Discussion Forums - Fantasy

Topic: 2010 Fantasy Challenge -- MAY DISCUSSION THREAD

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: 2010 Fantasy Challenge -- MAY DISCUSSION THREAD
Date Posted: 5/1/2010 1:36 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

Welcome to the month of May!

I'm running out of new and exciting ways to start off the month so. . . what is the most disappointing book you've read for the challenge so far? Was it awful, or just not great? And would you have read it if it weren't for the challenge?

For me, the only book I've started for the challenge that wasn't at least decent was Stephen R. Lawhead's In the Hall of the Dragon King, and it was so disappointing (not awful, just nowhere near as good as everything else I've been reading) that I didn't finish it. It was becoming too much of a chore, and so I chucked it after 100 pages. I would have attempted it even if I weren't working on this challenge, but I would not have attempted it if I weren't on PBS -- the only reason I snagged it from the bargain bin was that I knew I could unload it here if I didn't like it. ;)



Last Edited on: 5/1/10 1:39 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/2/2010 4:26 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
Back To Top

That's not good to hear about In the Hall of the Dragon King.  I have that sitting around waiting to be read too.

During the holidays, I bought a copy of A Mage in the Making by an indie author named Alistair Archibald.  It had really good reviews, both on the site I bought it from and when I did a normal Google search.  Unfortunately, I didn't like it nearly as much as everyone else did.  Lots of info-dumps,  plot holes, and a main character whose only flaw seemed to be an inability to dance or paint.  Also, the author had a tendency to tell you something rather than show.  For instance, he'd talk about the food being bland without actually describing what made the food bland or even what the guy was eating.  The style of writing was fine, which is the only thing that let me finish it. 

I would have read it even without the challenge, but I'm not sure I would have bothered to finish it.  I almost always finish books, but this might have been an exception.

Luckily, the site I bought it off of had a combination of discounts/coupons/sales that brought it down to something like 80-90% off cover, so I paid less than a dollar for it.  It's an ebook though, so there's no way to trade it on PBS.

Amy
Date Posted: 5/3/2010 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
Back To Top

The most disappointing book I've read so far is The Black Swan by Mercedes Lackey. I went in hoping I would love it, because I had never read any of Lackey's works before. Sadly, the book was such a huge disappointment that I doubt I will read anything by her again.

So far, though, I am loving the Ill-Made Mute by Cecilia Dart-Thornton. This book is very much steampunk (flying ships, tower stations, flying horses called eotaurs who use a metal called sildron to float, and aeronauts!), despite the cover's appearance.



Last Edited on: 5/3/10 3:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/3/2010 7:31 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
Back To Top

I am reading

Jonathan strange and Mrs Norrell as well as Winter Rose by P McKillip.

What section would Winter Rose be? I think it could fit into 3 different ones.

I will try and read 2 more this month as I got nothing much read last month..hehe

Mrs Norrell so far its keeping my interest but have been on a comedy kick recently and that could be whats taking the shine off this story.
 

I am going to get a Jan Yolen book read, as that will be one of my "never read before" authors.

Date Posted: 5/5/2010 7:46 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,973
Back To Top

Finished Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip.  This is an interesting read about a young man and two women, one of whom he loves and the other who may be able to free him from a curse.  The young woman named Rois who looks nothing like a rose but  loves the forest, its creatures, plant life and all its mystery.  However, her peaceful life is disrupted by the appearance of Corbet Lynn, whose father is rumored to have killed his grandfather.  Corbet's grandfather is sad to have cursed his son and those who would follow him.  Rois falls in love with Corbet but will he return the love she has for him?  Can Rois win Corbet's love from her sister, Laurel?  What is the curse?  And if Rois can win Corbet's love, can she find release him from the curse?  Read this story to discover the answers for yourself.  

