  Not only were they constantly on the move but they lived in filth and squalor, the kids forcing their mother to get out of bed to go to work (when she was working) and fishing for scraps of food out of the school trash cans (when they went to school).  Their father worked odd jobs from time to time but spent most of his time drinking and gambling.  Both parents refused to work or accept any help from others, yet became outraged whenever the kids accused them of neglect or irresponsible behavior.  All I can say is that Jeannette and her siblings must be some tough people to have survived such an upbringing.  This isn’t the sort of book I would normally pick up and read but my friend practically shoved it in my face and swore up and down that it was fantastic.  She couldn’t have been more right.

Storm Front is the first of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, an urban fantasy series featuring Harry Dresden, the only practicing wizard for hire in the United States.  Dresden is a wonderful character and from the first few pages I was hooked.  He might be dangerous and powerful, with a streak of anger hidden just beneath the surface, but he’s got a sense of humor and really he’s just a nice guy.  Plus, he wears a duster.  That’s just awesome.  In the first book he gets caught up investigating a series of gruesome murders that could only have been the work of a sorcerer, while at the same time he’s hired by a nervous wife who wants him to find her missing husband.  The two cases turn out to be related and Harry faces a slew of dangers before finally getting down to the bottom of the mystery and facing off with the bad guy.  I’ll definitely continue this series and I’d like to check out his other fantasy series as well.

Book Review: The King’s Bastard

 

The King’s Bastard

Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
Rebellion
June 29, 2010

*Many thanks to Rowena Cory Daniells for sending me a review copy!

The King’s Bastard is the first book in the new fantasy series The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, which focuses on the lives of several members of the royal house of Rolencia.  Byren Rolen Kingson and his twin brother Lence, the eldest sons of King Rolen and Queen Myrella, have always been close despite their good-natured sibling rivalry.  Being the younger twin, seven minutes stand between Byren and the throne, but he’s never had any interest in ruling the kingdom, preferring to leave the burden to Lence.  But after a strange run-in with a renegade seer, who prophesies that Byren will turn on his twin and claim the crown, and the sudden arrival of their cousin Illien of Cobalt – the bastard son of King Rolen’s brother – Byren senses a growing distance between them.  Illien manipulates, fabricates false evidence, and spins a web of lies, all designed to discredit Byren and gain the confidence of Lence and the king.

The story is also told by the younger royal children, Fyn and Piro, who are both god-touched with Affinity.  Fyn’s Affinity was discovered when he was six years old and, in accordance with his father’s law, he was sent away to Halcyon Abbey to learn to control it so he wouldn’t be susceptible to evil influence.  Piro’s lay dormant until she reached puberty and, sick at the thought of being sent away to serve the cold god Sylion, she swore to keep her Untamed Affinity a secret so she could stay with her family at Rolenhold.

It’s a crucial time in Rolencia, when the spar warlords renew their oaths of allegiance to the king and a new alliance will be forged with the neighboring kingdom of Merofynia with the betrothal of Lence and Isolt Merofyn Kingsdaughter.  But alliances are fragile and some would stop at nothing to gain control and rise to the top.  Byren is surrounded by treachery and deceit and the constant fear that the prophecy of the renegade seer will come to pass.

I absolutely loved reading this book.  It was thrilling and suspenseful with enough humor and emotion to draw me even more into the story and invest in the characters.  The world-building was fantastic and I appreciated that I wasn’t bombarded right off the bat by dozens of confusing place-names and ancient history, just enough to give me a sense of my surroundings and then get on with the story.  I was fascinated by the concept of Affinity, how it seeps up from the ground, attracting creatures like leogryfs and manticores, and dwells inside people granting them magical abilities and a glimpse of the Unseen world. 

Of all the characters, I connected most with Byren and Piro.  Byren is a born leader, strong and dedicated to his friends and family.  When his best friend Orrade is disinherited by his father for being a lover of men, Byren tries to cover for him even though it could mean losing the love of Orrie’s sister, Elina.  My frustration when he was wrongfully accused of being a Servant of Palos and plotting against his father was so tangible I could practically taste it.  I wanted to slap some sense into the king and throttle Illien.  Piro is a little firecracker.  She’s strong-willed and fiercely protective of her family.  She reminds me a little of Arya Stark from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.  In fact, the whole time I read this book I was reminded of that beloved series and I half-expected Jon Snow to charge around bend followed by his faithful direwolf. 

