Tag Archives: #Epicfantasy

Cooper, Elspeth: The Raven’s Shadow (The Wild Hunt III) (2013)

the_ravens_shadow
Illustration by Dominic Harman
Design by Sue Michniewicz

You know, Ailric is a douchebag. He is about as power-starved as you can possibly get and Tanith is his way to the throne. Talk about being willing to do and say anything to get his way. Humans are less than dirt to him and his jealousy knows no bounds. As if he has anything to be jealous about. Tanith tells him over and over and over again that she is not interested and could he please stop touching her. Being the third in line for the throne of the “elves”, Tanith feels pressured by many of the folks at home to bind herself to Ailric as the joining of their two families is seen as a good match.

According to Psychology Today a person with a narcissistic personality disorder is one who is arrogant, lacks empathy for other people, needs a lot of admiration. Narcissists are cocky, self-centered, manipulative and demanding. They are focused on unlikely outcomes (I don’t know – like becoming consort to Tanith) and feel they deserve special treatment. For some reason they have a high self-esteem – which goes along with their arrogance. If their self-esteem is threatened they may become aggressive (like Ailric’s threats and actions toward both Gair and Tanith) even though their self-esteem is rooted in the bedrock of who they are.

Holy cow, this is soooo Ailric. He manages to match all of the qualities. Like I said: a complete and total douchebag.

Gair is your basic good guy. He’s not perfect, not by a long shot. In fact he is feeling pretty murderous when it comes to Savin. I get this need for vengeance. Not that anyone has ever effected the killing of one of my loved ones, but there have been people I would have liked to, at the very least, beat up. People who hurt my children in any way come to mind – even if mine are adult now. In real life I prefer the good guys (and women). I happen to be married to one of the most decent men on earth. Like Gair they are all flawed in some manner, but something shines through. This strange quality is what Ms. Cooper manages to catch in her writing. Someone like Gair is often presented in a manner that makes me wriggle uncomfortably due to their unbelievability. But Ms. Cooper stays far, far, far away from that trap. Gair is a guy I would like to hug just because he is huggable. I guess he could be good-looking but that is not what I am remembering – and I finished The Raven’s Shadow at 6 am this morning.

I kid you not. I am 49 years old in a few days and I read through the night. What’s an old woman doing with an all-night-read? Shame on you Ms. Cooper for keeping me up all night. That seldom happens any longer, but I just had to finish. Now I have to wait another year or two for the next installment. What I have just done is a basic case of hurry up and wait. Oh, well. Old age is no guarantee for learning from experience. I choose to blame it all on Ms. Cooper. No personal responsibility at all – oh no!

Teia is the other extremely interesting main character. Poor girl. Once it was discovered she had the talent, she has had to be extremely careful about letting on how strong she was/is. Not only has she needed to watch out for the clan speaker, but she has also had a less than ideal relationship with the clan chief. Well, relationship is a bit strong. Before she was 16 he abused and raped Teia until he had impregnated her. Good thing she ran away even if it did lead to her becoming banfaith of the Lost Ones. A banfaith is a prophetess or oracle. Understandably, Teia feels awfully young for the kind of responsibility she holds. In a sense she is considered next to Baer (their chief) in authority. The Lost Ones ask for her guidance on where to travel which is kind of natural as Teia sees where they need to go. Where the Lost Ones need to go is to the enemy to warn them of the pending invasion.

Ytha is Teia’s old teacher. She is the one who should have made certain that Teia received proper training for a Speaker. But Ytha is afraid of what would happen if someone has more power than she. Anything (including murdering people perceived as obstacles) is acceptable to achieve her goals. Ytha’s goal is to lead all of the Nimrothi clans into the old home-land – together with her chief Drwyn as chief of chiefs. I would not like to get into her way.

Elspeth Cooper’s writing has appealed to me from the beginning. She is one of those rare people who has a gift. In all likelihood Ms. Cooper works hard to provide us with a novel of this quality. But, you know, there is that extra indefinable something that gifted people have.

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Reviews:


  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (15 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575134380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575134386

My review of:

  1. Songs of the Earth
  2. Trinity Rising

Francis, Diana Pharaoh: Path of Honor (Path of Fate II) (2004)

Path of Honor - Diana Pharaoh Francis
Cover art by Alan Pollack

One of the really interesting people in Path of Honor is Verit Aare. Verit Aare is the heir to the throne and eager to replace his father. As his father has been more or less absent the past six months, Aare’s lust for power is growing. Unfortunately for Koduteel (capital) and all of Kodu Riik Verit Aare is a psychopath/sociopath. While a lot of us have psychopathic traits, very few of us reach Aare’s level of sociopathy. According to Psychology Today one needs to show a lack of empathy (cold-heartedness, an inability to feel deeply); show a lack of shame, guilt, fear or embarrassment at ones actions; a tendency to blame others for their own failures, or no shame if confronted; show a strong ability to remain focused on a task; appear charming yet have a tendency toward pathological lying, and they seem comfortable even when found out; incredibly overconfident, as if they cannot fail; impulsive; incredibly selfish and parasitic; lack realistic long-term goals; and finally be prone to violence.

I feel certain most of you would be worried if a person like this lusted for the leadership of your country. Yet Aare seems to fulfil most of these criteria and for me that is the reason I find him especially fascinating and possibly revolting. Take how he treats his sister, the Vertina Emelovi, and what he does to his father’s hostage, Soka.

When Soka was nine years old his father had broken the terms of the hostage agreement. Something had to be done to avenge the wrong and it was decided that Soka would lose an eye. But the Iisand was not able to attend the removal and sent his son, Verit Aare, instead. Aare made the little boy remain awake during the procedure but had Soka drugged so he would remain docile while it went on. Finally, a map of Soka’s father’s lands was sown into the lid of his eye as a reminder of the deal. It had not been the Iisand’s intention that the procedure would be so cruel for the boy, but Aare liked the feeling it gave him.

Once again, Soka is in his power. Naturally, Soka is scared shitless. What will the Verit do to him this time?