A Glory of Unicorns, an anthology of short stories edited by Bruce Coville:  What a delightful read!  These short stories are so much fun to read.  I  especially liked "The Guardian of Memory" by Bruce Coville, a story about how unicorns select a representative to keep the magic of unicorns alive in the hearts of humans.  Coville has written more than sixty books for young people including a series called My Teacher Is an Alien and is working on a series called The Unicorn Chronicles.  Another fine story is "Beyond the Fringe" by Gregory Maguire, a story about a grandmother who believes in unicorns and through her belief saves her son and grandson from certain death.  Maguire also wrote Wicked which has been popular with adults.  The last story I will mention is "The New Girl" by Sean Stewart, a tale about a waif who has nothing, not even a loving family, but discovers love through interaction with a captured unicorn.  Stewart has written several fantasy and science fiction novels including Nobody"s Son.

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, fantasy of manners, is a most entertaining read.  The hero is Richard St. Vier who falls in love with Alec, the scholar, who is in reality Lord David  Alexander Tielman Campion.   St. Vier is an accomplished swordsman with a reputation for discreet murders ordered by nobles who wish to satisfy their honor for various reasons.  St. Vier is nothing but thorough and discreet, protecting the reputation of the nobles who hire his services.  However, it is inappropriate for him to satisfy his own honor because he heritage is unknown at best.  When Alec is kidnapped, St. Vier satisfies his own honor to protect Alec who disappears of his own volition.  St. Vier is arrested for the murder of the noble who kidnapped Alec and is put on trial.  The minor characters are almost as interesting as St. Vier and Alec, all of who play a role in the trial.  Will St. Vier's life be spared?  Read this charming adult fairy tale and see for yourself.

Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees, written pre-1950:  This is truly a fairy tale for adults.  I was at first confused as I tried to understand the story line but in the end it was really quite simple.  Lud-in-the-Mist is a town situated between two rivers - the Dapple and the Dawl.  The Dapple originates beyond the Debatable Hills west of Lud-in-the-Mist, in Fairyland.  Fairy things were once revered by the residents but once Duke Aubrey was expelled from the country, Dorimare, all things fairy became taboo.  Fairy fruit was once eaten by the people but even mention of the fruit is now a crime.  The mayor, Nathaniel Chanticleer, is the unlikely hero of this tale.  His son, Ranulph, has believed to have eaten the forbidden fruit and eventually disappears.  Soon many cases of fairy fruit eating occur and strange things begin to happen in the town.  Then the daughters of the towns most elite disappear.  Chanticleer sets out to solve the mystery and travels to Fairyland seeking his beloved son.  Does the town survive these strange events?  Does Chanticleer survive?  Does he find his son?  One needs to read this classic fairytale to know.

The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers, non-US, etc., author:  This truly is a world of make-believe - the places, the characters, their adventures - all are make-believe and so unusual one needs to leave everything one knows, believes and understands behind.  Meet Optimus Yarnspinner,  an aspiring author, who receives the most perfect manuscript ever written.  In his quest to find the talented author the naive dinosaur finds himself isolated in the catacombs where encounters the friendly one-eyed booklings, The Shadow King, numerous bookhunters, book after book like you have never dreamed existed and the evil Pfistomel Smyke.  It's a most unusual and a most interesting read.



Last Edited on: 5/26/10 8:15 AM ET - Total times edited: 13
Date Posted: 5/5/2010 2:32 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
Back To Top

Someone had it put on my desk by accident and thought it would meet at least one of my unread challenge areas..LOL
It is good to work in a library sometimes as these things happen. Books just turn up so I give them a try.

Amy
Date Posted: 5/10/2010 10:51 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
Back To Top

Bumping!

I'm almost done with The Ill-Made Mute by Cecilia Dart-Thornton.

This book has been a delight to read, but I think it's one of those where you either love it or hate it.

Full of flowery descriptions and details, this is not a light read by any means.

I would reccommend this book to anyone who liked LOTR and Tolkien's writing style.

Date Posted: 5/11/2010 10:23 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2008
Posts: 1,171
Back To Top

So I'm not in the challenge but I read a lot of fantasy and I want to talk about the book I just read. :-)
I just finished Jack the Giant Killer by Charles de Lint and it was AWESOME. It's part of the Fairy Tales series edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow. I have never read de Lint before, because I'm wary of reading anything in a series out of order, and I know he has a lot of books set in the same world. I had no complaints about his style and I thought the story moved along quickly, which was good because I really wanted to know how it ended. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes retold fairy tales or urban fantasy. 

