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Watership Down: So much more than bunnies

Watership Down by Richard Adams

The other reviewers mocked me when I said I was going to review Watership Down. ‘I hope you like rabbits!’, they sniggered. Well, Watership Down does have rabbits as the main characters, but it is so much more than a story about bunnies. That would be like saying The Hobbit was about hobbits. Both stories encompasses so many greater themes — adventure, friendship and loyalty, courage in the face of adversity, leadership, the value of home and security, and on it goes (like the road).

If you enjoyed The Hobbit then you should like Watership Down. The writing is similar in some ways and the reading level is about the same. I found Watership Down in my local Chapters bookstore in the section for readers aged nine to twelve years old. I strongl... Read More

The Scepter of Mercy: Fantasy lite


Okay, this trilogy is fantasy lite. These books have really good covers, and the blurbs on the back read pretty good, but by the time I was halfway through the first one, I was feeling guilty, and it was the kind of guilt you have for skipping Masterpiece Theatre because you want to watch Desperate Housewives (that has not happened to me, but it was the best analogy I could come up with). I would note that the cover of The Scepter’s Return bears a striking similarity to Steven Erikson’s Deadhouse Gates’ cover. But, there couldn’t be two more different books.

Chernenko has created an Eddings-l... Read More

Ysabel: GGK didn’t work out for me this time

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

What can I say about this book? If I see a new Guy Gavriel Kay book on the shelf at the bookstore, I buy it. It didn’t work out this time, though, and the reason is that the way this story is told makes no sense to me as a reader, and I cannot fathom why Kay wrote this book from the perspective of a teenager.

The story is about a fifteen year-old boy from Canada who accompanies his father, a world-renowned photographer, on a trip to Provence (southern France). Very quickly into this trip, the characters get caught up in a centuries-old love triangle contest to win the love of Ysabel, which has been waged between a Gaul and a Roman for over 2000 years.  The book is short enough that summarizing the plot further will spoil it completely.

What is good about this book? Kay’s lyrical style has always enthralled me, and I must say that it shone through in several parts of th... Read More

The Oath of Empire: A brilliant idea

THE OATH OF EMPIRE by Thomas Harlan

The Oath of Empire is a series of four books, namely The Shadow of Ararat, The Gate of Fire, The Storm of Heaven, and The Dark Lord, which is at once a fantasy and an alternate history of the Western and Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empires, and which is set in the early 7th Century. The alternate history part pre-supposes that Christianity never gained much of a foothold in the Empire, and Constantine was only a rebel, never Emperor, and this fact appears to be the biggest event change to form this alternate history...  It also presupposes that the Western Roman Empire was able to withstand the barbarian invasions of the fourth and fifth centuries, and was able to recover its power. The fantastic element is sorcery in the form of the thaumaturges (mages), the healers, and the sorcerers that rise in the story.

This series was a brilliant idea, as I hav... Read More

Slaves of the Shinar: A good historical fiction

Slaves of the Shinar by Justin Allen

This is the debut novel for Justin Allen, and its whole title is Slaves of the Shinar: An Epic Fantasy of the Ancient World. The title is misleading, because I am of the solid opinion that this book is not fantasy, but is rather historical fiction, and pretty good historical fiction at that. Perhaps it is classed as fantasy by the publisher because of the creative manner in which Allen sets his story in very early (I assume pre-Hammurabi) Mesopotamia, at the pre-dawn of civilization.

It is an interesting story of people uniting against a common foe, but by being set in an ancient, bronze age (probably copper age, actually) era, it is very different from what most fantasy fare offers.
I usually read the typical medieval fantasy, and this was a really nice change. However, I believe it should be marketed as an historical novel, not a fantasy. The only fantastic e... Read More

Sorcery and the Single Girl: Great chicklit!

Sorcery and the Single Girl by Mindy Klasky

It's been almost a year, but Jane Madison still hasn't mastered this whole "witchcraft" thing. True, she managed to turn the Potomac River into ice, and can make small whirlpools in the sink…but those things aren't really helpful in real life…right?

Things are looking up for Jane's love life, however, after a handsome Brit randomly walks into Melissa's bakery asking for a plateful of Lust. Floating on her prospects of a new beau, Jane's euphoria is short lived when David, her warder, tells her that the Coven wants to meet her.

The Washington Coven — the sisterhood of witches in the local area — is run by the formidable Teresa Alison Sydney, a powerful witch who grants access to the Coven only to those who the sisterhood deems worthy. On her first meeting, Jane is set a task to be completed by Halloween night. If she fails, everything she has in her possession — h... Read More

The Laurentine Spy: Deserves more than 5 stars

The Laurentine Spy by Emily Gee

Saliel is in over her head. Masquerading as a noble lady in the fortress of Laureant’s greatest enemy, she sneaks into the old disused catacombs every other night to meet One, Two, and the Guardian, other Laurentine spies whose true identities she doesn't know.

After foiling an enemy plan to take over another fought-over land, Saliel learns that the Prince and his consort know there are spies in the fortress and have hired a notorious and feared spycatcher. Saliel and the other spies still have work to do however, and must stay one step ahead of him in order to accomplish their goal. All the time Saliel must play a part — a part she know she has no business playing — and longs to be back home in Laureant, independent and finally free from playing roles. And free from her past.

I could not put down The Laurentine Spy. From the first chapter, Gee pulled m... Read More

Well of Darkness: Should have left it in the bargain bin

Well of Darkness by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

I bought Well of Darkness in hardcover years ago in the bargain bin. I should have left it there. I have tried starting it three or four times, and I, for the life of me, cannot get past the second chapter. It is totally boring and un-engaging, and I instantly disliked the characters I was reading about. Therefore, I really can’t say much more about the book. I rarely get so turned off so early in a book, and Weis and Hickman have written some pretty entertaining stuff (Dragonlance), if not high literature. I loved Dragonlance back in the 1980's when it came out, but I couldn’t stand this thing.

So, my view is, don’t read Well of Darkness. Mine is finally ... Read More

Mirrorscape: Flat characters ruin a great idea

Mirrorscape by Mike Wilks

Mel is living his dream. He’s been plucked from his meager existence in his sleepy town and has been brought to the big city to study as an apprentice under a great Master painter. Once there however, Mel finds that life in the big city is not exactly what he pictured.

The head apprentice Groot has it out for him because he knows how much more talented Mel is, and Groot’s big-shot uncle also has Mel on his short list and will go to any lengths to fatten his own pockets and squash Mel like a bug.

But not everything is dim for Mel. He’s made friends for the first time in his life: Wren, a kitchen girl, and Ludo, a fellow apprentice. When running from Groot one day, the friends see the Master doing something in his office they were not supposed to see, and are suddenly thrown into a mystery and a great adventure that could be the difference between life, death, and saving the beauty of a... Read More

How Not to Make a Wish: Good, but not as good as Jane Madison

How Not to Make a Wish by Mindy Klasky

A year after the fact, Kira Franklin is still recovering from a breakup. Thirty pounds heavier, practically jobless and in need of a miracle, she unexpectedly gets one in the shape of a genie. That’s right, a real rub-the-lamp genie named Teel. Kira’s troubles are over!

Or so she thinks. As it turns out, her wishes make her life anything but easier. She wishes for a new job that turns out to be a huge fiasco, and after she wishes away her extra thirty pounds, her friends and family start to think she’s anorexic.
But Kira doesn’t regret her wishes, and besides, it’s not like she can take them back…right?

