High Fantasy

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

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, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | 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, 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

Kristin Cashore – Fire [2]

fireI’ve read the first Graceling Realm book fairly recently, and can’t say I liked it. It’s just that I liked it about enough to get to the second book. And after I’ve read “Fire” by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm 2; ISBN 0803734611; 480p.; Goodreads), I don’t know how to pick up the third one, so that I can actually finish the trilogy.

The setting of this story is just behind the mountains that separate Seven Kingdoms and some other place. This place has no gracelings. Instead here live monsters. Really, just regular things, but so intense, so vivid, in color, in presence, in mind, that no one can resist them. People walk out willingly to be eaten by giant raptor birds. They might kill a regular biting beetle, but not the shiny blue monster beetle, who, by all means, is the same beetle, but severe and saturated. And of course, there are human monsters too. Fire is one of them. With her hair the color of fire, her flawless beauty so startling, and her power to influence thoughts, and emotions, she seems almost divine. And men do want pretty things…

While a monster might want to eat her, due to her own monster nature, human men are much more graphic when they lose their wits in sight of her, much more violent in expressing what should happen before they kill her. Thus Fire lives her life constantly nudging, pushing, and altering the course of people’s thoughts, steering them away, trying her hardest to quench their desire to hurt, rape, and murder what they can’t have. It doesn’t help that there’s spies appearing in their forests. Tension for warfare is rising, and their small land is far too little to defend themselves. They’ll be needing allies. To make allies they need to know where the spies came from. And to know that one only needs Fire’s powers. And everyone knows the value of such a tool in the shed.

The book is very pointlessly long, and happens before Graceling took place. In a sense, this is a prequel: King Leck’s Rising, if you please. And the idea of monsters is, of course, wonderful. But most of the book concentrates on telling the reader how horribly everyone wishes to either marry or rape Fire, and her crying for not being able to have children doesn’t help the already heavy feeling that sets before us. She walks with guards surrounding her, and still people randomly run at her with knives, or yell obscenities. And there’s a lot of this walking back and forth, with war happening somewhere out there, with someone else fighting it… So… All in all I can only offer this book a 2 out of 5. While the idea is truly good, execution of it was poor.

Categories: 2-5, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Wings and Ruin [3]

acowarUsed to be I disliked series. Now I love series! Because who wouldn’t love that odd sense you get after you finish one, where you don’t know what to do with your life anymore. Everyone’s living their lives, as if you hadn’t just survived a wizard war or, in this case, a fae war. Yes, I have finished “A Court of Wings and Ruin” by Sarah J. Maas (acotar 3; ISBN 1408857901; 699p.; Goodreads), the last one in acotar series or trilogy. And while they’re not as great as, say, Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab, they’re still pretty damn amazing.

 

The Wall between humans and fae was never meant as permanent solution. It was made to cease fire, to give time for healing, to learn co-exist. Yet humans have short lives, and horror tales of fairies got worse, and worse with every new generation. While fae lived long enough to have seen humans freed, and witness this day with wall about to crumble. And not all who did feel that it is right to co-exist with great-great-great-great-grandchildren of their former slaves. The war is inevitable. All there is to do now is prepare.

Cauldron once created this whole world, so how does one stand against a weapon able to create the cycle of life and death itself? Fayra and Rhysand are trying to gather allies, rally everyone they possibly can. They’re seeking any advantage points in this overtipped scale, and if that means unleashing Death Gods themselves, Fayra is willing to make a bargain again. Bargain she was warned against while she was still mortal. And with worse beings than fae…

Rhysand, on the other hand, has his own little (or not so little) problem. How does one convince the world that this mighty High Lord of the Night Court to whom Court of Nightmares bows, wants to protect, and defend, rather than wreck havoc? How does he gain trust once the mask falls, and who will dare to stand with him? Especially with Tamlin running amok, with a tale of betrayal in his court, by no else than Fayra, his mate.

And Lucien? Lucien, like a stray kicked cat is testing the waters with caution. Being left courtless, which is pretty much homeless, twice in his life now, he fits into the Court of Dreams by his nature of an unwanted oddity alone. But can Rhys, this mortal enemy of Tamlin’s, his friend’s nemesis, really be trusted to not just give him up to his family, where he’d surely be killed? He’s willing to try his luck, if carefully, at the very least, for his mate, who now lives under Rhysand’s wings.