Date Posted: 5/11/2010 7:26 PM ET
Member Since: 10/31/2009
Posts: 84
Back To Top

I didn't get around to posting last month, so I'll be playing catch-up here.

Since my last post I've read:

The Warded Man by Peter V. Bret

The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadre

Foiled by Jane Yolen

Which puts me at 15 books.  The most disappointing book I've read for the challenge so far was definately Foiled. It started off well, but about three quarters of the way through the story jumped the tracks and did not have a satisfactory resolution.

Date Posted: 5/13/2010 4:16 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
Back To Top

Melanti: I was having a hard time deciding if I was being fair to Lawhead. . . I had just read three books I absolutely LOVED for my challenges, so the bar was pretty high when he came up in my stack. . . but ultimately I decided that even if I hadn't been on such a roll I wouldn't have really enjoyed In the Hall of the Dragon King -- it's not my style of fantasy to start (ugh, epic quest fantasy with a strong coming-of-age feel), and then there was WAAAAAY too much telling without showing -- the whole thing read like someone telling a story aloud, in that it was all "and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened" with no real dipping into any of the action and no real delving deep into any of the characters' perspectives. It wasn't unreadable, but I was just bored and it was long, so I chucked it.

Xengab: Haven't read Winter Rose (yet) though I have read its pseudo-sequel Solstice Wood. . . but most of McKillip's novels can fill Fairytale Fantasy; Third-person limited, multi-perspective viewpoint; and World Fantasy for Life Achievement Award Recipient. In addition, Solstice Wood at least qualified as Urban Fantasy, so maybe Winter Rose does too?

Lacy: Glad to hear you enjoyed the book so much! De Lint is my go-to urban fantasy recommendation. . . but I wouldn't worry about the reading order for his books; the Newford novels all share the same setting and many of the characters overlap, but the plots overlap not at all -- they're more like a constellation of stories than a series proper. Just dive right in! I usually find that a short story collection is a good place to start -- it lets you get your feet wet with all the characters, then you can seek out the novels that feature your favorites. ;)

 

And I just finished Gifts, by Ursula Le Guin. Quite enjoyed it (read it in a single night) and I will definitely be reading the other two in this series. Definitely YA-friendly, but there's a surprising depth to the characterization -- people are given complex motives that often conflict, and the character twist near the end totally took me by surprise. It also got me a little choked up at one point. It's been a long time since I read any Le Guin (and all I had read of hers previously was the Earthsea cycle) so I was quite pleased with this little book.

Date Posted: 5/13/2010 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
Back To Top

Thanks- I actually put Winter Rose in the NON human antagonist  area. As the evil thing in that book was more elemental then anything else..
I did enjoy it, not my usual thing but found it engrossing. The ending was not how I thought it would be and that made it great!

Still reading Jonathon Strange.. not sure about it yet.

Date Posted: 5/13/2010 11:39 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
Back To Top

Xengab, are you talking about Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susana Clarke or is there some other book I'm not aware of named something similar?  I'm reading that now and enjoying it thoroughly.  It's hilarious at times.

PhoenixFalls,  I'll keep that in mind and save the set for when I am really in the mood for a epic fantasy then.

Lacey, I second the recommendation of reading one or two of de Lint's story collections before the Newford.  Most of the novels can be read in any order (with one or two exceptions) but the collections are a good intro to the series, and wonderful in general.

Wit'ch Fire by James Clemens.  I counted it as Heroic fantasy.  It could also count for the protagonist under 18 or magical human protagonist categories.

I also finished up Little, Big by Crowley. 

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is actually my final book for the challenge.

Date Posted: 5/16/2010 6:42 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 6,633
Back To Top

While I'm not behind on my reading for this challenge I did lose my pace.  I'm currently reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and I'm really enjoying the suspense.  I was very disappointed to have to go to sleep last night. :)  I think I'm going to count this one as magic realism.

Date Posted: 5/17/2010 12:16 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
Back To Top

Yes that is the book I am reading. Mr Norell I am liking alot as a character just for some reason cannot get into the book. Might be my frame of mind more then the book itself. I will keep on with it and see what happens.

Date Posted: 5/17/2010 9:13 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
Back To Top

Well xengab I hope you get into it eventually.  I just finished it and loved it. It has a wonderful but very dry sense of humor. I found this version of 19th century England fascinating. It 's basically the story of two English gentlemen who work to restore the practice rather than just the study of magic to the country.  I will admit though that it's probably not a book for everyone.  If you're looking for action you should look elsewhere.

As an added bonus in the week it took me to read it any time someone mentioned how long the book looked (the paperback is just over 1000 pages) I'd turn to one of the pages that are nothing but footnotes in itty bitty print and show them the size of the font and pretend that was the size of the font throughout the book.  I derived great amusement from their shocked faces. 

This fits under the Hugo Award Winner, Mythopoeic award winner, World Fantasy award winner and Alternate history.  I'm shaky on Fantasy of Manners, but I'm pretty sure it would fit under that category too.

So, I guess that wraps it up for me.  I read some great books that I may have never found if it wasn't for this challenge, so I'm sort of disappointed that I'm done so quickly.  I'm still going to barge in here and talk to all of you though.

Date Posted: 5/18/2010 2:32 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
Back To Top

I do like the humor in it. Very british humor.. Not looking for action either. I guess its just not what I was told it would be like. Doesnt help that I keep being interrupted every time I sit down and read more then 7 pages.
I LOVE long books, the longer the better..hehe  I will keep reading and hope for some peace!

Amy
Date Posted: 5/19/2010 10:19 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 1,716
Back To Top

Last night I started Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen (of course) and Ben Winters, after finishing The Song of Rhiannon by Evangeline Walton.

Once finished with S&S&SM, I will have completed the "light" challenge!

The Song of Rhiannon was very enjoyable; I used it for the Mythopoeic Award Winner but it can be also used for protagonist older than 35 and set in a recognizable historical millieu.

Right now, I am debating on what book for read for the Gandalf Grand Master Award, seeing as there are so many good authors who've won it. I think I'll be reading Marion Zimmer Bradley, possibly.

Date Posted: 5/19/2010 5:43 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
Back To Top

Ok am now liking the Mr Norell book. The whole thing about the ships and rain was just very clever. :)

Date Posted: 5/20/2010 7:14 PM ET
Member Since: 10/31/2009
Posts: 84
Back To Top

Checking off book number sixteen: Heldenhammer by Graham McNeill.  I didn't really expect much as this is a media tie-in novel (Warhammer) but I was pleasantly surprised.  While certainly not high literature, it was genuinely entertaining.

I'm going to slot it into my Heroic Fantasy requirement.

Date Posted: 5/30/2010 9:26 AM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
Back To Top

May was a good reading month for me. Most of my reading was focused on George R.R. Martin's series a Song of Fire and Ice.  I finished the first two novels in the series this month and I am on the cusp of finishing the third. His writing is fantastic. Thankfully, we have a three day weekend today so I can finish the last portion of the book. 

Date Posted: 6/1/2010 12:46 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
Posts: 22
Back To Top

So, I'm completely new to the challenge, but I thought I'd jump in and give it a shot for the entire list. A bit crazy, yes, but I think I can pull it off.  A quick question - can I count books that I read about before I knew about the challenge? That'd definitely give me a bit of a better starting position.

Anyway, I recently finished I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells. I counted this one toward my paranormal entry. I liked it quite a bit.  I won't go into too much detail about it here, but it'd also fit in well in the "Protagonist Younger than 18" category, "Told from a first-person perspective" category, and "Young Adult Fantasy." You can read my full review by following the above link.

Currently I'm working on two other novels. The first is Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright.  It'll probably go into my "Protagonist Younger than 18" slot, though that seems like that may become debatable over the course of the story. I've been  meaning to read this one for  a couple of years, and I'm glad I finally got around to it. It's turned out to be really enjoyable so far.

The second I'm reading is The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. This will definitely be for "Set in a Royal Court." There's a lot of intrigue in this one. Three cousins are vying to become the sole heir to a vast empire. It feels like it's setting up a pretty big romantic theme, so we'll see where that leads.



Last Edited on: 6/1/10 12:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/1/2010 3:21 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
Back To Top

Welcome to the challenge and the conversation, Jordan.

I've heard good things about The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

I love holiday weekends.  Lots of time to read!