On to Verit Aare’s sister. Poor Emelovi. She has to live with the man on a daily basis and he is not a good brother to have. Her fear of him is intense, yet he has kept his father duped as to the depths of his depravity. Perhaps that is because people tend to see what people want to see. Vertina Emelovi, on the other hand, is quite familiar with her brother’s cruelty. He expects nothing but complete submission. If she does not do what he tells her to, she suffers greatly. The first time she was made aware of that was when he killed her puppy because Emelovi had refused to dance with one of his friends. Since then, well. One does what one has to with such a maniac in the vicinity.

Aare does not like Reisil. He does his best to turn the court against her. Lucky him. Sodur (another ahalad-kaaslane team) has made his job much easier. On his part, Sodur did have the best of intentions. But what do intentions help when consequences are what determines the value of them. Poor Reisil, the consequences for her are stinky. Things are looking up for Aare when it comes to using his charisma and power-hunger against her.

Reisil is not completely alone. Kebonsat has come to court Emelovi on the chance an alliance between Kodu Riik and Patvermese might happen. Hmmm. Despite this task, Kebonsat does not forget his friendship with Reisil. Nor has Juhrnus. Reisil is thankful to have two such loyal friends on her side as it seems the rest of the powers of Kodu Riik have turned against her. But friends do turn up in strange places and sometimes lives change because of decisions one has made. She does have the “common people” on her side. But the common people do not have much power. Not really. Like us, the common people in Kodu Riik trust that the powers that be must be interested in the best of the country. Man, we are suckers, aren’t we.

Then two new powers turn up at court.


Reviews:



My review of Path of Fate

Murray, R.J.: The Event (Tales of the Triad I) (2011)

The Event

If an author is going to create an Apocalyptic event he might as well do it thoroughly. Killing off seven billion people overnight seems to be pretty thorough to me. Messing with the environment and changing the stars and planets we usually see adds to that thoroughness. R.J. Murray shares such an event with us in The Event. The Event appears to be a science fiction tale that slowly but surely leans toward fantasy. Not fantasy as we know it but rather new technology that has to be developed due to the teeny tiny damages wrought by Earth’s changes. Mutated people that have the qualities we find in traditional fantasy adds to the fantasy feel of the story.

As with other apocalyptic tales, we find that the qualities people already have seem to intensify in times of crisis. This is a normal trait in humans. Any type of traumatic event tends to pare down all of our extras leaving some sort of quality central that we draw upon. This is when we see a person run back into a mall again and again saving people’s lives while others break into buildings raiding them of wares, beat up others and do other heinous deeds. People are people whether our skyline changes or not.

The mutations we see are people whose bodies morph into something other than they were used to being (that is, those who did not turn to dust or remain human). Let’s see what we have:

Wizards are people who find themselves younger/stronger/longer-lived and able to handle the tools left from before the apocalypse. All races have their own wizards.

Elves also seem to be long-lived and changed into a stronger/younger version of themselves. But they seem more attuned to plants and living creatures rather than technology.

Dwarves are like the ones in stories: like to live underground and have an affinity for stone. Dwarves are shorter and more compact than humans. They will probably end up being longer-lived as well.

Humans are more numerous than the others and breed easier. There really isn’t much more to say about them.

Goblins are like the goblins we know from epic fantasy. There are various types, sizes and numbers. Most of them live underground or underwater. They too have wizards.

Thankfully Murray hasn’t fallen for the temptation of making people smarter or dumber than they were just because they happen to be elf, wizard, dwarf or goblin. There are qualities that are intensified but if you were dumb as bread before the apocalypse, well, you are going to remain dumb as bread – and probably dead within a very short time. Some of the people have to learn the hard way and for some that means they end up dead.

That probably tells you that it is not all happy endings. In spite of that I would not say that The Event is particularly dark. It is more like the traditional sword/sorcery stories in tone. I’m guessing this is a young adult story. It’s a pretty straight-forward tale without explicit violence or explicit sex. There is action and plenty of it.

Murray builds his world for us showing us how people become what they are and what happens to the Earth itself. By the end I felt pretty comfortable with the whole thing. I felt there was a proper ending although there was a tiny hill-hanger showing me that a continuation was on its way.

A pretty enjoyable tale that looks as if it has great potential.


Reviews:


  • Print Length: 398 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0083CMJ74

Keller, Robert E.: The Eye of Divinity (Knights) (2011)

Knights
Cover art by Carolina Mylius

The Eye of Divinity is probably for 10-years and up. The story is a serial as there was no closure at the end of The Eye of Divinity.

You will see from the reviews below that readers had extremely mixed views on the quality of the novel. That is not without reason.

Lannon – our protagonist – is the kind of character that you either get or do not get in my opinion. His family exhibits passive aggressive behavior toward each other and Lannon carries that with him through the novel. Later on in The Eye of Divinity we discover the reason for their reactions toward each other.

In some ways this is a typical coming of age tale. Lannon shows growth and eventually realises that he is the only one who is able to change what he is into a different version of himself. Getting through the growing up years is in some ways a dreadful experience for all of us. Carrying the baggage of a dysfunctional family only makes it worse.

To say that Cordus, Taris and Furlus are disappointed at the quality of the potential Dark Watchman they are bringing back with them to the Tower would be no exaggeration. And, you know, I get why. There is nothing special about Lannon. His personality is wishy-washy and he has no unique talents. In fact, nothing at all points toward his potential knighthood. One reviewer called Lannon a noodle.

I liked The Eye of Divinity. Most of that has to do with Lannon. He was so hopeless, yet every once in a while a tiny glimmer of spine shone through.


Reviews:


Sold by Amazon

Butcher, Jim: Cursor’s Fury (The Codex Alera III) (2007)

3

Great cover-art, huh. The artist is Steve Stone.

I Guess it is about time that you saw who on Earth writes this Codex Alera series. Jim Butcher is obviously showing his more serious side in this photograph of he and his dog.

I’ll admit that this is not a recent Picture, but it is a fun one.

So, Codex Alera and Cursor’s Fury.

Tavi is getting older, and hopefully wiser in his understanding of his abilities. In The Furies of Calderon we got to know the 15-year old boy whose greatest wish was to study at the Academy in the city of Alera. Through his deeds he reaped the reward of just that. A couple of years later, we meet Tavi again. This time he is a student at the Academy and wondering if perhaps he should have wished for something else. But his presence proves vital in securing the safety of the First Lord – as it should when Tavi is the main character of the series. Academ’s Fury shows us a boy who has grown in maturity and understanding of his abilities.