So, the book. Whole inner monologues of “how and why I feel” almost ceased to exist. And once you start believing that pace of the book is too slow – someone drops a brick on the heroes heads. Or an army.  There’s funny, there’s witty, there’s edge-of-the-chair intense. So I give it 5 out of 5, for now the story truly earned it.

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

Kristin Cashore – Graceling [1]

graceling_1Some time ago I was subscribed to a YouTube vlogger Katers17 (now I’m subscribed to her new channel: KateInRealLife, tho she posts very little). I always loved people who read, and with her I realized I love the chaos, and passion books provide. “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm 1; ISBN 015206396X; 471p.; Goodreads) was probably one of the very first books I added to to-read list on my Goodreads, and that was thanks to Katers. And now, a million years later, I finally came around to read it. Heck, I even have a physical copy…

Graced aren’t very liked or loved. Two different eyes mean you will be kept away, in some corner where people won’t see you, even if your grace is merely baking good pies. Of course, there are graced that are feared for a reason, with nasty, treacherous, and dangerous powers. Like Ketsa’s. Held on a leash by the king himself, she is graced with killing, and serves as a maiming, torturing, and murdering tool to intimidate those who displease her king. Even if they paid a double-fold for what they did. Even if she hates herself for doing it. She simply doesn’t know a different way of life. Thus, when prince Po crosses her path, confused and surprised of why indeed she’s following orders she hates, when it would take her king an army to subdue her, she… She’s confused.

In the meantime, Po is keeping an eye on a different kingdom, a different king. An orphan, praised for his kind heart and love for all injured, a boy who was once so loved by the king and queen of that realm, that when they had no children of their own – they named him the heir. A boy, now a grown man, a king, with only one eye, and a sickening horde of people who are prepared to defend his very honor offended, no matter how far they are, or how little they have reasons to…

The story is good, unique, with wonderful characters. But it fell a little short. There’s a ton of wonderful things here, the way things work, that it simply felt lacking in the end, and that’s the only reason why I will now give it only 4 out of 5. I will continue reading, in hopes that author delves deeper in all the things further on, the graces, the kingdoms, the way graces happened, and worked. But just know that I’d consider this a light read to the point where it was a bit too light. (but good, really)

Categories: 4-5, Books, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Mist and Fury [2]

ACOMAF-cover1How can a book annoy so much, and yet be so great? Second book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series, “A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas (ASIN B015FELXQ0; 626p.; Goodreads) was a killer with all the inner monologues on feelings. But it had a great message, and I believe it passed it on perfectly.

Amarantha is destroyed, but the plans to tear down the wall separating Fae world from the mortal realm are still bubbling as before, they merely changed hands. In the meantime, Fayra is not allowed to train, because that would send a wrong message to her people, she’s not allowed to leave without guards to escort her, because Tamlin is terrified for her safety (but doesn’t let her train anyway), and eventually, she’s locked the hell up in the Spring Court. In desperation, suffocating in this gilded cage where she’s not allowed news or any activities beyond brushing her hair and dressing up, Fayra sends a message down the bond she now has with the High Lord of the Night Court.

They say you ought to be careful for what you wish for. Being owed a week every month as bargain between them demanded, Rhysand takes no time in storming the Spring Court and kidnapping Fayra. Is it kidnapping per se, if the victim is willing? Either way, Night Court is infamous. It is said, that Amarantha’s own Court under the mountain was made in example of the one Rhysand, the most powerful and wicked High Lord that ever walked the realm of Fae rules. Torture for entertainment, schemes, and other wicked deeds are awaiting, and Fayra can do no more but brace herself, when… Rhysand puts an alphabet before her, intending for her to finally learn how to read. At least. (yes “least”, not “last”.)

Okay, now to the point. This book is full of gooey love stuff I don’t really like in any books. Didn’t like it here much either. Sappy, annoying, and saturated even more so with Fayra constantly analyzing it all. But. This book has a message I hope every reader caught on: No matter how much you love your prince Charming, the day he makes you his birdy in a cage, he is no longer the good kind man, and it’s time for you to get the hell away. Fayra doesn’t want to be saved. She wants to be able to save herself. And when she’s denied that right, she makes the hard decision. So here’s 4 out of 5 for that, for the strong lady who didn’t want to be a statistic number.

Don’t stay in abusive relationships.

