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Topic: Historical Fantasy Reviews (Mini-Challenge)

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Subject: Historical Fantasy Reviews (Mini-Challenge)
Date Posted: 7/12/2010 3:43 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Post your reviews here for the historical fantasy mini-challenge. See the challenge description in the thread, Historical Fantasy Lists (Mini-Challenge).

Date Posted: 7/13/2010 9:43 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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I finished reading Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead about a week ago.  This is part 2 of his "King Raven" trilogy which is a re-telling of the Robin Hood myth.  Instead of being in the merry olde England of Richard Lionheart outwitting the sheriff of Nottingham, the hero Rhi Bran y Hud (King Raven of the hood)  and his Grallon (flock) are hiding out in the wild forests of southern Wales during the reign of William Rufus.  For me, the premise of this re-telling works really well.  As a huge Robin Hood wanna be in my childhood I was able to suspend my disbelief and buy into the storyline as all my favorite characters are included.  What I didn't care for is the double voice in the story, Scarlet himself and the narrator.  Usually multiple points of view don't particularly bother me and I'm not sure why this book is an exception.  Maybe it is because Hood is told 3rd person and I wasn't expecting a change in book 2.  I am now reading #3  Tuck, and it is told 3rd person as well.  There is some nice humor in all the books which I always think works well with the telling of Robin's stories. 

 

 



Last Edited on: 7/14/10 10:23 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/13/2010 3:19 PM ET
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I'm looking forward to reading this one, Cheryl. I like everything I've read by Lawhead.

Date Posted: 7/14/2010 10:28 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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I finished Tuck last evening and it was a great ending to the tale of Bran the outlaw king of Elfael.  Without giving too much away, I personally think that the "Robin Hood" stories need to have a certain story arc to them and this one certainly doesn't disappoint.  I especially enjoyed the ending that ties in the family of Alan a' Dale.  This is a great series for fans of Robin Hood or Mr Lawhead's writing.  He always tells an enjoyable story.



Last Edited on: 7/14/10 10:29 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/14/2010 8:12 PM ET
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I finished Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz. I loved it.

The story roughly parallels 12th century Wales. It opens with the death - by magic! - of the king, leaving his 14-year-old son to reign. There's intrigue (cause anyone who's read their European history knows child rulers can't rule without politics and plotting), magic, non-humans, and weird little stinging insects that put me in mind of tarantulas on steriods. And of course, the prerequisite good versus evil.

Highly recommended for those who like fantasy set in credible medieval times. Also for lovers of magic and action. Probably a good book for young readers (12+).

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 7/15/2010 9:49 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
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I stopped reading Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer. It was just plain awful not worth the paper it was printed on. I read the first 100 pages and then the last chapter, glad I didn't waste my time. 

Alice

Date Posted: 7/19/2010 9:16 AM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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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.

The Silver Rose by Susan Carroll (romantic fantasy):  I like Carroll's writing style.  Her books flow so well that the read goes quickly and sometimes quick reads seem just right .  This is the story of Miri Cheney, the youngest of the Cheney sisters, known also as The Lady of the Woods.  She has an affinity with animals - can talk with them, relate to them and heal them.  Sometimes she even heals humans.  She lives in an isolated cottage deep in the woods with Necromancer, a black cat with white paws who warns her of approaching strangers and danger.  When she discovers an abandoned baby boy and a poisoned silver rose, she realizes that her beloved Faire Isle is as endangered as the rest of France plagued by a coven of misguided and evil witches led by the Silver Rose.  Miri has two admirers, Simon Aristide, a witch hunter whose zealous crusade against witches drove her sisters from Faire Isle, and Martin le Loup, a dashing handsome friend has loves her.  Miri and Simon embark on a quest to find and destroy the dreaded coven and the Silver Rose.  What happens next is sometimes predictable, sometimes not, but, for me, fun.   It's a good read, rated by some as the best of the series.  Others prefer The Dark Queen.

