Jemisin, N. K. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

NY: Orbit, 2010.

[NOTE: Apologies for the unexpected three-day hiatus, folks. I was out in the wilderness without an Internet connection.]

By the time I was one chapter into this not terribly long first volume of a trilogy, I knew I’d be along for the whole ride. The characters are that fascinating from the outset and the prose is that mesmerizing. In Jemisin’s world, the Arameri clan runs everything — and Dekarta Arameri runs the clan — and they do it with the assistance of the gods, both Bright Itempas (only survivor of the original Three) and all the little godlings who are their children (sort of). Itempas insists on order and avoidance of change, and that’s how things have been for the more than two thousand years since the Gods’ War.

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Published in: on 23 January 2018 at 8:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rothfuss, Patrick. The Wise Man’s Fear.

NY: DAW, 2011.

The first volume of this engrossing fantasy trilogy-to-be ran close to 700 pages and it took me longer than usual to read because I took my time and thought about what I was reading. Rothfuss’s multilayered style has that effect. This second volume is 1,000 pages even and, again, I took my time. The Chronicler has come to Kvothe’s small-town inn in search of his story, which the legend-covered man known as “King-Killer” decides it’s time to tell, in all its many facets.

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Published in: on 24 December 2017 at 8:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Maas, Sarah J. Throne of Glass.

NY: Bloomsbury, 2012.

The author has apparently aimed this series (it’s up to at least eight books now) at the teen market — and I mean that in the most denigrating way possible. She seems to think that as long as there’s a swashbuckling female lead, plus magic and a bit of romance, the reader won’t notice the plot holes, the seriously non-credible characters, or the gratuitous overwriting. Celaena Sardothien is the most able and successful hired assassin in the kingdom (or empire, or whatever it is) of Adarlan, even though she’s only eighteen.

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Modesitt, L. E., Jr. The Magic of Recluce.

NY: Tor, 1991.

Modesitt is one of those fantasy authors who specialize in long series of fat novels mostly relying on magic. I’ve been aware of him for some time but have never read any of his stuff. I have attempted to read similar authors — Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Tad Williams — but the plots tend to be childish, the characters cardboard, and the prose excessively purple. Everyone deserves a chance, though, so I thought I should try this opening episode in the “Recluce” series, of which there are now eighteen thick volumes.

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Published in: on 24 October 2017 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Baker, Mishell. Phantom Pains.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2017.

This is only the author’s second novel, the close sequel to last year’s urban fantasy Borderline, but it doesn’t suffer one bit from the dreaded “sophomore-novel-itis.” And by “close,” I mean it picks up almost exactly where the first volume ended, and without a lot of explanation of what went before, so you really have to read them in order.

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Published in: on 31 August 2017 at 6:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind.

NY: DAW, 2007.

I’ve been hearing good things about this author’s first fantasy novel, the first third of a trilogy, but I was delaying until the whole thing had been published so I wouldn’t have to wait between volumes to see what happens next. But the third volume has been very slow to appear, so I finally gave up and jumped in, and I’m glad I did. It’s an amazing book for any author, but even more so for a first book.

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Gaiman, Neil & Charles Vess. Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie.

NY: DC Comics, 1997.

Neil is the modern master of the fairy tale, and he writes all kinds, from comic to wistful to thoroughly noir. This one is of the traditional variety, though often with tongue firmly in cheek. Gaiman won a number of awards for this one, and deserved them. Vess won another bunch of awards for the art which greatly enhances nearly every page. He reminds me a little of Arthur Rackham and a lot of Alicia Austin, and that’s praise.

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Windling Terri. Bordertown: A Chronicle of the Borderlands.

NY: Armadillo Press. 1986.

In the mid-’80s, “urban fantasy” was just beginning to be a thing. Instead of Tolkien’s white-haired wizards and ethereal elves, we had punks with silver hair and pointy ears wearing red leather and torn jeans and riding spell-powered motorcycles. Windling and a couple of her friends set up the background for what became an amazing and very influential series of fantasy short stories and a few novels,

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Grossman, Lev. The Magicians.

NY: Viking, 2009.

Quentin Coldwater of Brooklyn is seventeen and a nerd’s nerd, and he’s out with his two closest friends, James and Julia (he’s in love with her but it’s hopeless). It’s a cold, wet September afternoon and the two guys are going to an alumnus interview for Princeton and Quentin knows he’s a shoo-in. (“My GPA is a number higher than most people even realize it is possible for a GPA to be.”) But the old man they’re supposed to meet with is dead, having left them each a manila envelope.

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Harrison, Kim. The Undead Pool.

NY: Harper, 2014.

I don’t ordinarily read vampire and werewolf books, but I read the first one in this hugely popular series a decade ago on a friend’s recommendation and got hooked almost by accident. Now it’s a guilty pleasure — now matter how much the author’s stylistic ineptitude continues to annoy me. I had also heard suggestions that Harrison was on the way to wrapping things up, and the flap copy says this twelfth volume is the “penultimate book,” so I guess that’s going to be it.

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Published in: on 12 August 2014 at 5:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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