I’m always game for court intrigue and the battle for thrones so The King’s Bastard was a perfect match for me.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

2010 LA Times Festival of Books

 

In April I attended the LA Times Festival of Books for the first time and it was such an amazing experience I thought I’d share the highlights with you.  My cousin (who is co-authoring the fantasy novel I’m currently working on) flew down from Northern California for the event and when we arrived on Saturday morning my first impression was the sheer size of it!  As we made our way across the gorgeous UCLA campus we crossed a sea of booths and passed through throngs of fellow book lovers.  I’ve never seen so many people gathered to talk about reading and writing, and the buzzing atmosphere was contagious.

Over 400 authors were in attendance to do readings, speak at panels, and sign books.  The first panel we went to was called Science & Humanity: From the Past to the Future and it featured Brian Fagan, Michael Shermer, and Richard Wrangham, who discussed their books about human evolution, pre-history, and sociology.  Brian Fagan was my first archaeology professor at UC Santa Barbara and it was largely due to him that I decided to major in anthropology.  All three authors had fascinating things to say and after the panel I bought Fagan’s new book, Cro-Magnon, and we chatted about his days at the university as he signed it.

 

Then we hit the YA Stage to catch the tail end of Blood, Fangs, and Temptation: Everything Vampire with Heather Brewer, Rachel Caine, Melissa de la Cruz, and Richelle Mead.  I’ve read Vampire Academy and Glass Houses is in my TBR pile so it was interesting to see the authors in the flesh and hear them discuss their books and writing in general.  I’ve been obsessed with vampires since I was a kid so it’s delightful to see that they’ve made a comeback into popular culture. 

We couldn’t stick around to get any of their books signed because we had to book it to our next panel: History Through Fiction’s Lens, with Gabrielle Burton, Thaisa Frank, and Indu Sundaresan.  This was another riveting panel about historical fiction, one of my favorite genres.  The authors were so different, but each brought their own unique perspective to the discussion and it was obvious that they were all equally passionate about their research.  As someone who aspires to write in this genre someday it was assuring to hear Indu say that when writing historical fiction, mistakes are inevitable – you just have to focus on creating a realistic setting to bring your characters, and their stories, to life.  I bought copies of Gabrielle’s Impatient with Desire, about Tamsen Donner of the ill-fated Donner party, and Indu’s The Twentieth Wife, about the Moghul Empire in India.  It was a pleasure meeting them both.

The author I was most excited to meet was Christopher Rice and I almost missed my opportunity, but by a small twist of luck I managed to not only meet him and get a copy of his new book signed, but he was nice enough to take his picture with us.  We’d missed the panel he was on so we ran over to the area where he was signing only to find it empty.  I was extremely disappointed but I talked to a volunteer and she confirmed that we’d missed the signing, but then someone else asked which author I was looking for and he happened to walk by the tent just then.  The volunteer called him over and he happily offered to sign my program.  When I said that I’d meant to buy his new book for the signing he said he and the other authors on the panel were just about to go buy each other’s books and suggested that we come with them.  I was so grateful and thrilled to meet him because I’ve been a fan since his debut novel A Density of Souls.  He was such a sweetheart!

With Christopher Rice

The rest of the day we wandered up and down the aisles of booths, meeting debut authors and picking up literature on writing associations.  We’d been too busy to eat lunch or drink any water so needless to say, we were exhausted as the day wrapped up and we headed home.

We got there earlier on Sunday to attend our first scheduled panel of the day – Publishing: The Editors Speak Out, with Sarah Crichton, Eli Horowitz, and Jack Shoemaker.  It was wonderful to hear about the publishing industry from these insiders’ perspectives and they each gave great advice and provided some insight into the ups and downs of the business.  The next panel we went to was also about publishing and we picked up some more tips that will surely come in handy when we start shopping our manuscript. 

Dionne loaded down with bookish goodies.

We hit some more booths next and remembered to eat lunch this time, copping a squat on the grass next to the Cooking Stage to watch Anne Byrn, the Cake Mix Doctor, whip up some tasty looking desserts. 