The Courtesan by Susan Carroll (romantic fantasy):  This is the story of Gabrielle Cheney, the middle sister of the Cheney sisters, who reacts much like our middle daughter to family issues.  Her only claim to magical fame is that her painting talent is magical. The results are so real looking that one feels like one could walk into them. That talent disappears when she is raped by a man she thought loved her. Distraught and feeling worthless she becomes a courtesan seeking beauty, fame and riches. She attains her goals but remains unhappy. When the second man she feels something for reappears (she thought he was dead) she realizes that she loves him. However, life is not to simple as the two of them cope with the wicked dark queen, a selfish witch who uses her for her own ends and a famed witch hunter. This is a good read and I enjoyed it.

The Huntress by Susan Carroll (romantic fantasy):Catriona O'Hanlon journeys to Paris at the request of Ariana, The Lady of Faire Isle, to find The Wolf and his young daughter, Meg, who was named The Silver Rose by her wicked mother.  Now Meg and her father are the run to escape those who wish to use her and her talents or destroy her forever - The Silver Rose coven, The Dark Queen, and Queen Elizabeth's spymaster.  The tale moves quickly as Cat and Wolf fight their way through numerous adventures to protect and hide Meg.  Unfortunately, for both Cat and Wolf, the emotional entanglement between the two complicates the issues.  This is a delightful story about quite interesting characters - particularly, Wolf, Cat and Meg.  A very good read.  

Twilight of a Queen by Susan Carroll (romantic fantasy):  Meg Wolf, The Silver Rose, has moved to The Faire Isle to grow up and become whatever she was meant to be under the tender guidance of Ariane, The Lady of Faire Isle.  Just 13, she sought by witch hunters, members of the Silver Rose coven, and the dark queen herself.  Meg's greatest fear is that she will grow up to be like her evil mother.  Her greatest enemy is the Dark Queen.  This is essentially Meg's story where she discovers who she really is and learns to cope with it.  There is more to the story as Ariane discovers a half-brother she never knew existed.  His fate is entangled with Meg's.  It's a fine read.

Keeper of the Crystal Spring by Naomi and Deborah Baltuck:  It is the year 1086 in a little village in England (now known as Shafesbury) where the story of Aldyth LIghtfoot and Gandulf  fitzGerald begins.  This romantic adventure fantasy blends several historical figures with those of the author's imagination into a wonderful story that if a delight to read.  However, the authors strive to remain true to what is historically known about those who actually trod the vales and fields of England at that time.  The Normans had overrun Saxon strongholds and ruled the country with an iron fist, enslaving the conquered.   People like Bedwyn, Aldyth, Sirona (keeper of the crystal spring), and others work the Saxon resistance underground known as the Starlight Path.  Enter colorful characters such as the kindly old priest, Father Edmund, who talks to his mule, Gregory, like a friend;  and Aelfric, a fiercely independent wild boy who lives by his wits and knows the people's deepest secrets.  This is a most enjoyable read. 



Last Edited on: 9/6/10 9:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 12
Date Posted: 7/23/2010 10:02 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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I finished Ghosts in the Snow last night and gave it 3.5 stars. This book had a little of everything: magic, ghosts, murder, mystery and flawed characters. It definitely held my attention so I will try the next one in this series which received better reviews.

Date Posted: 7/24/2010 2:20 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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My first fantasy choice was "A Song for Arbonne" by Guy Gavriel Kay.

It's set in an imaginary medieval France, during the Court of Love, a time Kay made rife with political intrigue, secrets, and betrayal. This world in fully fleshed out with descriptive prose that comes alive and makes you feel right there, in the middle of the action. And, there is plenty of action! The people of Arbonne worship the Goddess, while the people of Gorhault worship just the God and this leads to a religious war where people and countries must choose sides. There is also an exceptional knight who must choose between his family and doing what he feels is right. It was an excellent book! I would have to say though that this one is barely a fantasy novel. If there were no priestesses who could divine the future and "speak" to the Goddess, this book would seem more like a straight historical fiction novel. I'd give it 4 stars and I will definitely be reading more of Kay's work.

 

My second fantasy novel was "Sherwood" by Park Godwin.

Obviously, this is a re-telling of Robin Hood, and a very well done one, too. I adored it, every page of it. If Godwin hadn't made one plot device that really annoyed me, I would have been happy to give this one 5 stars, but instead it gets 4 and a half. If I had the sequel to this one in my hands right now, I'd be busy reading it! I can't wait til it gets here!!

Date Posted: 7/24/2010 7:16 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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If Godwin hadn't made one plot device that really annoyed me, I would have been happy to give this one 5 stars

Can you tell us what annoyed you without spoiling it? I'm curious.

I'm anxious to get my mitts on The Last Light Of The Sun by Kay. It looks like the start of another addictive series.

Date Posted: 7/28/2010 10:48 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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Genie - I bet Valli is referring to animal torture, which she told me about, since we both abhor that! angry

I just finished Threads of Malice by Tamara Siler Jones and I put my review in the July - what are you reading thread. A page turner, but lots of gore!!

Date Posted: 7/28/2010 11:58 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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Ah, you're probably right.

Date Posted: 7/29/2010 2:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
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Finished so far:

The Last Rainbow by Parke Godwin which made me an instant fan.  What I didn't know when I started this book is that it's third in his Firelord series,  (about St. Patrick who is far from saintly in this version)  but it comes across as a complete standalone.   The twist Godwin gives the end is possible but I'm not sure I completely buy it.  But an interesting fantasy, nonetheless.

Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead is the second in the King Raven series about a Welsh Robin Hood, and I thought it even better than the first, "Hood".  I hope Lawhead keeps the ball rolling with "TucK".

ETA: 08/01 - Finished Lavinia by Ursula LeGuin inspired by The Aeneid by Virgil, set in pre-Roman Italy and told from Lavinia's perspective.  Aeneas, years after fleeing Troy, finally arrives in Latium when an incident causes war to break out.  The prize is Lavinia. LeGuin has an easy, accessible style of writing.



Last Edited on: 8/1/10 11:58 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/1/2010 1:22 PM ET
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Amerigo, So glad to hear you enjoyed Lavinia. I did too. I seem to be a sucker for love stories surrounding the fall of Troy.

I finished The Game of Thrones. Highly, highly recommended it for all you Bernard Cornwell lovers, and lovers of Penman and other great storytellers. This one ranks right up there.

While there are six or seven houses introduced in this book, the story centers around two of them - the Starks and the Lannisters. They are friends in the beginning, but through treachery and greed, one house rises against the other. Intermingled with the story of these two houses is the story of the dragon people - the Targaryen's.

The motto of the Starks is, Winter Is Coming. That says it all. To understand, read the book. Or wait for the HBO movie (Spring 2011).



Last Edited on: 8/1/10 1:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/1/2010 1:35 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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Genie!  That trailer dosen't have much on it but Sean Bean !!!  If it is as good as you say I might just have to go buy it.

Date Posted: 8/1/2010 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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No, this one isn't animal torture, although I think there was one bad scene with that, but I was referring to a weird love interest that Godwin created. I posted about it in the thread where I blacked out the spoilers. You have to highlight the black part to read it.  I'll put it again below, but don't read it if you don't want to know a spoiler. It's just a very minor spoiler though -

 

Spoiler:

Godwin has Maid Marian pining after the Sherriff of Nottingham. She's partially in love with him and that just annoyed me!

 

As for the animal scene, I'm wondering if I confused it with another book because when I tried to find it again, to warn Jeanne, I couldn't locate it.

