December 16, 2009
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip
This is a beautifully written novel, that reads like a fairy tale with its simple yet poetic language. I can see why it won the World Fantasy Award. Sybel, a young woman trained in magic by her late wizard father lives on Eld Mountain alone with the legendary beasts he collected.
One day, a baby is brought to her to raise. In spite of her doubts, the boy Tamlorn grows to melt her heart and reconnect her with humanity. Her suspicion of human society and its politics and wars seems warranted however, when Tamlorn’s true parentage is revealed and she falls in love with an enemy of his people.
McKillip says many interesting things in here about love, relationships, power and how easily it corrupts. It went in a different direction than I expected. My main complaint is, the writing became rather melodramatic and soap opera-ish in the last third or so of the book. Still, I overall enjoyed it and would recommend it to fantasy-lovers.
Read in September 2009
June 14, 2008
Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg (Book 1 of the Majipoor Cycle)
This book was literally shoved into my hands by my fiance with an exhortation of “You have to read this!” After reading, I have to say, he did me a favor! It takes place on Majipoor, a large planet that was long ago colonized by Earth and races of other planets. Much of the technology has been lost, and Majipoor is at a feudal, agricultural level of development and something of a galactic backwater. But overall, it is a peaceful and prosperous world.
Here we find Valentine, a young man who has forgotten his past. He joins a troupe of traveling jugglers, and immerses himself in the art and the carefree life of an entertainer. But Valentine is not who he seems, and when he discovers his true identity, he faces a great challenge, and a journey across much of Majipoor.
Silverberg has created a fascinating world, filled with many colorful characters of various species. The significance of dreams, and their interpretation, figures prominently in Majipooran culture- even in the social order. The Lady of Sleep guides the people with prophetic dreams, while the King of Dreams punishes wrongdoers with nightmares. It was an exciting and suspenseful adventure. I look forward to the next book in the series, Lord Valentine Pontifex and the continuing political intrigue it will reveal.
November 21, 2007
So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane
While trying to outrun bullies, Nita escapes to her favorite refuge- the library. While poking through the children’s section she finds a series about careers- “So You Want to Be a…Police Officer, Teacher, Doctor, Wizard” wait, Wizard?! Nita gets the book and finds that it is a handbook on how to become and act as a wizard. Wizards, in this world are a lot different than the conventional view of them in fantasy. They are charged with slowing down the process of entropy- the death of the universe by conserving energy and maintaining balance. In searching for a lost possession, Nita and her new friend Kit find themselves in an alternate New York City ruled by malevolent machines with minds of their own. The world depicted in the book is fascinating, and the plot is a suspenseful and often hilarious adventure.
While physics obviously works differently in this universe, Duane uses scientific concepts in telling the story, so I think it will likely appeal to readers who tend to prefer science fiction over fantasy, while fantasy enthusiasts like myself will find the unusual take on magic to be interesting.
I look forward to the next in the series- Deep Wizardry.