 Then it was back to the YA Stage to see Michael Reisman, Margaret Stohl, Tracy Trivas, and Heather Tomlinson at Making the Magic Happen: Writing Young Adult Fantasy.  This was a particularly interesting panel since it was all about our genre, although our novel is decidedly NOT for young adults.  Each author read a short passage from one of their books and answered questions from the audience.   

After reading Empress Orchid last year I was excited to see Anchee Min’s name on the list of authors attending the festival.  I bought a copy of her new release, Pearl of China, and waited in line for a chance to meet her.  Unfortunately the experience was quite a let down.  Unlike all the other authors we’d met so far, who greeted us with smiles and chatted personably, she didn’t say a word and barely cracked a smile.  Also unlike the other authors who personalized their autographs by including our names and a short message, Min just signed her name.  All this is fine, you never know if she was just having a bad day or if she gets nervous at events like that or who knows what, but it was kind of a turn off.  Hopefully the book will make up for it. 

Soaking up the glorious atmosphere.

Overall, the festival was absolutely thrilling and inspirational and we vowed to make it an annual tradition.  I can’t believe I’ve lived in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade and had never even heard of it before this year!  It was wonderful to see so many fantastic authors up close and personal and get to meet some of them.  I hope to be able to attend the festival as an author as well as a reader sometime in the future.

What bookish events have you been to?

Book Review: Brighid’s Quest

Brighid’s Quest

P. C. Cast  
Paperback, 544 pages
Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
February 23, 2010

* I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher via NetGalley.

Brighid Dianna has fled her homeland of the Centaur Plains, casting aside her destiny to become the herd’s next High Shaman and choosing instead to join Clan MacCallan as its Huntress.  Though she misses running free across the fields of her childhood home, she becomes comfortable with her new life and tries to forget the demanding and power-hungry mother she left behind.  She grows close to Elphame, the Clan’s Chieftain, and volunteers to embark on a journey to retrieve her grieving brother, Cuchulainn, who has traveled to the Wastelands to lead the winged half-blood race of New Fomorians to Partholon.

What Brighid finds when she tracks down Cuchulainn is a complete surprise – instead of the evil, demonic creatures who’d been responsible for the rape and enslavement of countless Partholonian women and the murder of Cuchulainn’s beloved, she finds herself surrounded by a swarm of bright, caring children.  Won over by their innocence and inquisitive nature, Brighid dedicates herself to protecting the New Fomorians as they make the dangerous journey to their rightful home.  

On the way she tries to coax Cuchulainn out of his withdrawn period of mourning and discovers that his soul was shattered when he lost his love, Brenna, and is only existing as a shadow of the warrior he once was.  Now the only way to save him is to tap into the power of the High Shaman inside her and journey into the spirit world to bring back the shattered pieces to make him whole.  And in the process she’ll accomplish much more than saving the life of her Chieftain’s brother.  Her quest will force her to come to terms with who she really is, and in the process, prevent a disastrous war between the two lands she calls home.

When I started reading Brighid’s Quest, I didn’t know it was a continuation of another story (Elphame’s Choice), so in the beginning I was somewhat distracted by all the backtracking.  But once I got a handle on the inner workings of Partholon and the basic history of the relations between humans, Centaurs, and the demon Fomorians, I settled into the story and connected with the characters. 

Brighid and Cuchulainn are both striking and powerful figures, and I love the banter between them that grows into the strong bond they share after Cu is made whole once more.  The New Fomorian children are adorable, despite their never-ending energy and ceaseless chatter, and I was intrigued by the discrimination of humans by the centaurs of Brighid’s herd (which leads to some horrific events).  For a YA novel, I was surprised by a few of the more graphic scenes and details, but it added to the story and none of it seemed gratuitous. 

This was my first time traveling into the world of Partholon and I’m happy to say it won’t be the last.  This book was a lot of fun to read and it had a few truly badass scenes that really make the adrenaline kick into gear.  While it can definitely be read as a stand-alone book, I think I’ll check out Elphame’s Choice before the next one comes out.

Author Q&A and Giveaway with Maria V. Snyder

Today I’m very excited to have Maria V. Snyder, author of the award-winning Study and Glass series, with us today to answer some questions and host a giveaway of her new book, Inside Out, which hits the shelves today!

