Category Archives: Fantasy

Lowe, Helen: The Heir of Night (2010)

“The Heir of Night” is book no. 1 in “The Wall of Night” series. It’s a typical hero’s quest type of story meant for the age group 10 and up set on another world. This is an excellent example of teen-lit. Lowe’s writing is excellent. She grabs hold of the reader and does not let go.

If Night falls, all fall…

Malian is the heir to the clan of Night. The Wall of Night keeps out the Swarm – a traditional enemy. One night the keep is attacked by members of the swarm and they specifically seek to destroy Malian. During this battle Malian discovers that she has powers that will make her an outcast, and she has to decide whether to use them. This choice is the beginning of Malian’s quest.

Malian’s character is the most interesting one. Kalan, the acolyte, is part of a cast of hated power users (the kind of power that Malian has). His and Malian’s friendship is unexpected to them both and vital to the development of the story. As both he and Malian have to deal with the consequences of her choice, the world of humans is on the edge.


The Heir of Night has won the international Gemmell “Morningstar” Award 2012 for Best Fantasy Newcomer

Freeman, Lorna: Shadow’s Past (Borderlands III) (2010)

How is it that some authors write a series and as they go along their books maintain high quality and re-readability while others end up with muck in the end. Lorna Freeman’s books are in the first category. Her books continue to be fun to read, leaving me happy at the end of them – glad to have read them.

Shadows Past continues shortly after The King’s Own. Rabbit keeps on being flung into unexpected situations (trouble-magnet that he is), challenging his loyalties and his ability to trust others. He is still delightfully naive yet wise. Everyone has their own plans on how to use Rabbit, but he keeps on being true to himself. When an offer of marriage turns up, King Jussom takes Rabbit to check out the offer.

The Borderlands series has no pretensions of immortality. But this is a series I keep on reading, gaining nuggets of wisdom and good old entertainment.

Freeman, Lorna: The King’s Own (Borderlands II) (2006)

Lorna Freeman is still going strong in “The King’s Own”, the second book of the “Borderlands” series.

The King’s Own continues shortly after Covenants ended. Rabbit’s journey into the mastery of magic continues. Towards the end of Covenants we see that Rabbit’s abilities as a magician make him one of the stronger magicians in the Borderlands. Along with his lack of control, Rabbit discovers that people are suspicious and fearful of his new-found abilities. The discovery of death magic in the same city as Rabbit and the king heightens the suspicion of him. Once again, Rabbit has to prove himself.

Rabbit’s character is fun. He is true to himself, confused, naive, foolish and wise – I guess just like most people are. Perhaps that is what attracts me about his character. Rabbit is someone I wouldn’t have minded being in my early 20’s. That aside, Freeman is simply a great writer. She has the gift, no doubt about it.

Freeman, Lorna: Covenants (Borderlands I) (2004)

I love Lorna Freeman’s writing. I’ve read the whole Borderlands series several times.

I’ve tried several times to figure out what there is about this series that I like so much. The first thing that comes to mind is the quality of Freeman’s writing. It draws me in and refuses to let me go. In the ocean of average authors, Freeman is a lighthouse. Her books are clean. This is a rare quality today. Explicitness is seemingly sought after by the masses, at least when I consider the many authors out there. No sex and nothing gory. How amazing is that? Along with the naive worldliness of Rabbit, his tricky mentor – Faena Laurel, the respected captain Suiden and his nemesis Slevoic – we get served a story full of action, humor, wisdom and fun. I’m left a happier person each time I read her books.

“Covenants” is book no. 1 in the series about Rabbit. This is the story of how he comes into his magic, his discovery of familial relationships and his willingness to be true to himself.

Pratt, T.A.: Spell Games (2009)

This is the 4th book in the Marla Mason series. I haven’t read the previous installments: “Blood Engines”, “Poison Sleep” and “Dead Reign”, but still felt as though I was able to follow the story-line.

In “Spell Games” Marla’s long-lost brother turns up in her life again. They parted on bad terms and Marla isn’t sure how she feels about seeing him again. But her brother, Jason, is a con-artist and quite a talker and manages to convince Marla to give him a chance. She ends up helping him with a con, and surprisingly has quite a good time – until complications arise.

There are some really strange characters in this novel. One of them is a mushroom-worshipping sorcerer. I guess  that’s what I liked about “Spell Games” – its strange twists and turns and dry wit.

As entertainment, this is a pretty good choice of reading.

Peeler, Nicole: Tracking the Tempest (Jane True II) (2010)

Tracking the Tempest
Cover art by Sharon Tancredi

This cover by Sharon Tancredi is wonderful. I love the feeling I get while looking at it and the spirit of the main character Jane that she manages to convey in her drawing.