 

Genie, do you need any of the books in the "Game of Thrones" series? My thrift store has 3 of them and I could pick them up if you needed them. I have a lot of credit there and I need something to spend it on. I think I'll just grab them, someone will probably want them.

 

I just started another fantasy trilogy about Arthur written by Robert Carter. The 1st book is "The Language of Stones". I'm only about 50 pages in, but it's good so far. I hope it stays good because I bought the whole trilogy!

Date Posted: 8/1/2010 5:04 PM ET
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do you need any of the books in the "Game of Thrones" series? My thrift store has 3 of them and I could pick them up if you needed them. I have a lot of credit there and I need something to spend it on. I think I'll just grab them, someone will probably want them.

Oh, somebody grab them! Good-hearted Valli, I have a complete set thanks to Vicky, who picked up #4 at the book sale for me.

Date Posted: 8/2/2010 4:37 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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I have finish Saint Camber by Katherine Kurtz which is the second book in the Camber of Culdi series.  This book takes up at the restoration of the human Haldane royal family, the reluctant former priest  Cinhil Haldane forced to take a crown he never wanted he turns his anger on to The Earl Camber.  Cinhil must still defeat the Deryni King's Sister Ariella to secure the kingdom.  But this story is really about the sacrifices that Camber and the king must make to rebuild after the evil regime is finally destroyed.  



Last Edited on: 8/2/10 4:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/4/2010 10:27 AM ET
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I finished  A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin as well.  I do have to agree with Genie that it did remind me a bit of a BC novel; lots of fighting and epic hero types although no Uhtred.  Once I got past my own issues with trying to match characters to real life people I really fell under the spell of this book.  It's a fairly long book but a really good one.  I would definitely recommend it for the historical fantasy challenge or just the pleasure of reading it!

 



Last Edited on: 8/4/10 3:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/5/2010 3:46 AM ET
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Never never would I have thought it possible to get sucked into a book about Dragons in the Napoleonic Wars.  I was wrong and I haven't had so much fun with a book in a long time.  I am only 125 pages into it and I am ready to order the other books in this series.  Thanks to Josie for recommending these and to Felicia and Genie for reminding me about His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik.

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 7:53 AM ET
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no Uhtred

Well, now, Cheryl. I might have to disagree. What about the bastard, John Snow? He has Uhtred potential. Let's see what happens as the series develops.

Never never would I have thought it possible to get sucked into a book about Dragons in the Napoleonic Wars.  I was wrong and I haven't had so much fun with a book in a long time.

Oh, so glad to hear. Bumping this up my mountain, er, TBR pile.

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 8:57 AM ET
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Well what can I say I tried to go to sleep but visions of dragons dancing in my head all I could do  was roll over turn on the light, and read now I have finished the His Majesty's Dragon,   What can I say  I loved the dragons,  I even cried.  I am hoping either my library has the others or they can be requested as quickly as this one was.  Who knew the battle of Trafalgar was won only with the help of His Majesty's Dragon Corps!  Love this book.

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 1:05 PM ET
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Genie:  Yes, John Snow has POTENTIAL...but that's it so far. 

Letty:  Cool!  I have that one on my TBR for the fantasy challenge.

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 7:27 PM ET
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LOL, Cheryl! We'll see.

Date Posted: 8/6/2010 2:56 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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I've been reading "The Language of Stones" by Robert Carter for this challenge. I thought this trilogy was about King Arthur and I kept reading, wondering when he'd make an appearance, but then the wizard guy mentioned King Arthur's death, so that really confused me. Then, the wizard and the young boy accompanying him went to a castle ruled by a Duke Richard, Earl of "Warwyck". He had a wife named Cecily and sons named Edmund, Edward, George, and Richard. That sounds awfully familiar, right? Well, that sent me to read the description of the book again where I saw that the book is set during the War of the Roses.

Okay, don't know how I missed that, but this book makes a lot more sense for me now!

Geez. I am even slower than I thought, lol.

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