Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: _Out of Avalon_ edited by Jennifer Roberson

Avalon. This name invokes thoughts of King Arthur, Merlin and everything associated with the Arthurian legend. It was the mystical island where King Arthur went to and waits for his return to the world. Out of Avalon edited by Jennifer Roberson is a new Fantasy anthology with stories revolving around the Arthurian legend. The stories vary, covering new ideas and twists in the legend. Many of them are entertaining and memorable.

“The Mooncalfe” by David Farland tells the story of Merlin’s daughter. Conceived the same night as Arthur, she lives a lonely life with her mother in a forest. She spends the earlier part of her life trying to appease her mother’s prayers to be human. This story has a sympathetic character and good ending. The author creates a strong sense of magic and place with his prose.

Few Arthurian stories deal with the death of King Arthur. “Grievous Wounds” by Laura Resnick begins with King Arthur dying from his wounds after the battle of Camlann. He is full of regrets and self pity. While he waits for death, he travels to other times and examines his life. The story has a powerful theme about facing death. Characters are realistic and interesting. It is a worthwhile story to read.

“The Secret Leaves” by Tricia Sullivan is the story of  Nina and Myrddin. Nina is a young girl who gets lost in the woods. Myrddin saves her and she stays with him. He tries to teach her magic while she fights her growing love for him. It is a vivid story of quiet magic and love with an unusual ending.

One story is told from a different point of view in the King Arthur legend. “Black Dogs” by Lorelei Shannon is told by King Arthur’s faithful dog Cabal. He tells about a curse placed on Arthur during a hunt. Cabal and Arthur must solve the mystery of a demon black dog haunting a village. This story is poignant and enjoyable to read.

Judith Tarr contributes a story with “Finding the Grail.” Melisende is a bored lady of Queen Guenivere. She thinks women should be able to quest for the Grail too. Along with a male companion, she sets out on a quest for the Holy Grail. They undergo tests to find the object. Ms. Tarr provides an entertaining story with an unusual ending. The story is very descriptive and realistic.

"Avalonia" by Kristen Britain is about the spirit an   ûd sense of wonder the Arthurian legend engenders in us. Anne Wilder is a biologist with little belief in anything fantastical. While visiting Glastonbury Tor, she is drawn into a world of wonder where she meets a goddess and must make a choice. The author creates a wonderful story of magic and delight fading from the world. Her character is very realistic and likable. It is a very nice story.

There are many other entertaining stories in Out of Avalon. Jennifer Roberson did a good job in her story choices. Few of the stories are disappointing. Whether you like Arthurian stories or other Fantasy, readers will find this anthology interesting. Check it out.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Book Review: _Oceans of Magic_ Anthology

The oceans of the world are the last frontier for humanity besides space. They hold a mystique in our psyches and a promise for the future. Oceans are the theme of the Fantasy anthology Oceans of Magic edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin  H. Greenberg. Divided into three sections, it has different Fantasy stories centered on the ocean. The first section has Historical Fantasies about our world’s oceans during different eras. Next is a section of stories taking place in oceans of Fantasy worlds while the last section deals with sea gods. Many of the stories are interesting and entertaining. So, let’s go explore the mysterious oceans of Fantasy.

“Oh, Glorious Sight” by Tanya Huff takes place on a voyage of Italian explorer John Cabot. It is the poignant story of an abused, orphan boy. Cabot saves him and takes him on the voyage. The boy idolizes Cabot. Befriended by the crew,  he develops a magical talent to control the wind and Aurora Borealis. Cabot considers his powers from the devil and this leads to surprising end. This a sad story with good characters and a bittersweet ending.

World War II is the backdrop for “Tribute” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A sailor aboard a battleship is the censor. He reads all the mail of the other crew members, deleting parts for security reasons. While reading the mail, he discovers that the crew are seeing a ghost ship. The captain of this ship demands tribute. A decision must be made by the main character to save the ship. This story has realistic characters and an interesting theme.

An interesting story of a navy in another world can be found in “Midshipwizard” by James M. Ward. Hal is a young naval officer wizard on his first ship. In this world there are dragonships, large sea dragons with shells on their backs where the crew lives and fights. On his first experience, Hal saves the dragon’s heart from a saboteur with powerful magic. He endures further training and problems throughout the story. This is a wonderful story with a sense of humor and very different navy.

The longest story in the book has a lot of action and adventure. “The Colossus of Mahrass” by Mel Odom is a magical tale of pirates. Pirate captain Jaelik Tarlsson is being haunted by a ghost. She wants him to help her destroy a magical device of her dead Elven father. He is reluctant to put the lives of his crew in jeopardy, but she convinces him otherwise. An exciting story of magic, trips through dungeons, and sea battles ensues with interesting characters and a touch of humor.

Readers get a different sea tale in the story “Catch of the Day” by Jeff Grubb. The world has succumbed to a strange deluge that fills the sky with clouds. Humans have taken to sailing the cloud sea in magical ships. Captain Meridian is leery of her new passenger and next voyage. August Gold is a scholar who wants to prove dragons exist. They venture into a part of the cloud sea held by a hostile force. This tale is very entertaining with its unusual setting and ending.

“Walk Upon the Waters” by Paul Kupperberg is a story about the last days of Atlantis. The sea gods are angry. They wish to destroy Atlantis for turning to science and forgetting the gods. Thalis is the last wizard who protects Atlantis and must battle with the gods. On his journey to a final battle, Thalis     remembers his life and lost love Kahna. He refuses to surrender to futility. This is a poignant story of enduring love and sacrifice. Thalis is a sympathetic character readers will feel sorry for in his sorrow.

The ocean provides inspiration for writers to create magical, entertaining stories. Oceans of Magic is a Fantasy anthology with many good stories to keep a reader interested for hours. Finding a story to like won’t be hard to  discover. Pick up a copy of the book and embark on a voyage to Fantasy oceans of adventure.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Review: _Fire Bringer_ by David Clement-Davies

What if animals could really talk? Fantasy is the genre to answer that question. Many authors have written about talking animals. Watership Down by Richard Adams is a literary classic about rabbits. Now, Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies does the same thing for deer in Scotland. The author brings the lives of deer to life and provides readers with an entertaining book through memorable characters, important themes and an interesting plot.

