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Tag Archives: Fantasy

Booked Up for a While

It’s been a while and although this is sadly not the review I mentioned in the last post, it is nonetheless a post.  Recently I have been distracted by even more good literature (fiction and non fiction) and I’m really excited to be in the process reviewing.  I will do that as soon as I can but first, here is a bunch of new books that cost less than a tenner.

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There is a sensible reason for these purchases, wanting to downsize my books somewhat this year, It makes sense to buy more books so I can feel inspired to start clearing the ones I don’t want anymore as I read/review them.This is logical as otherwise I would be drowned by paper through my own laziness and/or hoarding tendencies.

these purchases also represent a pile of firsts, which just occurred to me as I was casting around for more to say about them… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 09/02/2017 in Blogging, Lists/Ephemera

 

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Night Delight

Recently it has been a pleasure to retire to bed at about half nine in the evening for some quality reading time.  Stopping to make a hot chocolate which always gets the reading off right, then leaving it to cool off next to my funky touch lamp before picking up whichever book is currently occupying my imagination.

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Stars and the to be reviewed pile.

The beauty of the lamp accompanying the chosen literature is the intimate setting it creates, beyond the book everything is either obscured by the dark or its impact on the peripheral vision lessened so that the small zone of light contains the reader’s only focus on the many adventures to be undertaken.

The accompanying silence as the night wears on – if you are lucky enough to live away from main roads and such – adds a lot of atmosphere, as it did when I picked up Stephen King’s Desperation, and The Stand where 99% of the word’s population has died (not that this appalling tally seems to be noticed as this is all set in America) and the survivors are left to their almost totally silent world.

The night though is versatile, after extensive reading research throughout the years particularly vivid memories of 2001: A Space Odyssey and its three sequels, The Rama series, and Solaris which being Sci-Fi come to mind.  It feels right to read the genre at night as it does horror, like the stories of M.R. James, and Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, which is the only horror book that I have been genuinely creeped out by. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 15/01/2017 in Book Memories, Fiction

 

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Dwelling on the Cusp

EllieEdonArt

I close my eyes

Entering a forest of yellow hue

turned green, behind lids

an ever changing patina of labyrinthine leafiness.

