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Topic: 2011 Fantasy Challenge: FEBRUARY DISCUSSION THREAD

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Subject: 2011 Fantasy Challenge: FEBRUARY DISCUSSION THREAD
Date Posted: 2/1/2011 11:33 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Previous, related posts:

2011 Fantasy Challenge -- LISTS ONLY THREAD

2010/2011 Fantasy Challenge -- DECEMBER DISCUSSION THREAD

2011 Fantasy Challenge -- JANUARY DISCUSSION THREAD

 

Welcome to Month #2 of the Challenge! How'd the first month treat you? Any books you loved? Any you hated?

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 2:45 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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The challenge is treating me very well so far.  Lots of great books.

My surprise favorite was Lord Dunsany, followed closely by Bear's Blood and Iron and Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora.

I deleted Perdido Street Station with great joy and relief but since I didn't even come close finishing it, I'm not sure if I can really say it was "for the challenge." 

The one I liked the least but did finish was Italio Calvino's Non-existent Knight and the Cloven Viscount.  It wasn't horrible,  just a very choppy style that I kind of want to blame on the translator.  I'm not sure about Calvino now.  I liked The Baron in the Trees, but I didn't like this one or If On a Winter's Night a Traveller.  I'm going to give him another shot sometime with The Castle of Crossed Destinies, but I'm not getting my hopes up too high.  It has a different translator though, and I hope that helps.

And PhoenixFalls, you didn't answer your own question.  Any outstanding books on your end?  Horrible ones?

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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 LOL, no. . . so far the fantasy challenge has been kind of. . . um. . . blah? I've only read three books so far, so it's a small sample, but one was a total chance that worked out about as well as I expected (that'd be Mainspring) and the other two were not as good as I had hoped (Among Others and The Dragon Book). Nothing that made me want to throw the books across the room, but nothing that made me immediately want to pick up another book either. Alas.

Davies -
Date Posted: 2/1/2011 4:50 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
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I am happy with the books that I have read so far (although there are only three of them).  I have discovered two new authors (Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch) and one new sub-genre (steampunk or "gaslamp fantasy" as Kaja Foglio describes her setting) that I want to look into further. 

So far this challenge has done an excellent job of motivating me to read some of the books that have been sitting in my TBR pile.  Of course, it is also the reason behind many new Wish Lish additions.  It is also doing a fair job of distracting me from the delayed release of the next Dresden book (now in July!). 



Last Edited on: 2/1/11 4:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/3/2011 2:17 AM ET
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The Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010 is up: http://locusmag.com/Magazine/2011/Issue02_RecommendedReading.html

The fantasy titles are:

Which is totally awesome for me, because I needed a slot for The Bards of Bone Plain. :D

Oh and you're totally free to read a YA title too. . . I just don't know enough of them to tell at first glance which is fantasy and which is SF. And I'm too lazy right now to check, so you're on your own recognizance. ;)



Last Edited on: 2/3/11 2:18 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 2/3/2011 5:05 AM ET
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Sweet!  I was actually hoping Kraken would be on this list.  It's kind of a crossover with SF...I felt it had elements of fantasy, but didn't fit any of the categories very well.

I also highly recommend Horns by Joe Hill...definitely my pick of 2010.

Date Posted: 2/3/2011 6:04 AM ET
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Great timing!  I just started Shades of Grey last night. :)

Date Posted: 2/3/2011 7:07 AM ET
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Oh, nice!  There's 3 or 4 on the list that I've been wanting to read.  Now it's just a matter of which one I get my hands on first.

I'll vouch for The Half-Made World.  Very good.

Date Posted: 2/3/2011 11:04 AM ET
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Well if we're vouching for things, The Bird of the River is excellent. :)

I'm just happy to see The Bards of Bone Plain on there; I got it for Christmas but didn't have a clue where I was going to put it in the challenge. . .

Date Posted: 2/3/2011 12:25 PM ET
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PhoenixFalls, does The Bird of the River require you to have read Anvil of the World first?  Though I don't know why I'm bothering to ask.  I do have Anvil of the World, I just haven't had time to read it yet.

Date Posted: 2/3/2011 2:47 PM ET
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 Nope, not at all. . . all three of the books set in that world stand alone. There aren't even any shared characters between The Anvil of the World and The Bird of the River. . . and Bird is the more polished work.

Date Posted: 2/3/2011 3:45 PM ET
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I am excited to see Kraken on the List as well. I wanted to fit it in somewhere for the challenge. Scott Lynch has been on my list for awhile and i am looking forward to getting to his works soon. Elizabeth Bear seems to be the author everyone is talking about on the board so I will be fitting her in somewhere. What book would you start with for her? Is Blood and Iron the first in a series or should I start somewhere else? Thanks.