The author portrays the animal characters in a realistic manner that makes them memorable. Rannoch is the main character of the book. He grows up through the story as readers follow him from fawn to full grown stag. Facing several different events in his life, Rannoch constantly struggles with the burden of a prophecy and his strange powers. With the help of loyal friends like Willow the doe and Bankfoot, he grows and changes in his life. Sgorr is an antlerless stag, changing the natural ways o flf the deer. His evil is created by a terrible secret that drives him to the detriment of the deer. Mr. Clement-Davies demonstrates expertise in animals that makes them realistic along with excellent descriptions that brings the deer world to life.

Next, the important themes of the book keeps readers thinking. The main theme is about coming of age. Characters deal with growing up in the harsh life of deer. Rannoch undergoes several life changing events that bring him into adulthood. Coupled with this is the theme of destiny as Rannoch lives under a prophecy he is not sure he can fulfill. Trying to deny it only leads him to pain. These other two themes lead into a quest as Rannoch must solve his problems by discovering a secret. A deft weaving of the themes into the plot by the author makes the book entertaining.

In the end, it is the interesting plot that hooks a reader until the conclusion of the book. The book starts with the killing of Rannoch’s father by the herd leader Drail who is controlled by the cunning Sgorr. Rannoch’s mother must give him to another doe to protect his life. After a year, Rannoch’s foster mother flees with him and a group in order to keep him alive and get away from the oppression. Sgorr is in control of the herd, changing the natural ways of the deer. He goes against the laws of Herne. The prophecy of a savior coming to stop this keeps the pressure on Rannoch, who undergoes several trials. Part of Rannoch’s abilities gives him the power to talk with other animals, which helps move the story along quickly. The book reaches a satisfying conclusion through the author’s excellent descriptions and pacing.

Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies is an entertaining Animal Fantasy for readers. Memorable animal characters, important themes and the interesting plot blend together to create a good book. Readers will enjoy the fantastic journey into the world of red deer in ancient Scotland. This book can be enjoyed by young adult and adult readers.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Urban Fantasy

The fantasy genre has many categories under its umbrella. One of the popular ones right now is urban fantasy. These are stories that take place in a city or in somewhere in our world where magic, fantastic creatures and the supernatural exists in reality. Many authors are writing in this category, providing interesting and entertaining stories. This article shares some authors and their books of urban fantasy that readers might enjoy.

Patricia Briggs is the author of the “Mercy Thompson” series. Her character, Mercy, is an auto mechanic who changes into a coyote raised by werewolves. Mercy faces a new supernatural threat in each book as her life changes. She deals with werewolf pack politics, vampires, fae and other monstrous, dangerous creatures. The books are mainly set in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. In each book, the characters grow as they face new problems. There also is a side series of books that follow the two werewolf characters of Charles and Anna. the first book in the Mercy series is Moon Called.

Magic and the supernatural exists in the world of author Him Butcher’s “Harry Dresden” books. Harry is a private eye and wizard in Chicago. He advertises in the phone book as a wizard, which people find humorous. The public doesn’t understand or refuses to accept that the supernatural is real and exists in the world. In reality, there are wizards, vampires, fairies and many other creatures in the world. Harry Dresden must solve a mystery, fight deadly monsters and protect the world in each book while contending with fellow wizards who don’t trust him. Each book shows growth in Harry’s character as he discovers new magic and insights about his life. Harry gets help from police detective Susan Murphy and a sarcastic talking skull. Storm Front begins the series.

Magic returns with a vengeance to our world, rising and falling like a tide in the “Kate Daniels” series by Ilona Andrews. Magic Bites begins the story of Kate, a mercenary and private detective with a secret past. She deals with shapeshifters, vampire controllers and other magical dangers in each book while solving a crime. Each time she must keep her past hidden to protect those she loves. Kate keeps herself emotionally distant which makes it difficult for her to deal with love. Curran, her love interest, is the leader of the Pack who tries to help Kate in each book. In every book there is a nice balance between action, romance and some humor in this gritty, entertaining series.

Some urban fantasy books can be subtle without the gritty action found in many books. Charles de Lint writes urban fantasy that focuses on characters and how magic touches their lives. His first books were set in Ottawa, Canada but later he created the fictional city of Newford to place his stories there. The characters are very realistic with problems like living people. Magic and fantastical creatures affect these lives in various ways for better or worse. The Newford books tend to be collections of short stories or single novels. Dreams Underfoot is the first of the books set in Newford.

Mercedes Lackey is known for her Valdemar books but ventures into urban fantasy too. She collaborates with authors Rosemary Edgehill or Ellen Guon for some of these books. The stories involve clashes between elves, humans and magic in our world, focusing on human characters and their interactions with the magic and elves. One character appears in most of the books. He is a bard that can do magic with his music. Each book has a conflict or mystery that must be resolved. The Summer Knight is the first book of the series.

The “Iron Druid Chronicles” by Kevin Hearne is an urban fantasy series set in Arizona. Atticus O’Sullivan is a druid who has lived for centuries. He must deal with ancient gods and other creatures to protect the world and himself. The druid is very powerful with impressive magic. Each book furthers the story of the druid with more devestating encounters. The first book is called Hounded.

Many urban fantasy stories are short stories. An anthology is a good place for readers to try urban fantasy to decide if they like it. These stories can be found in different books written by many authors in the fantasy genre. Some anthologies to try out are Naked City, Urban Fantasy, and Paper Cities.

Urban fantasy expands every month with new books from established and new authors. Settings are in cities and some in rural areas all over the world. Readers get imaginative ideas of what our world might be like if magic and the supernatural existed in our world. There are many books in this category of which this article only covers a few of the tons available. Enjoy the journey into the city streets but don’t forget to look over your shoulder.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Short Delay

Hello, There will be a short delay in this week's article. I will put it online this weekend. Sorry for the delay.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: _The Loneliest Magician_ by Irene Radford

One young woman is sold into slavery with a talent for making lace. A young magician loses his memory and magic from a traumatic event. The kingdom of Coronnan needs the dragons to return to stabilize the magic while a group of fanatics wants to kill all magic users. These are a few of the events in The Loneliest Magician by Irene Radford the third book of the Dragon Nimbus series. This book is very entertaining because of its plot, characters and magic the author uses.

The plot of this book has plenty of action and twists to keep the reader hooked. Characters are spread out over two kingdoms. There are wars, quests and political intrigues. Coronnan’s queen cannot produce an heir to the throne due to a magic problem and that leads to civil strife. Magic users are being persecuted by a cult of fanatics that want to kill all mages. The king suffers from a wound through his link to the dragons and they are not in the kingdom. All of these elements blend into a suspenseful tale that keeps you turning the pages until the end.

Another aspect that makes the book interesting is the sympathetic characters. Yaakke is a young mage sent on a quest to find the dragons and restore them to Coronnan. He has not reached his full power yet. His quest leads him into a dangerous confrontation with a powerful sorceress, which leaves him trapped in slavery. Readers will feel for him in his struggles. They will feel for Katrina too. She is a lace maker in a rival kingdom being torn apart by an insane king. Katrina watches her family get slowly destroyed and ends up in slavery too. Her struggle to get free brings her growth in courage and love. Other characters provide strong support and interesting problems for the main ones to solve.

Finally, Ms. Radford uses an interesting variety of magics to make the story more entertaining. Magic users have an assortment of types to draw on for spells. Mages in Coronnan are supposed to gather magic from the dragons. Some of the mages like Yaakke can draw on ley lines for energy. Women mages use music and are healers. The dangerous mages use human sacrifice, sex and an addicting drug for magic, which drives the user insane. Ms. Radford weaves these magics into her story deftly to keep it exciting and interesting.

The Loneliest Magician by Irene Radford is an entertaining addition to the Dragon Nimbus series. This third book in the series is made interesting and engaging through its plot, characters and the types of magic the author uses for her mages. Ms. Radford writes appealing books that keeps readers hooked and excited until the end. There are other books set in the world of Kardia Hodos that readers will enjoy too.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: _The Three Sisters_ by Rebecca Locksley

A mage of the Tari watches her sister-in-law destroy a tower of the enemy who destroyed three of their people utterly by feeding them to demons. The woman is pregnant and experiences all of the deaths she causes. Stress from the deaths results in the birth of triplets, three sisters with remarkable talents. This starts the book The Three Sisters by Rebecca Locksley. Readers will find this book interesting because of its troubled characters, action plot, and the clash of cultures and magical systems.

Three women of the title have troubled lives that make them interesting. They are Tari, a race of people that are part of the life spirit of their world. This gives them great magical powers but with a price. Yani is a warrior. She loves to fight with the sword, but cannot kill anyone or she will suffer the deaths of her enemies. Her sister Elena Starchild is beautiful, possessing the talent of fatal beauty that dr ives men to obsession over her. Marigoth is a powerful mage. She is eleven years old and refuses to grow up. All of them face conflicts that change them by the end of the book. Other characters like the Mirayan mage Ezratah, the Horse Seagani tribe member Duprey and Wolf Madraga add different insights into the lives of the sisters.

Next, the action plot keeps the book interesting by moving along at a good pace with exciting developments. The story begins when Elena Starchild’s husband is killed by conquerors and her husband’s people are enslaved. She becomes the prize of war of the Lord Scarvan, but once Wolf Madraga sees her, the fatal beauty sets events of change in motion. Yani journeys with her child sister Marigoth to the city to rescue Elena. Along the way, they meet Ezratah who tries a charm spell on Yani and ends up enslaved to her. This experience changes his perspectives on things. Yani finds herself drawn into the struggle between the Seagani and Mirayans when all she wants to do is rescue her sis ˇter. In addition, she must deal with a petulant sister who refuses to grow up. The also find themselves at odds with their uncle. He is trying to control destiny through them. Ms. Locksley weaves all of these threads and others into a good story with a lot of conflict.

The last element that makes this book interesting is the clash between cultures and different systems of magic. Ms. Locksley explores the theme of imperialism by a more advanced nation. With the Seagani and other natives being conquered by the Mirayans, shades of our world’s history of imperialism appear. This gets the reader to want the underdog to win. There is a difference in magical systems with the Mirayans using crystals to focus power while the Tari use the natural magic granted to them by the Life Spirit of their world, which gives a touch of an environmental theme to the book. The author works these themes subtly into the story.

The Three Sisters by Rebecca Locksley is an entertaining Epic Fantasy. Troubled characters, an action plot and a clash between different cultures and systems of magic makes the book interesting for readers. This book ends with some unconcluded plot threads, so there will probably be another book to continue the story. Rebecca Locksley is a pen name of author Jane Routely.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Review: _Out of Time_ by Lynn Abbey

A woman lives the quiet life of a university librarian in a small town when it starts to unravel after helping a battered young woman. She is thrust into a world of magic and curses, which she does not like or want a part of. Out of Time by Lynn Abbey is an Urban Fantasy and the first in a series. Readers will find the book entertaining due to a realistic character, interesting setting and action plot.

A realistic character gets the reader hooked quickly into the book. Emma Merrigan is an acquisitions librarian for a university library. Fifty years old, she lives a quiet, routine life until strange events begin. She is forced to confront a past highlighted by abandonment by her mother and discovering a strange fate has been set out for her. This brings out a strong sense of rebellion to her circumstances. Peripheral characters help or hinder Emma, but she is the main focus of the book. Ms. Abbey creates a believable character in the strong woman Emma.

Next, the interesting setting gives the book a strong sense of place and helps create suspense. The small university town with its environs is described vividly, bringing it to life. This is juxtaposed with the strange setting of the Wasteland where time flows differently and curses haunt the landscape. When Emma jumps between the two worlds, readers gain new insights from the character’s growth. Through the author’s vivid descriptions, the setting moves the plot along in interesting directions.

Finally, the action plot moves the book along at a fast pace that keeps reader wanting more. The action starts when Emma discovers Jenny hiding from her boyfriend Bran in the library. Jenny had been beaten by Bran the night before inexplicably. This draws Emma into their problems and sets off weird supernatural phenomena. When this happens, Emma discovers a box with a letter and things left by her mother. This dredges up old resentments for Emma. Also, she does not want her life to change because of these powers. Trying to help the young couple only makes matters worse. Then, Emma’s past comes back to add more stress to her problems. Emma’s coping with curses, her powers and the past are deftly woven together my Ms. Abbey into a tight story, which is a pager turner.

