Fantasy Books

Lynn Flewelling – The White Road [5]

6290240Here goes another Nightrunner book by Lynn Flewelling. Honestly, I don’t know why the books are called that way, when there’s far more, far greater things happening in them, and nightrunning is a rare occasion. But I digress, as I often do, let’s instead talk about “The White Road” (Nightrunner 5; ISBN 055359009X; 385p.; Goodreads), for this, sadly, is the less interesting book, again. Can’t be helped, the previous one was pretty great.

Sebrahn, a homonculus child, created out of Alec’s blood, was considered a failure by his maker. Alchemist was prepared to chop the kid up in pieces if it failed it’s primal purpose of healing, for that’s what the client, one of the Aurenfae clan leaders, has requested for. Yet here he is, more unique than any other homonculus ever made. More useful, and far more dangerous than any before him too. But before his maker could figure all that out, Seregil and Alec made a run for it, grabbing Sebrahn with them, and killing the alchemist. By doing so, tho, they condemned themselves to be hunted once more.

The dying clan leader, at the very least, wants the books back, and is willing to take any measures necessary to get them. If he could possibly get Sebrahn too, it’d be even better, for one can never know how much time one has left. But that’s by far not the greatest of dangers Alec and Seregil are about to meet. The magic that created Sebrahn belongs to Alec’s people, and they want it back. These secretive, secluded people, ruthless with their rules, and unbelievable with their magic.

The book was a bit unpleasant to read. While we were assured that homunculus is more a dragon that looks like a humanoid, everyone around Alec treats it like it is a child, especially Alec himself. So when they start pondering whether to give the kid to whoever promises not to kill it, how difficult it is with him, etc., it just strikes all the wrong cords for me. And in general – there was oh so much traveling, walking, riding. I’ll give this book 3 out of 5, but I do expect the next one to be better, as tradition sorta demands now.

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Categories: 3-5, Fantasy Books, high fantasy, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Lara Elena Donnelly – Amberlough

29939270I heard a lot of good on “Amberlough” by Lara Elena Donnelly (ISBN 0765383810; 400p.; Goodreads), thus I expected a lot of good too. Sadly, that’s not what I got. But the book was very unique, and pleasant in its own way. Like an interwar story set in a fantasy place: spies, soldiers, politics and trouble when your views on it are wrong, and so on.

Amberlough is the Heart city of Gedda. Full of corruption, bright lights, spies, ugly politics, and revolution, if not outright war, smell in the air. This smell gets stronger as the reader progresses. It all starts fairly innocently tho. Cyril DePaul, against his wishes, against his horror, and fear, is sent back out into the field. As a master spy, he ends up on the other side of the front lines. He’s doing his job well, but soon is informed – there’s a mole on their side. Cyril DePaul is exposed. Funny how sometimes you can expect more humanity from the enemy, than your own comrades…

Cyril bargains for his life, for papers that’ll get him, and his lover Aristide out of the city before the war starts outright. Thanks to Aristide he even gets a very good cover, a woman who can pretend to be his mistress, and not get appalled or run blabbing when she finds out he’s not interested in her. The three of them end up helping each other a lot, sometimes on purpose, other times – by pure accident. But that still doesn’t mean all goes well. It never does, does it?

The book is interesting world-wise. The story itself is mediocre. It’s not bad, truly, no. It’s just not so special either. I do believe that people who like stories from interwar times, rowdy soldiers catcalling at nightclubs, and said club owners shivering at the backstage, for one wrong show will set their property ablaze – will like this book. The characters are interesting, and as I said, the world is too. I can give it a firm 3.5 out of 5, easily.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diversity: Censoring

[1]; [2]

I speak of V.E. Schwab‘s Shades of Magic often, and with pleasure, for they’re truly among my very top favorite books of all times. But not all the reasons to talk about it are good.

Russian editions of Shades of Magic were censored. Queer part of the plot was redacted out, without author’s permission or knowledge. Which leads author to consider canceling the whole contract.

I don’t much follow the love lines in stories, for they’re mostly the same regurgitated things. Not in this case. Here there was no “no, you have betrayed me, I never want to see you again!” thing. Instead two adults sat down, spoke it out, considered it, and all things weighted – decided where to go on from there. The only thing that they could’ve had any issue with is of course the fact, that both these characters were men.

The story is not about queers. The story is not about homosexual love. The story is not even about love. It’s about magic, human nature, wishes, adventures, and so on. So in a world full of magic, rising dead, and portals to other worlds – here, apparently, can be no gays.

“Oh, that’d be too much!” – Said a man on his unicorn.

For next Friday I have you a very nice queer-plot book thus. Because love is love.

Categories: Fantasy Books, Friday: Diversity, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Diana Wynne Jones – House of Many Ways [3]

2173611There we go. I finished Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy, with “House of Many Ways” by Diana Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle 3; ISBN 0061477958; 416p.; Goodreads). Now I can honestly tell you: if you like Howl’s Moving Castle movie, but you’ve no time or will to read – first book is more than enough. The rest is not to bad, but it’s far away from everything.

Young book worm, miss Baker, whose name is too difficult for me to spell, so I hope she won’t mind being Baker, has got an opportunity of her lifetime. She’ll get to house-sit her wizard uncle’s house. Wonderful garden, no unnecessary chores or rules, and a wonderful library to that. Yet, not even a whole day has passed, and she already had to run away from a monster in the garden, caused soap to make a storm of foam, had to backtrack in the house, being unable to find places, and got tricked by some books in the library.

Speaking of libraries, her adventures don’t stop in her uncle’s library. She gets accepted to help the King himself tidy the royal library, where King hopes to find clues as of why their resources are draining so rapidly. Someone’s stealing, surely, and as miss Baker starts realizing that, she meets no other than Sophie Pendragon herself, there to investigate undercover.

It’s a lovely book, with funny hints to classy detective. I can give it final firm 4 out of 5, but really, if you don’t feel like reading everything about Howl’s fam – it’s okay to stop with the first book. I’m glad I finished it tho.

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Diana Wynne Jones – Castle in the Air [2]

47520Ah, well, okay. “Castle in the Air” by Diana Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle; ISBN 0064473457; 298p.; Goodreads), second book in Howl’s moving castle trilogy, is not per se a direct sequel to the Howl’s family. Instead, for the most of the book, story follows other characters, in a whole other land, with whole different beings granting wishes.

Abdullah was selling carpets, minding his own, when a man came offering a flying one. Abdullah, not being an idiot, tested the carpet, and bargained to the last penny too, but did buy it. Happy with his new piece, he fell asleep content, just to wake up… In a strange garden, with the most beautiful woman looming over him that he ever had the luck to lay eyes upon. Sadly, Abdullah doesn’t know why carpet brought him there, and so he can never be sure he’ll see her again, thus he decides he’ll propose once they meet again. And when that day came at last… The love  of his life was kidnapped by an angry Djinn.

Abdullah is not the kind of a man who gives up his hopes, and dreams, once he already found him, so he ventures out after the djinni, determined to find the evil bastard, and get his princess back. On his way there he meets a soldier no other person can recall. He, reluctantly, befriends a cat, who turns out to be far more than just a cat. And eventually even meets Howl himself…

It’s a great story, fitting Arabian Nights very well. But I did miss Howl, and his family very greatly, so I would’ve preferred some more of them. Thus I’ll give this book 4 out of 5, for the repetitive nature mostly, but will absolutely read the last one in the trilogy.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: Funny!, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lynn Flewelling – Shadows Return [4]

2065091The tradition continues with Nightrunner series. Every second book is far better than the previous one. So while I didn’t much like the fae realms, I did love all that happened in “Shadows Return” by Lynn Flewelling (Nightrunner 4; ISBN 0553590081; 522p.; Goodreads). It had a good pace, and a great, alchemy filled story.

Seregil and Alec return to Rhimenee, hoping to create a new runner persona, since their previous alter ego had to die. Even the most clueless nobles of the city might have otherwise noticed the pattern: Cat returns when Lord Seregil returns! Odd! Yet their fate had other plans for them. Remember that prophecy by oracle? Time to put it back in motion. Seregil and Alec end up in slavers hands, and are taken to enemy lands, where fae blood, especially the kind Alec has in his veins, is highly valued. Thus, they are separated, and sold…

Seregil, away from Alec, ends up at the mercy of his former lover, the man who betrayed him, the man who had him exiled. The only joy Seregil now has is the bittersweet knowledge: he is a slave too, if gilded.

The story was really pretty great, reminded me of Anne Rice’s “Claiming Beauty” trilogy, and C.S. Pacat “Captive Prince” too. I’ll give it a firm 4 out of 5, and hope it continues with these great topics!

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Victoria Schwab – Our Dark Duet [2]

32075662I waited for this, it seems, for forever, even thou it wasn’t so long, really. And with “Our Dark Duet” by Victoria Schwab (Monsters of Verity 2; ISBN 0062380885; 510p.; Goodreads) the duology ends. Yet my waiting continues, since now my favorite author is writing a sequel to Vicious…

Kate Harker, in a sense, felt safe. Monsters were all known. You looked at the body, and by what was missing, you knew what you’ll be hunting. None of them were a match for her either. Until that fatal night when something fleeting passed her vision. People turned their weapons one against the other, and killed without remorse. The blur in her vision turned more physical, and soon she was gazing into its eyes, mirroring her own, calling for violence, cold, alien…

August Flynn just wanted to be human. That is, until humans showed him how much more use they have from a monster who is strong, and in control of themselves. So he hunted, killed, and fed. And he gave orders, as due to a high ranking officer. What a strange, and unexpected turn his life took. And how much more strange it’ll get when Kate Harker will return to Verity. Kate Harker, with one eye no longer blue. Kate Harker, with one eye filling up with the mirror shard there. Kate Harker, with one eye that made the cameras blur out of focus when she looked at them. Kate Harker, the infamous monster hunter, with one eye of a monster.

This was one damn amazing piece, and I am beyond happy with it. Events turned and twisted, pace was perfect, as always, and people were their own beings. I loved it, it concluded everything perfectly. 5 out of 5, this was wonderful.

Categories: 5-5, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diana Wynne Jones – Howl’s Moving Castle [1]

17890590-e307-0133-a222-0eb4fb0e56f1Howl’s Moving Castle is probably my most favorite movie of them all. And thus it is a bit strange that I’ve only read the book of same title by Diana Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle 1; ISBN 006441034X; 329p.; Goodreads) now. Okay no, it’s not that weird. I was made worried by all those reviews claiming the movie, and the book to be two very different things. Now I know. They’re different, yes. But not that much, and by far not in a bad way either.

Sophie has made peace with her fate to take over the boring family business of hat making. She passes her days by chatting with the said hats, telling them to bring luck to their owners, riches, good husbands. And as flood of customers grows, Sophie is surprised to know that most of the owners indeed had a happy turn of events. All seemed to go well, up until Witch of the Waste entered through her door, bitter for reasons unknown. She put a curse on Sophie, turning her into an old woman, and unable to speak of it either…

But Sophie is not one to cry over spilled milk. She grabbed her essentials, and went out to meet her destiny, if you please. Sophie, thus, went to find the castle she saw in the horizon, Howl’s castle. After all, who else could lift this damned curse? And now that she’s all old, he surely won’t want her heart.

 

Sophie finds the castle, of course, and Calcifer, if a little reluctantly, lets her in. Much like in the movie, they make a bargain to break each others’ contracts, and Calcifer keeps throwing little hints at Sophie via whole book, until she finally figures it out. Howl himself? One walking adventure, with more to him than meets the eye. I loved this book, and will give it 5 out of 5. So worth reading!

