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Topic: 2010 Fantasy Challenge -- JUNE DISCUSSION THREAD

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Subject: 2010 Fantasy Challenge -- JUNE DISCUSSION THREAD
Date Posted: 6/1/2010 8:53 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Welcome to June!

Sorry I was kind of AWOL last month. . . I was travelling. (Check my LiveJournal page in a day or two if you want to see the kind of miles I logged -- it was impressive!) Glad to see you all continued in my absence, and welcome to the newcomers!

So for me. . . I had a REALLY slow month reading-wise (because of all the travelling, you know) and am now behind on the challenge. :( I'm behind on this challenge less than on my other challenges, but I'm beginning to worry about the possibility of all this. . . but the ending is still months away, so I don't need to worry THAT much, right? ;)

Last month I finished: Gifts, by Ursula Le Guin and The King of Elfland's Daughter, by Lord Dunsany. I am also like 60 pages from the end of Little, Big at last, so I'll be posting on that thread soon Melanti!

How are you all doing?

Amy
Date Posted: 6/1/2010 10:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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I finished Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben Winters (and Jane Austen, of course) and Spindle's End by Robin McKinley. I'm now reading Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier and I'll be using it for the "told from a first-person perspective" category.

Where did you travel? I'm excited to hear about it.

Date Posted: 6/1/2010 11:38 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Ditto on the details on the trip.  I like traveling vicariously.

Maybe you should look for more overlap between the challenges?  I'm sure there's fantasy and sci fi classics that could fit both lists, and there's plenty of fantasy/sci fi mysteries.  Some consolidation might be in order?

I finally read Nobody's Son by Sean Stewart this weekend.  I liked it a lot.  Thank you for mentioning it.  This makes me wonder how many other books I have had languishing unread on my bookshelf for years that I'd like a lot as well!  It could fit "Set in a royal court" or "Fairytale" for the challenge.

I also read Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.  I almost didn't read this one due to the cover and the publisher, but a friend convinced me to try it when I found it at a library book sale.  Other than one extremely cheesy scene, it wasn't nearly as romantic as I was expecting and I ended up liking it more than I'd expected to.  It's got some interesting ideas on loyalty and morality in it.  This could fit for "magical human protagonist" or "set in a royal court."



Last Edited on: 6/1/10 11:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/2/2010 7:43 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 6,633
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Well, I'm not that far behind.  I modified my spreadsheet so I can track where I am compared to how far along in the year we are, and I'm less than a book behind currently.

This might be the month I read American Gods.  Possibly even the week. :)

Date Posted: 6/3/2010 7:53 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,879
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Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (urban fantasy), completed June 3:  This book had a wonderful heroine, Briar Wilkes Blue, who has a son Zeke (short for Ezekiel).  Poor and hardworking, she struggles to make a life working at the water plant.  Her husband, Levi, was the proverbial mad scientist.  He designed a machine for the Russians who want to dig for gold through ice, snow and frozen earth.  When he tests the machine (boneshaker) it drives into the earth releasing toxic gas that makes downtown Seattle unliveable without a mask to strain the air.  That area is walled in to contain the gas which is dense and heavy and settles close to the ground.  The people who survive the event blame Briar for her husband's folly and make life for her and Zeke difficult.  When Zeke decides to go into the walled off area to find the truth about his father, Briar follows him.  Both make new friends who have found a way to live underground, cope with the gas, and meet the bad guy of the area who claims to be Levi Blue!  Is he or isn't he?  Will he keep Briar and Zeke prisoners in his luxurious underground home?  The tales moves quickly to a surprising climax that left me admiring the author's imagination and creativity.  

Sabriel by Garth Nix (junior award winner), completed June 10:  This book was recommended by my 11-year-old granddaughter who read the entire series.  I give it 5 stars for this age.  The heroine is admirable, young, adventurous, and full of the type of courage it takes to complete difficult tasks.  Attending school away from the Old Kingdom, Sabriel receives a message from her father, the Abhorsen who protects their world from the Dead.  Sabriel discovers her father has gone into death where she follow to obtain his help safeguard the world safe from Kerrigor, the most fearsome and gruesome of the Dead.   The action is fast-paced and Sabriel finds a hero, Touchstone, to work with her in her efforts.   Together, the two battle the Dead working with other mages, soldiers and people.  The book is imaginative, fun to read, full of magic, hope and even love.  It's a very good read.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire (supernatural noir):  This is the story of a woman born with green skin whose life is driven by that color.  She is last in the eyes of her beloved father and seems to fail at many things that she attempts.  Elphaba is intelligent, sensitive, and thoughtful but life directs her into becoming the Wicked Witch of the West.  She attends a school to be educated but when her favorite professor is murdered (a political act) she leaves the school disillusioned and unhappy, leaving several good friends and a sister behind.   Elphie becomes a revolutionist and during that period falls deeply in love with a former schoolmate.  She and her lover find happiness together but when he is killed as a result of her revolutionary actions, she temporarily loses her mind.  Slowly, she recovers in a convent.  When she leaves it, she is accompanied by a small boy, Liir, and she doesn't really know why.  The reader discovers when Elphie does that Liir is her son born of the great love of her life.  Life gets rather complicated when Elphie decide that she must seek forgiveness from her lover's wife.  The story is heart rending and depressing at times but life sometimes hands good people raw deals.  So it is with Elphie.  I find the author's tie-in with Dorothy and her friends  a bit contrived.  Nevertheless, I'm glad I read this book.  