Out of Time by Lynn Abbey is an entertaining book with a realistic character, interesting settings and action plot. The author combines these elements into a tightly woven story that hooks readers from the beginning and takes them on a memorable journey. The first book of the Orion’s Children series ends with a small cliffhanger that promises more excitement and suspense in the next book. This is an good book for summer reading.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: _Kingdom of the Grail_ by Judith Tarr

Many European countries have legends and epics of great heroes. “Beowulf” was one of the first of these famous stories. Spain had El Cid. Finland had the Kalevala. Britain has King Arthur while France has the “Song of Roland” and the tales of Charlemagne. Fantasy author Judith Tarr writes Historical Fantasy. She takes elements from the King Arthur story and mixes them with Roland and Charlemagne in her novel Kingdom of the Grail. Readers will discover an entertaining book due to the characters, setting and plot.

Interesting characters keep readers hooked into the story. Roland is a warrior serving the king of the Franks. In addition to his great fighting skills, he possesses magic. Deeply loyal and honorable, Roland struggles to fulfill a powerful oath as he struggles with problems in the story. He is helped by his good friends Turpin and Olivier who accept him with his magic. Roland meets the mysterious Sarissa when she rides into the king’s camp with a Saracen group. She is strong ˜willed and a healer, impressing everyone with her skills. Sarissa’s companion Tarik adds a nice touch to the story. Both these characters assist King Charles in fighting an evil enemy that threatens the world. The author creates sympathetic characters through subtle descriptions that increases their growth throughout the story.

Next, setting makes the story seem realistic, keeping the readers grounded in a fantastical past. Ms. Tarr brings the time of King Charles alive with her meticulous research. The mixing of mythic elements history are deftly woven into a realistic whole. Merlin, the Grail Story and Song of Roland take center stage in a Europe in a time of flux. Readers get a strong sense of history with the foray into Moorish Spain and through France. Then readers learn of the mystical king of Montsalvat and castle Carbonek, sanctuary of the Holy Grail. The blending of history and fantasy provides a vivid setting.

An adventurous plot transforms the novel into an entertaining read. Beginning with a prologue, readers meet Roland as he makes an oath to free Merlin from his prison. Roland becomes a great warrior and companion to King Charles. In the camp, he meets an enigmatic woman who draws him into a contest for a magic sword. Then, Roland travels with the king’s army into Saracen controlled Spain. His greatest enemy, the evil wizard Ganelon travels with them. After the battle in Spain comes the journey to the magical kingdom and a dramatic change in the story. Ms. Tarr creates an event filled novel of excitement with great battles, intriguing magic and mythical creatures tied together in a fast moving plot.

Kingdom of the Grail is an exciting Historical Fantasy by Judith Tarr. She brings a grand story to life by mixing history with mythic elements. Readers will find the book entertaining through its characters, setting and plot. Grand battles, intrigue, magic and the Holy Grail makes the book a fascinating story. Readers will enjoy the story of Roland, mighty warrior of King Charles.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Fantasy Author Sharon Green

What would it be like to live in a world of shape shifters or where everyone has magical powers? These are a few of the Fantasy worlds of the author Sharon Green. She is the mistress of romantic Adventure Fantasy. Her books are full of strong women characters and understanding men characters. They are infused with romance and a lot of action. She writes entertaining books with subtle themes. Ms. ˇ Green writes Science Fiction also, but only her Fantasy books will be covered here.

One of her first forays into Fantasy started with The Far Side of Forever. This tells the story of a powerful woman mage named Laciel. She joins with five companions to get back the stolen Balance Stone before uncontrolled magic destroys her world. They pursue the stone through different worlds, each companion using their talent to further the quest. In the sequel, Hellhound Magic, Laciel and her love must rescue her mentor from a vicious tyrant.

Silver Princess, Golden Knight (reviewed in a previous article) starts a five book series. In these books, shape shifters and magic users travel through many different worlds in order to save oppressed people and forge new kingdoms. These books have strong characters, adventurous plots and romance. Ms. Green creates intriguing magic systems for these novels too. The other four novels are: Hidden Realms, Dark Mirrors, Darker Dreams, Wind Whispers, Shadow Shouts and Game’s End.

Dawn Song is a stand alone novel. The Prince of the Sun house and daughter of the Moon house must work together to defeat a usurper. Haliand and Jentris must fight the ruler of Earth to keep their Houses from being destroyed. Like her other books, this one involves journeys to other worlds and a lot of romance. The book has some things to say about relationships.

Her most recent series are the five books of the “Blending.” In this world, everyone has magic talent. People’s magic is tied to one of five elements: earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Five people, one mage from each element, must come together and blend their magic together is order to prevent an ancient evil from returning. The five books in the series are: Convergence, Competitions, Challenges, Betrayals and Prophecy. Ms. Green uses multiple viewpoints in these books to get every character’s reaction to the situations they are in and to each other.

Sharon Green has written other books about Amazons and strong women. She has contributed a substantial number of books to romantic Adventure Fantasy. Her works contain strong women characters that overcome great problems. The books contain subtle themes about relationships and the plight of women. Ms. Green is an imaginative creator of interesting magical systems and cultures. Readers will enjoy her entertaining books of adventure and romance.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Joy Chant

Searching for something interesting to read in a used bookstore, a book catches your eye. You buy the book, read it and want to read read more of the author’s books. But, you discover, most of the books are out of print and there are no new books. Joy Chant is such an author. She is a talented Fantasy writer. Her few books are gems in the genre. Two won the Mythopoeic Award several years ago.

Red Moon and Black Mountain is the first story in her world of Vandarei. It is a story of children from our world that find themselves transported to this Fantasy world. The three children must each complete a part of a quest that will defeat the Dark god. This is a tale with a strong sense of courage and honor. It has a lot of adventure too.

