<p>This month I got to thinking about what makes fantasy my genre and what my top fantasy books are. I started reading science fiction when I was 16 and my first book was Dune, it absolutely fascinated me. The different worlds and how the people/aliens interacted. It took me to somewhere completely new and exciting; somewhere that in a way became mine, very important to have a place to escape to when you are 16! In fact very important whatever your age. I have never lost that fascination but as I have explored other aspects of both science fiction and fantasy my interests have widened. I am not keen on military sci fi or fantasy or horror but always open to new interpretations. One of my top fantasy books would have to be the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey. I love all of her books but this series is one of my go to as a relaxing favourite. It is hard to say which I would class as my favourite in this series but the ones I go back to time after time is the Mage Wars books where we meet the gryphons. I just love them. How did you get into fantasy and what would you class as your top fantasy books? I will introduce you to another of my favourites next time.
Hi all, hope Xmas and New Year went down well for everyone, I had a fairly quiet Christmas and plenty of time to read. Some new, some old. all enjoyable. I had an indulgent time re reading Trudi Canavan’s The Black Magician Series prior to starting the next ones in February. I love this series and the characters. Their world is interesting and we come to it gradually which is something I prefer when reading about new places. The story and growth of the characters continues to develop and most of them are flawed in one way or another, making them to me more identifiable as people. I love re visiting old favourites and this one did not disappoint, if you have not read it please put it on your list and let me know what you think.
Have you put in your nomination for the Sir Julius Vogel Award? The nomination period will end on the 28th February 2016, to nominate go to SFFANC site. Sir Julius was New Zealand’s premier twice in the 1870s and a writer of Science Fiction. The award in his name has been awarded since 1989 but until 2002 they were chiefly directed at fans and non professional work. The awards were updated, reorganised ( more organised) and aimed more at the professional SciFi and Fantasy writers, it also includes TV shows and films – so support your favourite New Zealand author and get in a nomination. There is a list of previous winners by year on the site.
No matter how big a fan you become of things, there is always this one fandom you keep going to. For most people, it is the Harry Potter fandom. The book series ended over 7 years ago, and the movies ended 4 years ago, but JK Rowling has never stopped giving us with more information to keep us going. First, there was Pottermore, with it’s endless amount of backstories and information about the smallest things, and the tiniest characters.
Then came the announcement that there will be a Harry Potter play, which she is highly involved in. For a long time, it was thought that it would be a prequel- maybe about Harry’s time with the Dursley’s. But then, the announcement came. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be a sequel.
And this is something people have been waiting for a long time. This is what fans have been wanting since they finished reading “Nineteen Years Later”. And now, we are getting it. The play will be opening in September 2016, in London, and it will be about Albus Severus Potter, who is dealing with his father’s fame, and Harry himself, dealing with repurcussions of all the things he has gone through in his past.
So, now this is the thing that everybody has been waiting for- and it will be ours in less than a year! J.K Rowling is the gift that never stops giving, and I hope the play also has a sequel. There are a lot of people who believe that Rowling should just leave the series well alone, but I’m certainly not one of those!
This is a slightly different post than normal – not about books. I did say I love running what I might not have mentioned is that I have always wanted to run a marathon. Well tomorrow I get my chance; I have entered to run in the HOKA ONE KINLOCH OFFROAD CHALLENGE. I am so excited.
I have been following a strict running schedule for the past 4 months, exercising and diet. My sister and her husband have been great, Steve, my brother-in-law, has been coaching me. I did get a book for beginners marathon running, of course I did, it’s on my kindle and I really found it useful. I have followed the training schedule off the website but not purchased any of the GU products this time. I want to see how I do first and then see if I need supplements. Steve is a sports teachers so I have followed his advice re my diet and we incorporated the suggestions from the website in my training schedule. I can now run 25k including hills at a reasonable pace so I am confident I will be ok tomorrow.
Kinlock is a lovely area on the North island with Lake Taupo, and a backdrop of the mountains of Tongariro National Park. We are going to make a long weekend of it so Steve can get some fishing in and my sister can relax with a book. Yes she is as book mad as me but her preference is historical romance and detective stories. I have bought her the first three Samantha Moon fantasy detective books by J.R Rain – yes ok they are about vampires but they are a very good read and for a change the protagonist is a grown woman not a girl!
Well what do you know I did mention books, got to go on the road soon. Wish me luck for tomorrow.
I am feeling a little giddy at the moment. I made a promise to myself that I would buy myself a handmade bookshelf and after a lot of searching around I think I have found the company I want to make it. I wanted a case made from rimu timber, as that is what my grandfather use to work with, yes he was a carpenter and has made me very discerning about quality and workmanship. I also want a wood that I know is from sustainable forestry. It has proved a little more expensive than I thought but a side trip to https://www.ferratum.co.nz/ has helped me out. Hopefully will be posting some pictures of it soon. So excited, ‘sad’ my brother says but he’s only jealous!
The influential author in my life was Margaret Atwood and her book “The Handmaiden’s Tale”. This dystopian tale shows how a fantasy novel can be compelling, satirical and a warning. I remember how angry I felt when I first read it, that women lost control over their bodies and their right to reproduce as and when they decided. I also remember how shocked I was when the fact that was exactly what was going on in some countries today but that is a discussion for another time another blog. I still read Margaret Atwood as I find her challenging but for me none more so than the first one I read. What was your influential author? Write in and let me know who and why.
