Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ilona Andrews

Urban fantasy is wide open to many authors adding their visions of the fantastic existing in our world. New books join the ranks of urban fantasy every month. These books reflect different aspects of how the supernatural affects people, and changes lives as well as the world. Different authors provide a variety of interesting ideas on the topic. One of these authors, Ilona Andrews, a husband and wife writing team, have added some interesting, gritty stories to urban fantasy for readers to enjoy.

The first series consists of the “Kate Daniels” books. This is set in Atlanta, Georgia where magic rises and subsides like a tide on an unpredictable basis. The world switches back and forth between technology and magic, which devastates modern buildings and life. Fantastic creatures and beings populate this changed world. There is the Pack, a group of shapeshifters banded together for survival. The Pack vies with the People, a group of necromancers that navigate vampires. Other people and beings inhabit the city too. Ordinary humans need help and protection from all of these creatures, so various groups of humans exist in order to provide this protection.

Kate Daniels is the main character of these books. She is a strong woman who works as a mercenary and private detective, protecting people from vicious magical creatures and solving mysteries. In addition, Kate has a secret about her past that no one can find out about or she would be killed along with her loved ones. Each book tells the story of a new aspect of her life as she grows and changes with each new encounter with a magical mystery to solve.

The books in the series so far are:

_Magic Bites_
_Magic Burns_
_Magic Strikes_
_Magic Bleeds_
_Magic Slays_
_Magic Rising_ (forthcoming in Aug. 2013)

A new book, _Gunmetal Magic_, tells the story of Kate’s detective partner Andrea. She is a member of the Pack, a were hyena, who struggles with a desire for acceptence by others. An accomplished warrior, Andrea fights a personal battle with accepting herself. During this struggle she fights dangerous creatures threatening the people of Atlanta and the Pack.

The other series by this author is called the “Edge.” This is a border between two worlds, ours called the Broken and the Weird where magic and magical beings live. Each book focuses on a different set of characters that live in the Edge and must solve a problem or conflict. _On the Edge_ tells the story of Rose Drayton who must team up with Weird aristocrat Declan Camarine to save the Edge from magic hungry monsters. The second book, _Bayou Moon_, finds Cerise Mar caught in a war between two Weird nations. In _Fate’s Edge_, the characters must keep a dangerous magical object out of the wrong hands. Finally, _Steel’s Edge_ brings the series to a close with swordsman Richard helping healer Charlotte stop a slavery ring.

Ilona Andrews is a memorable writing team of urban fantasy novels. Their stories are filled with interesting three dimensional characters that grow and suspenseful plots of gritty adventure. Each new book they write adds to the growing urban fantasy category. For more information on the books, visit the authors’ web site at:

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Touchstones of Fantasy

When reading fantasy, different readers get something from the books. Many books give a brief pleasure but soon are forgotten. Other books turn into classics read by many different people like Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Most books leave behind what I call touchstones.*

Touchstones are sentences or paragraphs that leave a lasting resonance for the reader. They touch something in us or say something to us that we want to remember. They influence our lives in subtle ways. Touchstones can consist of dialogue or any part of a book which evokes a vivid image in the reader’s thoughts and can be different for every reader.

In this article I’ll share some of the touchstones that mean something to me. Garnered from many years of readin, I haveve picked some of the ones that appealed the most to me and I hope will say something to you. Please be aware that these are only based on my personal choices.

The first touchstone is from Burning Water by Mercedes Lackey:

"There ain't no such thing as 'one true way', and the way you find is only good for you, not anybody else, because your interpretation of what you see and feel and understand as the truth is never going to be the same as anyone else's.
"The only answers worth having are the ones you find for yourself.
"Leave the world better than you found it.
"If it isn't true, going to do some good, or spread a little love around, don't say it, do it or think it.
"There are only three things worth living for; love in all its manifestations, freedom and the chance to keep humanity going a little while longer. They're the same things worth dying for. And if you aren't willing to die for the things worth living for, you might as well turn in your membership in the human race."

This touchstone has become sort of a philosophy about life for me. It says what I feel about religious tolerance and how one can live a happy life without doing much damage to others.

"Whose world was it, in God's eyes? Could man in his vanity and pride ride roughshod through space and time forever, forcing his will on all other living creatures, giving them life or death according to his sufferance? Must there not sometime be a day of reckoning also for man-when he must make an accounting for his custodianship of his brothers, who likewise breathed his air and trod his soil and knew sorrow, joy, and love?" This touchstone is from Merlin's Ring by H. Warner Munn, a fantasy book that tells the tale of Merlin's godson through an alternate history earth. As an animal lover this touchstone speaks to me about how we treat animals and our world.

Also from the same book mentioned in the last paragraph comes the following touchstone:

"This tale is not the end, for no story ever really comes to any definite end. There is only a pause in a life-a change, a blending, a transmutation into something new, which in itself is impermanent. It continues changing toward a development known only to God." Life is ever changing. People have trouble dealing with change. For me, this touchstone says that good things come from change.

"Mithras, Apollo, Arthur, Christ-call him what you will," I said. "What does it matter what men call the light? It is the same light, and men must live by it or die." comes from The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. It is another touchstone that talks to me of religious tolerance and fighting for the good of the world.

“Please don’t tell me that was God’s will. It’s a damned dangerous business to assume you know the mind of God, however much what happens seems to agree with your own view of the world.” from Glenda Larke's  “Aware” series of books.

These are some of the touchstones I've been happy to share with you. I hope that I didn't offend anyone. Please let me know some of your favorite touchstones from fantasy books. Until next time.

*The term Touchstones is an idea that originally appeared in the defunct magazine Fantasy Review.