In Cursor’s Fury Tavi has aged once again. His and Kitai’s relationship has deepened and both are committed to each other. Not everyone is pleased with the relationship between human and Marat. Another relationship that not all who know Tavi are pleased with, is his relationship with the Canim leader Varg. But Tavi’s thought is that friendship is a whole lot better than the shedding of blood.

The First Lord sends Tavi off to learn from one of the Academy’s more controversial teachers. The ways of the old Romans need to be explored (yes, indeed, the old Romans). Somehow it seems they managed without using Furies and it seems the First Lord deems it necessary to discover how they got by. Tavi doesn’t want to leave Kitai and his friends, but as a Cursor and subject of the First Lord he does not really want to say no either.

So, off he goes. And somehow – read and find out – he ends up being an under-cover legionare in the First Lord’s army fighting for his life and the safety of Alera.

There is plenty of action. Plenty of it, interspersed with humour and romance and intrigue. Spies and deception are part of the story and one of the greater deceptions will affect Amara and Bernhard as they tottle off to save hostages from Lord Kalare. I guess tottling might not be the appropriate term here – read and discover why.

Another brick of a book – 614 pgs brick – but a fun brick. If you are into action, this is the book to read.

Butcher, Jim: The Codex Alera: The Furies of Calderon (2004)

Today was a first for me. I had to check my blog to see if I had written about Jim Butcher’s books. Maybe I should read less.

Most people probably connect the name Jim Butcher with the urban fantasy series Dresden Files. This was my introduction to Jim Butcher. I’m not certain where I found out about The Codex Alera, but I remember that one of the comments I read was that this was the better series. So why not give it a try.

The Codex Alera is very different from Dresden Files. The Dresden files are each around 300 pages long while the Codex Alera carries  approximately 600 pages of text. That gives the story time to flesh itself out. It could have ended up with fiasco, but Butcher does an excellent job.

Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum

What I think has happened is that Butcher has happened upon something that gives him a chance to shine. And shine he does.

We meet Tavi, a furyless human in a world where most humans have at least some ability to use the furies of the world. The furies are something along the lines of elemental spirits that can be used by humans. With them they gain various abilities to very different degrees. The furies are called water-furies, air-furies, earth-furies, metal-furies and fire-furies. The humans who control these elemental spirits are called crafters.

While Tavi is the main character of the series, he does have a lot of people helping him on his journey. One of them is his uncle Bernard. Bernard is a retired legionare who has become Steadholter in the Valley of Calderon. He is responsible for the welfare of those who live within the boundaries of his steadholt. Bernard is known for being a fair leader. To Tavi, Bernard is his hero, someone he would like to emulate. When Bernard becomes hurt due to Tavi’s carelessness, Tavi has to look beyond himself and try to make matters better.

Isana is Tavi’s aunt. Her goal in life is to take care of Tavi and to ensure his reaching adulthood in a safe manner. But she will not get her way in The Furies of Calderon. Tavi has seen something he should not have and becomes hunted.

Amara and Kitai are people whose importance will become more apparent as the series progresses. In The Furies of Calderon they play supporting roles. Amaray is a cursor (spy/messenger) for the First Lord Gaius. Kitai is a Marat – a race of non-humans that Tavi and his family come into contact with in various ways.

The Furies of Calderon is an incredibly fun action/adventure/magic-filled high/epic fantasy novel that shows Jim Butcher at his best.

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My reviews of books 2 (Academ’s Fury), 3 (Cursor’s Fury), 4 (Captain’s Fury), 5 (Princep’s Fury) and 6 (First Lord’s Fury)

Sullivan, Michael J.: The Riyria Revelations

Michael J. Sullivan

Michael J. Sullivan has been writing his whole life. Not until he began writing the Rirya Revelations series did he get published. Strange thing that. The Rirya Revelations had been a project that he undertook to please himself and his daughter (who has been part of designing the cartoon on Michael’s website). All six books were finished before the first one was published.

After a while the sales took off and Michael J. Sullivan has become a well-known name in the fantasy world. That recognition is well-deserved. His books are fun to read and they kept me wanting to know how the greater plot is resolved. The characters are fun and varied. It is not immediately clear whether the butler did it or not (I know there isn’t a butler in these books) and that is something that I really like in a writer. We should be kept wondering who the baddest baddie is.

All six books are stand-alone books in the sense that the main problem is resolved. However, there is a greater plot spanning all six books, so it would be a good idea to start at omnibus no. 1 – Theft of Swords. That way you get all of those pesky little threads tied together from the beginning.

Royce Melborne and Hadrian Blackwater are essential characters in all six novels. They are the Rirya – a gang of two. Together they get into and out of all sorts of trouble. These books are good for young adults and upwards. There isn’t too much violence and no sex.

The gods of Elan are: Erebus (Father of the gods), Ferrol (Eldest son, god of elves), Drome (Second son, god of dwarves), Maribor (Third son, god of men), Muriel (Only daughter, goddess of nature) and Uberlin (Son of Muriel and Erebus, god of darkness).

The main political parties to be aware of are:

  • Imperialists: Those wishing to unite mankind under a single leader who is the direct descendant of the demigod Novron.
  • Nationalists: Those wishing to be ruled by a leader chosen by the people.
  • Royalists: Those wishing to continue rule by individual, independent monarchs.

THEFT OF SWORDS (2011): THE CROWN CONSPIRACY AND AVEMPARTHA

French covers by March Simonetti

THE CROWN CONSPIRACY

Hadrian and Royce are stopped by highway robbers, incredibly incompetent ones according to Hadrian and Royce. When the highway robbers discover that they are dealing with the Rirya, panic settles in. Before they go, Hadrian gives the robbers advice on how to rob people properly.

Hadrian and Royce are on their way to a job. That is what they do. They get paid to rob the wealthy for various reasons. The two of them are quite successful at what they do. But things are bound to go wrong when they are asked to undertake a job that leaves them practically no time plan. A sword is placed in the chapel at the Medford castle, and the boys are to remove it to give Count Pickering trouble in a duel. What Hadrian discovers instead is a dead king and he and Royce are accused of the murder.

AVEMPARTHA

Hadrian and Royce meet up with the guy who asked them to steal the sword, and you can probably imagine that they weren’t best pleased. But for some strange reason the man walked out of that meeting alive. Royce gets to chat with old friends and the two men are told of a young girl looking for them. They must be in a soft frame of mind, for when they meet this young girl, Thrace, they end up going with her to her village. There, mighty adventure awaits. Ok, that was a bit over-kill.

In the meantime, and you just know there has to be a meantime don’t you?, Arista bounces into her brother King Alric’s meeting misunderstanding the meeting’s intent. She thinks he is about to marry her off, while he is in reality planning on sending her as an ambassador to Dunmore. Arista likes the idea of having something to do, especially as it gets her away from all of the rumors of her witchhood. Along with her normal entourage bishop Saldur comes along with the Pickering brothers. Fanin and Mauvin are going to enter into a contest the church of Novron is holding in Ervanon.

RISE OF EMPIRE (2011): NYPHRON RISING AND THE EMERALD STORM

NYPHRON RISING

Young Amilia works as a bullied scullion maid at Aquesta. She is being threatened once again by Edith Mon, the head maid, but saved when two women enter the kitchen. One is clearly some kind of nobility, having both the manners and the clothes for it. The other is an extremely thin and quiet young woman who turns out to be the Empress of Modina. She does not look the part at all.

Through luck Regent Saldur (formerly bishop) appoints Amilia as the Empress’ new secretary. Amilia is terrified as she knows the fate of those who disappoint the regent. But Amilia turns out to have a positive effect on the Empress.

Royce and Hadrian have become royal spies, a job they are really good at. They have found themselves willing to be in the service of the Royal family of Medford, trying to keep the kingdom alive and well in a growing Empire. But keeping Medford on its feet is quite a challenge. Princess Arista has had no luck as an ambassador in finding allies. Every country is too afraid of the new Empire to dare to fight it.

THE EMERALD STORM

Merrick Marius is the world’s best and most cunning assassin. He has been hired to kill someone in Arista’s closest circle. It goes off without a hitch, leaving Arista without an important aid in keeping Ratibor in the hands of the nationalists. But he leaves her with a riddle: “Find the Horn of Gylindora … at Wintertide the Uli Vermar ends … Patriarch … is the same …”. Arista knows the message is extremely important but she hasn’t got a clue how to go about it.

Amilia is still the Empress’ secretary. Modena has been moved to better lodgings, but Amilia still feels as though she is treading water. But fortunately she has acquired her own helper in Nimbus, a landless nobelman. Amilia’s life is on the line every day, as Regent Saldur has made it quite clear what will happen if the Empress embarrasses him in any kind of manner.

Royce and Hadrian go off hunting Merrick. Once Royce and Merrick were good friends, but something happened and Merric now hates Royce. Now he has the chance to play with the Ryria and work against the kingdom of Medford. He tries to lure the two into a trap, quite a cunning one it turns out.

 HEIR OF NOVRON (2012): WINTERTIDE AND PERCEPLIQUIS

WINTERTIDE

Stealing is what he has to do to survive. But back luck strikes and he gets yelled at when he gets back to his gang. They decide to try to fleece two newcomers to the city. Royce and Hadrian enter the Imperial Square in a snowstorm. They have come to save Degan Gaunt from execution. The boys discover that the newcomers might be more than they have bargained for, but their meeting actually turns out to be fortuitous for both sides.

Arista is trying to stay sane in her cell. Arista’s attempt to save Degan Gaunt has not been successful. She just knows that she cannot give up trying to escape as the fate of the world rests upon her hands, quite literally.

Amilia is still secretary to the Empress, finding her life full of new experiences. Modena is still quite grief-struck at the challenges that have met her. But something happens to slowly wake her from her dull and grief-struck state. She finds something to live for a meaning to life. Revenge and retribution.

PERCEPLIQUIS

The elves are a hunted people by humans. Persecution is severe by the Church of Nypron. They are thought of as terrible creatures who should be struck down whenever they are seen. Now the elves have come on to human lands once again, striking down humans.

Rather than help the humans in trouble, Guy Luis is chasing a young girl called Mercy. She is the ward of Arcadius and Arcadius is trying to save her. But that job might turn out to be insurmountable.

Refugees are arriving at the Imperial city. All of the North is being overrun and the humans have no idea why. As more and more refugees come into the city Arista decides that the riddle Eshraddon gave her must be solved and as soon as possible. However, she soon discovers, once again, obstacles in her way. Royce and Hadrian end up providing the assistance she needs.

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AWARDS

  • 2010 Iceberg Ink Award Best Read (Avempartha)
  • 2010 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fantasy (The Emerald Storm)
  • 2009 National Indie Book Award Finalist (The Crown Conspiracy)
  • 2008 ReaderViews Annual Literary Award Finalist (The Crown Conspiracy)

Tolkien, J.R.R.: The Lord of The Rings (1954-1955)

If there is one thing in this world that has inspired the world of nerddom, it has to be the fantastical writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. While I’m not a Tolkien nerd/geek/fan/cult-member, I understand those who are. I mean, I’m writing a blog mostly about fantasy and science fiction – and I love doing the digging necessary for each article.

Tolkien did not only write “high epic fantasy”. He was first and foremost a Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. You can see a list of his published material at the Tolkien Library website.

While working as a lexicographer on the New English Dictionary, Tolkien began working on the elven language (primarily based on Finnish and Welsh – go to The Elvish Library to get your Tengwar baptism). At the same time he presented his The Fall of Gandolin. The Fall of Gandolin represents the beginning of what later became The Silmarillion. He ended up at Oxford in 1925, and it was after this that the work on first The Hobbit and then The Lord of The Rings began. (Tolkien Library – biography)

The Hobbit was a hit, making it easier for the publisher to contemplate publishing The Lord of The Rings. But for economic reasons, it was decided that three volumes were necessary. The three volumes were The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and the Return of the King. My copy is the omnibus containing all three novels and the appendices at the end, appendices that are quite a bit of fun.

