Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Arm of the Sphinx

Posted: June 15, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Like
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Early in my author-hopeful career, I attended a meeting for a local writer’s group where a middle-aged woman gave a presentation about writing character. Somewhere in the middle, she made a statement along the lines of, “If you want to change your point-of-view-character in the middle of a chapter, you must do it very carefully.” She then read an excerpt from a book she’d written that contained just such a change in point of view. When she’d finished reading from her book, I admit that I was completely flummoxed, as I didn’t understand at all how she’d been “careful” during the point of view shift. At the time, I was considerably too timid to raise my hand and tell her that she’d done it wrong and that, in fact, there was no correct way to do such a thing and not risk losing your reader’s attention. These days I highly doubt I’d be quite so demure.
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We’ve followed Lady Trent from the mountains of Vystrana to war-torn Eriga to the high seas to the deserts of the Akhia all for the sake of studying dragons. Now here we are at the fifth and final novel in this fantastic series, WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS, and finale well worthy of Isabella and company.

After years of making a name for herself as a result of her study of dragons, Isabella, Lady Trent, has settled into a routine of study from her home in Scirland, supporting her husband’s linguistic endeavors, and encouraging her son’s education. While she’s happy with her life, she yearns for the adventure associated with her scientific finds that changed the face of the study of dragons. But what else is there for the woman who’s done everything?

Until one fateful day when a man brings her the story of the remains of a strange species of dragon found in the snow of the highest mountains in the world. Unfortunately in order to see it, she would have to travel to a territory claimed by Scirland’s enemies. Remember, this is Isabella we’re talking about, and little things like being banned from a country or traversing the highest mountain range will never deter her from her profound curiosity for all things dragon. (more…)

So every once in a while I’ll perform what I affectionately call a “dummy test” to check and make sure I’m not being a dummy about something in particular. I have my opinions, my habits, my modus operandi, but as the world is constantly changing I figure I had better allow myself to change along with it every once in a while as well. It’s no secret (based entirely on my most recent SPFBO review) that I thought The Grey Bastards was head and shoulders better than any of the other entries that made their way into the final ten novels in the contest. After finishing my read of ALL of them, I happened to come upon some comments that Mark Lawrence made about one of the books that hadn’t made it past the initial winnowing of the bevvy of novel hopefuls: SENLIN ASCENDS. Specifically, he said that it was, “my best read, one of my favourite books of all time in fact. So read it.” Whoa. How then, I wondered, had it not won out in round one? I tried to read the story that had taken the proverbial cake in the first round of that group of stories, THE PATH OF FLAMES (EBR review), and quit after about 65 pages. So the situation left me wondering if I was a dummy, or if perhaps I might just like Senlin Ascends. So, I decided to put my money where my mouth was–or more specifically, I guess, my money where Mark Lawrence’s mouth was–and I bought both of the currently self-published Books of Babel.
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I am so very tired of the “tough, damaged, beautiful-but-gritty chick/superhero” fantasy trope, so one would assume this book would not thrill me. Not so, and: Lucky me! The first selection I chose to read from the 2016 Self-Published Fantasy Blog-off is a winner. I will be pulling for ASSASSIN’S CHARGE, a standalone novel set in a previously explored world, and for Claire Frank. I’m hoping this book gets some attention.

Mostly taken from Amazon’s synopsis: Rhisia Sen is one of the Empire’s highest-paid assassins. Living a well-ordered life of luxury, she chooses her contracts carefully, working to amass enough wealth so she can leave her bloody trade. She is offered a new contract on the outskirts of civilization and almost refuses—until she sees the purse. It could be the last job she ever has to take. She might finally retire to a life of peaceful leisure, but when she reaches the destination she discovers her mark is a child.
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Shadowed Souls

Posted: March 23, 2017 by Writer Dan in Books We Love
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When I saw that this anthology had a new Dresden story in it, I snatched it up quick and then found myself regretting the decision. Because, you see, I’m kind of still catching up on that freaking amazing series, and it only took reading the blurb on the back of the book to determine that this story takes place at a point in time significantly later than my current location in the series. Had the story been by anyone other than Jim Butcher, I likely would have canned the project and either handed the book off to another reviewer or not read the story before reviewing it the anthology myself. But the thing is, The Dresden books have been absolutely genius to read, and even though I like the twists and turns and revelations in that series a ton, so much of the story comes by living it through the experience of reading. And so, already somewhat spoiled, I committed to reading the Dresden story with the understanding that getting from where I am in the series to where this story takes place was still going to be awesome-sauce fantastic. Oh, and there were some other stories in this book too. Even some really good ones. 🙂
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So a ninja, a highwayman, a witch, and a princess walk into a bar….wait, no, that’s not how it starts (my bad). So a ninja, a highwayman, a witch, and a princess decide to join a merchant caravan across terrain known to have killed experienced soldiers. Cuz adventure is out there! Or something like that.

Actually, it’s more complicated than that. The powerful Lord Myobi has decided–for reasons known only to him–to travel to a neighboring city, despite knowing that the most recent caravans have disappeared. When local merchants, desperate to reach said city with their goods, decide to join Myboi in the hopes that his elite entourage would provide the protection they need, he decides to ask the king for a caravan leader and escort. The king provides his niece, the princess Setanna, who takes charge, and must hire on cooks, muscle, and wrangle the groups into a semblance of order. (more…)

lyre-theifHer Serene Highness Rakaia, Princess of Fardohnya, is off to Hythria to marry a brute of a Hythrun Warlord she’s never met and escape the inevitable bloodbath in the harem when her brother takes the throne. She is not interested in marrying anyone and has a plan to save herself if she can just convince her baseborn sister, Charisee, to play along. These two best friends/sisters, though one has been a princess and the other her handmaiden, embark on an adventure of switched identities complete with love triangles and meddlesome gods. Rakaia is rescued by none other than the demon child, R’shiel, who is on her own quest to free her beloved, Brak. Charisee first acts the part, then truly becomes the princess she was never meant to be, which draws the attention of the God of Liars, who is rightly impressed and even helpful.

…And in far off Medalon, someone has stolen the music.

Their quest for the tiny stolen lyre containing the essence of the God of Music will eventually touch all their lives, threaten everything they hold dear, and prove to be far more personal than any of them can imagine. (more…)