Having overdosed on Free Time, I decided to plan another Fantasy Challenge for myself. Here it is:
(Is there a horror challenge? When I get busy, this list will start to look like The Hangover meets Halloween!)
1. High Fantasy: A Memory of Light, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (2013)]. Final book in The Wheel of Time. March 25 - 31, 2013
***** The Last Battle approaches, and the final fates of the Dragon Reborn and his companions are revealed. This is a very satisfying ending: the 20 year wait was well worth it. I actually found myself hyperventilating while reading parts of the story.
2. Comic Fantasy: The House of the Stag, by Kage Baker (2008)
3. Dark Fantasy: The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub (1984) December 31, 2012 - January 5, 2013
**** Jack Sawyer is twelve years old, and his mother is dying of cancer in a resort hotel in New Hampshire. His life seems bleak, until Speedy Parker tells Jack about a Talisman that could make things better. All Jack has to do is travel to a parallel world, cross the continent by himself, and get the artifact. Simple, no? During his quest, Jack must evade unscrupulous bartenders, maniacal cult leaders, and his late father’s evil business partner, Morgan Sloat. Travelling by his wits, he enlists the aid of a werewolf, and finally his best friend, Richard Sloat, son of his nemesis. If Jack fails, two worlds may be doomed!
4. Fairytale Fantasy: Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire (1995) April 2 - 6, 2013
**** In “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the Wicked Witches are ciphers – cardboard villains to be destroyed, but never mourned. Gregory Maguire capitalizes on that, fleshing out the characters into believable people. You know how it ends: now see how it all began.
5. Urban Fantasy: A Perfect Blood, by Kim Harrison (2012) Book 10 of The Hollows. February 17 - 20, 2013
**** A secret organization of humans is killing witches, and Rachel Morgan has to stop them – or Inderland Security will frame her for the crimes! In this latest Hollows novel, it’s Alphabet City as IS and the FIB battle HAPA. But evildoers have infiltrated the government agencies.
Meanwhile, Rachel has a dilemma: If she removes the bracelet which restricts her demonic abilities, she’ll expose herself to attack from the Everafter. Will Al be happy she’s not dead, or will he try to kill her?
Blood Bound, by Patricia Briggs (2007). A Mercedes Thompson novel. April 26 - 29, 2013
*** A sorcerer has moved into the Tri-cities area, and is causing trouble: the demon-controlling magic user is inciting violence by his mere presence. What’s worse, he’s a vampire, too. When Mercy’s friends start disappearing, she has to step in to stop the monster – once and for all!
6. Sword and Sorcery: Sojourn, by R. A. Salvatore (1991)
7. Heroic Fantasy: The Two Swords, by R. A. Salvatore (2004)
8. Romantic Fantasy: Blood of Dragons, by Robin Hobb (2013)
9. Science Fantasy: The Children of Kings, by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross (2013) - a Darkover novel. May 11 - 13, 2013
**** Gareth Elhalyn is seeking adventure. Avoiding his bodyguards, he sometimes slips away, pretending he is “Race Cargill, Agent of the Terran Federation.” When he overhears rumours of strange doings in the desert, he sees an opportunity, and sets out for the Dry Towns disguised as a merchant’s apprentice.
But his adventure turns to deadly peril when smugglers exchange Terran blasters for water and food, and incite blood feud with the Dry-Towners. Then the arrival of a warship endangers Thendara itself. Only the intervention of a long-lost Hastur can save the city.
Can Gareth save the day without violating the Compact or his honor?
10. Fantasy of Manners (aka Mannerpunk): The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, by Galen Beckett (2008)
11. Magic Realism: Expiration Date, by Tim Powers (1995)
12. Young Adult Fantasy: The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan (2005) April 21 - 25, 2013
*** Percy Jackson is a troubled 12-year old with dyslexia and ADHD, sent to one boarding school after another. After several bizarre incidents, Percy discovers that his best friend is a Satyr, his REAL father is one of the Gods of Olympus, and that his life is in danger. Then things REALLY start to get weird!
This book feels a lot like Harry Potter meets American Gods.
13. Time Travel Fantasy: White Rose, by R. Garcia y Robertson (2004)
14. Supernatural Noir: Storm Front, by Jim Butcher (2000) February 2 - 5, 2013
**** Technology tends to malfunction around Harry Dresden. That’s because he’s a wizard, living in contemporary Chicago. When he’s called in to assist the police in a bizarre double murder, he quickly realizes magic is involved. The case becomes much more complicated: organized criminals want him to stop, a demon tries to kill him, and Harry becomes the prime suspect. It’s going to take all his magical and investigative skills to solve the murders and save his own life!
15. Paranormal: Other Kingdoms, by Richard Matheson (2011) March 9 - 13, 2013
****Successful author Alex White reminisces, at the age of 82, about his experiences during and after the Great War. Wounded by a grenade, he convalesced in Gatford, the home town of one of his comrades, who was killed in the same attack. There he encountered romance and terror at the hands of witches and fairies.
