Friday, December 27, 2013

Guest Post: My Favorite Fantasy Books by Rachel Flesher

Debbie invited me to be a guest on Fantasy Worlds blog to talk about my favorite fantasy books and novels. Debbie and I belong to the same writing group named The Modern Day Bards.

I am an amateur writer working on one of many projects. Fantasy has always been a favored genre of mine; however, it is not the only genre that I enjoy reading.

My love for fantasy stemmed back to having my head stuck in the clouds. I remember certain animations and cartoons that resonated with my active imagination. “The Last Unicorn” – which by the way I read the book by Peter Beagle – and “She-ra” that have heavy fantasy elements.

My first foray with fantasy novels started my sophomore year of high school. I was a voracious reader but my family did not have a lot of money, so the bulk of the books I read came from books donated from family and friends.

 A kid on my afternoon bus loaned me Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s _THE DARK SWORD_. I liked it so much that I bought the book from the boy because I did not want to be part from it. Then in my 20’s I met a person and her mother.

These two people opened up the fantasy world in full force. Thanks to them I found authors that I never would have found on my own, such authors who have been a great influence on my writing.

These are not in any particular order and some are entire series than just one lone book. 

_PHANTOM_ by Susan Kay

This book I found by chance at a flea market for a dollar.  At the time, I had two friends (who sadly went their own ways) who loved Phantom of the Opera. Curious about the story they both loved I bought the book.
The entire book is written in first-person perspective, which I felt added substance to the tale. Now I have never read Gaston Leroux’s _THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA_, so I am uncertain if he goes into depth of the Phantom’s history or backstory.

Susan Kay delves deep from the moment of Erik’s birth and journey’s through the hardship of his childhood in a carnival freak show, to his teen years until we reach where the play and books take place.
The book really gave me a better insight on the Phantom’s person. Why he was the way he is, how the meanness of people’s cruelty warped him. And yes, I admit that it placed me firmly on Team Phantom/Erik. The ending is quite sad but the entire book is poignant.

After I finished, and on a book high, I asked each of my two friends if they had read the book.  The one had while the other had not. She had wanted to borrow my copy and I was loath to part with it. Fortunately I found another copy which I bought for her.

  • VALDEMAR series by Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey’s VALDEMAR world is my all time favorite out of all the fantasy books that I have read over the years. I was introduced to the books by a mother and daughter team.

The latter recommended I read HERALDS OF VALDEMAR trilogy first.  Yet I had a hard time finding the three books, so she and her mother sent me that trilogy and THE LAST HERALD MAGE trilogy.

These two were always sending me fantasy books to read and try out. I still had that voracious appetite for books. I decided to try THE LAST HERALD MAGE first. I was addicted hook, line and sinker. Those two books started my crusade to own every book in the series.

Do not let the thirty-one books and seven anthologies dissuade you. Mercedes Lackey infused such creativity and magic in these books. It is hard to find one aspect of it that I like. Given the chance I wish I could live there.
Mercedes Lackey wrote them out of order, in different time-lines, that does nothing against the world and its occupants. And she does not keep with just the Heralds and their mystical horse-looking Companions, she explored the bordering country Karse and the Shin’a’in and Tayledras.

The author did not stop there… she created music to go along with the books.  The songs mentioned in the books you can honestly hear if you buy the cds.

3.) CHEYSULI and DEL AND TIGER series by Jennifer Roberson

Jennifer Roberson was yet another author introduced to me by the mother and daughter team.  They both highly suggested I find the Cheysuli and Del and Tiger series to read.
When I searched for the books I was fortunate to find the former in omnibus form but I always kept an eye out for any of the Del and Tiger books. Both series are vastly different from each other but rich and magical in their own right.

The Cheysuli deals with shapechangers.  Fear of the Cheysuli to cause them to be nearly eradicated and erased from the world; however, a prophecy remained that a Cheysui with ties to all the groups will one day unite them.

Each book deals with a generation inching closer to the prophecy. Each hero and heroine have their own situations to face and deal with. The seventh book, in  my estimation is the most heart wrenching. I cried at the end.

When I commented to the author on how much I enjoyed this series and her Del and Tiger books, she told me that she planned on venturing back to those two worlds. I was excited to learn that curious on how she plans that with the Cheysuli.

Only recently have a finished with the Del and Tiger books. Del and Tiger come from completely two different worlds. Both are great with swords with their own unique style.  They become the most unlikeliest companions and go on adventures.

Each book we learn a little more into either Del’s character or Tiger’s. The last remaining most of the mysterious past of Tiger’s is sort of revealed. 

  • BLOOD/BLACK JEWELS by Anne Bishop

Anne Bishop’s BLACK JEWELS trilogy was the first books the mother and daughter team ever loaned me.  The latter had been teasing me and talking about the books.  When I was internet-less, they sent the books down to occupy the time.

The series touches on some dark and heavy subject matters so they are not for everyone or the faint of hearted. The world is quite unlike anything I ever read before. The magic structure hinges around stones and have an hierarchy.

Only the Blood can wear these jewels and not all Blood do wear jewels. It’s all so complicated yet fascinating.  They are tested twice in their lifetime to the Darkness to decide what color stones they wear. Once with they are younger which is called their Birthright Jewel. Then they make the offering to the Darkness when they are older and they can only move up three stone ranks.

White, yellow, tiger eye, summer-sky, purple dusk are the lighter jewels with Opal being the dividing line between light and dark. Green, Sapphire, Red, Gray, Ebon-gray, and Black. Black being the strongest.

Then there is the hierarchy of the Blood. With the males a “warlord” is a male with a jewel rank equal in status with a witch. A Prince is a male with a jewel equal in status to a female’s priestess or healer. Warlord prince is a male with a jewel that is slightly lower in status to a females Queen. Warlord Princes are aggressive and only a Queen can control them.