Did I like How Not to Make a Wish? I’m on the fence. I like Mindy Klasky. I’m a huge fan of her Jane Madison series, but How Not to Make... Read More

Candle Man: Plot’s too complex for the simple writing style

Candle Man by Glenn Dakin

Theo has spent all of his life inside and away from people. His guardian Dr. Saint has always told him that he has a deadly disease that prevents him from being involved in modern society. So it’s a treat for Theo when, as a birthday outing, Dr. Saint allows him to take a stroll in the cemetery near the house. Imagine his surprise when he happens to find a gift with his name on it randomly sitting on one of the headstones.

Aside from the strange gift, suddenly Theo is thrown into a world of hidden messages and strangers who keep telling him he’s in danger. Eager to get away from his predictable and monotonous existence, Theo follows his deaf maid out the door one night and into the cemetery alone, setting in motion a grand adventure that Theo could never have imagined in his wildest dreams.

Candle Manstarted out strong. I was hooked. I was on the edge of my seat to find out why Theo was... Read More

On Becoming a Fangirl! by Heather LH.

Next week, on November 3rd, we'll be sharing an interview with Ann Aguirre. Today, we welcome Heather LH of "Book Obsessed". All commenters to Heather's guest post will be eligible for a copy of Ann Aguirre's Doubleblind. But hurry, this contest is only good today!

Heather: I read a Meme the other day that was entitled something like 'My Life Thru the Books I Have Read" and it got me thinking about how people come to be readers of a particular genre or sub-genres.

My own strange journey to becoming a fantasy reader began with my mother. She devoured dragon & sword fantasy; so I decided I wouldn't read any fantasy - my little rebellion. She'd recommend books that she loved or had read as a kid, and I'd make a mental note never to read that book. Two of... Read More

Janny Wurts’ works return to American bookshelves

Janny Wurts has become a favorite of several of the reviewers here at Fantasy Literature, and much to our delight, her epic series, THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW (“TWoLaS”) is back in print this year in America and Canada! With its return to North America, one of the most important fantasy series currently underway is once again available to readers of epic high fantasy the world over.

One of the great strengths of Wurts’ writing is that it is not mere escapism. Fantasy Literature reviewer Stefan Raets notes that “rather than the standard cotton-candy fantasy tomes you find nowadays, here's a book that requires the reader's full attention and engages it on several levels, from the gorgeous prose to the elegant narrative structure, to the real challenge of trying... Read More

Pastworld: Great ideas, shallow characters

Pastworld by Ian Beck

Pastworld is a theme park that is run by the Buckland Corporation. It is a complete authentic reproduction of 17th century London. Everything is authentic: the dress, the lack of electricity, even the 17th century laws. Everyone who visits Pastworld has to be authentic as well, right down to the luggage they carry and the toiletries they use.

But despite the fact that Pastworld has a few electronic security measures, crime runs rampant within the park. Underground “unofficials” beg and steal from the “gawkers” or visitors to the park, and sometimes do worse than just steal. There is a notorious criminal that is terrorizing the park. He’s known only as the “Fantom” and he murders his victims before removing their organs and heads to terrorize the city. But the Fantom has more in mind than just causing some discomfort to the park gawkers. He’s looking for someone. A young girl who has no idea sh... Read More

Sphinx’s Princess: Ancient Egypt comes to life

Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner

Nefertiti has had a wonderful childhood, living with her adoring father, stepmother, and half sister. She is the beauty of her small country town on the Nile River, and has the gift of dance as well as a desire to learn to do something almost no women can do — write and read.

But Nefertiti’s life takes a sharp curve when her aunt, the great Pharaoh’s wife, decides that she is beautiful enough to wed to her son Thutmose, the crown prince of Egypt. Before she knows it, Nefertiti is torn from her home and family and living in the royal palace as a princess. Thutmose is not as nice as he has been made out to be by her aunt, however, and Nefertiti soon finds herself in the middle of a plot that involves Thutmose gaining power, and that could endanger her own life and the lives of the ones she loves.

