Then came the last days of May.
My second Wyrd & Wonder has been even better than the first. I’ve made more friends (youse ain’t getting rid of me that easy), read some wonderful stuff, received some great compliments (I do like that part I must admit), and generally just enjoyed hanging out a little with you all. It’s also been a great excuse to throw myself into the fantasy genre with a ton of reading and writing done.
So let’s do a little round up of it.
Today’s challenge is favourite book read and, excluding rereads, that belongs easily to Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars. To me, this is the beau ideal of what big fun commercial Epic Fantasy should look like. It balanced snark with sadness, blood and thunder with raw emotion, and presented a compelling world with a twisty plot. Stephen Deas’ The Moonsteel Crown is a very worthy run up and for a lot of the same reasons.
I did the readalong, although The Bone Shard Daughter didn’t connect with my tastes by the end.
I missed a few prompts I’d wanted to do for whatever reason. I was never able to find the time to construct World Fantasy lists to my own satisfaction so I will just say now that De Bodard’s Servant of the Underworld is fine Aztec Murder Mystery fantasy, that Enock Simbaya’s Nasomi’s Quest is a self-pub African fantasy I will keep banging on, and that Aleksandar Žiljak’s As the Distant Bells Toll is a fine anthology of translated SFF.
I considered doing an All The Feels post, but that’s just handing out spoilers to books I want people to read unspoilered. If I had, I’d have recommended David Gemmell’s Ravenheart, Aliette De Bodard’s House of Binding Thorns, Ursula Le Guin’s The Tombs of Atuan, and, hmm, what else… ah yes: The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, Children of Earth and Sky and A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay… no, I don’t have a problem.
For throwback, I’ve got a few I want to get around to at some point, and a few I’m reading, but I think I’d point at Saunders’ Imaro for now.
As for which posts by other people I enjoyed reading most… well, go look at the Friday Fives! Shameless self-promotion to the end. But there’s been so many good posts.
Finally, here’s the final tally of what I read during the month with mini-reviews. Thank you for reading all, let’s do this again next year!
Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock – I think this is a book where you’ve got to be deep into it and supplying the details Moorcock only hints at. Great baroque, moody, edgy S&S if you are. Somewhat mediocre S&S if you aren’t.
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – This is how I want all big commercial fun Epic Fantasy books to be, please and thank you. Emotional and funny, plenty of twists and cool magic, some great fight scenes.
The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay – So this three make up the Fionavar Tapestry, arguably the most mythic and dramatic High Fantasy of them all. The Summer Tree is mostly an exploration and identity arc, with two I found very powerful;
The Wandering Fire by Guy Gavriel Kay – The Wandering Fire is a “rally the troops” type one, with lots of focus on willingness to give, and processing anger. It’d be easy for this to be the weakest one but there’s enough great scenes to carry it.
The Darkest Road by Guy Gavriel Kay – And this is a final showdown one, with some heavy resilience and free will vs fate themes. Really brings the series to a close in all the ways.
The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien – The core beat of the prose and story still work very well for me. Some of the decoration didn’t, but they’re easily skipped – and I lingered on some parts with joy. Frodo gets too much sass from the internet; Gandalf remains a marvel.
The Legend of Deathwalker by David Gemmell – Interesting little nugget. The scenes are great. Do they build into a great story? I’m not sure. I think maybe a little too much happens too quickly to get full effect.
The Moonsteel Crown by Stephen Deas – This one is a goodie. Great character voice. Twisty plot, good mix of investigation and action – really sucked me in. Wish I knew more about the world. There were a few transitions that lulled, a few confusing moments – but liked it a lot
The Shepherd’s Crown by Sir Terry Pratchett – Some books leave you exulting. Some books leave you griping. Some tho, leave you with a quiet sense of something lost and something gained. This is one of those. It’s a fairly sweet slice of life on being a Witch more than anything; I’d want to be Tiffany’s friend. Not as sharp and subtle as it could be, but so be it.
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart – Pretty good in places, but way too much frustration with it for me.
The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman – Tons of gothic mood, drifts a little, but still a lot of fun.
Sandman: The Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman – A harder, sharper, more emotional story than Preludes & Nocturnes. Characters take more shape here.
Artesia: The First Book of Dooms by Mark Smylie – Not as good as I remembered. A lot of style but not much story; I never got hooked on Artesia’s character. And while there’s still, it’s a somewhat incoherent style. Enjoyable enough comic, but not much more.
John Constantine, Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano – Didn’t quite come together for me. Constantine either got away with things too easily or was too passive for most of it. Liked it, but went “huh” more than “wow”.