Angie Sage’s series of books is one of the best magical fantasy series. The series consists of seven books released over a period of nine years , starting from “Magyk” in 2005 to “Fyre” in 2013. It is a series written in the new millennium but has all the usual flavors of magic with magical rings, dragons and dark lords.
The story is of Septimus Heap who is the seventh son of a seventh son and has inherent magical powers. He is taken away when he is a baby and lives 13 years of his life as an orphan. He is first given a number as an identification – boy 412. He is referred by this name till his aunt reveals his true identity.
The wizards are the protection of the palace area in which Septimus lives. The kingdom is different where the queen rules instead of the king. I think this has come out because of the author’s British origins, and in Britain Queen rules. The queen is murdered in the beginning of the story and princess is hidden in the Heap family. Here she grows and becomes a sister for the seven brothers.
The first book has all the drama of a potboiler. The main hero Septimus Heap is surrounded by all troubles, but ultimately becomes the apprentice to the EOD (Extra Ordinary Wizard. The story ends with the defeat of the dark wizard Dom Daniel.
The series was a great hit because of the richness of the characters and the way the book was written . A sequel was planned for 2014 but has been delayed. Warner Brothers has the rights to making the movie on the firsts book. Just read the series to understand what made it a success. It is gripping.
I wrote about Wattpad last time and I do hope some of you have gone and had a look at it, I now have the Wattpad App on my phone and I love it. Means I can read something when caught up in a queue or waiting overly long for an appointment. I do not always want to carry my kindle around with me so this app is great.
Another site I regularly visit is Tor.com. It has something to suit everybody in the fantasy and science fiction world. Here you will find every genre, sub genre and introductions to new genres you would ever want to read or view. The narrative can be comedic as well as satirical, informative and professional. Reviews on books, authors, films and plays, are interesting and informative as are the rereads on older published series. The gallery is awesome, some of the artwork takes your breath away. Some time ago they provided a piece of art to authors and asked them to write a short story around it; the results made fascinating reading. My favourite though, is the original short stories and novellas that are included in the site. Published authors and newbies all get space and the variety is incredible, this site is another one that I can loose time with.
Currently one of the re reads is from the Hearld of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, I have every book that she has written and I still enjoy re reading them. The books are full of interesting people, heros and villains yes, but characters with flaws and depth that change and grow making you want to read more about them. Interested then go along to Tor.com and follow the re read on the Last Herald Mage (book 1) that is currently being reviewed, well worth the effort.
As I have stated I love fantasy, especially the opportunity to build such diverse characters and personalities. One of the most interesting places to visit to read new and upcoming authors is Wattpad. This social platform website for computer, tablet or phone, describes itself as a place discover and share stories. To discuss and debate the characters and their developments, to enter into the authors worlds as they are being developed. I can lose hours on Wattpad, it fascinates me. I do have the beginnings of a story on there myself but not ready to share it yet. I have been honoured to be asked to critique a number of stories, flattering that people like my views, my rules for this is simple, if not constructive don’t criticise! Whatever your genre Wattpad will have a niche for you. Watched by publishers and agents it is a very good way to get your story “out there’ the voting system on the site facilitating that. From Wattpad I was introduced to the author Nicole McDonald, an independent Kiwi author whose Birthright Trilogy is an excellent fantasy book range. Nicole wanted to write about heroines who made things happen, rather than have them just happen, these books succeed in that and in engaging you with these women and their quest. The people they meet, the world they inhabit have all of the essentials of good fantasy and those ladies can ‘kick ass’. If you haven’t already read these books do so. The first book, ‘The Arrival’ is currently free on Amazon or Kindle.
If you have ever met a fantasy fiction fan in your life, you have probably heard a lot about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. The Discworld is a fascinating creation of Pratchett’s- a world that is flat and carried by four elephants who rest on top of a giant tortoise A’Tuin. It’s fantasy and satire at it’s best and it is riotously funny.
There are a lot of Discworld novels, though. For the uninitiated, it might be really difficult to figure out where they should start from. Many of the books are standalone books, but some of them are a part of a series, with recurring characters are references to events that happened in a previous book.
It would be possible for one to divide the Discworld novels into the four main plotlines– Rincwind, Death, The Witches and the Watch. You can pick up one book that falls in each category, so that you find out which story line you like the best. Once you have figured that out, you can follow all the novels in that particular category. Death, for instance, is introduced in Mort, and is present in about 8 or 9 other Discworld novels that you can read if you are fond of the character.
It will be slightly more complicated than you expect it to be, but Discworld is a riot and you will not regret reading any single book of the series!
Reading this series was probably one of the most daunting tasks I’ve ever had to complete. The series stretches for 14 books (the last three written by Brandon Sanderson), and has been going on for about 20 years now. Robert Jordan is probably one of the finest authors out there, for he was able to publish these many book full of complex characters and plots, without losing track of the greater picture and introducing giant plot holes within his own work.
I was introduced to Wheel of Time by a teacher who told me I’d love the strong female characters in the novel. And boy, was she right. Wheel of Time has female characters who are full of depth,and highly unique. None of them are just used as plot points or as fillers. A lot of modern fantasy writers could take a few lessons from the way Jordan writes his female characters, for sure.
Jordan’s use of myths and legends throughout the series is also rather admirable. He weaves incredibly complex plots that deal with incredibly human issues that let us empathize with the characters and feel attached to the events occurring in the book.
Wheel of Time is certainly one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read, for it acts a blueprint that other fantasy novels can follow in order to write a series that will certainly withstand the test of time.