Archives for fantasy fiction

Book review: The Girl in the Tower

There is so much to The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden, follow-up to The Bear and the Nightingale. A strong female heroine, magical mystical Russian folklore, fighting, horses and danger. Vasya is an awkward teenage girl in the mythical Middle Ages of old ‘Rus who does not like her traditional choice of marriage or convent; in The Girl in the Tower she is older and more defiant. You just know she is heading for trouble. She leaves home to wander and look at the world, refusing to worry about survival in the winter forest, and in so doing stumbles into banditry and violence that has implications for the power of the throne. I read the second half of this at a pace, wanting to know the outcome, not wanting it to end. A faster-paced book than the first of the series, the two are tightly linked and so I hesitate to give away too much plot. Disguised as a boy, Vasya cannot help but attract attention despite the warnings of her magnificent stallion Solovey. Her exploits bring her to the attention of Dimitri, the Grand Prince of Moscow, and red-haired lord Kasyan Lutovich. Feted for her fearless fighting,
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Categories: Book Love.

I agree with… Amanda Hocking

Amanda Hocking “Write a lot, but read even more. Learn to be open to criticism. And research as much as you can before making a decision about where you want to see your writing career. The internet is filled with information that will help you become a better writer and make better decisions before publishing.” [Amanda Hocking, in an interview with the ‘Huffington Post’, May 1, 2011] Amanda Hocking, who is something of a wunderkind in self-publishing circles, offers sound advice. If you want to be a writer, there are two basic things to do: write, and read. And nowadays there is so much help out there that it is no longer an excuse for a writer to flounder. I googled ‘How to write a novel’ and got 135 million links to click. Some were selling me products [how-to books, novels, computer software], many were selling their services [proofreaders, cover designers, manuscript consultants] but some were good old-fashioned free advice from authors and creative writing tutors. Hocking’s latest book, published in January 2015, is Frostfire, the first in the Kanin Chronicles series. For Amanda Hocking’s blog, click here. Click here to read the Huffington Post interview in full For more
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: The Magician’s Land

Thrown out of Fillory and back in the non-magical world, Quentin Coldwater retreats to his former magical university in Brooklyn. Brakebills. He becomes a professor where he teaches his discipline, described as ‘mending small things’. Remember this, it will be important later. This is the final book of the trilogy by Lev Grossman and like book two, The Magician King, this final instalment is action-packed. The story moves between present and past, Fillory and earth, above ground, in the air and underground. Seeking adventure, and money, Quentin meets a new group of underground magicians and accepts a task for payment of $2m. On the team is Plum, who admits she once attended Brakebills too. In parallel we get the stories of Quentin, Eliot [still in Fillory] and Plum. In order to understand the threat in the present, we have to go back in time to fill in the real story of what happened to the Chatwin children [whose true adventures inspired the novels of Fillory]. And it becomes plain that the Fillory known by Quentin from his childhood love of those novels, is incorrect. The novels were fictional and Fillory is not what it seems. Depending on them all, is the very
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: The Magician King

Quentin is now living in Fillory. And he is king, or a king, one of four human kings and queens who rule this magical land. In the first book of ‘The Magicians’ trilogy by Lev Grossman, we saw Quentin accepted at a magical university in New York and finally find his way to Fillory, which he thought was a fictional world from a children’s book. He is living his childhood fantasy, but he is bored. Life is like living in a 20-star hotel and he is getting fat. Then one day, out hunting the Seeing Hare, one of the Unique Beasts of Fillory – this world is full of magical beasts which can talk or have special powers – a new adventure starts. The big difference for me from book one of the trilogy is that the action starts straight away. All the setting-up has been done, the background is in place, Fillory is understood, key characters  are established. Most intriguing is the presence of Julia, who was Quentin’s love interest in the non-magical world, briefly at the beginning of the first book. Quentin was offered a place at Brakebills, the magical college. Julia wasn’t. But now she is a
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Categories: Book Love.