The next book of Vandarei is The Grey Mane of Morning. This tale is about Ms. Chant’s Harani. They are a combination Native American and Cossack steppe culture. It is a fascinating story with interesting ide ›as and characters. This might be Ms. Chant’s strongest book.

Lastly came When Voiha Wakes, which won a Mythopoeic Award. In this book, readers are provided a tale of a female dominated culture. A male artist is trying to escape the limitations of this society. He must struggle through difficulties to gain his freedom.

Ms. Chant’s last published book turned to Arthurian Fantasy. The High Kings is a book of Celtic and King Arthur stories. Interspersed are knowledgeable articles on Celtic society, history and culture. The hardback version was a coffee table book with pictures while the paperback consists of the text only. Either version is an informative book.

Joy Chant is a talented Fantasy writer of interesting books. Her works contain strong characters, fascinating cultures and powerful themes. It is too bad she hasn’t written any new books in a long time. All of her books are our to print, but if you find any in a used bookstore, be sure to check them out.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Mythopoeic Society

There are many literary organizations that study and discuss fantasy worlds in fiction. The Mythopoeic Society is an excellent organization of this kind. Founded in 1967 by Glen GoodKnight, the Society is dedicated to the study of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams and fantasy literature. The Society contributes many things to the fantasy genre.

According to the Society definition, mythopoeic means "myth-making" or "productive of myths." This type of literature draws from the world of myth to produce powerful works of lasting resonance, sophisticated themes and mythic proportions. Such things are found in the books of many authors, though the Society's emphasis in on Tolkien, Lewis and Williams.

The Society has three publications it publishes. Mythprint is the monthly newsletter with news of the Society's doings, editorials, information on books and many other things. Mythic Circle is a short fiction magazine of fantasy stories and poetry. The last publication provides the most interest to serious fantasy readers.

Mythlore contains articles, book reviews and other features on their featured authors and other fantasy fiction. These articles provide in depth studies of various aspects of their topics. This publication is a gold mine for readers interested in the literary aspects of fantasy worlds.

The Mythopoeic Society does other things too. They put on an annual conference with papers, discussions, music and many other things. An annual award is given to a fantasy book that exemplifies the spirit of the "Inklings" (Tolkien, Lewis, Williams). Also, they have independent affiliated discussion groups for people who want to discuss fantasy in their own regions.

The Mythopoeic Society is an important organization for readers and writers of Fantasy. Their publications provide greater understanding of the Fantasy genre. It helps legitimize Fantasy as a viable literature. I have been a member for many years and recommend the society for fantasy fans. Check out their Internet site at "" for more information.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why There Are No Articles

I apologize for not getting out the articles on time this month. A life event has thrown a wrench in the works. My elderly mother fell and broke a shoulder, so I’ve been taking care of her and the house. I haven’t had time or been in the mood to write. The situation is better now, so I should get back on schedule soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review: The Crimson Shadow Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore

The "Crimson Shadow" trilogy ( The Sword of Bedwyr, Luthien's Gamble and The Dragon King) is written by R.A. Salvatore. These books are a fast, easy read with little complexity like some other fantasy novels. The books are straight adventure. Characters, plot and style are what drive these books through an interesting story. Luthien Bedwyr is the main character of these books. He starts out an innocent young man from an island part of the kingdom of Eriador. By the end, he has undergone changes, found love and becomes a hero. Along the way he discovers friends and helpers in the halfling Oliver de Burrows, the wizard Brind Amour and the half-elf Siobahn. These characters move a simple, adventurous plot along to a rousing conclusion. Plotwise, the books are straight forward. In the first book, Luthien becomes the reluctant leader of a revolution. The second book tells the story of the freeing of Eriador. The final book involves the great battle to defeat evil king Greensparrow. These fantasy books don't have a lot of depth, but are good if you're looking for entertainment. A reader can put their brain in idle and enjoy a fun romp through the fantasy world of the Crimson Shadow.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Book Review: _Aurian_ by Maggie Furey

Aurian is the first book in the "Artifacts of Power" series. It is by newcomer Fantasy author Maggie Furey. An Epic Fantasy, the book has a lot of action and adventure provided by an intriguing plot, sympathetic characters and memorable settings. Fantasy lovers, who like their books with a little depth, will find an interesting Fantasy world to explore in this book. The plot moves quickly in this book. Aurian is a powerful mage of Earth and Fire magic. After an accident, she goes to the Academy of magic in the city of Nexis. There she learns to use her magic, falls in love and finds an enemy in the Archmage Miathan. In this world, the Magefolk are prejudiced against mortals. Aurian breaks the rules by having mortal friends and falling in love with the mortal warrior Forral. Miathan gets angry at this and unleashes the power of the Caldron on Forall and Nexis. The ensuing deaths and escape starts a quest for Aurian to find a way to defeat the Archmage. She is helped by other characters in her quest. Sympathetic characters gives this book its best feature. Aurian is the main character, a strong mage, but also a warrior. She has a strong sense of honor and caring instilled by her mortal lover and teacher Forral. Anvar is a young man, unaware of his parentage, who becomes Aurian's friend and companion on her perilous journey. Many other realistic secondary characters aid these two on their quest through different settings on this world. Like other Fantasy books, Aurian has an interesting world full of different settings and cultures. Aurian travels from a quiet, secluded valley to a busy city and ends up in the fierce Southern kingdoms. There are diffferent mortal cultures as well as winged people called Skyfolk, Leviathans (whales) and intelligent dragons that speak in lights. Something of interest for every Fantasy reader can be found here. Aurian is the beginning of a long, complex series. Maggie Furey's writing is clear and descriptive with lots of action and adventure. Plot, characters and setting work together to create an interesting Fantasy story that readers shouldn't miss. Since this is a first book, it does end with a lot of loose ends. The other books are: Harp of Winds, Sword of Flame and Dhiammara.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Review: Song in the Silence by Elizabeth Kerner

Once in a while a book comes along that sets your imagination on fire. You can't put it down. You want to finish it as quickly as posssible to the exclusion of everything else. That's what happens when you read Song in the Silence by Elizabeth Kerner. There are dragons, adventure and action to catapult readers into this Fantasy world. This Fantasy book has likeable characters, a gripping plot and strong themes.

