Miller, Madeline. Circe.

NY: Little, Brown, 2018.

I’m pretty demanding when it comes to historical fiction, and I read a lot of it, but I was pretty much blown away by Miller’s first novel, The Song of Achilles. And now she’s done it again. Both books are now in my “Top Ten Historicals” list. This one is somewhat different from the first book, too, in that the protagonist (and most of the other characters, for that matter) isn’t even mortal. She’s Circe (“Hawk”), daughter of Helios, the Titan sun god, and a nymph, and she doesn’t have much power compared to the arrogant Olympians, but she knows how to use what she’s got.

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Novik, Naomi. His Majesty’s Dragon.

NY: Ballantine, 2006.

I’d been aware of this fantasy series set during the Napoleonic wars, but to be honest, I had sort of deliberately avoided it. I’m a lifelong fan of naval adventure stories set in that period, having discovered my father’s shelf of Hornblower novels at an early age. I’ve read very literally several hundred novels by several dozen authors about the Royal Navy at the turn of the 18th century, and I’m picky about authenticity of detail. But I recently read Uprooted, a standalone fantasy novel by the same author and greatly enjoyed it, so I decided I ought to give this earlier work a fair chance. And I have to say, it doesn’t disappoint.

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Novik, Naomi. Uprooted.

NY: Del Rey, 2015.

I was aware that Novik had already done a lengthy adventure series involving dragons in the Napoleonic wars, but this standalone fantasy is the first thing I’ve read by her. And I confess I picked it up mostly because it won the Nebula, which is a strong recommendation, and because Ellen De Generes is producing a film adaptation. Turns out Novik is one hell of a writer.

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Turtledove. Harry. We Install and Other Stories.

NY: Open Road, 2015.

Harry’s early fantasy novels and alternate history short fiction, published in the mid-1980s, weren’t bad. His first full-blown alt-history novel, Guns of the South, was also pretty good. But shortly thereafter, he began cranking out novels as fast as he could type and their quality degraded badly. Of the sixty or so mostly fat books he’s published in the past twenty-five years, many are frankly unreadable, at least to me – but I keep checking back on his work, just in case.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Obelisk Gate.

NY: Orbit Books, 2016.

This isn’t a sequel to The Fifth Season so much as the middle section of a continuous epic narrative, and it’s easily as good as the first volume. And, like the first volume, it also won the Hugo and was nominated for the Nebula. Essun (who once was Damaya and then was Syenite) is a very powerful orogene, a manipulator of the geology of the Earth (which, one begins to suspect for various reasons, is actually our Earth, perhaps in the far future), has found sanctuary in a community that includes many others of her kind — which amazes her, since people like her are universally feared and frequently killed as children, as soon as they begin to show their abilities.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Fifth Season.

NY: Orbit Books, 2015.

I finally read Jemisin’s earlier “Inheritance” trilogy a few months ago and enjoyed it immensely. I’m pleased to discover that the first volume of her more recent “Broken Earth” trilogy is of equally high quality. There’s a reason it won the Hugo and was nominated for the Nebula and several other major awards. The author’s worldbuilding skills are fully on display and the characters and the setting will rope you into the story from the first page.

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Stevenson, Noelle. Nimona.

NY: Harper, 2015.

EXPLOSIONS! SCIENCE! SHARKS! NERDS! SYMBOLISM! Yep, that’s the kind of graphic novel this is. It won a bunch of awards, not only from other artists but from its (mostly) teenage readers, as well. Lord Ambrosius Goldenloin is the Official Hero here and Lord Ballister Blackheart is the Bad Guy, but neither of them is really terrible — even though the former hacked off the latter’s arm back when they were students together. Now, Ambrosius works for the Institution while Blackheart tries to keep the kingdom’s growing police state from impinging on its subjects any further.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Awakened Kingdom.

NY: Orbit Books, 2014.

If you enjoyed Jemisin’s “Inheritance” trilogy as much as I did, then you will certainly want to read this shorter sequel. She calls it a novella, but at 250 pages, I regard it as a novel.

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Published in: on 29 April 2018 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Jemisin, N. K. The Kingdom of Gods.

NY: Orbit, 2011.

The most common pattern for a fiction trilogy is for a good deal of action and the introduction of strong characters in the first volume (to hook the reader), extended plot development and a relative lull in action in the second volume (the “bridge”), and a wrapping-up of everything in the third volume. Jemisin declines to follow that well-worn path, though.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Broken Kingdoms.

NY: Orbit, 2010.

This is the second volume of the “Inheritance” trilogy, and it might be even better than the extremely good first volume. It’s set in the city of Sky — now called Shadow by the residents, since the coming of the World Tree — a decade after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and all the major characters are new, though the gods and godlings (being immortal) are still the same.

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Published in: on 2 February 2018 at 7:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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