Fantasy archive at Stray Talk
an archive of my forays into fact and fiction

Archive: Fantasy


30th June, 2008
A Game of Thrones; George RR Martin
— Love @ 20:10 Comments (1)
Filed under: C, English, Fantasy, First in a Series, Here Be Dragons

A Game of Thrones; George RR Martin A Game of Thrones
by George RR Martin
American

For the Here Be Dragons and First in a Series reading challenges.

English
837 pages
Bantam Books
ISBN: 987-0-553-57340-4

First line: “We should start back,” Gared urged them as the woods began to grow dark around them.

Back cover blurb:
In a land where summer can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family born as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs periously in the balance, as each endeavor to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Thoughts: I kept pushing back reading this forever, as it’s such a big book. I didn’t use to mind big books—quite the opposite, in fact—but then I got a job and I don’t have as much time for reading as I used to, so I’ve rarely got time to finish big books in one sitting, which is what I prefer to do (example: I read A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, which was 1239 pages in the translation I read, in less than two days).

Anyway, I went to London and I needed to have some reading material with me, or I’d go spare, but I also didn’t want to take too much, on account of weight issues and such, so this book got to come along with me. I didn’t finish it there, but I did get about half-way through. And then I finished it today.

For the first couple of hundred pages or so, it was pretty much just confusing. It’s written in third person. However it’s not one person we follow, but at least eight (I probably forgot someone now. It wouldn’t surprise me) and they never have two chapters in a row, which means that it took a while to get to know them.

Once I did, though, things did pick up a little and the story ends up being quite good. I even had a couple of favourite characters (Dany, Eddard, Jon and Tyrion). However, I don’t feel that it was good enough that I’ll likely want to read the rest in the series. Probably not, anyway. I am itching a little to know what happens next, so maybe one day I will end up reading the other books, but right now I doubt it.

It’s a C grade, which means it was a decent read, but not awe-inspiring.


22nd June, 2008
Throne of Jade; Naomi Novik
— Love @ 15:52 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, B, English, Fantasy, Here Be Dragons, Historical

Throne of Jade; Naomi NovikThrone of Jade
by Naomi Novik
American

For the Here Be Dragons reading challenge.

English
399 pages
Del Rey
ISBN: 978-0-345-48129-0

First line: The day was unseasonably warm for November, but in some misguided deference to the Chinese embassy, the fire in the Admirality boardroom had been heaped excessively high, and Laurence was standing directly before it.

Back cover blurb:
When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo—an unhatched dragon’s egg—Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain’s Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte’s invading forces.
Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands—and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, the captain has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East—a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.

Thoughts: I read the first book in this series back in January, then bought the second book in mid-February, but I haven’t got ’round to reading it until know. Don’t ask me why, as I have absolutely no idea.

It’s a really good story. There is adventure and swashbuckling and excitement, and I could hardly put the book down. I adore the main characters (Laurence and Temeraire) and their relationship with each other, as well as the plot that takes them to China. I was a little worried that I’d find the voyage there a little dull, but Novik manages to make eight months at sea quite interesting, by skipping over the parts where nothing much happens. Good on her!

I will definitely get the rest of the books as soon as I can, because this is a series I want to follow to its conclusion. There are already two more books out (possibly three by now, as I do not know the exact publication date for the fifth in the series, except that it was supposed to be sometime in June, which is almost all gone now), which is nice. The only thing is that the two books I own so far are the ones published by Del Rey, and the ones published by Voyager really have so much prettier covers. However, I refuse to mix covers.

As for the rating, it’s a B.


20th May, 2008
Sent i november; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 11:22 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, C, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

Sent i november; Tove Jansson Sent i november
by Tove Jansson
Finnish

Swedish
164 pages
Alfabeta
ISBN: 91-501-0473-X

First line: En tidig morgon i Mumindalen vaknade Snusmumriken i sitt tält och kände att det var höst och uppbrott i luften.

Back cover blurb:
Det är höst i Mumindalen. För dem som kommer dit ser allting annorlunda ut, inte riktigt som de hade tänkt sig. Och muminfamiljen tycks inte vara hemma. De som samlas i det tomma muminhuset får försöka bo och leva med varandra bäst de kan. Det är Filifjonkan och Hemulen, Mymlan, Onkelskruttet och den lilla homsan Toft. Långt bortifrån kommer Snusmumriken vandrande tillbaka i dalen där han tappat något mycket viktigt. Ute i trädgården ligger den blå glaskulan på sin pelare och speglar stora förändringar medan mörkret blir tätare omkring dem. Och slutligen en kväll börjar en helt liten men stadig ljuspunkt lysa inne i glaskulan.

Thoughts: In this book, we don’t even meet the Moomins. They are off somewhere (probably on the island they relocated to in Pappan och havet), and other characters move into their house in Moomin valley. Again, it’s a bleak and depressing tale, and most of the people populating the story are unappealing. At least Snufkin hangs around for a greater part of the story.

A C grade is what I give this. It’s not that it’s a bad story, exactly, it’s just that compared to Jansson’s earlier works, I don’t like it at all as much.


20th May, 2008
Pappan och havet; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 11:14 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, C, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

No cover image available Pappan och havet
by Tove Jansson
Finnish

Swedish
203 pages
AWE/Gebers
ISBN: 91-20-06402-0

First line: En obestämd eftermiddag i slutet av augusti gick en pappa omkring i sin trädgård och kände sig onödig.

Back cover blurb:
Långt ute i havet låg Ön. Den var så gott som öde. Där fanns en fyr, men den var släckt. På en udde bodde en fiskare, men han teg. Till denna ö förde pappan sin familj, som han ville beskydda och försvara.
Ön var annorlunda. Den var något helt annat än Mumindalen, där allting var som det skulle.
Sanningen att säga höll det på att bli ganska förfärligt på ön. Den var nära att förvandla alla — utom lilla My. Och orsaken var havet, som man inte kunde förstå sig på.
Vad som behövdes var en storm, en bärgningsbragd och att fyren tändes igen. Havet hade kanske dålig karaktär, men det var en bra fiende.
Tror du att denna roman handlar bara om muminfamiljen?
Läs den då en gång till — det gör man gärna — så får du se.

Thoughts: This is the second to last of the Moomin novels and gone are the optimistic and happy tones of the previous installments. It’s bleak and depressing, and my favourite character is missing, which is why I don’t rate this one particularly high. The best Moomin books are Trollkarlens hatt (Finn Family Moomintroll) and Farlig Midsommar (Moominsummer Madness). Well, in my opinion, anyway.

Pappan och havet receives a C grade.


19th May, 2008
Det osynliga barnet; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 23:09 Comments (0)
Filed under: Adventure, C, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

No cover image available Det osynliga barnet
by Tove Jansson
Finnish

Swedish
167 pages
AWE/Gebers
ISBN: 91-20-07544-8

First line: En lugn och molnfri kväll i slutet av april kom Snusmumriken så långt norrut att snöfläckarna låg kvar på nordsidan.

Back cover blurb:
Om Snusmumrikens vårvisa och Ti-ti-too,
Homsans hemska äventyr och mote med lilla My,
Filifjonkan som trodde på katastrofer,
Den sista draken i världen, inte större än en tändsticksask,
Hemulen som älskade tystnad och byggde ett nöjesfält,
Det osynliga barnet som blev synligt igen,
Hatifnattarnas hemlighet,
Den lilla plysch-hunden Cedric med topasögonen,
och om Mumintrollens jul under granen i snön

handlar denna underbara bok för alla åldrar.

Thoughts: This is a collection of short stories all featuring one or more characters from the world of the Moomins. The longest of these is the one about the invisible child, which is also the one that’s given its name to the collection.

It’s not the best of Jansson’s works, but it’s more than decent all the same. A C rating is in order.


18th May, 2008
Trollvinter; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 18:30 Comments (2)
Filed under: Adventure, B, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

No cover image available Trollvinter
by Tove Jansson
Title in English: Moominland Midwinter
Finnish

Swedish
131 pages
AWE/Gebers
ISBN: 91-20-07551-0

First line: Himlen var nästan svart men snön var klarblå i månskenet.