Maria, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us.  And without further ado…

Jamye – Yelena and Valek are wonderful characters.  Do they feel like old friends by now?  Many writers say that they’re emotionally invested in their characters.  Does it upset you when you have to throw obstacles in their way for the sake of the story?

Maria – They are old friends and I think of them often 🙂  It doesn’t upset me to make their lives difficult – otherwise there wouldn’t be conflict and we’d all be bored.  Sometimes when they need to make a hard decision, I struggle with them and am upset with them, but I don’t feel bad for putting them in that situation.

Jamye – Have you ever considered writing a prequel to Poison Study, maybe from Valek or Commander Ambrose’s point of view?  I would love to read more about the start of their friendship and the creation of Ixia under his regime.

Maria – Yes I have!  I would like to write about the Commander and Valek before the take-over.  I would think the story would be from both of their point of views, alternating chapters.  I just don’t know when a book like that will fit into my schedule 🙂

Jamye – Your book covers are gorgeous!  After the title, the cover was what first made me interested in checking out Poison Study.  Did you have any say in what they looked like?  Happy with how they turned out? 

Maria – I don’t have a lot of say in the covers.  I fill out an art fact sheet for my publisher’s art department and that’s it.  Sometimes they ask my opinion.  Like for Inside Out – in an early draft of the cover, the girl wasn’t looking straight at the reader, but off to the side.  I didn’t like that and mentioned it to my editor.  She sent me a bunch of photos of the model looking straight and I picked the one I liked and they used that!  Otherwise, I haven’t had much input, but I’ve been very happy with all my covers.  They are gorgeous!

Jamye – You took some glass blowing classes in preparation for Fire Study and your Glass series.  Have you done any other research for your books?  Do you enjoy it? 

Maria – Yes, I do research for all my books.  Hands on research is my favorite – it helps me to translate an experience–the sights, smells, feelings, and how things taste or what they feel like–for the reader.  If I experience it myself, then I can draw a better picture for the reader. Some of the research I’ve done is learned how to ride a horse, learned how to taste food, and recently I spent a day at a maximum security prison for Spy Glass.

Jamye – Did you work out the plot for all the books in your Study and Glass series ahead of time or take it one book at a time?

Maria – One book at a time 🙂  I’m a pantser (a seat of the pants writer) and get myself into all kinds of trouble.  But I think that helps with keeping the writing fresh and in surprising the readers 🙂

Jamye – You got your degree in Meteorology and decided it wasn’t for you.  Was it then that you discovered writing or had it been a longtime passion?

Maria – It was when I was bored in work that I discovered writing.  I hadn’t written any fiction before, but I always had a good imagination and use to daydream a lot!  My family was so shocked I started writing.  Before, I avoided it.

Jamye – You recently did a mini book tour in the UK.  How did it go?  Do you enjoy the promoting side of being an author?  Do you ever get nervous at book signings?

Maria – I had a wonderful time in the UK!  It went well and I wrote all about my trip on my website and included some pictures.  You can read all about it at: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/UK.php   I do enjoy promoting my books and I love hanging out with my readers – they’re so fun!  I don’t get nervous at book signings, but I sometimes get nervous before a presentation.  When I was invited to the Library of Congress to do a talk, I about died!  It was so intimidating!  But it went well and I’ve been back 3 more times and now I’m not so nervous 🙂

Jamye – If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?  Is there anything about the business that surprised you when you were starting out?

Maria – Persistence is my biggest advice. I’d been writing for ten years and submitting for eight before I sold anything. Learn the craft of writing as well as the business of writing and attend writer’s conferences and classes if you can. Consider that time an apprenticeship. Be wary of predators, if someone is asking you for money proceed with the utmost caution. Get feedback on your stories from fellow writers before submitting. Joining a critique group is very helpful. I also find that if I let a story sit on my desk for a few weeks I can pick out all the problems, typos and inconsistencies easier. And I agree whole heartily with Stephen King’s advice in his book, On Writing. He wrote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And don’t give up! Ever!

I also have a whole web page of writing advice on my website – aspiring authors are welcome to go to the page at: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/advice.php.

Jamye – What was your most challenging writing moment?  Most triumphant?

Maria – I’d have to say writing Spy Glass was the most difficult book to do and encompasses all my most challenging writing moments!  Nothing about that book came easily and I don’t know why.  As for the most triumphant, is when I write my two favorite words: The End 🙂  Finishing a book is always a triumph, and I celebrate for a few days before starting revisions.

Jamye – Your new book, Inside Out, is being released today by Harlequin Teen.  Can you tell us a little about it?

Maria – Inside Out is about Trella. Trella lives in Inside, and she has a very jaded and hard view of her metal world. Along with thousands of other “scrubs” who live in the lower levels, she cleans the pipes and ducts that crisscross her world and keep them all alive.

In order to escape the noise and presence of so many scrubs, Trella prefers to be by herself in the ductwork. She has explored almost every region of Inside and has the ability to go to any level without being detected by the Pop Cops (Population Control Police). Because of her expertise, she is recruited by a prophet to seek a gateway to Outside. As she searches for the gateway, she’s pursued by Pop Cops, and upper level workers (those who control the government and mechanical systems), but she’s also aided by a few unlikely sources which make her realize she’s been a little too critical of her world.

Jamye – How different is it to write a Young Adult book?  Do you find that you change your style significantly or is it just the content that changes?

Maria – I wrote the book the same as all my others.  The only difference is Inside Out is shorter.  The interesting thing about my books is they appeal to all ages.  I’ve had emails from readers as young as 9 years old and as old as 81 years old. I wrote with adults in mind at first, but when my niece read Poison Study in one weekend (she was 14 at the time and before I found a publisher), I realized that maybe young adults would enjoy my stories as well.

Jamye – So what’s next for you?  Are you currently working on anything that you can tell us about?

Maria – After Inside Out is published, Spy Glass will be coming out in September 2010.  I just finished revisions on Spy Glass and am going to start Outside In, which is a sequel to Inside Out.  After that…I don’t know. I have a few book proposals to send to my editor and we’ll see what she likes 🙂 

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Be sure to check out the website for Inside Out, www.whatsinsideout.com, to read the first three chapters, take a personality quiz, and other fun goodies!

Just leave a comment to enter for your chance to win a signed copy of the book (U.S. and Canada only please)!  The contest will end April 6th so make sure to check back to find out if you’re the lucky winner. 

In the meantime, here’s the book trailer.  Enjoy!

Series Amnesia and Other Thoughts

I don’t have any reviews to post so far this week so I thought I’d share some thoughts on the three books I’m currently reading.

An Echo in the Bone, by Diana Gabaldon

This is the 7th book in the Outlander saga and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it after it waited patiently in my TBR pile since Christmas.  I’m almost halfway through it and so far so good.  The beginning was a bit frustrating because I couldn’t remember what happened at the end of the last book and I was struggling to recall who a few characters were (yes, even major characters like Fergus!).  It was quite distracting, to say the least.  In my defense it’s been a couple years since I read A Breath of Snow and Ashes so I was wracking my brain trying to remember why Roger and Brianna weren’t with Claire and Jamie anymore and why they’d left the plantation (or that Roger and Bree now had a daughter).  It kind of makes me wish I’d re-read the last one to refresh my memory, but again I would have encountered the same problem.  Eventually I want to read the whole series because the first two books are by far my favorite so maybe I’ll do that before the next one comes out (because undoubtedly it will take another couple of years to be released and I will have forgotten everything that happens in this book by then).

Once I got over my initial irritation at my lack of memory, I was able to ease into the story and get back in the swing of things on Fraser Ridge.  I found it to be a bit on the slow side in the beginning, although there was some action (involving a certain character that of course had temporarily slipped my mind) that happened right off the bat.  Jamie still somehow manages to be the most charming, witty, badass, sweet, and stubborn man all at the same time.  Claire is..still Claire, quoting 20th century song lyrics and crying out “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!”  But you have to love the pair of them.  The story is told from various points of view and the only character I just can’t seem to connect with is William, Jamie’s bastard son (no really, he’s illegitimate) who’s serving in the British army.  I really want to like him, and it’s not that I don’t, I just find myself skimming rather quickly through his chapters waiting for something to happen.  I’m surprised by how much I’m getting into the parts with Roger and Bree and the bairns, adjusting to life in the 1980’s in Scotland and finding out letter by letter the fate of Claire and Jamie and the rest of the loved ones they left behind when they went through the stones.

I read a review on Amazon today about this book and learned that there isn’t really an ending so I’m sure I’ll be thoroughly annoyed when I finish the last page, but it’s still Outlander and I adore this series.

Lamb, by Christopher Moore

I’m only about 100 pages in so far but from the very first page (truthfully, from the author’s bio prior to the first page) I became a fan.  This is my first Moore experience and I know it’s early but I have a feeling I’m going to become a devout follower of the man’s work after this.  Just the extended title alone was enough to leave me guffawing like an idiot (The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.  Seriously?  How can you not crack up at that?).  Not only is the narrative and dialogue witty and hilarious, but the subject matter really intrigues me.  I’m sure a lot of people would be offended by it, but it really is fascinating.  Think about childhood for a second, and how hard it can be.  Now imagine you’re the son of God.  Yikes, right?  Luckily Josh (from Joshua from Yeshua) has his good pal Levi (aka Biff) to watch his back (not to mention do all his sinning for him) while he tries to figure out his destiny and how to fulfill it.  And then there’s Raziel, the dim-witted angel who resurrected Biff 2,000 years after his death to force him to write his own Gospel by orders of the big man himself, who spends all hours of the day watching day-time dramas and believing they’re real (despite Biff’s best efforts to assure him that they’re the equivalent of a Greek drama) and that Soap Opera Digest must have been written by a prophet. 

I’m going to have some serious fun with this one.

Brighid’s Quest, by P.C. Cast 

I requested this one from NetGalley after the gorgeous cover caught my eye and I recognized the author’s name, having just read Marked (the first House of Night novel).  I hadn’t gotten very far when I noticed that there was an awful lot of back-story summing up and I thought to myself she probably should have written a book about these events if she was planning on mentioning them so often.  Then I found out that, in fact, she did.  It’s called Elphame’s Choice and it came out in September of last year.  Oops. 

The good news is, because of all the reminders of what happened in that book (and I’m not usually a fan of re-capping previous books in a series but it was just fine in this case, and I wish Diana Gabaldon would make use of it a little more) I’m up to speed with who all the characters are and the basic premise of the world and story.  I haven’t gotten very far yet but so far I’m getting reeled in and can’t wait to find out what happens next.  This is my first experience with a centaur as the main character, and I love the winged race of New Fomorians – a hybrid of humans and demons.  Hopefully I’ll make some good progress on this on over the weekend and have a review for you sometime next week.

Have you read any of these?  What’s your strategy on reading a new book in a series?  Re-read the previous book or just go for it and hope you don’t develop series amnesia?

Tidbits

Jacqueline Carey’s new book Naamah’s Curse is scheduled to be released this June.  It’s the second in her Moirin trilogy and I’m so excited to get my hands on it (and check out the gorgeous cover)!  If you’re interested, head over to The Signed Page to pre-order a signed copy.

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick Rothfuss, author of Name of the Wind, just announced some upcoming appearances (sadly, none of them in my neck of the woods) on his website along with some recent blog updates on the progress of his eagerly awaited follow-up to his debut novel.  The bad news is that there’s still no sign of a publication date and the manuscript is not quite ready to hit the press.  The good news (and I’ll take what I can get!) is that it is one step closer and rest assured he’s working on it and would like us all to get off his back about the subject.  Check out the pics of the latest, and quite sizable, draft of The Wise Man’s Fear which feature his uber adorable baby. 

 

Maria V. Snyder’s new YA book, Inside Out, comes out next month and you can read the first chapter at her website.  Also, be sure to stop by at the end of the month for an Author Q&A post where Maria answers questions about her multiple award-winning fantasy series and passes on advice to aspiring writers.

 

 

The 2010 LA Times Festival of Books will be held at the UCLA campus on the weekend of April 24-25.  I’ve never attended but I’m hoping I can make it and meet some fellow SoCal bloggers!  Free tickets are needed for the indoor panels and sessions and they’ll be available starting April 19th.  More info should be out this month so I’ll be sure to post any updates I can find.  Is anyone planning on going?

 

That’s it for now, hope everyone has a great week!