Generally, I try to analyze what it is about a book that makes me like it. With The Hobbit it was the adventure of the tale. The Lord of the Rings is rather more difficult to pin down. Part of my liking has to do with the quality of the work. Tolkien nit-picked at details until they fit into his Middle-Earth world. The likeability of all of the characters also plays a great role. Even the “baddies”. The way the story is told, jumping from place to place is frustrating at times but also makes a lot of sense. I absolutely hated it when Tolkien broke from one adventure when things were at their most critical, to visit someone else where he had left them off. But it did keep me reading. I remember the first time I read The Lord of the Rings. I stayed up all night to get through it. Once I get going, The Lord of the Rings is difficult to put down. I have no idea how many times I have read this book, but I have gone through it a few times.

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

Each book is divided into two parts. The Fellowship of the Ring consists of I: The Ring Sets Out and II: The Ring Goes South.

From the Shire to Rivendell by Lotro

Bilbo is having his 111th birthday party combining it with Frodo’s 33rd. The whole Shire is looking forward to the celebration as there will be gifts for everyone and enormous amounts of food. As ordered, Gandalf shows up with fireworks for the party.

Bilbo is going to give up the ring, but he is finding it more difficult than he had thought. Somehow, it ends up in his pocket no matter what his intentions are. That is one of the problems with the ring. Once it chooses you as an owner, it will use you up until it feels like letting you go. Now Bilbo has to fight his own desires. In the end he manages to leave the ring with Frodo, his nephew, and Bilbo leaves the Shire with Gandalf.

Leaving the Shire by Ted Nasmith

Originally, the ring had belonged to Sauron. Sauron is a wizard who has gone over to the dark side (like Darth Vader in Star Wars). Now that he has amassed quite a bit of power, he wants his ring back and has sent his minions to search for it. The search has led him to the Shire. Gandalf returns to warn Frodo that he needs to leave the Shire. He does so, and ends up in the company of his friends Sam, Pippin and Merry. They go via the Old Forest to avoid whatever is looking for them.

Tom Bombadil saves hobbits from Old Man Willow (need artist’s name)

The Old Forest is ruled by Tom Bombadil. Thankfully, he keeps a close watch over his kingdom and manages to be there for the hobbits when they need him. With his assistance the hobbits are able to get through the Old Forest. Their journey carries them through Barrow-Downs, Bree and Weathertop.

The four hobbits learn quite a bit about themselves, their strengths and weaknesses. Their loyalty to each other increases with their trials. Middle-Earth is not exactly a paradise, free from dangers. Once the Shire is left behind, danger seems to be the word of the day for this little troup. At Bree the hobbits meet up with a ranger called Aragorn. Together, they test the bond between human and hobbits and find out what they all are made of. Eventually, the gang manages to arrive at Rivendell, one of the homes of the elves.

A well-earned rest is taken at Rivendell. Elrond, the elven-leader at Rivendell convenes the Council of Elrond. At the Council, reports are given, and the decision as to what needs to be done next is taken. They decide that the One Ring must be destroyed and once again the hobbits set off. This time there are nine people who set out.

THE TWO TOWERS

As with The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers also consists of two books. Book III is The Treason of Isengard and book IV The Ring Goes East.

treebears by Matthews

Treebeard by Rodney Matthews

This is when Tolkien begins to get seriously annoying. Sadly, he has to because the company has split up and we need to know what happens to each party. Frodo has left the Fellowship and gone down the road he thinks is necessary. Along with him went Sam. For now, we learn very little new about them, but we will later on (of course). This part of the story belongs to Merry and Pippin and the important part they play in furthering the plot.

The group gets split even further. Merry and Pippin are taken by the Uruk-hai. The rest have to make a decision. Try to find Frodo and Sam or follow Merry and Pippin. Merry and Pippin it is. Fortunately for Merry and Pippin, their stay with the Uruk-hai is not an extended one. After their escape they come to Fangorn forest and the Ents. Treebeard’s depiction above is one of the coolest ones I’ve come accross yet. Treebeard is the leader of the Ents, tree-people who have taken a looooong rest (for some of them a permanent one).

Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas come accross tracks that remind them of hobbit feet. They follow them into Fangorn and meet Gandalf again. Meeting him is a shock and a surprise (hah, hah, hah – not telling why). Together they rouse the armies of Rohan and all of them travel on to Helm’s Deep where they are needed.

Faramir by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, from Rolozo

In the meantime, Frodo and Sam continue on their journey toward Mordor. Who should appear but Gollum. His attraction to the One Ring is strong and he cannot help being pulled towards it. Frodo and Sam get him to promise to guide them to the Black Gate of Mordor.

Once they get to the Black Gate, Gollum finds it easy to convince Frodo and Sam to follow him to a secret entrance into Mordor. By going there, they will avoid guards. As they keep on going, the three-hobbit-group meets up with Faramir and his Rangers. The Rangers help them on their way. Faramir warns Frodo and Sam that Gollum might know more about the secret entrance than he is telling. And he does. Does he ever. But then Gollum is true to the nature that has become his. Possession of the One Ring is all that matters to him. Means justify the end, and what an unpleasant set of means he has awaiting the two hobbits.

THE RETURN OF THE KING

In our last book of The Lord of the Ring trilogy we find the books V: The War of the Ring and VI: The Return of the King.

The Battle at Minas Tirith by Andrzej Grzechnik

The Lord of the Rings is not a trilogy for the faint-hearted. From what I’ve heard, that goes for the movies as well (I have not seen them). There is violence, plenty of violence and death. As you have found thus far, people die along the way. How many of these heroes will survive, is not certain at all. But what most of you already know, due to all of the media coverage of the films, is that some of our heroes will make it – all the way to the very end.

But before we get that far, war beckons in another land. A horde of Orcs are attacking Gondor and the people of Gondor are desperate for help. The goal of Gandalf and Aragorn and the rest is to get there in time to make a difference. But when the dreaded Witch King of Angmar arrives on the scene with even more help from Mordor, nothing is certain.