Back cover blurb:
Det är inte lätt att vakna ur sitt vinteride i januari och inte kunna somna om.
Mumintrollet var det mumintroll som nånsin upplevat vintern, och i början var han förfärligt ensam i det sovande. Men småningom befolkades hans dal med vinterns hemlighetsfulla varelser, och den här boken handlar om hur han försökte klara sig med dem och den främmande iskalla värld han ramlat in i.

Very short synopsis in English: The Moomins normally hibernate during the winter months, but this year Moomintroll wakes up in January and finds the world a changed place, with strange creatures and new people who aren’t out in summer.

Thoughts: This book has no Snufkin (except there is a letter from him and Moomintroll occasionally thinks of him), but it’s still quite brilliant. A B grade.


18th May, 2008
Farlig midsommar; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 18:23 Comments (1)
Filed under: A, Adventure, Children's lit, Decades '08, Fantasy, Swedish

Farlig midsommar; Tove Jansson Farlig midsommar
by Tove Jansson
Title in English: Moominsummer Madness
Finnish

For the Decades ’08 reading challenge (first published 1954).

Swedish
146 pages
Alfabeta
ISBN: 91-501-0478-0

First line: Mumintrollets mamma satt på trappan i solskenet och riggade en barkbåt.

Back cover blurb:
Där kommer en teater på drift och med den driver muminfamiljen in i en midsommarnatt som är full av trolldom och överraskning, av nya vänner och fiender.
Vet ni att hattifnattar kommer ur frö och att man måste så dem på midsommarnatten? Har ni nånsin borrat hål genom ert eget golv eller sett en självlysande parkvakt? Och är ni medvetna om hur hemskt farligt det är att vissla på teatern?
Det här är en berättelse om vad som hände i den magiska månaden juni samma år som det eldsprutande berget rörde på sig och Mumintrollets mamma gjorde sin vackraste barkbåt.

Very short synopsis in English: After a huge wave floods Moomin Valley, the Moomins make their escape to a floating theatre.

Thoughts: I love Snufkin. I kind of always have. He’s fantastic and I’m terribly sorry to those who don’t read Swedish, because I am going to post some quotes and they are amazing but you won’t be able to tell. Woe is you.

Skräm dem med Mårran föreslog hon. Det gör min syster.
Blir du snäll då? frågade Snusmumriken.
Naturligtvis inte! sa Lilla My och skrattade så att hon ramlade omkull.

Förmårrade ungar! sa Snusmumriken som stod och tvättade deras strumpor vid husknuten. Har ni glömt att vi tjärade taket i morse? Vill ni att jag ska överge er, kasta mig i sjön eller slå ihjäl er?
Ingetdera! skrek ungarna och drog honom i rocken. Du ska läsa ditt brev!

There’s another quote from Snufkin that I love, but I forget which book it’s from. No matter, I shall insert it here and pretend I’m doing it just because I was talking about him anyway.

One can never be entirely free, if one admires someone else too much.

That is a very wise thing to say, indeed.

Farlig midsommar receives an A grade as well, because it deserves it.


17th May, 2008
Trollkarlens hatt; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 18:16 Comments (1)
Filed under: A, A-Z Reading Challenge, Adventure, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

Trollkarlens hatt; Tove Jansson Trollkarlens hatt
by Tove Jansson
Title in English: Finn Family Moomintroll
Finnish

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
158 pages
Alfabeta
ISBN: 91-501-0479-9

First line: En grå morgon föll den första snön över Mumindalen.

Back cover blurb:
Den här berättelsen börjar med trolldom en tidig vårmorgon och slutar en varm augustinatt som aldrig kommer att glömmas i Mumindalen. Däremellan ligger Mumintrollets långa sommar, full av solsken och åskväder. Den kunde ha varit som en vanlig sommar med upptäckter av nya öar, med långrevsfiske i duggregn och lyckliga bad i bränningarna och hemlighetsfulla nattvandringar—men så hittade muminfamiljen Trollkarlens hatt. Och efter det var ingenting som vanligt längre.
Farlighet och spänning hade kommit in i dalen och tassade hotfullt kring deras hus. Varje dag händr otroliga och upprörande saker—de hade med andra ord aldrig haft så roligt förr!
Det här är historien om små och stora kryp och om glada händelser och hemska händelser som alltid måste vara hopblandade för att ens sommar ska bli riktig och underbar.