I was pretty much glued to Sphinx’s Princess right f... Read More

Sea Glass: Better than its predecessor

Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Opal Cowen has been summoned back to Sita’s Magicians Keep by the high council. Never a good sign. After an unsuccessful trip to find her lost friend Ulrick who has switched souls with her long time enemy, Opal heeds the summons and returns only to be put under house arrest. Her new-found power of siphoning the magic of others has the Keep on high alert and she must earn back their confidence.

At the same time, Opal is determined to prove that Ulrick is no longer himself, and becomes entangled in a plot to steal control over the glass messengers Opal creates for Sitia. Unless Opal can figure out who is behind the plot, all of Sitia may be in danger from something much worse than just some stolen magic…

Maria Snyder has proved wrong the common notion that sequels are never as good as the original. I enjoyed Sea Glass much more than I... Read More

Betraying Season: Lacks the charm of Bewitching Season

Betraying Season by Marissa Doyle

Penelope Leland is off on an adventure of her own. Eager to get away from her newly married, not to mention disgustingly happy twin Persephone, Pen ships off to Ireland with her former governess Ally to continue her studies in magic in the hopes of getting to the same level as her sister.

But things never seem to go according to plan, and Pen soon finds herself more alone than she could have thought possible, Ally is expecting a baby and is dreadfully sick all the time, and though she has her magic classes with Ally’s father-in-law to distract her, the gentlemen who she studies with are not enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with a woman.

Quite unexpectedly, Lady Keating, a wealthy woman who is influential in Cork’s society has taken a liking to Pen and graciously takes her under wing. She also has a very handsome son, Niall Keating whom Pen finds herself unexpectedly dr... Read More

Bewitching Season: A perfectly bewitching YA book

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle

Persephone and Penelope Leland are excited to start their first season as eligible women in London. At least Penelope is. Persephone is nervous, and besides, she’d much rather continue her studies in magic with their governess Ally.

The twin girls are witches — as is their governess — and in addition to their book and finishing training, Ally helps them to learn magic and how to use it responsibly. Things go horribly wrong however when Ally comes up missing a few short days before their coming out. When the family receives a cryptic note, the twins know something is not right, but have no idea what to do about their missing governess who they love and miss. Little do they know they are walking into a much bigger plot in which Ally is a central player, and to top it all off, Persephone has an admirer whom she has to try and fend off at the same time.

Bewitching Sea... Read More

The Ten Thousand: Solid historical fantasy

The Ten Thousand by Paul Kearney

The Ten Thousand is a historical fantasy which follows the story of two young men growing up in a very close approximation of the Greek City States known as the Macht. One has just lost his family due to war and the other has set off to find adventure as a soldier. Both of them end up enlisting in a large force of mercenaries bound for a larger empire. Their story is interesting; we follow them on their campaign through a foreign land peopled with races who aren’t human, but are close enough that they’re easily imaginable and not too fantastic.

Paul Kearney’s excellent world building is enhanced by his obvious knowledge of the historical period. The Ten Thousand seems realistic and it really draws you into the rough, violent world of a highly trained mercenary. Kearney’s writing is well-done, too, and the story moves at a nice pace. There are lots of different char... Read More

Amazon Ink: A fun book

Amazon Ink by Lori Devoti

Mel has a lot on her mind. She’s raising a teenage daughter, living in a renovated High School, has her mother and her grandmother living with her, and just got two dead Amazon girls left on her doorstep. Determined to find the murderer of her tribeswomen, and answer her own questions about her past, Mel has to summon the courage to face the tribe she left behind.

People seem to keep getting in her way however, particularly men. One is a very talented, secretive, and sexy tattoo artist she just hired to work in her shop. And then there's Detective Reynolds who makes it difficult for her to concentrate when he’s constantly poking his nose where it doesn’t belong … and it’s getting harder and harder to explain why so many odd things happen in her house.

Madison, Wisconsin is not the most exciting setting for a fantasy novel (no offense to the Badgers — I love Bucky!), but still Read More

The Twilight Lord: Leave it on the shelf!

