In the 1930s, Tolkien began work on an epic alliterative poem about King Arthur’s downfall. It was never finished, but Christopher Tolkien provides notes and explanations about the lines that we do have.
The actual poem only takes up about 45 pages in this book. It is beautiful and haunting and wild. The patterns in the alliteration are woven together in this tapestry of words that powerfully tell the story of Arthur and his knights, of Mordred and Lancelot and Guinevere, and the last days of the Round Table. I read most of it out loud to myself, because the words drip like honey, rich and resonant. It is meant to be read out loud!
Corie is the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, who visits the royal court every summer to be groomed and trained for life among the nobility. The rest of the year she lives with her peasant grandmother in a small village learning to be an herbalist healer. As Corie grows into a young woman, she begins to realize the depth of the court intrigue that surrounds her half-sister, Elisandra. She determines to do everything she can to help her sister. She soon discovers that there are others who need her help too; the magical elven people who are held as slaves in the castle.
I loved everything about this book! The magic, the world-building, the exciting plot, the writing style, the complex characters: everything is golden!
Nathan has no idea who he is. He is an apprentice Caller in the king’s home and best friends with Prince Michael, but he has no memory of his family and assumes he is an orphan. He studies under the Master Callers to summon Melkai monsters from another world. Some of the monsters are massive, and others are miniscule, like Nathan’s own little Melkai, a small lizard. The barrier between the world of humans and the world of the Melkai is weakening. Nathan is sent on a quest to find the other half of the magical key that can seal the barriers between worlds before the destructive Melkai are unleashed to roam freely across the land.
I enjoyed the plot of this book, because there are some clever twists and turns. There are several times when some particular character or object or connection is revealed and it was just so satisfying. The plot is full of fantasy tropes, but I didn’t really mind that because I like tropes. Some of the plot devices were obvious, but again, I don’t mind that as long as it is set up in an interesting way.
Ælfwyn is a shy, bookish maiden in Anglo-Saxon England, caught in the middle of her uncle the king’s political plots. When the king forces her to choose between marrying an old man or becoming a nun, Ælfwyn runs away to become a singing bard on the open road. But circumstances drag her back into her uncle’s clutches, and desperate men try to use her position in the king’s family for their own political gain.
I really identified with Ælfwyn’s character, because she loves to read. She is shy, and is frightened to ride the large and powerful horse her mother gives her. For most of the book, she depends on other people to tell her what to do and where to go, but when it really matters, she makes her own decisions, discovering courage and resilience from deep inside.
I liked the writing style in this book. It really pulls you in to the story, painting a picture of Old England with a few settings, people, and events drawn from real history. I especially liked the scenes when Ælfwyn is on the road, singing her songs and telling stories from her books to entertain the common people. Continue reading →
Tenar is living as a poor farmer’s widow in the valleys of Gont, and adopts a disfigured child who was beaten and burned. When Ged, the Archmage Sparrowhawk, comes back into her life, Tenar must face the mystery behind the magic that has followed her all her life.
As with most of Le Guin’s books, I’m not quite sure what to think. It’s masterfully written with truly beautiful prose, and a deep story full of meaning and emotion. But it’s just so strange and other-worldly and odd. There are so many questions and few definitive answers. The best thing about her writing is that it makes you think about things… really think and ponder. Continue reading →
Kullervo’s uncle murders his father, and Kullervo vows to find revenge. He grows up wayward and wild and without compassion for anyone except his twin sister. With the help of the magical hound, Musti, Kullervo escapes the murderous machinations of his evil uncle. Kullervo has set his hand against the whole world, and he ruins crops, creates a wasteland in the forest, commits mass murder, and generally reeks destruction wherever he goes. His story is tragic for everyone involved.
This short story, one of Tolkien’s very early attempts at rewriting myths, includes a great deal of poetry, a tragic plot, and the delicious rich language that characterizes all of Tolkien’s works. Most of the book is commentary, essays, and notes about the story, its Finnish roots, and its influence on Tolkien’s later writing. Continue reading →
Usually I love Robin Hobb’s books, but there are so many things that annoyed me about this one. It’s entirely too long and repetitive. It could have been about 200 pages shorter. There are too many POVs flip-flopping all over the place in every chapter. I HATE it when a POV changes in the middle of a orscene! And there are about 10 or 11 different POV characters in the book. Too many! Continue reading →
I love every single thing about this book! The storytelling is so masterful that I feel like these are real events and real people. I have all these emotions rolling around in my heart, and I’m still completely immersed in the Farseer world.
Fitz is the perfect main character. I can’t even explain to you how much I adore this person! He’s doing his assassin thing, and plotting and spying and fighting; but he’s also trying to have his own life, and keep his relationships with friends and family intact through all the upheaval.
The evil Red Ships are attacking the coast, and Fitz is caught up in the battles, with a unique perspective since he knows most of the undercurrent of politics and scheming that is going on. Continue reading →
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Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.
As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom. -GoodReads
I love epic fantasy, and this book is the epitome of all that is good in fantasy! It has everything a good book should have – diverse characters, unique magic system, action, suspenseful plot, danger, intrigue, and of course, wonderful character development.
I was enchanted with the entire story, and immediately fell in love with Fitz! His unique perspective on the world of the Six Duchies and the royal court was exciting to read about. Continue reading →