Very short synopsis in English: After the Moomins find a peculiar hat, their summer turns into a strange one.

Thoughts: MOOMINS! =D Coherence has gone right out the window, sorry.

This is basically amazing and possibly my favourite Moomin book. Read it! (Banquo says it better.)

An A rating, yes.


12th May, 2008
Kometen kommer; Tove Jansson
— Love @ 17:38 Comments (1)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, Adventure, B, Children's lit, Fantasy, Swedish

No cover image available Kometen kommer
by Tove Jansson
Title in English: Comet in Moominland
Finnish

For the A-Z reading challenge.

Swedish
150 pages
AWE/Gebers
ISBN: 91-20-07546-4

First line: Samma morgon som mumintrollets pappa fick bron över floden färdig gjorde det lilla djuret Sniff en upptäckt.

Back cover blurb:
Sommaren är som den brukar i Mumintrollets dal, varm och full av hemliga möjligheter.
Det lilla djuret Sniff har hittat en egen grotta, en mycket stor händelse.
Men sent på natten kommer stormen…
Om man är mycket liten är det svårt att fatta att världsrymden är kolsvart och aldrig slutar och att jorden är en försvinnande liten gnista av liv. Plötsligt—långt ute i mörkret—lyser ett rött öga, det blir större dag för dag.
Det är kometen som kommer närmare och närmare Mumindalen! Himlen är röd och havet kryper längst ner i sina hålor, vartenda knytt packar ihop sina saker och flyr. Men Snusmumriken tog sin munharmonika och spelade visan om äventyr som inte är lagom stora utan alldeles kolossala, och så gav de sig rakt ut i farligheten.
Följ med!

Very short synopsis in English: It’s the middle of summer and a comet is heading for Moomin Valley. Moomintroll and Sniff decide to journey to the observatory to ask the Professor about the comet. On their way, they make new friends.

Thoughts: It’s been ages since I last read the Moomin books (actually, I don’t think I’ve actually read them myself before, but have always had them read to me), but they still hold up now. My favourite character is Snufkin, who is the rebel who doesn’t like owning things and sometimes just needs to be alone with his thoughts and his pipe.

Kometen kommer receives a B grade.


2nd March, 2008
Dragon’s Bait; Vivian Vande Velde
— Love @ 19:36 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, C, English, Fantasy, Here Be Dragons, Young Adult

Dragon's Bait; Vivian Vande Velde Dragon’s Bait
by Vivian Vande Velde
American

For the Here Be Dragons and A-Z challenges.

English
196 pages
Magic Carpet Books
ISBN: 0-15-216663-7

First line: The day Alys was accused of being a witch started out like any other.

Back cover blurb:
It is going to eat her… All because the villagers in her town think she is a witch and have staked her out on a hillside as a sacrifice.
It’s late, it’s cold, and it’s raining, and Alys can think of only one thing—revenge. But first she’s got to escape, and even if she does, how can one girl possibly take on an entire town alone?
Then the dragon arrives—a dragon that could quite possibly be the perfect ally…

Thoughts: This book was by no means brilliant, but it was good enough to pass an hour or two with. My favourite thing about it is that Alys finds out that maybe revenge isn’t really the best solution to things. A grade of a C seems reasonable enough.1

1. Can you tell I’m really tired? I mean, I know I don’t usually write a lot, and never anything profound, but this quite possibly takes the cake even for me.


3rd February, 2008
Eclipse; Stephenie Meyer
— Love @ 13:11 Comments (6)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Eclipse; Stephenie Meyer Eclipse
by Stephenie Meyer
American

For the A-Z reading challenge.

English
628 pages
Atom Books
ISBN: 978-1-904233-90-9

First line: All our attempts at subterfuge had been in vain.

Back cover blurb:
As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob — knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

Thoughts: It turns out that I’d somehow misunderstood that spoiler I read, because what I feared would happen, didn’t. At least not the way I thought it would, nor was it as bad as I thought it would be. In other words, I still like Jacob Black. Like him a lot, in fact. Even if I got really quite angry with him at one point, because dude! he needs to learn to listen to what people say!

