Books and Authors: sci-fi and fantasy

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Jacqueline Carey- Kushiel’s dart

The first trilogy, Kushiel’s Legacy, begins with the story of Phèdre nò Delaunay, a courtesan’s flawed and unwanted daughter who is sold into indenture. The second trilogy (named Treason’s Heir in the UK and frequently dubbed the Imriel Trilogy in North America), is a continuation of the storyline started in Kushiel’s Legacy. The main protagonist is Imriel nò Montrève de la Courcel, third in line for the throne of Terre d’Ange and adopted son of Phèdre nò Delaunay de Montrève. Imriel was first introduced in Kushiel’s Chosen as the traitor Melisande’s infant son.

I loved this series but it might be a little too sexy for some. Great adventure and interesting characters.

Anne McCaffrey-dragon rider’s series

While the earlier novels in the series have elements also present in fantasy (low levels of technology, fire-breathing dragons, feudal societies), the prologue explains the events take place on a colony world. The first novel was originally serialized in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact (1967), and that magazine did not publish fantasy. The publisher (Del Rey) lists them as science fiction titles, and McCaffrey herself describes them as science fiction and stresses the scientific rationales behind the world she has created. In more recent novels, the series moves toward more overt science fiction as the colonists rediscover their links to the past and develop much higher levels of technology.

What can I say, it’s all about the dragons. These books are very straight forward in plot but the interesting part for me if you read enough of them is McCaffrey’s take on science and technology: where it can take us and the dangers in finding out.

Juliet Marillier- Seven waters trilogy

Set mainly in ancient Ireland, the series covers four generations in the family of Sevenwaters, which enjoys a special relationship with the people of the Otherworld. As well as battles between the Irish Celts and the Britons, internal conflicts between neighbouring landholders are integral to the plots. However, all four books carry a strong romance element. All the books are narrated in the first person by young women of the family.

Very character driven. I love that I fell in love with the characters. They are complex brave and women.

Frank Herbert- Dune series

Dune is a science fiction franchise which originated with the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Considered by many to be the greatest science fiction novel of all time,[1][2] Dune is frequently cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history.[2][3] Dune won the 1966 Hugo Award and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel,[4][5] and was later adapted into a 1984 film as well as a 2000 television miniseries. Herbert wrote five sequels, and the first two were presented as a miniseries in 2003. The Dune universe has also inspired some traditional games and a series of video games. Since 2009, the names of planets from the Dune novels have been adopted for the real-world nomenclature of plains and other features on Saturn‘s moon Titan.[6][7][8]
Dune…how I love thee. I will say this is not for all by a long shot. Very political, loaded with plot. If you do only action there may be too much back story for you and i would say if you haven’t jumped into pure sc-if this is not the place to start, this is a graduate level class, but totally worth it.

Mercedes Lackey- Arrows of the Queen series,  the Gryphon series, the Black Swan

Mercedes “Misty” Lackey (born June 24, 1950) is a bestselling American author of fantasy novels. Many of her novels and trilogies are interlinked and set in the world of Velgarth, mostly in and around the country of Valdemar. Her Valdemar novels form a complex tapestry of interaction between human and non-human protagonists with many different cultures and social mores.

Fun more light- hearted. There is drama and action but not in your typical high fantasy way. This is a coming of age series. And I would say in general lackey’s characters are always faced with this kind of scenario.

Lynn Flewelling- The bone doll  series

The series focuses on Queen Tamír II, known throughout her childhood as Prince Tobin, and how she goes from being a sad, haunted child, to a Warrior Queen. Dark magic was used to disguise her in childhood from her Uncle, who would have all the women in his line killed in case they tried to take his throne, but the Oracle predicts that Tamír will be Queen, and many people go through unbelievable lengths to make sure that it happens.

Oh my! Creepy!!! I loved this about this series. Who creates a main character who is haunted by their dead sibling’s ghost? That said it is wonderfully written and such a ride.

Andre Norton- the Crystal Gryphon, Gryphon in Glory and Gryphon’s Eyrie

Norton started out writing juvenile historical fiction and adventure, and then moved into fantasy and finally science fiction. Again and again in her works, alienated outsiders undertake a journey through which they realize their full potential; this emphasis on the rite of passage continued her association in many readers’ minds with young adult fiction, although she became a best seller to adults.[9]

Okay, what I said about dragons only double for Gryphons. What can I say, I’m a mythical beast junky.

But don’t be fooled the gryphon is only a small part of this story about the half son of a demon and his companion.

Tad Williams- The Dragon Bone Chair series

The books are set on the continent of Osten Ard, whose inhabitants include Sithi (elf-like immortals), Qanuc (troll-like mountain-dwellers), and other races, as well as several distinct human nations. The youthful conquests of King John the Presbyter (also called Prester John) united most of the human world into a single realm, but by the beginning of the first book, the former conqueror is too old and feeble to stop his sons from quarrelling. As the conflict widens throughout their world and beyond, a young orphan struggles to understand enough of it to survive.

This was the first book in a long time where I loved to hate the main character. He is such a brat when you meet him and who he becomes by the end of the series is amazing. This is big wonderful fantasy.