1. Protagonist older than 35: Drood, by Dan Simmons (2009) March 16 - April 5, 2013
... but first I had to read The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens (1870) Maybe I should have read The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, too...
Charles Dickens died in 1870, leaving “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” unfinished. This book is an account of the last five years of Dickens’ life, as chronicled by his friend and colleague, Wilkie Collins.
But Collins has a dark secret: a criminal mastermind named Drood has implanted a Scarab in Wilkie’s brain, and it’s all Dickens’ fault.
However, Collins is addicted to laudanum, opium, and morphine, and may be under a posthypnotic suggestion as well. Can we trust anything he tells us?
While there may be matter of historical and biographical importance here, this is really a horror novel, and a horrifying one at that.
2. Protagonist younger than 18: Absolute Midnight, by Clive Barker (2011)
3. Magical human protagonist: Changes, by Jim Butcher (2010) February 21 - 23, 2013. Book 10 in the Dresden Files
***** Never mess with family. When wizard Harry Dresden discovers that he has a daughter, and that his child has been kidnapped by the Red Court, there’s going to be trouble. This is one case Harry can’t turn down, though it may cost him everything he has, even his life.
4. Non-human protagonist: Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion (2011)
5. Set in a royal court: The Emperor’s Soul, by Brandon Sanderson (2012) January 5, 2013
**** An assassination attempt has left Emperor Ashravan brain-dead. In order to maintain power, the Heritage faction embarks on a perilous gamble: a condemned Forger is asked to craft a new soul for the Emperor. In the universe of Elantris, Forgery often involves magic, but soul-forging is an abomination. Will Wan ShaiLi succeed in restoring the Emperor, or will her crafting produce a zombie controlled by the leaders of the faction? And will her captors allow her to survive once she has finished her task?
6. Set in a school of magic: Fire Study, by Maria V. Snyder (2008) Book 3 in theStudy Series. April 7 - 9, 2013
**** Yelena Zaltana is a Soulfinder, but she doesn’t really understand the purpose of her magic yet. Many people think her ability is the same as that of a soul stealer, a vicious power-seeking magician.
When Yelena and her friends set out to recapture the soul stealer, they encounter a conspiracy which threatens her family, the warring nations of Setia and Ixia, and the souls of every sentient being on her world.
7. Set in a recognizable historical milieu: The Pirates! In an Adventure with the Romantics, by Gideon Defoe (2012) January 6,2013
** This is a silly book, and I will not like it!
The Pirates are in financial difficulties, and hire their boat out for an Adventure Tour. As passengers they take on Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin, and eventually Charles Babbage. (If you don’t know who those are, look them up. It will do you good.) Their travels take them to London, and the Carpathian Alps, undergoing farcical escapades worthy of the Marx Brothers or Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Sadly, all ends well for the buccaneers, without too much damage being done to history.
8. Set in a recognizably non-European milieu: Life Guards in the Hamptons, by Celia Jerome (2012). Book 4 in theWillow Tate series. March 9 - 11, 2013.
**** Willow Tate is a successful graphic artist whose drawings seem literally to come alive. When a cruise ship is wrecked by a rogue wave bearing a strong likeness to an elemental in one of her stories, matters get out of hand. Then there’s the rare bird that isn’t from this world at all, and a spate of robberies in the Paumanok neighborhood. To top it off, Willow’s having doubts about her on/off romance with the local vet.
When all your friends and relatives are psychic, it’s really difficult to keep secrets, so Willow gets all kinds of help. That she doesn’t want…
This comic novel is filled with wry humor that kept me giggling from one page to the next.
9. Set in a radically altered historical milieu (e.g. steampunk, alternate history) Land of Hope and Glory, by Geoffrey Wilson (2011) January 6 - 9, 2013
**** It’s 1850, and England has been part of the Rajthanan empire for more than a century. Rebels aim to change that. Jack Casey’s been retired from the Army for several years, due to a magical wound which still endangers his life. Elizabeth, Jack’s daughter, has joined the rebels, and is due to be executed. Jack has only one chance to save her: he must track down and capture one of the rebel leaders. But the mysterious “Ghost” is one of Jack’s best friends from his army days. Will Jack betray his friend, his country, or lose his only remaining relative?
This is an interesting tale of conflicted morality, set in a world where magic has tilted the balance of history against Christianity in favor of the religions of India and Islam.
10. Action takes place while traveling (quest structure): Red, White, and Blood by Christopher Farnsworth (2012). A Nathaniel Cade novel. March 22 - 24, 2013
***** The President of the United States is on the campaign trail seeking re-election, and an immortal monster is killing his staff. But there’s good news: Nathaniel Cade and Zach Barrows are hunting down this “Boogeyman.” There’s also bad news: Cade himself is a monster, a vampire constrained by a curse to serve and protect the President.
But the Boogeyman may be too much for Cade. It keeps being summoned back from the dead, and now other forces are helping it.
This isn’t a battle between Good and Evil: it’s a fight between Bad and Worse!