 

Categories: 4-5, Books, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

V.E. Schwab – A Conjuring of Light [3]

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. SchwabMy journey through Londons ends, and I must say, I’m fairly content about it. With “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic 3; ISBN 0765387468; 624p.; Goodreads) Shades of Magic trilogy ends. Some things were left untold, and it felt natural, for they were the things Red London didn’t speak about. Other things received their dots where dots were needed. And since there’s spoilers further on, my advice is to not read unless you’ve read the previous book. Know that I loved this book.

We’re all familiar with the concept of AI becoming self-aware, and what could that mean to us, to our world. In our “grey” world, if not per se London, this concept is the most interesting among theoretically possible ones, for having no magic means we advanced in other things. Red London, on the other hand, has full-on magic…

Once, due to a mistake, or worship, a spell became self-aware outside the will of the caster. And now this creature, believing self to be a God, for hey, they DID worship it where it’s from, is wrecking havoc on Kell’s home. And, of course, he’s prepared to kill it or die trying.

They say two heads are better than one, so how about four? Kell, Lila, Alucard, and their prisoner, sail out into the ocean, in search of the blackest market of all the black damn markets. If you need it – they have it. If you want it – bargain for it. And they’re nothing if not in need of weapons able to fight a divine power, where revered creatures as Antari don’t stand a chance to compete. Just imagine these four in close ship quarters for a week… Rhy, in the meantime, stays behind to defend London until they return, with a promise to Kell that he won’t get into TOO much trouble until he’s back. But that’s easier said than done, for there’s a monster outside alright, but what about the traitors on the inside?

I love how no one went out for a stroll in Black London, and the myth, more or less, stayed a myth, or at least a forbidden place no one wants to think about, like the ajar closet door at night. I like that prince was so utterly in love with his man, that he listened, and understood, and made things possible, as kings do. I like that Delilah stayed her own woman, with her own agenda, her own mind, even with all the stuff about Kell, and that it was him who got to consider that hey, maybe I’m not actually rooted into one spot after all (I hate those damn stories where girl stays behind, and doesn’t go to some uni, just because her new found love was too dumb to get in anywhere, and had to stay in some miserable hometown of theirs). I love that everything ended so well, and that the end, if firm, is not solid, and if need be – there could be a book 4, but if there never is – reader is content with absolutely everything. It’s a very right, and very good ending to have. So I give it 5 out of 5, something I have never done to an entire series before (I think, I might have done that to Harry Potter, but I can’t recall anymore), and will add it to my favorite list when I’m not too lazy about it.

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature, Pirate Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lynn Flewelling – Stalking Darkness

StalkingDarknessWhile I considered Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewellyn to be my slow night reads, I abandoned sleep until 4am just to finish “Stalking Darkness” (Nightrunner 2; ISBN 0553575430; 501p.; Goodreads). There’s just something about these books that feels familiar. Reminds me of those summers I spent reading through the night with a flashlight, all those fantasy books, Innkeeper’s Song, Swords against deviltry, Hobbit. And if the previous book got to you, well, this one will do so even more.

Politics are done, no one needs Seregil’s head anymore, but that seems to be the only piece of good news. No rest for the wicked, somewhere out there dark magic webs are being woven, and tendrils already reach his beloved city. It all started with small, simple, even insignificant things, like sudden renovations in the sewer system. A passing shadow in an alley there or here. Odd feeling in the dark. And then deaths. Seregil’s underground has been well rooted, pushing him out in the open to gather the information…

Further adventures were a test of morals, for attempts to break them were made in earnest. Brutal murder, destruction, carnage, and kidnapping set the four, Micum, Seregil, Alec, and Nysander apart, and the Darkness is prepared to break their wills before they’re given to the Eater of Death, where they’ll be set part of this nightmare for the rest of the eternity.

It’s a long book, as I said. The start of it is so different from the middle, and the end, that I can’t describe it in earnest without spoiling the living hell out of it. What I can say is that while slow paced it was intense, and had the edge-of-the-chair moments by the handful. Descriptions are down a notch, so it’s easier to read. But be aware, it is a mistake to think this is a light goodnight read. It’s too hard to put it aside for it to be a good bed companion. I’ll give it a full 5 out of 5 this time. And on to the next one!

Categories: 5-5, Books, Books of Occult, Books of Supernaturals, Fantasy Books, High Fantasy, LGBTQ+ Books, M/M Literature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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