Tag Archives: fantasy

Please join me on Myths of the Mirror today!

D. Wallace Peach is a sci-fi/fantasy writer that I have followed for quite a while now, usually by lurking around her blog – Myths of the Mirror. But she caught me and did me the great honour of reading Miira. And she liked it. 🙂

This is a quote from her review:

The pace is steady and yet I flew through the book because I could NOT put it down. Exquisite writing, gorgeous descriptions, high tech science, and human pathos that grab the reader. I’m a fan and gladly recommend this book to readers of science fiction and anyone who enjoys an unusual human story.

And then she invited me onto her blog. Of course I said ‘yes!’, but I’m still gobsmacked just to be asked. Please come say hello to D. and all her friends. Partay… 😀

A Human Story: Guest Post with Andrea Flory

-hugs-

Meeks


The City of Bones by Martha Wells

When asked, I’ve always said I prefer science fiction to fantasy because of the possibility, however remote, that some part of the story might be true. Or become true. Some day. Yet if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I do love sci-fan as well.

To me, sci-fan is pragmatic fantasy in which the real and the unreal blend seamlessly to create impossible worlds that we nevertheless accept as possible. Dune, by Frank Herbert is probably the best known example of sci-fan, closely followed by Tad Williams’ Otherland. And then there’s Robin Hobb’s Farseer saga. It’s more fantasy than science, and yet the life-cycle of the dragons is no more unbelievable than the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies.

Well now I have a new sci-fan author to add to my pantheon – Martha Wells.

In The City of Bones, Wells tells the story of a young Krismen called Khat. He’s part of a species that was biologically engineered to survive in the Wastes after the land burned and the seas boiled away. But there are human survivors of the destruction as well, and the two species exist in an uneasy alliance against the deadly creatures of the Wastes.

Khat lives in Charisat, a human city, making a precarious living as a relic trader. Relic traders are like a combination of archeologist/palentologist/anthropologist, with a bit of a conman/thief added in, and relics are fragments from the lost world of the Ancients.

That would have been more than enough to grab my attention, but Wells weaves in history, politics, conspiracy, intrigue and a bit of classic who-dunnit to make the story an absolute page-turner. I loved it.

If you like sci-fan too then I strongly recommend The City of Bones.

The Kindle version is $2.25 on Amazon and there’s a paperback as well. 6/5. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


Smashwords Book Sale – 3 for 1 Bargain

Smashwords Book Sale

For the remainder of July Smashwords has a promo on. This puts Back From Chaos as free, Through Kestrel’s Eyes at $1.00, and The Dreamt Child at $1.25. Look for the promo coupon when you click on the book page. https://www.smashwords.com/books/search

That means all three for only $2.25. Smashwords can be loaded down in many formats for various e-readers, i-pads and i-phones. Enjoy this while it lasts.

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I’ve been meaning to round out the set and this was the perfect opportunity! Happy bargain hunting. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


2012: Midnight at Spanish Gardens – a review

I first stumbled onto ‘Midnight at Spanish Gardens’ on a book review site, and was so intrigued I had to buy it there and then.  Now on with the review.

midnight at spanish gardensWritten by Alma Alexander, Midnight at Spanish Gardens is not the kind of story that fits neatly into a pigeon hole. The writing is beautiful, almost poetic,  yet it never forgets that it is meant to be prose, or that it has a story to tell. So based on the quality of the writing,  and the fact the story is set in modern times, I could easily describe Spanish Gardens as contemporary literature.

Yet as I read on,  I discovered that the mysterious bartender named Ariel is somehow sending the five main characters back in time to live the lives they might have lived if things had been… different.

How do I describe that? Contemporary metaphysical fantasy literature?

Yet even that convoluted category doesn’t accurately describe Midnight at Spanish Gardens, because how the main characters come to relive their lives is less important than what they do with those second chances. Or the choices they make when Ariel calls them back. Will they choose the first life? Or will they choose the new life they have made? Sadly, they cannot choose both.