Map of Mordor by Khând

As you will see when you read The Return of the King, plenty has happened to Frodo and Sam. Their journey towards the destruction of the One Ring is proving extremely problematic. Orcs are following their tracks through the desolate landscape of Mordor. Getting from Cirith Ungol to the Crack of Doom is by no means certain. Nothing of value is to be easy for the two friends.

And this is where I leave off. Like I said at the beginning, The Lord of the Rings has been an enjoyable and tense journey, one that I wish everyone could enjoy. I have not seen the films, and I will not do so either. The images evoked by this trilogy through reading, are enough for me. I wish to retain them, not replace them.

For my dyslectic son, the films were the obvious choice and one that he enjoyed. My non-dyslectic son has read the trilogy several times and seen the films and enjoyed all of them. I’m just too old-fashioned, I guess.

The White Tree of Gondor by Alan Lee


Awards

1957: Awarded the International Fantasy Award


SOURCES


ADAPTATIONS

Film

1978: Part I of a rotoscoped animation of Lord of the Rings was released by United Artists and directed by Ralph Bakshi. UA considered the film a flop and refused to fund Part II.

1980: Rankin/Bass use the opportunity to give out a televised animation of the Return of the King. It was targeted at a younger audience.

1998: Miramax began a live-action adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, directed by Peter Jackson. New Line Cinema assumed production responsibility and decided that there would be three, not two films. 2001: The Fellowship of the Ring; 2002: The Two Towers; 2003: The Return of the King.

2009The Hunt for Gollum, a fan film based on elements of the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, was released on the internet in May 2009.

Awards

  • All three films by Peter Jackson won the Hugo Award for Best (Long-form) Dramatic Presentation in their respective years.
  • 4 Oscars for The Fellowship of the Ring
  • 2 Oscars for The Two Towers
  • 11 Oscars for The Return of the King

Radio

1955: The BBC produced a 13-part-radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. It is a very faithful adaptation.

1979: US dramatization subsequently issued on tape and CD.

1981: BBC produced a 26 half-hour-episode adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.


Stage

1990s: Lifeline Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, produced individual plays of each of the three books.

2001-2003: Full-length productions of each of The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003) were staged in Cincinnati, Ohio.

2006: Three-hour-stage musical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings by Mirvish Productions opened in Toronto (opened in London 2007).


Music: There are groups playing anything from death-metal to folk music who are fans of Middle-Earth. Some albums are very middle-age while others are far from it.

  • …Of Forest And Fire…
  • …Where the Shadows Lie
  • A Night in Rivendell
  • All that Glitters
  • An Evening in Rivendell
  • At Dawn in Rivendell
  • Beyond the Western Seas
  • Complete Songs and Poems
  • Dol Guldur (album)
  • Evernight (album)
  • Firestorm Apocalypse – Tomorrow Shall Know the Blackest Dawn
  • The First Ring
  • Forest of Edoras
  • In Elven Lands
  • Inspirations of the Middle Earth
  • Journey of the Dunadan
  • Landscapes of Middle-earth
  • Leaving Rivendell
  • Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame
  • Lost Tales (album)
  • Lugburz (album)
  • Minas Morgul (album)
  • Mountain Live: The Road Goes Ever On
  • Music Inspired by Middle Earth
  • Music of Middle-Earth, Vol. 1: From the Shire to Rivendell
  • Music of Middle-Earth, Vol. 2: From Khazad-dum to Gondor
  • Mystic Legends…
  • Nightfall in Middle-Earth
  • Nightshade Forests (album)
  • Oath Bound
  • Onwards to the Spectral Defile
  • Sagan om Ringen (album)
  • Shadow Rising
  • The Starlit Jewel
  • Stronghold
  • Sword’s Song
  • The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (album)
  • The Last Alliance (album)
  • The Lay Of Leithian (album)
  • The Middle Earth Album
  • Third Age of the Sun
  • Unveiling the Essence
  • Winds of Change

Audio books

1990: Recorded Books published an audio version of The Lord of the Rings, with British actor Rob Inglis.


Satire and parody based on The Lord of the Rings

  • A soft core porn comedy entitled The Lord of the G-Strings.
  • The Harvard Lampoon satire Bored of the Rings, and its prequel  The Soddit.
  • A little-known BBC Radio series, Hordes of the Things (1980) attempted to parody heroic fantasy in the style of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • A German resynchronization of the Fellowship’s first twenty minutes, called Lord of the Weed – Sinnlos in Mittelerde,  portrays the characters as highly drug addicted.
  • Quickbeam and Bombadil, The Lords of the Rhymes, mix Tolkien’s fantasy world with hip-hop.
  • Two New York City based authors, Jessica and Chris, parody Tolkien’s work in Once More With Hobbits.
  • Several former members of Mystery Science Theater 3000 created Edward the Less which parodies the trilogy.
  • The episode of South Park entitled The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers spoofs Peter Jackson’s version of the trilogy.
  • The Lord of The … whatever, a “transcribed electronic text version”, written by the Tolkien fans of the rec.arts.books.tolkien newsgroup as a reply to those who ask where can they download an electronic copy of the book. It has lots of fan in-jokes, like whether Balrogs have wings or not, a long-standing debate in the Tolkien fandom.
  • Flight of the Conchords claim that their parody Frodo was rejected as a theme song for Peter Jackson’s movies.
  • The Ring Thing – a Swiss parody of The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy, however it has received mixed reviews.
  • MADtv spoofed the series with The Lords of the Bling.
  • Kingdom O’Magic by Fergus McNeill. He became famous during the eighties for games such as Bored of the Rings (influenced by, but not adapted from, the Harvard Lampoon book) and The Boggit.
  • Why can’t they just lose the ring in the sink?, humour columnist Dave Barry’s satire.
  • Dead Ringers, BBC Radio/TV satirical comedy show regularly features Lord of the Rings-themed sketches.
  • Bobo, a very popular Serbian voice-over video on scene from the first film, which features Boromir and Frodo as gay lovers.
  • British Comedy duo French & Saunders have also satired and spoofed in detail Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring in a BBC 2002 Easter Special entitled The Egg.
  • A parody entitled teh l0rd of teh Ringz0r has done the rounds of bulletin boards systems.
  • A Spanish voice-over video of Gollum debating about which is the best football (soccer) video game.
  • One Man Lord of the Rings A one man show by Charles Ross, reciting and parodying the three films in an hour.
  • REC Studios’ Fellowship of the Ring A parody starring four people portraying multiple characters each and condensing the first third of the story to under a quarter of an hour.
  • MTV produced the Lord of the Piercing, a parody about the Council of Elrond, in which Frodo uses the One Ring in a piercing. The 4 minute episode comes as a hidden extra in the first DVD of the 4-disc set of The Fellowship of the Ring.
  • Fellowship! – A musical parody of The Lord of the Rings
  • Worth 1,000 – Comical images related to The Lord of the Rings.
  • 50 Reasons Why Lord of the Rings Sucks – Only to be read if no sharp objects are within reach.
  • Lord of the Rings vs. The Matrix vs. Star Wars – Comical review of the three movies, not to be taken even remotely seriously.