As time has passed and I have written many reviews, I have come to realise that how my head works when approaching a novel has changed. Instead of reading all books as if they needed to be judged by the same ruler, I am now able to divide my thought processes into categories. By doing this it feels as though I am bringing my Aspergers into play instead of trying to bypass it and be “a regular” reader.

Along with several of my early reviews, this one of Tracking the Tempest is an updated one (June 2014 instead of May 2012).

I consider this a true series. Even though I had not read Tempest Rising, I had no problem beginning with number two. Necessary background information was shared without info-dumping and Jane’s relationships with various people were fairly self-explanatory. Tracking the Tempest starts off with Jane working hard to learn how to control her magic and especially how to shield herself.

The light wavered, stilled for a split second, and then winked out of existence. I couldn’t help but close my hand with a little flourish. Now that I couldn’t blow anything up, I was allowed to be pleased with myself. That was the first time I’d managed to create and disperse a mage light start to finish.

“Who’s your daddy?” I demanded rhetorically, doing a little happy dance.

“He died centuries ago; you wouldn’t know him,” Nell replied, coming toward me. “Stop hopping about and shields up.”

One thing I appreciated about Jane is that she is a regular person (despite being a halfling and despite Peeler’s tendency toward hunky men for Jane). I stink at the romantic stuff. Absolutely do not get why romance has to be so mushy (to my husband’s great frustration). Asperger people might be the greatest killers of romantic moments that exist. So not understanding all of Jane’s worries and frustrations about Ruy is just the way things work for me. Let’s just get to the sex is the way I tend to think.

But Peeler makes the romance funny. The way sex and so-called romantic moments tend to be. That I can appreciate and I did. I love it when an author makes sex steamy but also when an author makes sex ridiculous.

One of the comments I read on the novel said something about the Boston Public Parks not being closed at night. I checked that out by googling and that was correct. Living in a stinking rich neighborhood is not a prerequisite for a stinking rich person, so I felt that the same person’s comment about Ruy living in Bay Village didn’t really fit. His personality (what I understand of it) does seem to work with Bay Village.

This is another thing I have learned to do with my reviews. Categories are incredibly difficult for me, so I have to read other people’s reviews so I can place these books in the proper category. Which is why I have ended up adding links to other reviewers at the bottom om my own reviews.

Tracking the Tempest also seems to be about giving in to truth, in Ruy’s case accepting that his wishes for how the faery world operates might not have much to do with reality. Having been in that situation myself, I can sympathise. Once upon a time I was Mormon. Eventually my cognitive dissonance grew out of bounds, I checked out some facts and there flew my beliefs away into the sunset. Ruy seems to be at this same point himself. A point where you realise that your support of something has been abused and you yourself allowed it.

Poor Conleth. Something is mighty strange and wrong about his killings and obsession with Jane. And what a childhood. Hmmm. Perhaps he needs to be pitied more than hated.

Jane discovers that her lack of knowledge about the faery is even greater than she had thought. While she seems to have taken everything in her stride thus far, perhaps a point comes when more knowledge becomes too much knowledge.


Reviews:


Available at: Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble

Barraclough, Lindsey: Long Lankin (2011)

Long Lankin - Lindsey Barraclough

Lamkin, Bold Lamkin, Bold Lantern, Bolakin, False Linfinn and Long Lankin are some of the titles belonging to the story of the mason who builds a castle, is cheated of his fee and who then exacts a bloody revenge (A.L. Lloyd). I have included below what is thought to be the original ballad along with one of the musical interpretations of the story.

Long Lankin is Lindsey Barraclough’s first novel. Whatever hiccups it might suffer from are compensated by Barraclough’s excellent prose. For a new author her flow was a delight.

Horror stories are not my forte simply because I am too easily frightened by authors stringing words together in that manner, but Long Lankin is within my endurance limit. Barraclough’s ability to convey the creepiness and uneasiness of the horror story did affect me in the manner the author probably intended.

During their stay at great-auntie Ida’s, Cora and Mimi encounter a mystery of terrible dimensions. As all children ought, Cora and Mimi venture into places they should not. Auntie Ida has not explained why they need to stay away from certain places, thinking to spare them from a terrible truth. Even though I promised myself that I would never do such a thing to my own children, I too have been guilty of doing underestimating them. Auntie Ida is going to discover what I did. Telling the truth is generally the wisest.

With their new friends, Peter and Roger, the four children set out to explore the church and the graveyard, and our horror story begins. Cora is the hero of this story. She is the one who is responsible for looking after her little sister. This is the age-old duty of older siblings. But keeping Mimi safe becomes increasingly difficult.