The Giver by Lois Lowry (YA choice):  Jonas has received his life assignment as Receiver of Memory.  What does this mean?  He is puzzled and frightened.  After a year in training, Jonas is beginning to question the life he has led to date.  He has discovered what it means to release someone from the community and it angers and frightens him even more.  As Receiver of Memory in training he is able to watch his father release one of a pair of twins.  In this society no one feels any emotion in depth, there is no color, the weather is the same day after day, and the environment is flat unmarred by hills, valleys, or gulches.  There are few choices but likewise there is no pain, no hunger, and no real stress.  Is this way he wants to live?   This is a very popular YA choice.



Last Edited on: 7/1/10 8:11 AM ET - Total times edited: 10
Date Posted: 6/3/2010 4:15 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
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I spent the month of May immersing myself in the world of George RR Martin. The first three books are now completed. However, I decided to shy away and pick up a few new books to help put a dent in the challenege. Right now I am reading "Swordspoint" by Ellen Kushner. Martin raved about it and I can see why.

Date Posted: 6/3/2010 10:21 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I want to read George R. R. Martin, but I don't want to even start until the series is complete...

I can blame Tad Williams for that.  After getting stuck on the multiple cliffhanger endings in the Otherland series and then having to wait a year, year and a half for the final book, I try not to start any series that isn't finished unless there's a good resolution at the end of each and every book.

Though I know what I'll be reading in October/November.  Shadowmarch!  Finally!  It's only taken him 8 years to write it.

Date Posted: 6/4/2010 9:23 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 6,633
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I started American Gods this morning. I think the 600 pages will move pretty quickly...

Date Posted: 6/6/2010 7:59 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 6,633
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Okay, I finished American Gods.  I have to say that I liked the story taking place in Lakeside, Wisconsin far more than I did the rest of it, but it was enjoyable, and I've finally eliminated a book that I've owned for at least five years from my TBR pile.

Date Posted: 6/14/2010 1:51 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Finished so far this month: Little, Big by John Crowley (at last! 6 months later. . .) and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

I actually wrote a joint review of these, because I hadn't gotten around to my formal Little, Big review by the time I finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and the ending of Clarke's novel really highlighted (for me at least) what I found satisfying in it and utterly unsatisfying in Crowley's novel. The full review (and I don't think there are any spoilers for either novel) is here: http://community.livejournal.com/fantasyreaders/89934.html

In short, both novels involved fate and prophecy much more than I like, but in Clarke's the characters' nature & actions create their fate, while in Crowley's, despite some really excellent characterization, who the people are matters not at all in the end -- their fate just kind of happens. (And they're all perfectly fine with it happening that way -- such a bunch of passive wimps they are!) I mean, they're both deserving of their awards and good enough for me to recommend, but I really enjoyed Clarke's novel much more.

Oh, and by the way, I finally updated my livejournal with the info about my travels last month. I counted, and I hit 21 states and the District of Columbia to greater or lesser degrees!



Last Edited on: 6/14/10 1:52 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/14/2010 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
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Swordspoint is moving along but I got sidetracked by Lois McMaster Bujold's "Curse of Chalion". What a fun read! This was my first foray into Bujold's work and I am looking to revisiting her soon. It was mentioned in a previous post that one of the great aspects of the novel and the saga in general was that the work was inspired by Spain which is unusual for Fantasy. The change of scenary so to speak from England, Ireland and Germany was a breath of fresh air. Truly enjoyed it.
Amy
Date Posted: 6/14/2010 11:33 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
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I've finished both Son of the Shadows and Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier. I am now reading Heir to Sevenwaters, which is by the same author and fourth in the series.