Video games, board games, role playing games, puzzles, card games, a chess set and miniatures games include the themes from Lord of the Rings.

Various J.R.R. Tolkien recordings on youtube.com


 

Tolkien, J.R.R.: The Hobbit: There and Back Again (1937)

Cover art 1975 ed. by J.R.R. Tolkien

I wonder if I came to The Hobbit the same way everybody else has. First I read The Lord of The Rings. I loved it. Then I discovered that Tolkien had written other books and one of them was The Hobbit. I set out on a quest to go through all of his fantasy work. I should probably read some of Tolkien’s academical work as well, but alas. I have wondered at the sense of writing yet another review on the subject. Then I remember how much I liked The Hobbit and I think that there probably is room for another fan out there amongst the 1s and 0es.

David T. Wentzel 2nd ed. cover

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892 …. At the age of three his mother brought him and his younger brother, Hilary, back to England. Tolkien’s father died soon afterwards in South Africa …. When he was 12, Tolkien’s mother died, and he and his brother … lived with aunts and in boarding homes …. The young Tolkien … excelled in classical and modern languages … and began to create his own languages….

Tolkien wrote ‘A Middle English Vocabulary’, but it was not published until 1922 …. During this time he began serious work on creating languages that he imagined had been spoken by elves. The languages were based primarily on Finnish and Welsh. He also began his “Lost Tales” a mythic history of men, elves, and other creatures he created to provide context for his “Elvish” languages…

It was also during his years at Oxford that Tolkien would scribble an inexplicable note in a student’s exam book: “In a hole in the ground         there lived a Hobbit.” Curious as to what exactly a “Hobbit” was and why it should live in a hole, he began to build a story about a short creature who inhabited a world called Middle-earth. This grew into a story he told his children, and in 1936 a version of it came to the attention of the publishing firm of George Allen and Unwin.” (Tolkien biography, Tolkien Library)

Note:  On Thror’s map, east is up.

The Shire is an idyllic place to live. Middle-Earth’s rising problems have not yet impacted on the Hobbits living there, and they will not for quite some time. Bilbo Baggins is a seemingly average hobbit. Hobbits are shorter than humans, have furry feet (making foot-wear uncomfortable) and enjoy socializing. Bilbo lives contentedly in his hole in the ground on a hilltop.

Drumroll. Gandalf arrives. Thus far, The Hobbit has been a pleasant children’s tale, not really giving warning of anything nasty about to come. Gandalf is one of the very certain pointers to dangerous things coming one’s way. To begin with Gandalf’s visit is fairly pleasant. But then 13 dwarves appear, for some reason with the belief that Bilbo is supposed to be one of their party searching for the Lonely Mountains and the treasure of the dwarves. After a lot of convincing by Gandalf, both parties decide to give the adventure together a shot.

If you think children should only meet pleasantness, this is probably a good place to end the story. What comes after entails quite a bit of unpleasantness. But the unpleasantness is presented in such a manner that a child would probably want their parent to keep on reading (and you as a parent would want to keep on reading yourself). The Hobbit is certainly not only a children’s tale. It is very much for adults as well. But please do not try to analyze the book. Tolkien himself said that The Hobbit was what it was – no allegories or hidden messages were intended.

Riddles in the Dark by Alan Lee

I’m not really sure how much to reveal. This is a story that is about to be blown open by the movie industry. But until then, it might only be fair to the reader to keep some things under wrap. Tolkien introduces us to the mythology of England through The Hobbit. I’m certain his children loved the way Tolkien made English mythology so accessible for them. Through The Hobbit and The Lord of Rings we as an audience get to know old English beliefs about the world of the fantastic.

On his journey with the dwarves, Bilbo meets trolls. As a Norwegian I am very familiar with the troll myth. Trolls aren’t cute little key-chain trolls that you can get at souvenir stores. They are ugly, large and quite often stupid. Unfortunately for most of the people they meet, trolls are also capable of smelling their victims and finding them wherever they are. But there is one advantage to be had over trolls, and that is sunlight. They turn to stone if even a ray hits them.

Gandalf introduces Bilbo to Beorn by Michael Hague

Shape-shifters, on the other hand, are not a common Norwegian myth. Bilbo gets to meet one of them, in the shape of Beorn. As you might guess from the name, Beorn’s other shape is a bear and he is a fierce fighter. He is wary of strangers, but once he takes to you, he is willing to go to great lengths to help you.

The Arkenstone by Michael Hague

The other non-humans that the gang of 15 meets are elves, who are good for a given definition of good. Some of the baddies are wargs (great big hulking wolves), goblins (tend to want to eat you) and Smaug the dragon. Smaugs lair is where the treasure is (otherwise The Hobbit wouldn’t be as fun). Smaug is who we see on the cover above.

As Gandalf had predicted at the beginning of the book, Bilbo would not remain the same person as he went through his adventures. And this prediction comes true. A very changed hobbit meets us at the end of the book. He has discovered that he is capable of a lot more than he had thought possible. And if we absolutely have to look for a moral to this story, I guess that is as good as any. We are capable of more than we think is possible.

——————————–

AWARDS

1938: New York Herald Tribune Children’s Spring Book Festival Award.


For all of you Hobbit-nutters out there, you can now get the Latin version of the book. See Middle-Earth News for information.


Adaptations

Film

1966: A 12-minute film of cartoon stills by Gene Deitch.