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: Funny!, Fantasy Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

N.K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season [1]

fifthseasonI took this book for all the wrong reasons, yet loved it to bits never the less. “The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin (The Broken Earth 1; ISBN 0316229296; 468p.; Goodreads) is a colossal fantasy book, falling under the general genre of sci-fi too. The world is nothing like I ever read before, and the threat to it is even more so. There’s just nothing I can compare it to. And I promise, it feels like pure high-fantasy, so if you don’t like sci-fi, don’t even think of it as of such.

Father Earth is angry with all those crawling little things at the top. No one is sure why, but the anger is constantly there, on ever shifting, trembling, constant seismic activities undergoing surface. Any quake can start a new Season, and humans can only pray they have enough to outlast it, until sun comes out the ash-filled skies, lava cools, and volcanoes choke their last. It is because of this constant threat that people hate, and fear the breed of people called Orogenes. For even a babe in a cradle can quench a tremor, tapping into it as easily, as it breathes. And just as well, that babe can grow, get angry, and set off something that’ll kill them all. And that’s not the only odd race of beings here.

Damaya was one of the orogenes given away to Guardians, assassins who can turn their power against them, if need be, and thus, by humans, considered the lesser evil, even if they aren’t. But Damaya trained, learned, and not being of seemingly any special skill, was put to pair with a ten-ringer Alabaster. Her chaotic accidental power, born out of no where, to his well bred potential. It’s just that they don’t like each other much, and yet not only are they required to try for a baby, but get on with an assignment too. One that changed their lives forever, and the rest of the world’s too.

This was a superb book I cannot even begin describing. If I thought that Final Empire / Mistborn was great, then this is more. The characters are so very interesting, with their own personalities, that don’t just fill in for others. There’s easy acceptance of trans character being who they are, and a little tiny love triangle where Damaya and Alebaster fell for the same guy. But it went well, that guy liked them both anyway. There’s beings that walk through stone like it’s water, and mountains, well, obelisks, that follow people around, inching with their colossal size towards them. It’s all so very amazing. 5 out of 5, really.

Categories: 5-5, Apocaliptic Books, Books: Everything, Fantasy Books, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, Sci-Fi Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lynn Flewellin – Traitor’s Moon [3]

74273The tradition of slow pace, and plot only gaining something at near end continues with third book in Nighrunner series by Lynn Flewellin, “Traitor’s Moon” (Nightrunner 3; ISBN 0553577255; 540p.; Goodreads). But I got used to this by the middle of second book. Once you make a connection with characters, plot, pace of it, becomes secondary.

With war at the gate, Skala’s greatest hope lies with the Aurenan ports, and possibly their soldiers. The dying queen thus gives final orders. She names an heir, her oldest daughter, and sends the younger one to Aurenan for negotiation. The soon-to-be queen is opposing it already, but once princess Klia is gone – all things are set to motion, not to be stopped. At least, not with someone like Seregil at her side. For this need to negotiate opened the door home for him. And so, with anxious heart, he and Alec make their journey to the lands of legend. Yet all that doesn’t mean Phoria won’t try to sabotage the mission…

Aurenan is full of pulsing magic, apparitions, ghosts, spirits, secrets, and dragons who deem it fit to chew on you, if you’re worthy the honor. The only true nuisance there are the fae themselves. They’re in no hurry with their long lives, and honor is law, yet everyone schemes for the good of their clan, because that, in a sense, is honorable too. Sorry, Seregil, but your people are the worst.

Well, I’m happy the illusion of some magical Lord of the Rings elven forest was broken. There’s great things in this book, but really, I came to dislike the fae a great deal. I can’t seem to get into Seregil and Alec being a pair either, their relationship is so odd, and in a sense it’s amazing how much they seem to simply just be friends, but then… I don’t know. But don’t let me digress, 4 out of 5 for this baby, and I will, absolutely, continue with the series.

Categories: 4-5, Fantasy Books, high fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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