I used Son of the Shadows for the told from a first-person perspective category, but I do not have a category fit for the other two, unfortunately. Although, all three can be used for the told from a first-person perspective category.

This is a great series and I'm sad it took me so long to get to it (I read the first, Daughter of the Forest, years ago). As usual, Juliet Marillier writes beautifully. I am particularly fond of Irish and Celtic stories and this is the formula she sticks with for most of her novels.

I'm getting to a point now that I would rather not bring new books into my TBR pile and I'm not sure if the rest of the fantasy books I have left would fit in each and every category I have left. There are some I'll be able to borrow from the library, sure, but I want to whittle down everything on my TBR pile (some of which doesn't include fantasy) before checking them out.

We'll see.

Date Posted: 6/15/2010 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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PhoenixFalls, I can see where you're coming from on Little, Big.  Definitely a passive group of folks.  And that's a whole ton of traveling!

 And Amy, I've given up on scaling Mt. TBR.  I thought this challenge would help me whittle my pile down.  Nope.  From the beginning of the year to now Mt. TBR has grown from around 300 books to nearly 400.  People keep mentioning books that sound good and I keep getting them.  I have no self control!

Speaking of people recommending books to me, I just got done with Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart.   I absolutely loved it. 

Date Posted: 6/16/2010 2:30 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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YAY! Another convert. Of course this means you can add eight more books to your TBR. . . the other five Kushiel novels and the three Naamah novels that are being published now. ;)

PaperbackSwap has been terrible for my bookshelves. They're filled to bursting -- even though I've bought three 5-shelf bookcases in the last year. So I can relate to the ever-growing Mt. TBR.

Date Posted: 6/16/2010 9:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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Seven, actually.  I'd gotten Kushiel's Scion from the library book sale a couple months back, so it was already on my TBR stack. 

Days should be twice as long just so I can keep up with what I keep finding to read.

Date Posted: 6/17/2010 12:11 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
Posts: 22
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I just finished The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin yesterday. It was pretty good, despite not being exactly what I expected. I wrote a review of it here. The other Book I'm reading is The Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright. I'm over halfway though, but I had stopped to finish up THTK, so that should be completed soon.

I haven't yet posted a list of my plans yet, and I do apologize. I just haven't had time to get my spreadsheet in an appropriate format.



Last Edited on: 6/17/10 12:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/18/2010 4:32 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Just finished: Action takes place while traveling (non-quest structure)
Filled with: Naamah's Curse, by Jacqueline Carey
Other categories this novel would fill: High Fantasy; Heroic Fantasy; Magical Human Protagonist; Set in a radically altered historical milieu; Told from a first-person perspective. You could also argue that it is, in fact, a quest-structure; I don't think it is, because Moirin doesn't have a clue what she's seeking, but you could definitely make the argument.

My capsule review: Slightly disappointing; Moirin is just the anti-Phedre and Bao the anti-Joscelin, and the theme is even the anti-[theme of Kushiel's Avatar]. But still, anyone who's read the series up to this point has to read this book and the one that comes after it, and I did still read it in one sitting, so it's not like I'm not recommending it. ;) (And actually, there are probably people out there who will prefer this take on the world to the Phedre one -- I just don't happen to be one of them.)

My full review, no spoilers: http://community.livejournal.com/epicfantasy/361053.html

Subject: Winter Rose, by Patricia McKillip
Date Posted: 6/23/2010 1:00 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Just finished: Fairytale Fantasy
Filled with: Winter Rose, by Patricia McKillip
Other categories this novel would fill: Told from a first-person perspective; Work written by a Gandalf Grand Master/World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement winner.

My capsule review: Quite possibly McKillip's most brilliant book, and I do not say that lightly. The first-person perspective is exquisite, and brought me so far into the story that the trademark enigmatic ending made me scream in frustration. This one will stick with me a long time, even though in many ways I hated it. (If you've read it, think the real ending to Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Not because the ending is at all similar, but because it provokes just as strong a reaction by being exactly right.)

My full review, no spoilers: http://community.livejournal.com/fantasyreaders/90155.html

Date Posted: 6/23/2010 1:58 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
Posts: 22
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I just finished Orphans of Chaos over my lunch break. It was okay. I had really high expectations of it, and it didn't quite live up to those.  I'm using it for my protagonists under  18 slot. It could also fit the Magic Schools or 1st-person narrator categories. I reviewed it on the linked page. 

Up next is Imaro by Charles Saunders.

Date Posted: 6/23/2010 4:04 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Jordan -- I'm looking forward to hearing what you think about Imaro; I've heard some good things about it and have been wondering if I should read it myself!