Likeable characters draw the reader into this book swiftly. Lanen Kaelar is a young woman from a farm who dreams of talking with dragons. She embarks on her quest, unaware of her parentage. Lanen is courageous and stubborn with a streak of wanderlust. She is helped by other characters like Jamie is her mentor and foster father. He gives Lanen the stability needed to survive her quest. The dragons are the other interesting characters that give the story life. Akhor is the silver king of the dragons. He longs for contact with humans. He is drawn to Lanen from the beginning and gets help from his mentor Shikrar the Keeper of Souls. These characters give impetus to a gripping plot.

In Lanen's time, the dragons have withdrawn from humanity to live on an island. Humans can only venture there every few years at the risk of being destroyed by storms. They want to collect a rare plant that heals and restores youth. Lanen ventures on one of these expiditions to meet dragons and befriends Akhor. While on the island, she discovers her father Marik wants to sacrifice her to demons. She must keep a fine balance between helping the dragons and keeping alive. This gives the plot some fast moving action and adventure that readers will enjoy. The plot adds to the strong themes of the book.

Love and sacrifice are the major themes. Akhor and Lanen try to deny the impossible growing love between them. Added to this is her desire to help the dragons free the lost souls of the lesser dragons from their torment. These themes combine to give the book a powerful story that can't be put down.

Characters, plot and themes makes Song in the Silence a must read for Fantasy readers. It is hard to put down once started. Those who like dragons in their books will enjoy Akhor, Shikrar, Idai, Kedra and the others. Romance lovers will find the relationship of Lanen and Akhor different. Elizabeth Kerner has provided a wonderful addition to the genre. Though a complete story, there are enough plot threads for another book. Hopefully the author is working on the next one.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Review: _Tapping the Dream Tree_ by Charles de Lint

What if magic really existed in our world? Magical creatures could be encountered on a city street. this happens in the fantasy sub-genre of Urban Fantasy. Charles de Lint is a master of this sub-genre. His creation of the Fantasy city of Newford has been the center of many collections of stories and books over the years. Tapping the Dream Tree is another collection of Newford stories that range through different aspects of the city and its denizens.

“The Buffalo Man” is a story mixing Native American and Celtic myth elements. It is the story of saving a spirit that lives as a homeless man. He is dying. Meran, an oak king’s daughter, and her bard husband Cerin try to help with their magic, which draws the young girl Jilly into a dangerous situation. This is an entertaining story that leads to a satisfying conclusion.

In “Forest of Stone,” Geordie faces changes with his life that he is not ready to undergo. His story coincides with a homeless who has lived a strange life. He wants to go to a Celtic h eaven but can’t until he dies. Geordie is torn about his long distance relationship and deciding to join his girlfriend. He must meet the request of the homeless man that helps him make a decision. Mr. de Lint creates a vivid story of characters dealing with change and the magic in the world.

“Embracing the Mystery” is an entertaining story with a nice theme. Sue wants to hear her friend’s dog speak again. She does not believe in magic, but explores ways to reconcile her friend’s suicide. Along the way she encounters a living Internet web site and the dream city of Mabon. Mr. de Lint provides a good story with the positive theme of there being some mystery in our lives. It is an entertaining story.

“Granny Weather” is the story of Sophie. Her friends keep telling her that she has fairy blood, but she does not believe it. She is a true dreamer and can enter another world of magic. Sophie is drawn into the dream world to save a witch and her boyfriend, but is not sure how to do it. This is a good story with a lot of twists. Mr. de Lint creates a vivid other world and interesting plot.

The last story, “Seven Wild Sisters,” is the longest in the book. This is the story of seven sisters whose family is touched by the world of fairy. Sarah Jane Dillard helps the older woman Lillian who lives in the hills behind her home. She hears stories about fairies from Lillian but does not believe in their existence. One day she finds a little man made of roots full of tiny arrows, taking him to Lillian. This drags her six sis Bters inadvertently into a struggle between two different groups. The story gives the reader a sense of wonder with its vivid descriptions and memorable characters. Some readers might find it the most entertaining story in the book.

Tapping the Dream Tree by Charles de Lint is another entertaining collection of Newford stories. The stories in this Urban Fantasy collection range from dark and edgy to humorous. Most of the stories are entertaining. They contain interesting characters and moving themes. It is a nice addition to stories of the Fantasy city of Newford.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"Once Upon a Time" Review

Fantasy TV series are scarce on broadcast television. Few networks will take a chance on these programs because of fierce competition for ratings. This year there are two programs, “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm,” shows that are based on fairy tales. The first one is doing well in the ratings, gaining more viewers every week. “Once Upon a Time” has an interesting story, appealing characters and familiar themes.

“Once Upon a Time” takes place between two worlds, ours and the fairy tale one. Regina, the queen from the Snow White tale, places a curse on the fairy tale world causing the characters to live their lives in our world without memory of their fairy tale ones. Emma, a daughter of two characters, escapes the curse. She is pulled to the town of Storybrooke when her son she gave up for adoption comes to get her to help break the curse. Each episode focuses on a different fairy tale woven into the overall arc of the struggle between Snow White and Queen Regina. Using a different fairy tale each week keeps the story building interest for the viewer.

Next, the creators of the series make the characters appealing to draw the viewers into their stories. Each week a character from a fairy tale is focused on in our world. Flashbacks to their lives in the fairy tale world enhances the character’s story to explain what they are like and why they react the way they do in our world. Viewers see growth in the characters each week. This growth and the insights gained by each flashback keeps the character appealing and the viewers coming back for more.

Finally, viewers are drawn to the show by the familiar themes. The show has many themes that resonate with people. There is the the theme of good versus evil between the queen and Emma, Snow White and the prince. Love is a large underlying theme that drives character s to do heroic or cruel deeds. The importance of family is a strong theme throughout the show, demonstrating how families are helpful or can be destructive to their loved ones. Fairy tales are a good source of themes for the show to draw from since they contain many of these themes. These familiar universal themes keep viewers returning to the show each week.

“Once Upon a Time” is an entertaining new fantasy television series on broadcast television. Blending characters from fairy tales living in our world due to a curse creates a strong series with an interesting story, appealing characters and familiar themes. As viewer numbers grow, the series should be renewed for next year. Hopefully there will be more fantasy series tried in the future.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Where Do I Start?