squeeze them tight

Mingling with gossamer thoughts

Fragile, yet protected

as I finally drift off

 block out the remaining light

to inscribe fanciful thoughts

– contemplations of the forever –

in the stardust of my dreams…

~~~~~~

Thanks to Ellie Edon for allowing me to use her art, check out more at http://ellieedon.wixsite.com/artwork and as ever thanks for reading, I will be visiting again when time permits.

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Posted by on 17/08/2016 in My Writings, Poetry

 

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Baudolino – Umberto Eco

Baudolino-paperback-coverIt is 1204, and Constantinople is being sacked and burned by the knights of the fourth Crusade. Amid the carnage and confusion Baudolino saves a Byzantine historian and high court official from certain death at the hands of the crusading warriors, and proceeds to tell his own fantastical story.

That isn’t much of a blurb I’ll grant you but this is Umberto Eco’s work and he always writes with a quality lacking in many other authors so it really doesn’t need much in the way of encouragement to pick up.  Nevertheless without giving too much more of the story away I shall endeavour to encourage you to read it anyway.

The book starts with our titular protagonist Baudolino learning to write and quickly establishes he is a serial liar and that that is the key to the book.  The plot is based on a succession of lies framed in a story told to us by an unreliable narrator, despite or perhaps because of this, the reader is drawn in as fantasy and real life collide in a crazy tale of high adventure which may or may not be entirely accurate.

The exploration of how history is written and from what points of view as well as the idea of choosing what to believe is an interesting one explored throughout the text. The idea of both the real and the fantastical living together in religion is one point Eco makes time and again, he grounds this in the ideas of the 12th century, both of faith (and the arguments between various sects) and science.  Like Eco’s earlier work The Name of the Rose, the ideas of the day are thoroughly explored and extremely well researched and really help to give the book an extra immersive quality.  There is plenty here the reader will want to delve into and explore, be it the history or the satire aimed at many authors amongst them Sir John Mandeville, Voltaire and Jonathan Swift as well as the authentic style of the time in regards to listing people and creatures in detail just like the literature then was prone to do.

A lot is crammed into this book there is an ingenious locked room mystery, The Crusades, Prester John and many other fascinating things with which I would do you a disservice to mention here and ruin the discovery for you.  All this makes for a compelling read crammed full of magical ideas and real history but rather than an endless procession of ideas, it is woven into a story that may begin a little slowly but once it gets going can at times become a whirlwind of adventure and enjoyable prose. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 17/03/2016 in Fiction

 

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Dark Fey: Standing In Shadows – Cynthia Morgan

FeymanjiIf you haven’t read Dark Fey: The Reviled then this synopsis for book two is going to contain a shedload of spoilers that you may want to avoid, however the review itself won’t divulge any plot information that will ruin your reading pleasure.

Gairynzvl escaped captivity among the DemonFey who had abducted him as a child through a daring act of treason and was rescued by Light Loving Fey. Now, he wants to return into the dark realm of The Reviled to attempt a rescue of the innocent childfey trapped there.
It will take more than one Fey to breach the borders of The Uunglarda and to slip past the legions of Dark Fey who abide there. It will take magic and strength, courage and military strategy and it will shake the foundations of everything The Fey of The Light have accepted as truth for thousands of years, but Gairynzvl knows the secret ways in and out of the dark realm; he is able to open portals and through his gifts of telepathic empathy and he can find the childfey standing, waiting, in the shadows.
Slipping into the darkness through darkness is easy. Escaping out again with terrified childfey is another matter. If they are captured his band of liberators will pray for death long before it comes and their success could spark full scale war, unleashing the barbaric hatred and viciousness of The Reviled upon the peace-loving Fey of The Light.
Can Gairynzvl convince the Fey of the Light to allow him to return to the Uunglarda, the realm of The Reviled? Who will join him to aid the Innocent childfey trapped in the realm of shadows and fear? And Will the Fey of the Light risk a savage war in order to rescue them?

The cover photo is great, there is no denying that and were I to see it in a bookshop my interest would be piqued.  More of this type of cover I say, rather than those dreary copy cat covers that seem to be so prevalent on the shelves these days.  As well as looking nice, it also sets the scene for a darker and more foreboding sequel.

Like the first book, this is a fantasy steeped in the natural, of the polar opposites of light and dark and the overlapping of the two and whilst the plot took, for me a little while to get going – the characters even get time for a ball game – once it gets going though, it moves along at a pleasing pace. It is an interesting mix, the plot feeling both urgent yet also fairly relaxed at times, giving the book a more ethereal feel. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 12/02/2016 in Children's Literature, Fantasy

 

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Astonishing the Gods – Ben Okri

AsttheGodsFrom the Booker prize-winning author of The Famished Road comes this bewitching novel. It is a modern fable about the relationship between love, suffering and creativity. Set on an enchanted island, Astonishing the Gods is shot through with the gentle magic of Ben Okri’s imaginative prose.

Okri’s fifth novel is an interesting challenge to review, being as it is, a short novel with huge scope. It’s about a nameless man who sees himself as invisible and after much travelling finds himself at a strange port, which is the start of a journey into the meaning of his own experience of life.

To add any more plot would ruin the very point of the book which is the road to self understanding.  The protagonist and reader are taken on a journey of discovery and contemplation about life, how we experience it and what we really learn, or hope to learn and perhaps even how to transcend it.

It’s a very visual story, opulent in both language and imagery.  Set in an enigmatic dreamlike state, it becomes a timeless spiritual quest, which has a complex grandeur about its metaphysical nature.  The created world sparkles and although at first appearing to be a utopian place, there is an underlying cruel current which seems oddly apt.

There is plenty of symbolism in the prose and its abstract feel – the meandering of the story, the often flowery language loaded with arcane subtext – means there is a presence of the intangible, the spiritual.  Those philosophical questions are something that has always haunted our race and the world changes, keeping it in grandeur which mirrors our further understandings and maturity. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 13/07/2015 in Fiction

 

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Tales From Outer Suburbia – Shaun Tan

Talesfromoutersuburbia...BOOMYou thought you knew suburbia.

An exchange student who’s really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says…

These are the odd, magical details of everyday suburban life that might forever goo unnoticed were they not finally brought to light by Shaun Tan, author and illustrator of award-winning bestseller The Arrival

Outer Suburbia.  it’s closer than you think.

After reading the magnificent The Arrival, I hungered for more of Tan’s work, this was the only one available in the comic book shop Page 45, at the time and I couldn’t be happier about that now.

My initial disappointment at the mere 96 pages – for I liked quantity with quality in my youthful years – soon changed to outright curiosity as I flicked through to the pencil drawings on the inside cover, a skeleton playing the banjo and singing the blues, an astronaut interviewing a French dog and other sorts of other outlandish things which I later noted are not repeated on the back pages which features more refreshingly strange images.

Little touches like that reassured me that this wouldn’t be just another brief anthology but something special, a group of short stories tinged with whimsy and mystery and I wasn’t wrong.  Inside I discovered clever and lighthearted stories, that have at their core messages, some obvious a few hidden a little deeper but always as thought-provoking as you allow them to be.

Some of my favourite stories include a look at what happens to the lost poems we write on scraps of paper, an expedition to see what lies beyond the edge of a street map, an ‘invasion’ of enigmatic stick figures in the suburbs and a typical and logical reaction of the populace to the threat of war. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 08/06/2015 in Children's Literature, Fantasy, Fiction

 

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