With the females, a witch is a female who wears jewels but not part of the other levels of hierarchy. Healer is a witch who can heal wounds and illnesses. They are equal in status to a priestess and prince. A priestess is a witch who takes care of altars. They oversee marriages. Black Widow is a witch who has the ability to heal the mind and trained in poisons. Queens are witches who rule the blood often seen as a land’s center or heart.
In the scope of things, the Blood females are in power with the men serving them. Some of their structure rotates around sex. A good introduction to the world, a presequel to test is _THE INVISIBLE RING_. These characters play an important role in the later books of the Blood series.

The series is a host of memorable characters: Saetan, Daemon known as the Sadist- This is a very sexual men that most witches want… but with an ironic twist that many would not believe- Lucivar and Surreal.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Jennifer Roberson

Enter worlds of Fantasy filled with shapechangers and sword dancers. These are the creations of Fantasy author Jennifer Roberson. She is a talented story teller, filling her novels with memorable characters, adventure, romance and many other qualities that bring readers to explore her wonderful Fantasy worlds.

Ms. Roberson started out with her eight book series about the Cheysuli. They are a race of shapechangers. Each one has an animal companion, lir, that allows the Cheysuli warrior to change into that animal's shape. In this series there are two opposing magical races (Cheysuli and Ilhini) and several warring kingdoms. A prophecy promises a child of all these different groups will unite them all one day. Each book covers the story of a new generation moving closer to the fullfillment of the prophecy. All of the books have plots full of action, adventure and interesting cultures. The eight book are:

_The Shapechangers_

_The Song of Homana_

_Legacy of the Sword_

_Track of the White Wolf_

_A Pride of Princes_

_Daughter of the Lion_

_Flight of the Raven_

_A Tapestry of Lions_

Recently it was announced that the author will write some new Cheysuli novels soon.

Another of Roberson's series revolves around the characters of Tiger and Del. They are both sword masters, Del of the northern style and Tiger of the southern style. Both move through adventures, fighting against evil magic and developing a romance. The characters are well-developed, enjoyable and believable. _Sword-Dancer_, _Sword -Singer_, _Sword-Maker_, _Sword-Breaker_ and _Sword-Born_ are the books that make up this series. After many years, Ms. Roberson has written a new Tiger and Del book called _Sword Bound_.

She has written other books as well. _Lady of the Forest_ is a historical novel about  Robin Hood and Maid Marian. This book is full of rich details and adds a wonderful tale to the legend. She collaborated with authors Melanie Rawn and Kate Elliot on the Fantasy novel _The Golden Key_ too. 

Another series is “Karavans” about the living forest Alisanos and the lives the forest affects. The forest moves and changes its boundaries whenever it wants, swallowing up land and people. Once trapped, people can’t leave the forest ever again because it changes them. In the series, the books follows several characters in their struggles like Audran and her children who are trapped, seeking a way to regain her family. Rhuan, son of one of the forest gods, tries to help her while on his journey. Many other characters play a role in an ever changing world. The books are interesting, gripping adventures. _Karavans_, _Deepwood_ and _The Wild Road_ are the books in the series so far.

Jennifer Roberson has written many books in the Fantasy genre. Most of the books take place in her two created worlds but she writes historicals, collaborations and Fantasy short stories as well. She writes entertaining books with memorable characters, interesting settings and lots of adventure. Try any one of her works. Readers won't be disappointed.

Coming soon to the blog and interview with Jennifer Roberson.

Monday, December 23, 2013


I'm sorry for not keeping up with the blog this month. Had a sudden family emergency. My elderly mother had a slight heart attack and had to be hospitalized for a while. She is home and okay now. I plan to get back on the blog soon. Thank you for your understanding.
Best wishes,
PS. Happy Holidays to everyone! May the gifts of fantasy and wonder be yours!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

William Hope Hodgson

A short lived life left a trace of brilliance in the Fantasy genre. William Hope Hodgson only wrote four books and a number of short stories in his writing career, but left some memorable works. He is a classic Fantasy author from the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. His works are mostly Dark Fantasy and supernatural fiction of ghosts and monsters. Part of his inspiration came from early in his life.

As a boy, Hodgson was fascinated by the sea. He ran away from home once to serve on a ship and later became a sailor on merchant ships. During his career, he would photograph the ocean’s different moods. Later, he realized that he hated the sea and after a few different jobs turned to writing around 1904. He would always consider the sea as a terrible horror and it showed in his writing. Throughout his career, he wrote four books, two which are Dark Fantasy.

_The House on the Borderland_ was published in 1908. It is about a house on the coast of Galway. This house stands on the edge of a great pit from which pig-like creatures threatens the protagonist. From there, he travels into the distant future and watches the destruction of our solar system. The book is full of evocative images of darkness and cosmic horror.

His other book of Dark Fantasy was _The Night Land_. Published in 1912, it takes place on a dying world where the land is always night. The characters move across this dark landscape fighting monsters in a quest for redemption. This book is considered by some to be Hodgson’s most creative work. It has powerful themes and interesting ideas for the time it was written.

For his other two novels, Hodgson drew from his experiences of the sea. Both books have elements of the supernatural in them. _The Boats of “Glen Carrig”_ is a tale of survivors at sea encountering creatures in a strange place of seaweed. _The Ghost Pirates_ is about a ship that is super imposed on by a ghostly ship.

William Hope Hodgson left a small body of work with his four novels and numerous short stories. He created works with incredible images, different ideas and powerful themes. Using his life experiences of the sea, he brought to life stories that will be remembered by those who read his works. Tragically he died in battle at the age of forty while serving in World War I. Who knows what other imaginative works he might have contributed to the Fantasy genre? It is a loss for us readers.