1977: an animated version by Rankin/Bass. Nominated for Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. I’ve seen this several times on national TV and quite like it.

2012: planned release of film-version of the first installation in a three-part story by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and New Line Cinema. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

Awards

1978: Romeo Muller won a Peabody Award for his teleplay for the Rankin/Bass The Hobbit.


Stage

1953: First stage production by St. Margaret’s School, Edinburgh. Several others have followed later.

1986: The Hobbit (A Musical) was produced for the stage by Khandallah Arts Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand.

2001: The Atlantic Theatre Festival in Wolfville, Nova Scotia is presenting a production of The Hobbit.

2012: The Hobbit returns to The Maverick Theater in Fullerton, California.


Radio

1968: Radio-adaptation in eight parts for BBC Radio4 by Michael Kilgarriff. Was released on audio cassette in 1988 and on CD in 1997.


Comics

1989: three-part comic-book adaptation by Chuck Dixon and Sean Deming and illustrated by David Wenzel. Published by Eclipse Comics.


Games

1982The Hobbit, by Beam Software and published by Melbourne House. A copy of the novel was included in each game package.

1999: ME Games Ltd. was offered the licence to run Middle-Earth Play by Mail, an ongoing team-game based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

2012: The Hobbit: Boardgame by Fantasy Flight Games.

Awards:

1983: The Hobbit (Beam Software) won the Golden Joystick Award for Strategy Game of the Year in 1983.

1995-1999: Fellows of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design awarded the Origin Awards: Best On-going PBM Game: Middle Earth PBM Fourth Age (Game Systems).

1999: ME Games PBM was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design’s Hall of Fame.


SOURCES:

Foster, Alan Dean: Journeys of the Catechist

I loved the Journeys of the Catechist. What an excellent trilogy this is. This is Alan Dean Foster at his best. All three novels were of high quality and the characters enjoyable. Fantasy adventure is fun when the author manages to make it work. Our main character Etolje Ehomba takes us through several adventures on his way to fulfill what he sees as his obligation. While there were plenty of adventures and action scenes in the books, for some reason they came across as quiet books to me. Maybe that had to do with all of Etolje’s questions. He does like his questions. Or maybe I like these books because they are different from much of the fantasy and science fiction out there on the market. That probably has to do with the Catechist (teach through questions and answers) part or the story.

CARNIVORES OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS (1998)

Cover art by Keith Parkinson

When a group of dead men are washed up on the beach near the home of Etolje Ehomba, one of them turns out to be alive but close to death. He charges Etolje to save the Visioness Themary of Laconda who has been abducted by Hymneth the Possessed. Ehomba does as he has been charged despite the protests of his family. Armed with a sword, a spear and a few things that the women of the village have collected for him Ehomba sets off.

Shortly after setting off, Etolje meets up with Simna ibn Sind. Simna ends up following Ehomba on the whole quest. Our suspicions of Etolje’s magical abilities are soon aroused, as he seems able to do miraculous feats. But Etolje never agrees with that description. Instead all credit is given to the collection of things that the women of his village gathered for him.

These two travelling companions’ adventures are like Aesop’s tales. There is a moral behind each encounter. A Catechist is one who teaches by word of mouth. Sometimes Etolje’s tendency to ask questions of everything and everyone, patiently waiting for answers, frustrates Sind. As a reader it gives us insight into the world of Ehomba, and if we are attentive we should certainly begin to see that perhaps Etolje’s village might not be as every other village that he and Simna encounter.

INTO THE THINKING KINGDOMS (1999)

Into the Thinking Kingdoms is book no. 2 in the Journeys of the Catechist trilogy. It begins where Carnivores of Light and Darkness left off. Ehomba is still asking questions and Simna is still complaining about what he sees as a waste of time. Along with them on their journey they have acquired Ahlitah (a feline).

While their environment has changed somewhat, all three still manage to get themselves in and out of trouble. Etolje’s word magic is especially needed when the trio manages to get themselves arrested for thinking and expressing independent thoughts. As in Carnivores of Light and Darkness, each place is left a changed place for having encountered Ehomba, Simna and Ahlitah.

I enjoyed Into The Thinking Kingdoms as much as Carnivores of Light and Darkness. These books show off Foster’s tale-spinning abilities. You need to have read Carnivores of Light and Darkness in order to be able to follow along in the story. Into the Thinking Kingdoms is not a stand-alone book.

A TRIUMPH OF SOULS (2000)

Cover art by Keith Parkinson

A Triumph of Souls is a great conclusion to the Journeys of the Catechist trilogy. The trio, Etolje Ehomba, Simna ibn Sind and Ahlitah, the feline, are still together on their quest to save the Visioness Themaryl from the evil Hymneth the Possessed.

This time they take to the sea to get to their goal. Once again the trio gets themselves in and out of trouble. Some of this trouble is strange indeed. The island with the faceless people is a clear example of Foster’s ability to play with weirdness. Etolje still denies having sorcerous abilities.

When the gang gets to Hymneth the Possessed we meet a person who makes regular fantasy villains look stereotypical. And the ending of the book. What a perfect, yet surprising story this has turned out to be. While there might not have been a great deal of character development on the part of Simna, he feels real. Some pe0ple aren’t really changed by their experiences. Motivations stay the same. Etolje is Etolje. His role seems to be to surprise, and he does that well. As I said earlier, Journeys of the Catechist is an epic fantasy of great quality and it delivers what it promises.

Lowe, Helen: The Gathering of the Lost (2012)

The Gathering of the Lost” is book no. 2 of “The Wall of Night” series. Helen Lowe has done an excellent job on the follow-up of the first book in the series “The Heir of Night“. She manages to draw the reader in and does not let go until the last page. As teen-lit this is really good. The story is fairly complex and surprising (perhaps) in its twists and turns.

Through various journeys, Lowe leads us to Malian and Kalan. We get to see where they stand in relationship to each other and to the quest they set out on 5 years previously. Saving the Derai (and perhaps the rest of the world) from the fierce Swarm will not be simple. Discovering where the lost clans are takes time, and time is precious.

As in The Heir of Night Malian’s choices will make the difference in the outcome of the coming battle.

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.