I still don’t care much about either Bella or Edward. Bella, I’ve realised, reminds me a little of someone I used to know very well, with the exception that she (Bella, that is) can make decisions and stick with them, even if it’s hard.

I think this is my favourite of the series so far, even if some things made me exclaim “Ew! Ew! Ew!” whilst reading, and the divide between girlish and boyish interests/talents/&c still bothers me a lot.

A B rating is in order and I have to say I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, which is published sometime this summer, unless I am much mistaken.


31st January, 2008
New Moon; Stephenie Meyer
— Love @ 20:03 Comments (6)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

New Moon; Stephenie Meyer New Moon
by Stephenie Meyer
American

For the A-Z reading challenge.

English
595 pages
Atom Books
ISBN: 978-1-904233-88-6

First line: I felt like I was trapped in one of those terrifying nightmares, the one where you have to run, run till your lungs burst, but you can’t make your body move fast enough.

Back cover blurb:
For Bella Swan, there is one thing more important than life itself: Edward Cullen. But being in love with a vampire is even more dangerous than Bella could ever have imagined. Edward has already rescued Bella from the clutches of one evil vampire, but now, as their daring relationship threatens all that is near and dear to them, they realize their troubles may be just beginning…

Thoughts: I quite like Jacob Black. I know it’s not quite the done thing, especially if you ask the Edward Cullen camp, but I can’t help it! I did accidentally read a spoiler at some point, so I’m not sure that I will keep liking Jacob, but I kind of hope I do, because as of yet, he’s the only character I’m not unmoved by. (Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m moved by Bella, in that she annoys me greatly from time to time.)

Still not crazy about Edward. I don’t dislike him either, though. I guess I just don’t see the massive appeal.

On the whole, I’m still kind of hooked on these books, and that’s despite not being crazy about characters, plot or, technically, the writing. It’s a bit like it is with the Tony Hill books by Val McDermid (except I am excessively fond of Tony). I don’t think they’re very well-written, but they are always full of excitement and I keep reading, because you get hooked so quickly and there’s no way I could put one down unfinished. (That only applies to her Tony books, though. I’ve read a couple of others of hers, and without the appeal of Tony, there’s no appeal at all.) Anyway, what I was trying to say, before I got side-tracked, is that Meyer’s writing makes me want to know what happens next, and so I’ve already started on Eclipse.

New Moon gets a B rating. It was going to get a C, but then I remembered that Twilight got a B, and I don’t like this book less than the first in the series, so a B it has to be.


30th January, 2008
Messenger; Lois Lowry
— Love @ 19:28 Comments (3)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, D, English, Fantasy, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Messenger; Lois Lowry Messenger
by Lois Lowry
American

For the Young Adult and A-Z reading challenges.

English
186 pages
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 0-385-73253-8

First line: Matty was impatient to have the supper preparations over and done with.

Back cover blurb:
For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man known for his special sight. Once, Village was a place that welcomed newcomers and offered hope and homes to people fleeing poverty and cruelty. But something sinister has seeped into Village, and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. All along, Matty has been invaluable as a messenger between Village and other communities. He hopes someday to earn the name of Messenger. Now he must make one last journey through the increasingly treacherous forest to spread the message of Village’s closing and convince Kira, Seer’s daughter, to return with him. Matty’s only weapon against his dangerous surroundings is a secret power he unexpectedly discovers within himself. He wants to heal the people who have nourished his body and spirit and is willing to offer the greatest gift and pay the ultimate price.

Thoughts: As expected, this book tied together the characters of both The Giver and Gathering Blue. However, it didn’t really resolve the issue I had with one particular event in Gathering Blue, nor did it really appeal to me as much as the previous two books in the series did.

It also confused me a great deal. Apparently, the events of both previous books take place at much the same point in time, yet in one there is advanced technology, and in the other everything is exceedingly basic and primitive. These places don’t seem to be all that distant from each other, geographically, so I must admit I don’t quite see how the difference could be so marked, especially since the high tech one has the means to travel far and wide in not much time at all.

No, in the end I didn’t like the end to the series at all. I’m giving it a D rating, and that’s mostly just because I’m feeling generous today. I think I’ll try to pretend that there was nothing after Gathering Blue and that even if there was, I certainly didn’t read it.