For some of the characters, their new lives are better than the old, happier, more fulfilled. For others, their new lives turn out to be more successful in some ways, but ultimately devoid of meaning in others. Yet the story of these lives, and the choices the characters make is no morality play. Rather it is the tender exploration of what makes all of us human, without judgment, and without condemnation.

Whether the character is male or female, each one feels real and intensely believable. Some I liked more than others, but each one touched me deeply, and in my opinion, that is a psychological tour de force.

So what is Midnight at Spanish Gardens? Psychological metaphysical contemporary fantasy literature?

Nope. 😀 The book is much simpler than that – it is nothing more nor less than a work of art.

If Midnight at Spanish Gardens contained even a smidgeon of science fiction I’d give it 11/10. As it is I can only give it a 10.

Joking aside, I truly loved this book, and I promise, hand on heart, that if you read it you will not be disappointed.

cheers

Meeks


The Wind from Miilark – the psychology of obsession – a review

John Deskata, heir to House Deskata, was exiled from Miilark for sleeping with his Law-Sister Rhianne. They were very young at the time and were not blood relations but the law had been clear and so John Deskata was disowned and thrust out into the world, to live or die by his own wits.

Many pampered heirs would have died but not John Deskata, he thrived – as a soldier. Despite having been raised as a trader he became a strong, cunning, efficient killer of men, and other things. His motivation was survival and pride, two things that served him well while the enemies he fought were clearly defined and while his allies were fighting the same enemies but what happens to such a man when the fighting stops and the past catches up with him?

For John the past returned with the destruction of House Deskata and a reunion with Rhianne. Both he and Rhianne were older, both had changed, yet both still clung to the love they had felt for each other as teenagers. Was this to be the happy ending to their shattered lives?

If you think M.Edward McNally’s Norothian cycle has suddenly taken a turn away from grown-up fantasy to romance novel then think again. In the Wind from Miilark McNally does take a slightly different direction but it is not into romance. Instead he explores the dark side of obsession and asks uncomfortable questions about whether it is ever possible to go back, to recreate a beautiful moment in the past with someone you have loved. Can things ever be the way they were or is it necessary to forge new bonds?

Rhianne is the first to recognize that the boy she loved is now a man and a stranger. She follows faithfully where John leads but all her attempts to get to know this stranger seem doomed to failure. John does not like talking about his past, the past that she did not share and seems to believe that nothing has changed, least of all himself. He is still just as obsessed with Rhianne as he was years before but now he has another obsession as well – exacting revenge on those who destroyed his House. For him the future is clear – he and Rhianne will live together and they will punish their enemies in any way they can, using any means open to them.

For John the end justifies the means. That is a lesson in survival he learned well as a soldier. And so obsession and expediency gather momentum as he stalks his prey with single-minded determination, dragging Rhianne along in his wake.

But Rhianne is no helpless damsel, she is intelligent and honest, far too honest not to realise that the man she is coming to know is not someone she always likes. She remains loyal but the seeds of the coming tragedy were sown many years before and cannot be stopped.

I won’t tell you what happens to John and Rhianne but I will tell you that The Wind from Miilark is my favourite book in the series. It is a very grown-up book, rich with a knowledge of the darker side of the human psyche. It is an exploration of the monster within, told with insight and great subtlety. For my money these internal monsters are far more interesting, and chilling, than any dragon or demon and make The Wind from Miilark a dark book full of foreboding.

I rarely rate books because I consider arbitrary numbers to be just that, arbitrary. However I’m breaking with tradition this time to give this book a 5/5 because I believe it crosses the genre barrier into literature. And I loved it.


The Sable City – a review

I can’t remember how I found my way to Indies Unlimited but once there I was hooked. One of the features I liked the most was [and is] ‘Ed’s Casual Friday’, a weekly post written by M.Edward McNally. Witty and always beautifully written McNally’s articles made me wonder what kind of a writer he was when he was ‘at home’, slaving over a hot keyboard. After a little diligent searching I discovered that he writes fantasy. Yay! After sci-fi, fantasy is my next favourite genre so buying one of his books was a natural progression.

