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Topic: 2010 Fantasy Challenge -- APRIL DISCUSSION THREAD

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Subject: 2010 Fantasy Challenge -- APRIL DISCUSSION THREAD
Date Posted: 4/1/2010 1:33 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Welcome to month #4!

One-quarter of the way through the challenge. . . are you on track to finish on time? What do you plan to read for the month?

I am one book behind, at 10/45, but after two disappointing months (in terms of production) I'll take that. And this month I'm planning to read four books, though so far I've only hit four in a month once (January). My tentative reading list is:

The Dark Hand of Magic, by Barbara Hambly
Lud-in-the-Mist, by Hope Mirrlees
Fudoki, by Kij Johnson
In the Hall of the Dragon King, by Stephen R. Lawhead

And if I finish all of those, I'm going to read The Orphan's Tales: The Cities of Coin and Spice, by Catherynne M. Valente, as a reward. :)



Last Edited on: 4/1/10 1:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/2/2010 2:29 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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After some creative reshuffling to make my last book fit, I'm at 34.

Depending on what books I pick, there's a chance that I will be done by the end of the month.  Though, since I've filled so many categories, if I don't have a category in mind before I start reading there's a good chance I won't be able to count it at all, so it might well take longer. 

I have 2 unplanned books still:  Heroic fantasy and World with no magic/Translation/non-european milieu. (My 2 planned/read books for those 3 can be easily shuffled about.)

I'm currently reading Throne of Bones by Brian McNaughton.  This is a world fantasy award winner.  Sadly, that knocks Johnothan Strange & Mr. Norrell  off my list.  I still want to read it someday though.

Date Posted: 4/2/2010 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
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Date Posted: 4/2/2010 10:14 AM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
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I am not where I want to be for the challenge and this will be my big month. I just finshed A Wizard of Eathsea by Ursual Le Guin. The jury is still out on how I feel about it. Overall it was interesting and a deeper than most of the Fantasy I have been reading. It was a welcomed change of pace for me. I felt that this was the book that got me back on track. I have one book down for April and plan to read the following four others:

  • Cry Republic by Kirk Mitchell
  • Dinotopia Lost by Alan Dean Foster
  • Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
  • The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein

I hope everyone else is doing ok with their challenges.

Date Posted: 4/4/2010 7:39 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
Posts: 447
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Melanti-

If you finish the Alan Dean Foster Journeys of the Catechist -wouldn't that count as non-european milieu?  Book 3 is waiting for you...

As far as my list go-  I have read a few books and not updated my list but I'll be fine.  I just need to get organized!

 

Date Posted: 4/5/2010 5:11 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,879
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The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll (romantic fantasy):  This was a delightful story of Ariane, the Lady of Faire Isle, the oldest of the Cheney sisters and the daughter of Evangeline Cheney, a beloved Lady of Faire Isle who was so respected and loved that the people of the Isle erected a statue of her.  To live up to her mother's reputation seems difficult at best for Ariane as she struggles to protect the people of Faire Isle as well as guide and love her younger sisters, Gabrielle and Miri.  In her struggle to become a true Lady of Faire Isle, Ariane finds fault with herself again and again as she believes that whatever happens to the people of the Isle and her sisters is her failure to protect them.   Ariane turns to the comte de Renard, who has decided that Ariane will become his wife, one way or another.  She falls in love with this great oaf of a stranger and he with her.  When a wounded stranger arrives seeking guidance he brings with him a pair of magically poisoned gloves which have been used to kill the queen.  As Ariane seeks to unravel the dark magic that created the poison she runs afoul of Queen Catherine de Medici, The Dark Queen, who was once her mother' s friend and likewise was responsible for Evangeline's death.

Victory of Eagles, A Novel of Temeraire, by Naomi Novak (recognizable historical mileu):   Thoroughly enjoyed this story of Napoleon's invasion of Britain and how dragons, led by Temeraire, and his captain, Will Laurence, help the British repel the French, who have their own dragon force.   While Napoleon escapes, by dragon flight, of course, Temeraire and Laurence are sent to Australia.  Both have been removed from military service because they rescued the dragons of France from a debilitating and lethal disease ( a treasonous act),  Laurence's death sentence is repealed if he and Temeraire will move to Australia.   This is the fifth in a series about Temeraire and Laurence.  This book dwells primarily on the battles during Napoleon's invasion and occupation of London.  It's an exciting and enjoyable read.