You want to read in the Fantasy genre or expand your reading further. Where do you start? The genre is huge, with books ranging from the epics to those based on role playing games. Trying to make a choice and find something worth reading can be daunting when you stand in front of the section in the bookstores. What books should you read? Do you want something entertaining or something that will make you think? This article will try to answer that question. There will be some suggestions from each of several subgenres in this article.

First, let's start with Foundation books. These are the books that provide a base to start from in your reading adventures. They are works responsible for expanding the literature to what it is today. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien are good starting places. The books have a great story to tell full of deep meanings and adventure. For a fairy tale quality, there is The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany or his The Charwoman's Shadow. These lyrical storie travel through many fantastic scenes, vividly described by the classic author. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin is a powerful coming of age tale. Many other books form the foundation that spread into several subgenres.

Epic (High) Fantasy is probably the largest part of the genre. Bookstore shelves are full of stories about heroes and great battles between good and evil. Some of the books grace the Bestseller list at times. There are many places for the reader to start here. The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Wiliams is the grand story of a poor boy who must overcome great obstacles in the world of Osten Ard. Patricia McKillip's Riddlemaster of Hed is a good place to start too. The tale of Morgon and his search for riddles is a masterpiece. These are just a couple of the many books in the large subgenre.

Another popular subgenre is Contemporary Fantasy. The books take place in our modern world where magic intrudes to make our world a little more enchanted. Many of these books take place in urban settings, some with a dark edge. Charles de Lint is one of the masters of this subgenre like his most recent book Forests of the Heart or any of his other books. Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is a classic about the realm of Fairy mingling with our world. Many other enjoyable books come under this umbrella.

There is another subgenre where readers can find good books. Adult readers avoid these books under the young adult marking. They are missing some wonderful Fantasy books. All Ages Fantasy is the subgenre of books targeted for a younger audience, but contain layers of complexity. These books contain something for readers of all ages. One example is Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper, which tells the stories of young people combating magical forces. The Owl Service by Alan Garner combines Welsh myth with a modern English country setting to tell a powerful story. Another book is the beginning of the "Prydain Chronicles" by Lloyd Alexander. The Book of Three is a coming of age tale about Taran the boy who takes care of a prophetic pig. All of these books have something that an adult reader can appreciate.

These are a few of the starting places you can try to gain an appreciation of the Fantasy genre. There are many other subgenres that weren't mentioned in this article, but book titles in those areas will be found on the reading list that follows. Hopefully you'll find something to capture your interest. The list will be added to this site and I hope to expand it with time. What books do you think should be added to this list? Put your ideas on a discussion.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: _The High House_ by James Stoddard

The High House is a wonderful book of High Fantasy. It is the first novel by author James Stoddard. Plot, characterization, setting and theme blend to form a memorable piece of fantastic literature.

"The High House, Evenmere, that lifts its gabled roofs among tall hills overlooking a country of ivy and hawthorn and blackberries sweet but small as the end of a child's finger, has seldom been seen by ordinary men. Those who come there do so not by chance, and those who dwell there abide long within its dark halls, seldom venturing down the twisting road to the habitations of men." ( The High House by James Stoddard )

Thus begins this wonderful book's plot. Readers are introduced to the story of Carter Anderson and the mysterious High House, where a struggle between chaos and order occurs. The plot moves through a story from the loss of the Master Keys to an emotional and exciting climax. Along the way, we are treated to many twists and turns in the battle to defeat the Anarchists. The plot is clear and succinct. It is helped by good characters.

Mr. Stoddard has created wonderful, memorable characters. Carter Anderson, the main character, is filled with doubts and fears. He must overcome several obstacles in the book. His journey through the house brings changes in him. He is helped by several interesting secondary characters. William Hope starts as a lawyer but becomes Carter's advisor. Enoch winds the house's clocks and once talked with God. The lamp lighter Chant talks in poetic, literary quotes. Brittle is the affectionate valiant butler. These characters travel though an unusual setting.

Evenmere, the High House, is a strange and different world. The house is huge on the inside. Different nations exist within the rooms and halls of the house. These nations have doorways out into their own worlds. One of these nations is inhabited by talking tigers and Gnawlings-animals that camouflage themselves as furniture. The attic is occupied by a dragon. This setting helps develop the book's themes.

Thematic content revolves around the house. The house is like a miniature model of the universe. Masters of the House possess powers to combat the Anarchists. This keeps the universe in balance. Masters are chosen by the House like heroes called to serve their people. This book also contains a quest theme in Carter's search for the Master keys.

This book has great depth and wonderful characters. Readers of many genres would enjoy this book. Few Fantasy books published today give readers a sense of wonder. This book certainly does. I think The High House will become a Fantasy classic in years to come, joining Tolkien and many others.

Until next time, keep exploring fantasy worlds.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Review: _A Quest-Lover’s Treasury of the Fantastic_

Many people have been on a quest some time in their life. It could be for a better job, a house, saving for a dream vacation, etc. The quest is a common theme and part of the Fantasy genre. A Quest-Lover’s Treasury of the Fantastic edited by Margaret Weis is an anthology of Fantasy stories by various authors revolving around quests. The stories range from humorous to dark renditions of suspense. There are several entertaining stories for readers to enjoy.

A vivid story with a dark quest is “Misericorde” by the late Karl Edward Wagner. Tamaslei hires the legendary assassin Kane to avenge her lover’s death. She buys the four lives of those responsible. Kane proceeds on this nasty quest in a long tale of suspense and death. This is a startling tale filled with vivid images and a twist ending. It is a memorable story about revenge that readers will not forget for a long time.

Humor raises its head in the story “Mirror, Mirror on the Lam” by Tanya Huff. Ciro the thief steals a magic mirror from the most powerful wizard in the world. Magdalene discovers the theft and pursues Ciro to his city. She works with the thief to retrieve the mirror before a demon prince escapes into the human world. A funny story full of amusing incidents and dialogue ensues in this quirky story.