So which book did I buy and what did I think of it? The book was The Sable City, book 1 of The Norothian Cycle and I was so impressed with it that I will soon be buying book 2!

As a genre, Fantasy is a strange beast; when it’s done well it’s wonderful [think Robin Hobb, Tad Williams etc], however getting it right is not easy. Not only must the author create vivid characters who leap off the page and demand to be loved, or hated, those characters must also live in a world that has depth and a sense of solid reality to it. McNally has achieved both with The Sable City. The characters are well written and each has a past and little quirks that make them immediately recognizable. One of my favourites is a devil named Balan. Despite being one of the ‘villains’ of the piece his wit and sartorial elegance make his every appearance a joy to read. Tilda, the main character in the book is strong, honourable and tenacious yet at the same time believably female, a rarity amongst male authors. She grows as a person in response to the events of the book, as do the two male characters – Dugan and Zebulon – but the growth never seems forced, rather it is a seamless, natural process that you would expect from ‘real’ people. The less major characters also experience growth. None of them remain static and that is one of the things that makes the book such a pleasure to read.

A good story however, requires more than just good characters. A good story also requires a believable world for those characters to inhabit. That world has to have geography. It has to have climate. It has to have varied and interesting cultures. And it has to have history. In the real world everyone has a sense of the past, even those who have no interest in formal History. The past is where we came from. It not only tells us where we have been as a people or a race, it informs our present. In many ways history is what motivates a whole people so a story without history is like a painting with only the main features coloured in. McNally knows this and his world is rich in references to the past, making the reader feel that the present is just an extension of what came before. As it should be.

But what is The Sable City about? What is the story that pulls us along?

In essence The Sable City is the story of a quest. The quest begins in the island state of Miilark where the trader family of Deskata suddenly finds itself without a direct blood heir. The only Deskata left who could save the family was exiled years before so Captain Block is sent on a mission to try and find the exile and bring him home. Block chooses only a Guilder apprentice by the name of Matilda Lanai to help him as secrecy is paramount. And so the quest to find John Deskata begins. They do not have much to go on. They know that Deskata has brilliant green eyes, a family trait, but not much else. Along the way they meet a deserter from the Legionnaires called Dugan who seems to know where Deskata may have gone but he has his own agenda and the plot soon thickens with deceptions large and small that add an interesting element of  ‘who dunnit’ to the story. As the plot unfolds we are introduced to a colourful array of characters that includes a samurai from the Far West,  a bored Circle Mage, a Duchess incognito and a mysterious woman called Nesha Tarii who has a seductive effect on all the men she comes in contact with… but she is not what she seems. And then of course there are the dragons.

I could say more but that would be giving too much away so I will content myself with saying that all these strange characters are brought together by fate and their own personal quests in a mysterious city of black stone called Vod’ Adia but the ending is not something you will be able to predict. That is one of the things I liked most about the book. I like being surprised and I think you will too.

The only small criticism I have of The Sable City is that at times the dialogue feels too… modern. Or to be more exact, too familiar, as if the banter was happening between two people in present day New York or some other large city. It did not happen often but when it did I would lose that sense of being elsewhere, just for a moment or two. I know many people will consider this criticism to be nit-picking but for me it was a little disconcerting. Other than that The Sable City did not jar with typos or poor grammar or awkward phrasing. It was well written and well edited and the story flowed just the way a good story should.

I think I can honestly say that this is the first fantasy book I have read in a while that I enjoyed and it is definitely the first indie fantasy that I have finished with a warm sense of satisfaction. The Sable City is a good story and I am looking forward to returning to the world to learn more.  I recommend it to anyone who wants more from fantasy than just magic and battles.  There is magic and there are battles but there is also much, much more. You will not be disappointed.


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