Date Posted: 2/3/2011 4:34 PM ET
Member Since: 12/14/2005
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I'm halfway through Reindeer Moon by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. I don't think I'd quite call it a fantasy, but it won the William Crawford fantasy award, so I guess someone thought it fit in that category. I'm liking it so far. It's much better than Clan of the Cave Bear. It has more storyline and less infodump, and oh, lots less ridiculous sex. Unfortunately for Sabriel, it fell by the wayside when I picked this one up. There's an interesting plot somewhere in Sabriel, but there's too much "monster chases Sabriel, Sabriel kills it/runs away" filler. I may still move on to Lirael in the hopes that Nix's writing improves. If Sabriel isn't his first, it kind of reads like it. 

I'm glad to see The Half-Made World on the list. I've been looking for an excuse to read it. 



Last Edited on: 2/3/11 4:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/3/2011 5:19 PM ET
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Michael,
Blood and Iron is the first in her Promethean series.  It's about a modern day faires versus humans war.  The series is meant to be singles or duologies that you can read in any order.  You could also read the next duology in the series Ink and Steel then Hell and Earth, which is set in Shakespeare's time. 

She also has a unrelated series of a Victorian era detective duo in a steampunk New England that never succeeded from Britain.  The first in that one was New Amsterdam.  It's a set of almost but not quite stand alone stories packaged together in novel form.  One of them is a female Forensic Sorceress, and the other is a vampiric detective.

Both series are good, but my favorite was Blood and Iron so far.   I'm waiting to get Hell and Earth before I start Ink and Steel.

Jasmine,  The Half-Made World is also steampunk if there's another book on that list  you want to read.  It's a minor element, but it just barely qualifies.  It's more of a distopian alternate history. 

Date Posted: 2/4/2011 12:01 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Re: Elizabeth Bear

I don't usually recommend people start with Blood and Iron unless they're fairly well versed in Arthurian lore and/or do not mind AT ALL being rather lost for much of the time. I think it's one of her least accessible works, though I love it despite that, and the people it seems to work for really love it.

I would recommend starting with New Amsterdam if you like mysteries and/or steampunk; or if you wanted something more high fantasy oriented I'd strongly recommend A Companion to Wolves, which she wrote with Sarah Monette -- it's dark-edged companion animal fantasy with a strong flavoring of Germanic myth/legend.

Date Posted: 2/4/2011 12:52 AM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2010
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Yay! There's a Patricia A. McKillip book on the list.  

 

(I was lost but now I'm not)

Amy
Date Posted: 2/4/2011 7:16 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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Phoenix, have you read Ink and Steel by Bear? I'm about halfway through it, and I'm thinking that folks who want to get started on her Promethean works should start there. There is a lot more explaining being done than in Blood and Iron. Plus, as far as a chronological timeline, they are first anyway.

Date Posted: 2/4/2011 9:39 AM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
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Sweet!  I can put Changeless on my read list right now, because I read it in January for the paranormal challenge.  Although I've also been looking for a category for Under Heaven which has been on my TBR for a couple of months.  Maybe I'll wait until I've read it to see if it could fit anywhere else.

I haven't made very much progress so far - I find I don't have on my TBR many books that fit so I've been waiting for some to come in.  But now I have books that I think will qualify for the matter of Britian and the matter of France, as well as some of the other award categories (although I seem to have misplaced my cheat sheet - yikes) so now I can get cracking.

And checking my "official" list, that means I've read 5 books for the challenge so far.  Go me.  I really liked the Laura Bickle series, which so far is Embers and Sparks.  It is very urban fantasy, set in Detroit.  Not quite as good as the Kate Daniels series which so far is my favorite urban fantasy series ever (especially the most recent one) but I've already read them so can't use them for this year.  ;-)



Last Edited on: 2/4/11 9:43 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/4/2011 12:38 PM ET
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Amy -- I haven't yet; going to get to them this year. Glad to hear they might be easier though! :)

Date Posted: 2/4/2011 8:22 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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Well,  I didn't do too bad with my January reads - loved Abhorsen by Garth Nix (yeh, I know it's YA but it's fun and well done).  The Sunbird by Wilbur Smith was complex, exciting and most enjoyable.  The author's approach was unique and I enjoyed the tale so much that I ordered another book by Wilbur Smith.   And, The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson was a fascinating look at Japanese culture woven throughout a well-written tale.  Have no qualms recommending any of these for the challenge.  Enjoy Sunbird Mick!

The Shape Changer's Wife by Sharon Shinn (Read a novel dealing with a secret history):  A well written and imaginative tale that earned a Locus Award for the author.  The story focuses on a young talented wizard named Aubrey who journeys to study with a shape-changer, Glyrenden.  He learns the spells, some with the elder wizard's help, others without.  As his knowledge grows he realizes, to his horror, that those who inhabit Glyrenden's house have been changed from their original shapes.  Puzzling out their original shapes, he discovers that the wizzard's wife whom he loves was once a willow tree in the king's forest.  When the wizzard changes one of the king's men into a dog his control breaks and the two wizzards battle.  Aubrey, a gentle man, is determined to kill the evil wizzard.  The story climaxes to an interesting end that makes one smile.  This is a fun and imaginative read - most deserving of the award it won.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman - Work that is on the Banned Books list or that is on the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list:  What an action packed adventure!  Lyra is the daughter of two highly ambitious and ruthless parents who are consumed with the mystery of "dust".  Believing that she is an orphan watched over by her uncle and scholars, Lyra  discovers the truth as her mother seeks to control her while kidnapping children and separating them from their daemons which usually kills both of them.  Spawning efforts to rescue the children she makes many friends, all of whom she leaves behind when she follows her father into a parallel world to save "dust", which her father believes is harmful to humans.  Lyra has a different idea.  She thinks that it is essential to human life and hopes to preserve it.