11. Action takes place while traveling (non-quest structure): Cursor’s Fury, by Jim Butcher (2006)
12. Set in a world containing no magic: The Law of Nines, by Terry Goodkind (2009) February 23 - 24, 2013
****Alex’s world is being turned upside down. He saves a woman from a runaway truck, and then discovers he’s inherited a large tract of land. From being a struggling artist, Alex is well on his way to being wealthy. Then Alex’s grandfather dies in a fire, and people start trying to kill him. Jax, the woman Alex saved, explains that his assailants are from another world, a world of magic, and that he is the object of a prophecy.
The good news is that magic doesn’t work in our world, so it can’t be used the villains. The bad news is that they’re perfectly willing to use conventional weapons.
13. Told from a first-person perspective: The Dirty Streets of Heaven, by Tad Williams (2012) ] Book 1 of the Billy Dollar series. January 9 - 12, 2013
***** Billy Dollar is not your Fundamentalist’s angel. He wears a mortal body, and is assigned to the St. Judas area in California. As an advocate for human souls, he pleads cases for the newly deceased, while a demonic prosecutor asks that the same soul be sent to Hell. But then everything changes. One day, a man dies, and his soul doesn’t show up for judgment.
When Billy goes looking for answers, he finds himself accused of stealing something from a Prince of Hell, and pursued by an invulnerable monster. He can’t trust the Archangels, and he certainly can’t trust the Fallen. His only hope is his own wits, and some help from the beautiful Countess of Cold Hands… who works for the Opposition!
14. Told from a third-person omniscient perspective: It, by Stephen King (1986) February 21 - March 8, 2013
***** Derry, Maine is suffering an epidemic of murders, mostly of young people. To some, the killer appears as a clown, but a small group of people have reason to believe that “It” is not a human being at all, but some kind of monster. They must return to their long-forgotten home town to face an evil they thought they had conquered almost thirty years earlier.
But do they have the will, and the stamina, and the courage, to do it again?
15. Told from a third-person limited, multi-perspective viewpoint: The Merchant of Dreams by Anne Lyle (2012). Night’s Masque, Volume 2. March 14 - 20, 2013
**** When Mal Catlyn rescues a skrayling from a shipwreck, he discovers a disturbing secret: The skraylings are attempting to form an alliance with Venice.
And these skraylings are not the American natives of our world. In this world, they are beings of powerful magic, capable of transferring their souls to new bodies on their deaths. Mal knows this, because he and his brother share one such soul!
Set in an alternate Elizabethan Europe, this is an exciting tale of adventure.
1. Non-Caucasian Author: The Salt Roads, by Nalo Hopkinson (2003)
2. Author from a country other than the U.S.A., the United Kingdom, Canada, or Australia: The New Moon’s Arms, by Nalo Hopkinson (2007)
3. Work written pre-1950: Allan and She, by H. Rider Haggard (1905)
4. Work written pre-1920: The King in Yellow, by Robert Chambers (1895)
5. Work written the year you were born: The Undesired Princess, by L. Sprague de Camp (1951) March 2 - 3, 2013
*** Rollin Hobart is an engineer, transported by magic to a world ruled by Aristotelian logic. Confronted by heroic puzzles, he quickly wins the hand of a princess, and half a kingdom. His only problem: All he wants to do is get back to New York.
6. Work originally written in a language other than English: The Aeneid, by Virgil (29 – 19 BC)
7. Work written by a Gandalf Grand Master/World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement: Dreamcatcher, by Stephen King (2001) February 14 - 17, 2013
**** When Henry, Jonesy, Pete, and Beaver were teenagers, they saved “Duddits,” a boy with Down Syndrome, from a bully. The experience created a telepathic bond between them. Years later, that bond may be the only thing that can save the world from an alien invasion.
The relentless pace reveals once again why the author really is the “King of Horror.”
8. Work by an author you have never read before: The Illusion of Steel, by Lenora Rose (2004)
9. Anthology: So Long Been Dreaming : Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan (2004)
10. Hugo Award Winner: Among Others, by Jo Walton (2011) April 1 - 7, 2013
**** This is the diary of 15-year old Morwenna Phelps, an avid science fiction fan sent to boarding school after her twin sister is killed in a traffic accident. No ordinary teenager, Mori can see fairies. She believes her mother is a witch who is trying to take over the world.
Now Mori has to thwart her mother, avoid having her ears pierced, make new friends, do well in school, and grow up. All at the same time.
11. Nebula Award Winner: The Healer’s War, by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (1988)
12. Locus Fantasy Award Winner: Tehanu, the Last Book of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin (1990) May 8 - 11, 2013
***** This tale reunites two major characters from the earlier Earthsea novels. Tenar, former priestess in Atuan, is now widowed, and living with a scarred child named Therru. When Ged, Archmage of Roke, is brought to her, powerless and near death, Tenar finds her quiet life threatened on every side.
Le Guin’s writing shows how quality outweighs quantity. I loved this story.
13. Mythopoeic Award Winner: Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen (1992)
14. World Fantasy Award Winner: Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami (2002)
15. James Tiptree, Jr. Award Winner: Black Wine, by Candas Jane Dorsey (1997)