Dissolution by Richard Lee Byers, War of the Spider Queen, Book I (non-human protagonist):  This is a most enjoyable fantasy where four dark elves struggle against their enemies.   No one really knows why the Spider Queen, Lolth, has taken her magic from her followers. Even without her magic the high priestess, Quenthel, a member of the ruling family, the Baenre, survives attack after attack by demons bent on killing her, who were in turn sent by her brother, Gromph.   Dark elves are known for the chaos they create and their cruelty even to family members that they strive to eliminate.  On the other hand, Pharaun Mizzrym, manages to survive attacks by his sister, Greyanna, and eventually kill her in their final battle.  Yet the mystery remains.  Who, or what has disturbed life in Menzoberranzan where the dark elves dwell.  The story ends with a group heading out to look for an answer to this dilemma to be continued in the next book in the series, Insurrection, Book II.

Alvin Journeyman by Orson Scott Card (heroic fantasy):  Just finished this one.  It was interesting from a folk tale/magic viewpoint.  Couldn't decide if I really liked it.  The story moves slowly at times but Card does a very nice job with his characters.  I especially liked Arthur Stuart, Verily Cooper, and Calvin, Alvin's brother.  If one is reading the series, this one is not to be missed.   



Last Edited on: 4/27/10 10:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 9
Date Posted: 4/5/2010 8:40 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
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Inspiration hit me hard today. I finished my second book this month! I am ashamed to admit it but it nearly took me thirty years to read The Hobbit. When I was in grade school I read the Lord of the Rings but never the Hobbit. It was well worth the wait. I truly enjoyed it but I can see where others might find fault with it. For me it was a great read.
Date Posted: 4/6/2010 10:16 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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Ann,

Thanks for another prod on that book.  Ok, so that leaves me with one unplanned book!

Subject: A Silly Question
Date Posted: 4/8/2010 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
Posts: 17
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What exactly is the Challenge?  Is it to read a certain number of books in a year?  Is it something you register for or is it just for fun?  Thanks.

P.S.  I guess that is three silly questions.

Date Posted: 4/8/2010 10:08 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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They're not silly questions.

The challenge is to read fantasy books of various types/categories.  There's 45 categories in 3 different sets of 15.  It ranges from things like being an epic fantasy to having won rewards of various types to the age of the main characters.  There's 3 levels of the challenge for 15. 30, or all 45 books.

It's been a lot of fun to read things I wouldn't normally read.  Also seeing what others have mentioned/read has led me to some really great books I may never have heard of.

Here's the not-quite-first thread that has the details and lists of books. 

Amy
Date Posted: 4/9/2010 11:22 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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I finally finished The Broken Crown by Michelle West last night. It had gotten so bad that my husband asked me when I was going to finish the darn thing. :)

Overall, this book was satisfying and enjoyable albeit confusing and complicated.

I definitely reccommend this book if you're willing to not give up so easily. I almost did but was rewarded wehn I stuck it through to the end. I will definitely be completing the series.

I am using this book for the set in in royal court category, but it can be used for High Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery, among others.

4/5 stars.



Last Edited on: 4/9/10 11:23 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Amy
Date Posted: 4/11/2010 10:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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I finished Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Generally categorized as a feminist utopian novel, this also qualifies as fantasy.

I am using it for the "set in a world containing no magic" category. 4/5 stars.

Date Posted: 4/13/2010 12:00 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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I've read a couple of books this week so far.

Throne of Bones by Brian McNaughten is a loosely connected series of short stories.  All the stories except the first are set in the same world and deal with death in some fashion.  The writing style is wonderful, the way the ghouls and necromancy are portrayed is very interesting and unique, and it has a lovely, slightly macabre sense of humor.  My only complaint is that the violence, (mostly sexual, including necrophilia) is a bit too graphic for my tastes.  This won a World Fantasy Award and  could also fit under Dark Fantasy.

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart reads like a Chinese folk tale.  It's hilarious at some points, charming and quaint in others -- just overall a great story.  I think its to Hughart's credit that while I was reading it I thought it was a translation.  It wasn't until I was almost done with it that I realized that it COULDN'T be a translation from Chinese with the author's name being Barry Hughart.  This one won the World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic.  It can also count for action while traveling (quest structure) and set in a non-European milieu.

After hearing so much about The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald from you guys (I'd never heard of it before this) I decided to try it and I really liked it.  I wish I had discovered it when I was growing up.  I probably would have read it over and over again.  This one would fit under Young Adult, set in a royal court, fairy tale, and written before 1920.

To follow that up, I read Phantastes, an adult novel also by MacDonald.  It's very lyrical, rich writing, and is in a much more mature style than The Princess and the Goblin.  It's rather dreamlike, as well.  Scenes and events tend to flow from one to the next smoothly.  While there's some action, the majority of the book is either stories told separate from the main story or descriptions of land he's passing through.  This book reminds me of a good prose translation of Dante's Inferno.  This could fit written before 1920, action takes place while traveling (non-quest), first person perspective, and fairy tale.