Terry Brooks- The Landover series

The Magic Kingdom of Landover series is a series of six fantasy novels by Terry Brooks following the adventures of a former trial lawyer named Ben Holiday, and the collection of friends and enemies the he encounters when he purchases a magical kingdom. The location of the novels centers in a fictional world known as Landover that is populated with numerous magical and fairy creatures. It takes its name from a humorous reference to The Wizard of Oz, particularly its “land over the rainbow.”[citation needed] It is a small world, surrounded on all sides by fairy mists which connect it to many other worlds, including Earth. Landover is a rural kingdom, populated by humans, gnomes, kobolds, and various other fantasy creatures, who often form separate societies. Their rulers, while answerable to the king, are allowed a certain degree of autonomy. Also inhabiting the land are the dragon Strabo and the witch Nightshade. Landover is protected by the Paladin, a magical knight who is a projection of its rulers. In the absence of a worthy ruler, the Paladin disappears and Landover falls prey to a physical decay known as “the Tarnish”, which slowly spreads from the king’s castle (Sterling Silver) to the rest of the kingdom. The Paladin’s is one of the few magics in the land that can stand up against that of Strabo or Nightshade.

If you are looking for just fun, a vacation with out a price tag…this is the series for you. Please take it for what it is a depressed guy answers an add in the news paper and buys a magic kingdom, except its for real. There are great funny, colorful characters who fill up this world. I personally like the cranky dragon -see notes above about that.

C.S Lewis- the Chronicles of Narnia

Set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a place where animals talk, magic is common, and good battles evil, the series narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of that world. With the exception of The Horse and His Boy, the protagonists are all children from the real world magically transported to Narnia, where they are called upon by the lion Aslan to protect Narnia from evil and restore the throne to its rightful line. The books cover the entire history of Narnia, from its creation in The Magician’s Nephew, to its eventual destruction in The Last Battle.

So wonderful and classic. These are small chapter books, very accessible to different ages and reading levels. I remember being curled up in my mom’s bed each night as we read “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” one chapter at a time. A great way to foster reading and a love of  fantasy.

JRR Tolkien- The Lord of the rings trilogy

The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien’s earlier, less complex children’s fantasy novel The Hobbit (1937), but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during the Second World War.[1] It is the second best-selling novel ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.[2]

Much as Dune (above) is a right of pass age for sci-fi readers, this is fills that spot for me in the fantasy world. It is a log journey like the story but it takes you to and through so many wonderful things along the way. I would not recommend it if you do not have reading stamina though. You have to want to get lots with the characters and not care where you end up to really enjoy it and for some that is just not enough.

Carol Wilkinson- the Dragon Keeper series

The novel is set in ancient China, during the Han Dynasty. A slave girl saves the life of an ageing dragon and escapes her brutal master. Pursued by a ruthless dragon hunter, the girl and the dragon make an epic journey across China carrying a mysterious stone that must be protected. This is a story of a young slave girl who believes she is not worthy of a name but finds within herself that the strength and courage to make this perilous journey, and do what must be done.

I never thought that adolescent lit would be something that I would add to one of these lists (I hate to say it but I’m a bit of a snob that way) but here it is. The simplicity of the story: little slave girl escapes with the last imperial dragon in china; was interesting to me. But it was the dragon who makes this book for me. Dengi is so old and wise but at the same time somber and aware that he might just be the last.

Clive Woodall- One for sorrow, two for joy, Seven for a secret never to be told

Welcome to Birddom – a land where Magpies rule. Dark forces are at work. An evil intelligence is masterminding their inexorable rise. Dominance has been achieved by systematic genocide and slaughter. In Birddom, blackbird and sparrow have been exterminated. The magpie has replaced the pigeon in the city and the starling in the garden. For small birds throughout the land, survival is everything. Birddom needs a hero. A bird to fight in the darkness, and bring light back to the land. But what can one bird do in the face of such evil?

This book totally caught me off guard. I was thinking, book about birds, could be interesting. But  what I  got was a complex political/ holistic situation where the robin tries to be the hero. How could that not be wonderful? It is pretty violent in places- these are birds- so if you don’t do graphic, maybe not for you.

Gregory Maguire- Wicked, Son of a Witch, Confessions of and Ugly stepsister

The novel is a political, social, and ethical commentary on the nature of good and evil and takes place in The Land of Oz, in the years leading to Dorothy’s arrival. The story centers on Elphaba, the misunderstood green-skinned girl who grows up to become the notorious Wicked Witch of the West. Gregory Maguire fashioned the name of Elphaba (pronounced /ˈɛlfəbə/) from the initials of Lyman Frank Baum, L-F-B. The story is divided into five different sections based on the plot location.

There has been so much written about this book that it is hard to know what to add. I think that Maguire created something truly challenging and thought-provoking: Is the villain still a villain when you hear their side of the story? I love the witch and here crazy activist ways. More on the political commonalty side and less fun/fluff but wonderful all the same.

Alice Borchard- the tales of Guinevere series.

The

daughter of a powerful pagan queen, Guinevere grows up under the protection of a Druid and the shapeshifting man-wolf, Maeniel, until the sorcerer Merlin forces her to fulfill

her destiny as Arthur’s queen.

I was so sad to find out that the author (Anne Rice’s sister) passed away before she had the change to write the third novel. The first novel lets us see Guinevere’s world as a celt. How she thinks and what is expected of her. The second is about Lancelot and how he became who he would be. They are interesting, intricate and in places sexy. I am so sad that I will never read how she would have painted Arther. She had a unique take on these characters.

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One response »

  1. Ah, SciFi and Fantasy, how I love thee! I was positively proud of myself when I finally read the Dune series in it’s entirety…and then his son published a list of prequel/sequel books!!! I haven’t gotten beyond the first one of them, because I realized I needed to reread the originals along with them due to how many details I’d forgotten. Sigh. One day I’ll get to that little project.

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