16th January, 2008
Twilight; Stephenie Meyer
— Love @ 16:14 Comments (28)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, First in a Series, Romance, YA Challenge 2008, Young Adult

Twilight; Stephenie Meyer Twilight
by Stephenie Meyer
American

For the Young Adult, First in a Series and A-Z reading challenges.

English
434 pages
Atom Books
ISBN: 978-1-904233-65-7

First line: I’d never given much thought to how I would die—though I’d had reason enough in the last few months—but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.

Back cover blurb:
When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret.

What Bella does not realize is that the closer she gets to him, the more she is putting herself and those she around her at risk. And it might be too late to turn back…

Thoughts: I heard such different accounts of this book as puzzled me exceedingly*. Before I ordered it, I found only positive views in different book blogs. Of course, the second I pressed the confirm button on the book order, the more negative reviews started popping up.

After reading the book myself, I find myself in the camp in the middle. I wasn’t as completely blown away by Edward as others have been, but neither was I completely and utterly annoyed with Bella. Edward is okay, but he’s not one of those fictional characters I see myself falling in love with. As for Bella, I was a little peeved at her over a couple of things (mostly how she treats her father, because I refuse to believe he is as useless at cooking as she makes him out to be. He has, as he himself says, survived on his own for seventeen years, after all).

On the whole, I thought the book was good enough and I definitely want to read the sequels (already ordered them, in fact), but I find myself a bit of a sceptic when it comes to the great Bella/Edward romance. It’s a little too intense for my liking, to be honest. Either way, I do look forward to see where the story is going and this, the first installment, receives a well-deserved B grade.

*See what I did there?


3rd January, 2008
His Majesty’s Dragon; Naomi Novik
— Love @ 15:30 Comments (7)
Filed under: A-Z Reading Challenge, B, English, Fantasy, First in a Series, Here Be Dragons, Historical, Seafaring Challenge

His Majesty's Dragon; Naomi Novik His Majesty’s Dragon
by Naomi Novik
American

For the Here Be Dragons, First in a Series, Seafaring and A-Z reading challenges.

English
356 pages
Del Rey
ISBN: 978-0-345-48128-3

First line: The deck of the French ship was slippery with blood, heaving in the choppy sea; a stroke might as easily bring down the man making it as the intended target.

Back cover blurb:
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies… not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.
When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into the uncertain future—and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarefied world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

Thoughts: I really, really liked this book. I’d suspected I might, and thankfully I was not disappointed, as has sometimes been the case (The Eyre Affair springs readily to mind as an example of this). Naomi Novik’s take on the Napoleonic Wars is quite exciting to read and her characters are ones you quickly become exceedingly fond of. The only beef I have with the story is that it’s sometimes a little too fantastic, perhaps. That, and the reactions of the main character to certain things (though, granted, they are perfectly understandable reactions for him to have, as a product of the Regency era. Still, they grated on me a little).

All in all, though, I can say with certainty that I will try to get my paws on the next three books in the series as soon as possible, and that I will also wait with bated breath for June to come around and with it the publishing of the fifth book.

A B rating is nothing if not extremely well-deserved in this case.


2nd December, 2007
Stardust; Neil Gaiman
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Filed under: Adventure, B, English, Fantasy

Stardust; Neil Gaiman Stardust
by Neil Gaiman
British

English
214 pages
Headline Review
ISBN: 978-0-7553-3755-2

First line: There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.

Back cover blurb:
In the sleepy English countryside at the dawn of the Victorian era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall. Young Tristan Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester, but Victoria is cold and distant as the star she and Tristan see fall from the sky one evening. For the prize of Victoria’s hand, Tristan vows to retrieve the star for his beloved. It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the town’s ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining…

Thoughts: I’ve wanted to read Stardust for a while now, and since my brother managed to get me an autographed copy of it (I curse the fact that I had to work that afternoon and could not myself stand in line to have Gaiman sign a book for me), there has really been no excuse not to.

I found it a quick and easy read, but with lovely language and a story-line and characters that pulled me in. I’ve been generous with them of late, I know, but this is another book that’s earned its B rating.