Last Edited on: 4/13/10 12:02 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/14/2010 11:07 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
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So I started this month knocking two books off right away. I decided to read Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days". This book did not have any fantasy elements whatsoever. You can read my synopsis of the book on the Classics forum. However, the lore of the book to me was the balloon rides across the world. In "80 Day" it doesn't happen in the book only the movie. The balloon was a big deal to me for some reason. So I am now reading Stephen Hunt's "Empire of Air" and loving it. It features a balloon or so I am told.
Date Posted: 4/15/2010 6:43 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 6,633
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I just finished book 16 for the challenge (Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder).  It just keeps getting harder and harder to find categories.  I'm pretty sure this one qualifies for high fantasy, but I wasn't quite sure so I decided to count it as magical human protaganist.

Debbie - ,
Date Posted: 4/15/2010 10:26 PM ET
Member Since: 10/7/2007
Posts: 731
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Oh Britney I am reading that now.  I am really enjoying it so far. 



Last Edited on: 4/15/10 10:30 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Anthology: To Weave a Web of Magic
Date Posted: 4/18/2010 10:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Just finished: Anthology
Fille with: To Weave a Web of Magic, by Claire Delacroix, Lynn Kurland, Patricia McKillip, & Sharon Shinn
Other categories this novel would fill: Romantic Fantasy; Fairytale Fantasy.

My capsule review: Pleasant; none of the stories was terrible, and they fall decidedly more on the fantasy side of the genre than the romance side of the genre. The standout is definitely McKillip's story (and I don't just say that because I adore Patricia McKillip, lol).

My full review, no spoilers: http://community.livejournal.com/fantasyreaders/88216.html

Amy
Date Posted: 4/19/2010 10:34 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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Last night I finished The Charmed Sphere by Catherine Asaro.

This book fell way short of my expectations. I kept re-writing the scenes in my head, thinking, "I could write this so much better! Where was this woman's editor?"

The characters were whiny and lame, too.

I think the story had potential, definitely. But, overall this book was a dud.

I'm using it for the Romantic Fantasy category. It could also fall under the third-person limited, multi-perspective viewpoint. Not sure what else.

Subject: Lud-in-the-Mist, by Hope Mirrlees
Date Posted: 4/20/2010 2:37 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Just finished: Work written pre-1950
Filled with: Lud-in-the-Mist, by Hope Mirrlees
Other categories this novel would fill: High fantasy; Fairytale fantasy; Told from a third-person omniscient perspective; Work written by an author you've never read before (as this is her only book still in print, her only fantasy novel, and she only wrote four books ever, so I guarantee you haven't read her before, lol).

My capsule review: I have to agree with Neil Gaiman. This is "the single most beautiful, solid, unearthly, and unjustifiably forgotten novel of the twentieth century."

My full review, no spoilers: http://community.livejournal.com/fantasyreaders/88465.html

Date Posted: 4/22/2010 12:48 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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This month has been a bad month for reading books -- too much real life and not enough time to read.

I finished Swordspoint by Kushner yesterday, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.  To me it was like the characters were almost but not quite fully fleshed out.  I think that if some of the back stories that were alluded to but never really explained had been a bit more clearly defined, it would have helped things a lot.  Of course, then you would have lost some of the mystery in the plot, so I'm not sure that would have been a good trade off. 

Also, I'm completely impressed by how much action a book that only has 10-15 pages of physical action manages to tuck between it's covers.

Amy
Date Posted: 4/26/2010 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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Last night I finished Shakespeare's Planet by Clifford D. Simak. I'm using it for the Science Fantasy category.

I'm in the middle of reading an anthology edited by Jennifer Roberson titled Return to Avalon which is basically a tribute to Marion Zimmer Bradley.

I also started The Ill-Made Mude by Cecilia Dart-Thornton.

So far, I've read 12 books for the challenge. That leaves 33 more. Onward!

Date Posted: 4/26/2010 4:31 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 6,633
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I'm currently working on Ghostlight by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and I keep comparing it to those Halloween episodes of Quantum Leap where there's a "haunted" house and Sam has to work through the strange-goings on...or that Seventh Doctor serial "Ghost Light" which also has a haunted feel to it. (And look at those names!)  All of them are from the late 80s/early 90s so perhaps there was a trend.

Date Posted: 4/28/2010 8:56 AM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
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I just finished Stephen Hunt's "The Court of the Air". My feelings are mixed on this read. It is a mix of High Fantasy, Alternate History and Steampunk. I was loving the book for a few hunrded pages. Then out of nowhere the characters I came to love and know stopped being those characters. Upon reaching the end I was overwhlemed by a sense of melancholy because this book and idea had such potential that was not realized. This is the first in a loosely affliated series that I doubt if I will pursue.