Friday, March 21, 2008

Janny Wurts

Have you ever seen a painting with the artist’s signature and then later discovered that the artist writes fiction too? A person’s mind becomes surprised about those who can do these amazing things. Many artists have multiple talents in the different areas of art. Janny Wurts is such a talent. She does both Fantasy art and writes books. Her books span many worlds of Epic Fantasy with descriptive writing and compelling characters. She graces the covers of some of her books with her marvelous paintings. Ms. Wurts is an imaginative contributor to the Fantasy genre.

Sorcerer’s Legacy is one of her first books. This is the story of a widowed woman from our world drawn into a fantasy one by a wizard. There she is to be the prince’s consort to keep everything in peace. Unfortunately, the wizard dies, leaving her with trying to maneuver through court intrigues and keep herself safe.

One of her first series is the Cycle of Fire trilogy consisting of Stormwarden, Keeper of the Keys and Shadowfane. This Epic Fantasy trilogy tells the story of Taen and Jaric as they struggle to learn their powers in order to save the world from an alien race they consider demons. Science fiction elements blend with fantasy to make this an entertaining story. Ms. Wurts uses her knowledge and descriptive writing to bring this story to life. The sailing scenes are very vivid.

Another of her series is a collaboration with Fantasy author Raymond Feist. It is set in his world of the Riftwar. Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire, and Mistress of the Empire chronicles the story of a reluctant woman chosen to lead an empire by her dying brother. Each book shows the growth of the character as she counters court intrigues and becomes a powerful empress. These authors work together very well to bring a fascinating story to readers and entertain them.

The Master of Whitestorm is a stand alone Epic Fantasy novel. Korendir is the main character of this book. An escaped galley slave, he goes on several different quests in search of treasure. His ultimate goal is to build a fortress at Whitestorm to hide a dark secret. This book has a plot full of action along with an interesting character created by the author’s detailed imagination.

In recent years, Ms. Wurts has been writing books in her Wars of Light and Shadow series. With this series, she explores the theme that war is not the only solution to problems. She does this through her characters of two half brothers; one is a bard and mage while the other is a leader. The story of these two half brothers is traced thourgh several books filled with vivid images and imaginative descriptions. The books in this series are:

Curse of the Mistwraith
Ships of Merior
Warhosts of Vastmark
Fugitive Prince
Grand Conspiracy
Peril’s Gate
Traitor’s Knot
Stormed Fortress

Janny Wurts is a multi-talented Fantasy artist and author. Her books range through several vivid worlds of Epic Fantasy. Some of her art work graces the covers of her books too. She is an imaginative writer with descriptive prose, intriguiing characters and interesting themes. Readers can see more of her art work and learn more about her at her web site:

Friday, March 07, 2008

Review: _Mists of Avalon_ by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The story of King Arthur and his knights has fascinated people for centuries. An ancient unknown Celtic chieftain laid the ground work for a story that is ingrained in Great Britain’s and other cultures. Modern day authors have retold the legend in various ways, adding new perspectives tot eh story. Many years ago, Marion Zimmer Bradley gave the story a new twist by telling the story from the point of view of the women characters in the story. Up to this point, the women had been mostly peripheral to the story and portrayed as evil or adulteresses. Mists of Avalon is a powerful Arthurian Fantasy through its in depth exploration of the roles of women, the clash of religions and a multiple point of view plot.

The roles of women are an important aspect of the novel that makes it powerful for readers. Most versions of the Arthurian legend are about the men in the story with the women being peripheral to the story. This novel gives readers the story from the point of view of the women. In the legend, Morgan La Fey is portrayed as an evil sorceress bent on destroying Arthur. Morgaine is the main character whose life is followed through the novel. She is Arthur's half sister, raised as a priestess of Avalon and possessing magical powers. She is driven by her religion to do the will of the Goddess while torn by her feelings as a woman. Her education gives her greater freedom and independence then other women of her time. Gwenhwyfar is the daughter of a lesser king. She fears the outdoors, struggles to be pious and tries to remain out of the spotlight. Though she is the High Queen, Gwenhwyfar is limited by her duty to her husband and her religion. She is a contrasting character to Morgaine. Viviane is a third woman character with a different role. As the high priestess of Avalon, she is a woman of great power that manipulates people’s lives to serve the Goddess. The author keeps the story powerful by following the shifting roles of these women and their choices.

Next, the clash of religions in the novel makes the story powerful. It is the time in Britain after the Romans left. The old religions such as the worship of the Goddess are waning while Christianity is on the rise. This creates a struggle for dominance between the two religions. Viviane and Morgaine try to keep worship of the goddess as the primary religion. They make Arthur promise to make the religion prominent in exchange for being made high king. Gwenhwyfar is a devout Christian. She has a strong influence over Arthur because of his love for her. Her strong dislike for the pagan religion drives her to establish Christianity as the main one of the land. this battle for dominance drives an interesting theme that Ms. Bradley keeps powerful with tension.

Lastly, the book remains powerful by its multiple point of view plot. Ms. Bradley tells the King Arthur story through the eyes of the women. Igraine, Morgaine’s and Arthur’s mother, begins the story by arguing with her sister Viviane about not being a pawn of Avalon. She is in love with Uther and not happy with her marriage to Duke Gorlois. After Arthur’s birth, the point of view shifts to Morgaine as readers follow her through her training as a priestess and dealing with changes in Britain. Later in the book, readers get Gwenhwyfar’s point of view added to tell her part in the story. Ms. Bradley fills the plot with suspense, exciting scenes and compelling descriptions through these women characters.

Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley is an enduring classic novel of Arthurian fantasy. The book’s in depth exploration of the roles of women, the clash of religions and a multiple viewpoint plot makes the novel a powerful read. Ms. Bradley created a spectacular retelling of the story of KIng Arthur that changed the subgenre for goo. This book has been on Bestseller lists for many years. It is an important book for readers of Fantasy to read. I highly recommend this book.