It’s that time again! My favourite blogging time of the year, where I talk all about fantasy for a whole month. What do you mean “what’s new about that?” Less of your sass. It’s Wyrd & Wonder month, aka an excuse for many bloggers to witter on about fantasy thanks to a number of great prompts, readalongs, and other such things. The first of which is your favourite fantasy books since the last Wyrd & Wonder.
Before I tear into that, I’d like to say a big thank you to our most noble and generous of hosts: Imyril, Lisa, Jorie, Ariana, and Annemieke, and if you’d like to join the party, details are on the blog for each and every one of them.
Now – books!
The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford
This one nearly made me top ten last year, and I want to talk about it a little more as it’s the sort of older book that needs its champions as much as anything new. It’s core premise is “what if the Byzantine Empire became vampires, survived, conquered Europe, and then intervened in the War of the Roses” which for a history lover is absolutely delightful. And Ford can really, really write. The text and characters suffers from his determination to surprise the reader rather than let them know what’s going on, but it’s still an absorbing and twisty read full of detail.
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
From quite old to rather new, this book is a stunning display of why storytelling structure matters. An epic trilogy’s story is casually fitted into the confines of a novella in a way that totally makes sense, and what a story it is. One of the eponymous Empress’ former handmaidens shares how her former mistress went from isolated foreign bride, to exile, to Empress in her own right, in the form of a series of exceptionally well-written stories and lessons. Do check it out.
She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Another breathtakingly ambitious piece of work, albeit in other dimensions, particularly when you consider this is a debut. A debut that is possibly the single best in the genre. It’s a very patiently moving, emotionally powerful, lucidly written account of a young peasant’s rise to power. For a while I wondered if perhaps it was as good as I thought it was, as moments didn’t pop in the memory. But they do now, and it is.
Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
I have written an awful lot about this book on this blog, so I shall borrow my words from when it came second on my top 10 books of 2021: “Paladin of Souls has what deserves to be considered one of the genre’s great heroines in Ista – so fragile yet so strong, so wounded yet so vital. It’s a wonderful mix of gothic tinged mystery, romance, personal journey, and action.”
A Song For Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay
And now for the current short odds favourite book of 2022. You know I’m a big fan of GGK here (and am equally excited and nervous many of those reading are about to get their first GGK experience) and this I think is one of his best. It has layer upon layer of plot, characterisation, and theme, all interweaving to create these simply incredible moments. It’s also arguably the strongest, sharpest theme of his career too. A wonderful book – but I do hope to find some rivals for it this month.
And there we go! On with the show.