Book Review: The Twisted Citadel

The Twisted Citadel

Sara Douglass
Mass Market Paperback, 672 pages
HarperCollins Publishers
May 01, 2009

 

The Twisted Citadel is the second book in the Darkglass Mountain trilogy, which can be read alone but I highly recommend starting with her Wayfarer Redemption series.  I noticed that the characters kept alluding to some really big events that I missed since I haven’t read the last three books in that series yet.   On a side note, it’s kind of confusing, but the six books in that series were actually written as two separate trilogies (The Axis trilogy and the Wayfarer Redemption trilogy), but in the U.S. they were published as a six-book series instead.  Anyway…

Kanubai, the evil god of chaos, has been devoured by the glass pyramid that imprisoned him and something much worse has risen in his place. Styling himself the One, the physical manifestation of Infinity walks in the guise of a man with skin made of green glass.  After the skraelings pledge their allegiance to him, Maxel, Ishbelle, Axis, and Isaiah quickly surmise that this new enemy they face is much more powerful and dangerous than Kanubai ever was.

The One unleashes millions of skraelings to wreak havoc on Isembaard, and Maxel’s army splinters into factions as soldiers fear for their families left behind.  Maxel, having fully accepted his role as Lord of Elcho Falling, continues north toward Serpent’s Next – Ishbelle’s former home – where he will attempt to raise the lost citadel. 

The knowledge needed to unlock the key to raise Elcho Falling has been passed down for generations, but so much time has past that Maxel fears he won’t be able to access enough memories to succeed.  He looks for strength in Ishbelle, despite the countless prophecies and warnings that she will cause his demise and bring the world to ruin. 

The Lealfast, a race that is half Icari and half scraeling, want nothing more than to form a nation of their own and rid themselves of their halfling identity, and they will stop at nothing to achieve their goals – even betraying their allegiance to Maxel and joining forces with the One. 

As the group nears Elcho Falling, loyalties are tested, enemies are engaged, and Maxel and Ishbelle must make a choice that will either save or doom mankind.

I’m really enjoying this series so far, and this book kept the momentum going and held my interest all the way to the end.  I was very upset to learn that the third book isn’t out yet and I’ll have to wait to see what happens.  I’m still invested in the characters and what I love about the writing style is that I always know what motivates their actions. 

The only parts that were slow for me were the ones that focused on Armat – I just couldn’t get into his character for some reason.  I’m not sure if it was because he wasn’t a central character from the start or that I didn’t get a feel for his back story.  Whatever the case, I just couldn’t connect with him and I found myself reading his chapters quickly so I could get back to Axis or Maxel. 

Also, I couldn’t stand Ravenna and her incessant pleading with Maxel to set Ishbelle aside before she doomed them all.  I don’t know if that was the idea, but after a while I was thinking if she mentions that prophetic vision or how she loves Maxel and is only trying to save him one more time I would scream.

From the beginning of the first book I wasn’t really sure what to make of Ishbelle.  At times I sympathized with her but didn’t really like her, and other times I was rooting for her all the way.  By the end of this book, however, she won me over completely.  All it took was once scene of ruthless, gutsy badassery to do the trick. 

Axis, I’ve loved from the first Wayfarer Redemption book and I just found out that Maxel is actually a character in a standalone book about his seventeen years as a slave in the mines, called Beyond the Hanging Wall.  I’ll definitely be checking that one out!

Overall, I highly recommend the first two books in this trilogy, as well as the Axis trilogy, to any and all fantasy readers!

BTT: Favorite Unknown

Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not… 


Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

  

 
 

 

I can think of several good choices here but the first person I thought of was Patrick Rothfuss, author of Name of the Wind.  

Here’s a blurb from his website: 

THE POWERFUL DEBUT NOVEL FROM FANTASY’S NEXT SUPERSTAR
Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard. 

I’ve already mentioned this book in several posts because I cannot stress enough how incredible it was and how much I loved it.  Every fantasy reader should own a copy.  I couldn’t put it down and I’ve been waiting for the sequel ever since.  After I read it,  I made my husband and then my cousin who then made her husband and no one has been disappointed yet, despite the major praise I gave it beforehand.  To me, it was fantasy perfected. 

I’m sure when the sequel finally does hit the shelves I’ll devour it like a crazed person and then wait in agony until the third installment is released. 

Bravo, Mr. Rothfuss, and please keep your work coming!  I’ll be waiting with as much patience as I can muster.

Have you read this book?  Who’s your favorite unknown?

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