Cora and Mimi become embroiled in the history of the village, the history of the church and the history of their Auntie’s old house Guerdon Hall. Some places are the perfect settings for a horror tale. Old manors struggling to keep themselves together would qualify in my mind. Another such location can be old churches and graveyards, perhaps even forests and marshes. Long Lankin has three of these: Guerdon Hall, of course. The church close to the house and the nearby marsh.

Choices may have far-reaching consequences, sometimes centuries into the future. Everything has a cost. Payment must be made one way or another. Friendship, family, loss, grief can be some of the price extracted. Cora and Mimi coming to stay with Auntie Ida happens to be one of these long-term costs. I love the way Barraclough brings the old ballad into her story in tiny drips along the way. The Lay of Lambert Lanikin is frightening enough on its own. Add the terror of the future that Barraclough shares, and we can all huddle under our covers waiting for the wolf under our bed to jump onto it.

What a creepy good time I had!

Exactly what age group this falls into is difficult to say. According to the author, she did not have a particular age group in mind when she wrote Long Lankin.


Reviews:


Long Lamkin, 2008; By Wong Mei Sheong;
Long Lamkin, 2008;
By Wong Mei Sheong;
Thought to be the original version
Belinkin was as gude a mason
As e’er pickt a stane;
He built up Prime Castle,
But payment gat nane.
The lord said to his lady,
5 When he was going abroad,
“O beware of Belinkin,
For he lyes in the wood.”
The gates they were bolted,
Baith outside and in;
10 At the sma’ peep of a window
Belinkin crap in.
“Gude morrow, gude morrow,”
Said Lambert Linkin.
“Gude morrow to yoursell, sir,”
15 Said the fause nurse to him.
“O whare is your gude lord?”
Said Lambert Linkin.
“He’s awa to New England,
To meet with his king.”
20 “O where is his auld son?
Said Lambert Linkin.
“He’s awa to buy pearlings,
Gin our lady ly in.”
“Then she’ll never wear them,”
25 Said Lambert Linkin.
“And that is nae pity,”
Said the fause nurse to him.
“O where is your lady?”
Said Lambert Linkin.
30 “She’s in her bouir sleepin’,”
Said the fause nurse to him.
“How can we get at her?”
Said Lambert Linkin.
“Stab the babe to the heart
35 Wi’ a silver bo’kin.”
“That wud be a pity,”
Said Lambert Linkin.
“Nae pity, nae pity,”
Said the fause nurse to him.
40 Belinkin he rocked,
And the fause nurse she sang,
Till a’ the tores o’ the cradle
Wi’ the red blude down ran.
“O still my babe, nurice,
45 O still him wi’ the knife.”
“He’ll no be still, lady,
Tho’ I lay down my life.”
“O still my babe, nurice,
O still him wi’ the kame.”
50 “He’ll no be still, lady,
Till his daddy come hame.”
“O still my babe, nurice,
O still him wi’ the bell.”
“He’ll no be still, lady,
55 Till ye come down yoursell.”
“It’s how can I come doun,
This cauld frosty nicht,
Without e’er a coal
Or a clear candle licht?”
60 “There’s twa smocks in your coffer,
As white as a swan;
Put ane o’ them about you,
It will shew you licht doun.”
She took ane o’ them about her,
65 And came tripping doun;
But as soon as she viewed,
Belinkin was in.
“Gude morrow, gude morrow,”
Said Lambert Linkin.
70 “Gude morrow to yoursell, sir,”
Said the lady to him.
“O save my life, Belinkin,
Till my husband come back,
And I’ll gie ye as much red gold
75 As ye’ll haud in your hat.”
“I’ll not save your life, lady,
Till your husband come back,
Tho’ you wud gie me as much red gold
As I could haud in a sack.
80 “Will I kill her?” quo’ Belinkin,
“Will I kill her, or let her be?”
“You may kill her,” said the fause nurse,
“She was ne’er gude to me;
And ye’ll be laird o’ the Castle,
85 And I’ll be ladye.”
Then he cut aff her head
Fra her lily breast bane,
And he hung ‘t up in the kitchen,
It made a’ the ha’ shine.
90 The lord sat in England A-drinking the wine:
“I wish a’ may be weel
Wi’ my lady at hame;
For the rings o’ my fingers
95 They’re now burst in twain!”
He saddled his horse,
And he came riding doun;
But as soon as he viewed,
Belinkin was in.
100 He hadna weel stepped
Twa steps up the stair,
Till he saw his pretty young son
Lying dead on the floor.
He hadna weel stepped
105 Other twa up the stair,
Till he saw his pretty lady
Lying dead in despair.
He hanged Belinkin
Out over the gate;
110 And he burnt the fause nurice,
Being under the grate.

Tores. The projections or knobs at the corners of old-fashioned cradles, and the ornamented balls commonly found surmounting the backs of old chairs. Motherwell.


 

 Sites of interest: