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Topic: 2010 H/F Challenge #1 - R U Kidding Me?!

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Subject: 2010 H/F Challenge #1 - R U Kidding Me?!
Date Posted: 11/26/2009 6:01 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Discuss the books you read for the category of historical fantasy or alternate history. Sample authors include Stephen Lawhead, Jean M. Auel, David Gemmel and Harry Turtledove.

Date Posted: 1/4/2010 11:44 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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I just finished Sophia's Secret by Susanna Kearsley, the book title I chose for this category.  I am not a reader of fantasy; this is about as fantasic as I get.  The book takes place in two different centuries - today, as our narrator is writing a novel about early 18th century Scotland, she realizes that she has inherited the memory of her ancestor that is the heroine of the earlier story.  It is much more than deja vu; she truly remembers details of 300 years ago.  Both of the stories are wonderful romances, with lots of historical detail in the 1700s story.  A great, great book.  Highly recommended, I plan to read more by this author.  BTW this book has an alternate title: The Winter Sea.

 

Linda

Date Posted: 1/4/2010 11:58 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Oooh, that sounds good. Thanks for the tip about the alternate title.

Date Posted: 1/6/2010 10:32 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,481
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I finished Bernard Corwell's Enemy of God, #2 in his Arthur saga.  What a really wonderful book this was.  I have read many versions of Arthur and this one for me at least was fresh and memorable.  All the familiar characters are there, Merlin, Launcelot, Guinevere, Arthur, Nimue, but with new plot twists and motivations.  It is still what I would consider a fantasy, but the "magic" is more about the use and abuse of power and knowledge.  Highly, highly recommended and I can't wait to start Excalibur tonight.

Date Posted: 1/6/2010 12:55 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Cheryl - Reading the Arthur series is one of my personal reading goals for 2010. I wish I would've thought to use one of the books for this category!  LOL!  Too late!  I'm almost halfway through Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Magquire, which I'm using for this category. So far it's a decent read.  I'm not enjoying it as much as I enjoyed his Wicked though.

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 8:33 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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I finished my book for this challenge last night. It was Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Macquire, which was a re-telling of the Snow White fairy tale with Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia thrown into the cast of characters.  It was pretty good.  I liked his books Wicked and Son of A Witch much better, but this one kept my interest. 

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 8:19 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,481
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Shelley-  I read Mirror Mirror as well.  I had never read anything else by this author but I liked the re-telling of Snow White very much.  By the way, Mr Cornwell introduces us to another wonderful hero in the Arthur books.  Maybe he was a cleaner, neater ancestor of Uhtred!

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 8:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Cheryl - But the one thing we love most about Uhtred is that he's not cleaner and neater.  LOL!  I have a feeling we wouldn't love Uhtred as much if he cleaned up.   If you liked Mirror, Mirror, you should try Wicked and Son of a Witch.  I liked those more, but they are told in a bit different style, so maybe you wouldn't like them as much as MM. 

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 1/10/2010 7:32 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 40,299
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Hi Shelley,

I think you either love or hate Wicked. I absolutely hated it. I read a couple years ago for my book group. It started out okay but then got really deep into the politics (almost as bad as long battle scenes). Nice twist on the Wicked Witch of the East though.

Alice

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 12:08 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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My book club read Wicked also and we were about even in the love it or hate it categories. I truly hated it :-)

Date Posted: 1/25/2010 11:03 AM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
Posts: 772
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I hated Wicked too, and it's a pain when the author has a part-time home in your tiny town and he's held up as a point of pride. Real hard to not say, "Boo! Your book sucked!" :-D

Date Posted: 1/25/2010 2:03 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
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I totally agree, what a horrid book. 

Date Posted: 2/5/2010 8:11 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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I read Taliesin by Stephen Lawhead for this category.

Taliesin, book one in The Pendragon Cycle, is Stephen Lawhead's interpretation of the Merlin legend. It tells two simultaneous stories, which join about two-thirds of the way into the book. The first is about the life of the young Princess Charis (pronounced Ka-ris) and the fall of the legendary city, Atlantis. The second is about the life of the bard, Taliesin, who has supernatural powers that allow him to experience events of the Otherworld. Taliesin and Charis marry against the will of Charis' family. They give birth to Merlin. According to legend, Taliesin dies at the hand of Charis' step-sister, Morgian.

The story is also about the emergence of the world into "dark times;" i.e., the coming of the Dark Ages. Christianity wars with beliefs in multiple gods.

I'm not a fan of Christian fiction. While I've seen this book classified as such, I would disagree. Lawhead's retelling is well-done. It's neither preachy nor sappy. 4.5/5 stars

Date Posted: 2/5/2010 12:59 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Genie - Great review!  Now a copy of it is on its way to me! I requested it based off your good comments.  It'll be interesting to compare it with Cornwell's Arthur trilogy.  I'm about a third of the way through the first book, The Winter King, and I'm really, really enjoying it.



Last Edited on: 2/5/10 12:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/5/2010 1:26 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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I've just read Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice for this category---wesome read! I knew of the series and had seen the movie made based on this book, but it was just a great read. Full of dark fantasy, very well imagined and taughtly written--I can easily see why this series is a classic. In fact, I liked this book so much, I wanted to dive into its sequel/prequel, and so I changed my choice for that category in the HF challenge and am now reading that!

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 7:45 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
Posts: 4,710
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My book for this category was "In Camelot's Shadow" by Sarah Zettel. This is an Arthurian legend, of sorts. It takes place after King Arthur's peace has settled over England. Risa is a young woman who, at her birth, was promised to an evil sorcerer by her father, in exchange for her mother's life. Now, at 19, her father turns away all suitors for her hand, and she is understandably perplexed; once she learns of the bargain her father made, she tries to escape, but falls under the protection of Sir Gawain, Knight of the Round Table (and Major Hunk).

This is their love story, basically. Zettel is using some of the old tales of Gawain being forced to marry a woman under a spell. (The sorcerer does place an Ugly Hex on Risa, but our hero loves her anyway.)

This was just okay. It's the first in a series of four novels, and I really don't have much desire to search out the others. I LOVE Arthurian novels, and have quite a collection. But this one had annoying inconsistencies in it; little things, but they bugged me. Risa has three hounds. They are grey when she sets out for the forest, and brown about halfway through her walk. She looks up at Gawain..and then looks up at Gawain. Sheesh. The magic elements of the story are introduced very awkwardly, too. I don't know...I'd give it 2.5 stars out of 5, I guess.

The one part I did like was the fact that the evil sorcerer covets Merlin's library of books. See, I can relate to that...;D

Subject: Echo in the Bone
Date Posted: 2/20/2010 7:41 AM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2008
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For this category I read Echo in the Bone. I have absolutely LOVED all of the other books in the Outlander series except maybe one. Echo for me was okay - the problem I had with it was the first 500 pages ;)It took WAY too long to actually get into the story - way too much info, too much jumping from character to character to character. Not her usual stuff. After about 550 pages I really started to enjoy the book and then it ended. That's it - just ended. Really?? That's what I read 800 pages for??? I was expecting more. Don't get me wrong it was still an enjoyable read for me, just not the same caliber as Outlander.

Oh well - on to the next book - Green Darkness, Seton - I have never read any of Seton's books. Diving into it this morning.

Date Posted: 3/1/2010 10:00 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,413
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Started and finished "Hood" by Stephen R Lawhead yesterday. Even though there was a lot of fantasy in this book, it was entertaining. Since I'm now reading these and fantasy is not my preference, I'm starting "Scarlet" next. May as well whip right through them.

Date Posted: 3/1/2010 11:03 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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Jeanne, I have these on my reminder list, I have been waiting to hear what people thought of them before I ordered them.

Date Posted: 3/1/2010 4:09 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,413
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Letty, Hood has a lot of action and it's an interesting concept of how theRobin Hood myth - actually in this book it's King Raven - started. Unbelievable things happen (due to a little fantasy) but then, it is after all, entertainment. No more unbelievable than some of the shoot em ups in the movies these days. I would recommend these books to anyone looking for something a little different and fun to read. (Am I actually saying "fun"? Lots of people DIE in this book!!!)

Date Posted: 3/1/2010 7:02 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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Ok -- I need some help -- I've decided for this category to read about King Arthur but am completely overwhelmed. My knowledge of Arthur is limited to the movie Camelot. I have The Mists of Avalon by Bradley, the four Mary Stewart books (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, The Wicked Day), the T.A. Barron books (The Lost Years of Merlin; The Seven Songs of Merlin; The Fires of Merlin) which I think are for young adults since I bought them for my son years ago but I know they are supposed to be good. And then there are of course the Cornwell books on Arthur which I don't have but can easily obtain (and I love Cornwell), and the Lawhead books which you all seem to like, and the Hollick books. I just received Sutcliff's Sword at Sunset and now Linda is raving about Wolf's The Road to Avalon. So, someone give me guidance. (PLEASE!)

(Or do I read Outlander for this category? Yes, I know -- I'm in the minority of those on this forum who have not yet fallen in love with Jamie -- but I do have the first four books.)

Date Posted: 3/1/2010 8:36 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Deb - I wish I could help you, but I've only read the first book of Cornwell's "Arthur" series. It was very, very good! (But we all know I'm Cornwell biased!) I've got the Lawheads, but I haven't read any of them. They generally get rave reviews. Finally, you are not alone! I haven't started the Outlander series either. I've got the first three books on my shelf, but I haven't dove into them yet. I'm thinking those might be my summer reads. I have nice small paperbacks that'll be good for sitting on the beach with or taking in the boat.

Date Posted: 3/1/2010 8:40 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Deb, Of the books you mention, I recommend The Mists of Avalon. Steven Lawhead (who also wrote Hood) is a wonderful writer. I read Taliesin for this category, which pre-dates King Arthur. But it tells the story of Princess Charis (Atlantis) and Taliesin, who are the parents of Merlin. Highly recommended.

P.S. I forgot to mention that Taliesin is part of a 5-book series (with one book added later, making it 6). This series covers King Arthur.



Last Edited on: 3/1/10 8:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/1/2010 8:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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Deb, I LOVED Mary Stewart's books I still pull them out and read them once a year. Crystal Cave I believe should be termed a classic. The story is inventive and the writing stellar.

Date Posted: 3/1/2010 9:05 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,413
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Oh Letty, I'm so glad you told us this - I have the set but haven't read them yet (is that surprising?). When I finish the next 50 or so books that I've got lined up, I'll have to get to them!;)

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