The Twilight Lord by Bertrice Small

Lara, Domina of Terah has been extremely happy caring for her family and husband. She has been reunited with her other children in Terah and they are learning to love their mother again. Nothing could be better.

But over in the Dark Lands, the Twilight Lord is planning her abduction because he has seen the future and Lara is to be the mother of his heir. After erasing her memory and bringing her to the Dark Lands, the Twilight Lord plans to make Lara his bride. Will she be able to remember who she is and escape before the Twilight Lord can complete his evil plot?

Alright, I have been exceptionally kind to this series up until this book. Some might say I’ve even “thrown it a bone” more than once. Unfortunately the charade cannot continue. Where I found the other books in this series (Lara and A Distant Tomorrow) charming and... Read More

The Storyteller and Other Tales: Needs to be savored

The Storyteller and Other Tales by K.V. Johansen

The Storyteller and Other Tales is a book of stories, and I mean that as the highest compliment. I felt like I was transported from the 21st century to some Thane’s hall with a roaring fire and a smoke hole instead of a chimney, while K.V. Johansen wove tales that took me to different and wonderful traditions.

Johansen is a fantasy scholar, and this shows up clearly in this book. The four tales that she presents use widely differing fantasy settings. "The Storyteller" is set in a Scandinavia-like land, in a world of little gods, ancient devils and power-hungry wizards. "He-Redeems" is set in the bronze age, and is told from the perspective of a simple, devout slave, and demonstrates the problems with blind obedience. "The Inexorable Tide" is an Arthurian story, the way it might really have been, and an explanation of how some became hero... Read More

The Lost Colony: Artemis has a nemesis

The Last Colony by Eoin Colfer

The Artemis Fowl series has always been superbly written and brilliantly conceived, with an astonishing array of humor, techno-gadgets, mind-bending plots, daredevil escapes and rescues... frankly, they have a tendency to leave one dizzy — but enchanted.

And The Last Colony is better than the previous installments.

There are many reasons for this. First, there were at least three places where Colfer could have stopped writing, wrapped the book up, given it a different title, and shipped it off to his publisher and wait to collect his generous royalty checks. But he didn't. He took us from climax to climax as if we rode a roller coaster, each one at least as exciting and breathtaking as the last — if not more so.
Second, Colfer introduces a magnificent new character, Minerva, a 12-year ... Read More

The Forestwife Trilogy: Underdeveloped


Theresa Tomlinson's Forestwife is a good kids' book. For the most part, it kept me interested, but there were many "cheesy" sections that ended way too "neatly" for me. There was also no recognizable "bad guy" which makes a plotline sort of boring and unrecognizable.

The nice thing about The Forestwife was that it was not your typical Robbin Hood/Maid Marian novel. Marian was more of a hero herself in this version, making it an empowering book for young girls, and for any reader that is sick of Marian having to be "rescued" all the time. While Theresa Tomlinson's take on the characters were refreshing, unfortunately it did not save the book from the all-too-simple plotline and underdeveloped supporting characters.

The writing was easy and didn't flow very well. Even third graders might not enjoy this book. This t... Read More

Slathbog’s Gold: Adventurers Wanted

Slathbog's Gold by M.L. Forman

Alex Taylor is not having a good day. He didn’t mean to drop all the glasses and break them. Besides it was his cousin’s fault. Thinking that a brisk walk would clear his head, Alex wanders down a street and happens to see a sign in the window of a bookshop: Adventurers Wanted, apply within.

Curious, Alex enters the store and before he knows it he is signing a contract to go on an adventure with an Elf and a Dwarf. With the rest of his company Alex goes on the adventure of a lifetime searching for the evil dragon Slathbog and pursuing his legendary treasure. But there is something different about Alex. Right from the beginning Alex is tagged as a magic user. He must come to terms with this and find his inner magic in order to help his team and reach his final goal.

I was glued to Slathbog's Gold right from the first page. I guess I would describe it as a ... Read More

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