The Maori by Alan Dean Foster is a most interesting read. -  Read a Southern Hemisphere novel that was originally published in a Southern Hemisphere language (other than English):  It's the first I've read about the Maori and the story which is a blend of fact and fiction that flows so well.  I was a bit worried as many of the reviewers I saw rated it 3 stars but for me that means I liked the book.  It is certainly worth reading (4 stars for me).  Believed by many of the settlers in New Zealand to be ignorant heathen, the intelligence exhibited by both individuals and the tribes seems quite complex.  The role of Maori beliefs in their gods is fascinating.  The eruption of Mount Terawera was fortold by a 104-year-old Maori tunga named Tuhuto who was rescued after being buried by ash and mud.  His rescue and death is recorded in the country's historical records as is the sighting of the death canoe prior to the eruption.  This read makes one want to read much more about the Maori.  What a fascinating tribe of people!  And Foster weaves a story of the whites who settled the area around the Maori, using one family as a primary focus.

On the Edge by Ilona Andrews - weird fiction/new weird:  Imagine that your home exists between two dimensions, on the edge so to speak.  On one side of your home is the world as we know it.  On the other is a world where magic is an everyday occurrence for its citizens.  While you are not accepted into either world your home in the edge is all you have and now it has become threatened by beasts known as the hounds who are killing those who live in the edge.  Those who live in the edge have some magical abilities.  The hounds are killing to absorb their magic.  Comes a stranger from the magical side who can protect you and your brothers.  The problem is that he wants you and is using you to locate the hounds and their origin to destroy the threat.  Can the love this stranger offers be genuine?  Can he help citizens of the edge destroy the threat to their home?  Will the citizens accept the help of this stranger?  This innovative tale is exciting and creative and the tale flows so well that I ordered the second book in the series.

Finished Beta Colony for the YA challenge.  It's an old,  old science fiction book and very good. Completed City of Ashes, a great read, that I read for fun since I was cruising throughthis series and Wuthering Heights for the classics challenge.   Have begun The Moon in the Mango Tree for the HF challenge and The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne for the YA challenge.



Last Edited on: 2/28/11 8:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 36
Amy
Date Posted: 2/4/2011 9:32 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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Just finished Ink and Steel, now onto Hell and Earth. I love this series! Too bad it looks like I can only used Blood and Iron for the challenge.

Date Posted: 2/4/2011 11:27 PM ET
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I've read Flying in Place by Susan Palwick for the William L Crawford Fantasy award.  This was a compelling and powerful story dealing with an extremely disturbing subject.  A normal young girl has a normal life, except for the visits at night by her important and respected father.  She learns to leave her body behind and encounters the ghost of her perfect sister who died before she was born.  This was well written almost lyrical but at times difficult to read due to the subject.   I had the same reaction to Lucky, Alice Sebold's account of her rape as a college student.  I absolutely recommend this book.

On an unrelated note, how many books does there need to be to qualify as a series?  Two, three, more?  I'm thinking of taking on the expanded super challenge.



Last Edited on: 2/4/11 11:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Suggestion
Date Posted: 2/5/2011 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2008
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Hello Fantasy Friends,

Can anyone recommend a Southern Hemisphere novel that was originally published in Spanish?

To give you an idea... the authors I like are Mercedes Lackey, Orson Scott Card, Margaret Weis, Molly Cochran, Anne McCaffrey, Shana Abe, Marion Zimmer Bradley, C.J. Cherryh, George R.R. Martin, Janny Wurts, and Roger Zelazny. I've read many others but these pop to the top.

Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks, Fern

Date Posted: 2/5/2011 12:19 PM ET
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We were talking about this in December, and I don't believe anyone came up with anything.

I've been hunting around, looking for books that would qualify.  I found Isabel Allende, a Chilean author, wrote a young adult series that would fit.  The first one is City of the BeastsI can't vouch for anything other than the fact that it exists.  I've been looking at her adult books, since several of them are magic realism, but from the descriptions, it's hard to tell if there's any elements of mythology in them.  I'm planning to read The House of Spirits by her this year, so after that I might be able to tell you more about her writing style.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude is described in a couple of places to incorporate local myths, though I'm not sure how accurate that description is.  His writing would be very different from the authors you've listed, though.  More historical fiction with elements of magical realism (ghosts).  However, I'm pretty sure that it's on the 1001 Books to Read list, so if anyone wants to read it and report back, I'm sure you'd make lots of friends.

I'm sure there's a lot more, I'm just sadly lacking in my knowledge of South America/African/Australian authors. 

Date Posted: 2/5/2011 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Lisa -- A series is three books or more for the purpose of the expanded super challenge.

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