Arthurian Fantasy is represented in two stories. The first is "Chivalry" by Neil Gaiman. It is a story about an elderly woman who finds the Holy Grail in a thrift shop. She places it on her fireplace mantle for decoration until a young knight called Galaad comes to her home to request it. He keeps returning, offering Mrs. Whitaker fabulous things for it. This is a nice story of dreams fulfilled brought to life my Mr. Gaiman's descriptive talent.

The second Grail story is "The Cup and the Cauldron" by Mercedes Lackey. Set in the past, two young girls, one a pagan and one Christian, seek out the Grail. The country suffers from famine, plague and death. Elfrida, the pagan girl, goes on a quest for the cauldron of the Goddess. Leonine lives in a convent. She is called on to have a vision and sent on a quest for the Holy Grail. They meet on their quests and discover a truth about their goal. Ms. Lackey brings the world of Arthurian Britain to life with realistic descriptions of the setting and likable characters that grow.

“The Beast and the Bully” by Orson Scott Card is the story of Bork, a gigantic man who is considered a bully by everyone. He dreams of becoming a knight and marrying the count’s beautiful daughter. After winning many battles, Bork fails to slay the dragon and faces derision until he makes an important decision about his life.

“The Lands Beyond the World” by Michael Moorcock Elric finds himself trapped on an island where he meets the sailor warrior Smiorgan. Together they try to save the woman Vassliss from a determined sorcerer while finding a way back to their world. Mr. Moorcock provides an intriguing story full of suspense and adventure about his troubled incarnation of the Eternal Champion.

Quests are the lifeblood of the Fantasy genre. A Quest-Lovers Treasury of the Fantastic edited by Margaret Weis has several entertaining stories for readers to enjoy. Try the book and go on a quest into Fantasy worlds of humor, darkness or adventure. The journey is worth the reading.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: _The Magic of Recluce_ by L.E. Modesit, Jr.

Most Epic Fantasies are stories that follow a group of characters through many events that lead to a final battle between good and evil. These books are exciting to read with a lot of action. Some authors create Epic Fantasies that are slower paced and focus on a smaller part of a story. The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is one of these books. Readers will find the book entertaining because of its interesting plot, realistic characters and subtle magic system.

First, this book does not move at a fast pace but has an interesting plot to hook the reader. Readers follow the main character is this coming-of-age story through several fateful events. The story begins with Lerris leaving his island home to wander the continent of Candar under orders of the Brotherhood. He becomes involved in various adventures that eventually lead him to a final encounter with a a dangerous mage. A slow pace gives the book more depth as the reader gets to know the fantasy world and the character. Mr. Modesitt brings this plot to life with detailed, lively descriptions of an interesting conflict.

Next, the book is entertaining due to its realistic characters. Lerris is a young man from Recluce where order rules. He is bored and always wants answers to his questions. Trying his hand at wood working as his uncle’s apprentice, Lerris discovers he is bored with that too. Recluce requires its people to have a purpose to spread order or they must leave the island. After undergoing some training as a dangergelder, Lerris is sent to the land of Candar with a group of his fellow young people. There he begins his growth in maturity and magic. He meets other people like Justen, a gray wizard, and a wood worker that helps him grow. The author’s characters are realistic, since many have traits and problems like people such as providing for family and protecting others.

Finally, the subtle magical system keeps the story entertaining for readers. The magic is not of a flashy type like some novels. In this world, there is order and chaos magic. Order magic must be used carefully to strengthen and further order in the world. Chaos magic is of destruction. This magic comes with a price for its users, making them die young. Lerris has a talent for order magic, but gets frustrated at learning about it. He travels through Candar slowly learning the magic as he helps people. Mr. Modesitt weaves the magic system into the book seamlessly, which adds suspense to the book that makes it more entertaining.

The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is an entertaining book for readers. An interesting plot, realistic characters and subtle magic system provides several elements that keeps a reader hooked on the book. This is the first book in a long series of loosely connected books exploring the history of Recluce and other nations of this world in their struggles with magic.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Review: _Gods Old and Dark_ by Holly Lisle

The last human world is on the brink of destruction, brought there by dark gods that feed on the deaths of worlds. Two young women fight to prevent it. Love. Sacrifice. Redemption. These are the themes of Gods Old and Dark by Holly Lisle. It is the exciting conclusion of her “World Gates” trilogy. The book and trilogy comes to a satisfying conclusion because of its main characters, action plot and sympathetic themes.

After a brief respite from danger, the main characters are in danger again, which hooks readers into the story rapidly. Lauren is a Gateweaver. She is a widow with a young boy, torn by love for her dead husband and Pete. The dark gods threaten her life, making her become a stronger warrior with determination. Molly is Lauren’s sister who suffers from a serious problem of her own. She loses a part of herself each time she dies and comes back to life. Fearing to become a Dark God, she faces some difficult choices. Other characters help these two main characters and rounds out a strong cast for the story. Ms. Lisle creates lively characters to go along with her plot.

The book starts with a lot of action very quickly. It moves at a fast pace with few slow areas. Lauren sets a new magic siphon to help restore magic to the world, which draws the attention of Thor to Cat Creek. An attempt is made on Lauren’s life, but she kills the assassin sent by the Dark Gods to protect her little son. Meanwhile, Molly hunts various members of the Night Watch (Dark Gods), killing them, but dies again, losing more of herself in the process. This is how the story begins and keeps moving at a brisk pace until the end. Ms. Lisle keeps the action going with vivid descriptions of the events.

Finally, the author uses familiar sympathetic themes that keeps a reader interested in the conclusion. Love, sacrifice and redemption are the core themes of the book. Many aspects of love play a strong role in the book. There is romantic love and the love for a person’s world. Sacrifice is exemplified by characters willing to die to saved loved ones or the world. Redemption is demonstrated by Molly as she strives to regain a soul. Ms. Lisle incorporates the themes seamlessly, creating a vibrant story that keeps a reader focused.

Gods Old and Dark by Holly Lisle is the final volume of the World Gates Fantasy trilogy. The book brings the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion through its main characters, action plot and sympathetic themes. Ms. Lisle is a talented author of entertaining books with action. The climax of the book seemed a little rushed, leaving the minor perception of missing parts. Still, it is an entertaining book that is hard to put down. Readers should enjoy it.