Friday, March 23, 2007

Review: _Spirit Fox_ by Mickey Zucker Reichert and Jennifer Wingert

A young father kills a just born fox as his daughter is born, not realizing the consequences for the future. This sets in motion the intriguing events of a Fantasy novel written in collaboration by two talented authors. Spirit Fox by Mickey Zucker Reichert and Jennifer Wingert is an engaging book with its interesting magic system, tormented characters and entertaining plot.

This interesting magic system is part of the vivid setting, which has a Celtic flavor. Magic in the Marchlands is of two varieties. There is healing magic used by healers to help people. Another magic is the rare spirit links. Some individuals are born and linked with an animal at birth. This bond gives a person and their link mate longer lives and special talents. Destroying the links kills the linked partners. One other magic comes from the foreigners to the land. It is destructive and used by the military Hooded order. The authors provide interesting complications with the magic system to create strong conflicts.

Next, the authors create some appealing tormented characters that engages readers with sympathy. Kiarda is a young woman with a serious problem. She has lapses of memory and wakes up naked in odd places. Her lapses make Kiarda withdrawn from people. Maddock, Kiarda’s childhood friend, is the son of the stable master. He loves Kiarda, but knows he can not marry her since she is the daughter of nobles. Also, he learns how to use a sword, which is forbidden by the priests of their religion. Their problems lead to a sad misunderstanding. They are helped by many concerned friends. Bevin is Kiarda’s healer friend that does not know how powerful she really is. Adan is a helpful older cousin from a nearby manor. These characters are brought to life by the author’s descriptions of their lives.

In the end, it is the entertaining plot that hooks readers into the book. Kiarda has one of her memory lapses in winter, which creates a dangerous situation for her friend Maddock, forcing him to flee. After a time, Kiarda goes on a quest to find her friend to make amends. Along the way she had her companions discover a small invasion company of foreign soldiers and mages threatening the people. Though the plot feels a little rushed at the end, the book has a satisfying climax. The authors weave an interesting story together from several neat plot threads.

Spirit Fox by Mickey Zucker Reichert and Jennifer Wingert is an entertaining collaborative novel. An interesting magic system, tormented characters and fun plot engages readers for a nice read. Many readers should enjoy this book. It is a good summer read.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Review: _Anansi Boys_ by Neil Gaiman

Trickster gods are part of many mythologies of different world cultures. Native Americans have Coyote and Raven. Norse mythology has the darker god called Loki. Author Neil Gaiman uses the African trickster spider god Anansi in his award winning fantasy novel Anansi Boys. In the novel, the author provides for an entertaining book with memorable characters, a humorous plot and use of interesting mythology.

Memorable characters keep readers hooked in a story to make it entertaining. Mr. Gaiman provides great characters for this book. Fat Charlie is embarrassed by his father. He moved away to England in order to get away from him, feeling his father never loved him Through new discoveries, Charlie grows and changes from dealing with his magical brother, criminal boss and fiance. Spider, Charlie's brother, is another memorable character. He is annoying and obnoxious, using his trickster powers for personal gain and vexing Charlie. Spider’s ordeals help him to make changes in his life. The author creates an effective story with these characters’ experiences for a powerful story.

Another aspect that keeps the book entertaining is the humorous plot. The story begins with Charlie getting a call about his father’s embarrassing death. He must return home for the funeral and discovers he has a brother. Strange events revolve around Charlie’s life after he meets Spider. Humor and magic fills Charlie’s life as he grows to overcome fears and evil in amusing ways. Mr. Gaiman is a master at keeping the plot moving with funny moments to keep readers entertained. His vivid descriptions creates a wonderful story.

Finally, the use of interesting mythology helps the book’s entertainment value increase immensely. The author uses the African trickster spider god Anansi and other myths form Africa to bring the story to life. He mixes the mythology with ghosts and other fantasy elements to provide a thought provoking story of a man who is the son of a god. This gives readers a different perspective on the modern world, all done with humor.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman is an award winning mythic fantasy novel that entertains readers. The story of estranged brothers is brought to life my memorable characters, a humorous plot and the use of interesting mythology. Mr. Gaiman writes entertaining novels that are unforgettable for readers. This humorous novel is an excellent companion piece to his darker book American Gods. Both novels are excellent reads for the fans of the genre.