Fantastic Five: Sensible Portion Fantasy

ARTWORK by chic2view from

Some people like big books and cannot lie. Others like small books, although scientific testing has yet to determine the innate veracity or deceitfulness. This list is for for the people who like small books.

Also some people claim to like both. Since they cannot lie this must be true, but that seems a total weirdo move to me. Trust me, I’m one of them.

Let’s get cracking.

1. Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

This book is so smoothly written that it’s just a treat to read. There’s an effortless elegance to the rhythm and construction of the sentences, and that allows for these wonderfully evocative descriptions and powerful emotions. And there’s a lot to emote about in this tale of a princess picking her way between all sorts of people citing their love for her in rather oppressive ways. Big fan, go read.

2. The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

This novella is just incredibly ambitious and pulls it off completely. The tale of a formidable Empress as told by her faithful handmaiden, the narrative structure allows for a considerable sweep of years and characters without ever feeling shallow. Also gorgeously written. Also big fan, so go read this also.

3. Cold-Forged Flame by Marie Brennan

Everyone has their flaws. Lord Vetinari threw mimes into scorpion pits. Nanny Ogg was horrendous to her daughters-in-law. Should I ever gain the world power I so richly do not deserve, authors of first person present should watch out. Except for Marie Brennan, who wrote an absolutely amazing novella in a format that makes my brain do the fingernails on a chalkboard sound. Marie Brennan will instead fall foul of my “no people grossly more talented than me” act. A stunning piece of mythic feeling action, this too falls under my “big fan, go read it” legislation.

4. Penric and Desdemona by Lois McMaster Bujold

A whole series of great novellas! Warm, witty, captivating, these are the fantasy genre’s equivalent of chicken soup. Only reason I haven’t finished them all is I’m doling them out for when I need them. Just magical in every sense and you know what’s coming next – big fan, go read it.

5. The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain

I think some of you knew this was coming. No, I will not shut up about this novella. No, neither will you if you read it. It’s laced with black humour, explosive action, and sheer brilliance.

Uber fan, go read it of the Lord of Tuesday will send a wiry smiling Gurkha with dead eyes to explain why you should read it.

6. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

What’s this? More than five books? Well yes. The rules are that for every day late I am, you get an extra item. I make the rules and that seems fair until I get bored of the rule. In any case, it lets me promote another great novella. It’s very funny, lot of good found family stuff, and some great reveals. If Zen Cho would like to revisit this, I’d be down.

7. Smith of Wootton Major by JRR Tolkien

Piss and balls, it’s technically another day late. Am I bored of the rule yet? Well… hey, this novella is already on my mind, right? Since I reviewed it yesterday and all. But listening to The Tolkien Lecture by R.F. Kuang brought it all back, when she talked about Tolkien talking about faerie tales allowing us to wipe clear the windows on life and see clearly. This book is probably the most perfect encapsulation of that. So here it is again!

Hope you enjoyed, please let me in the comments about your feelings on small fantasy books and how this relates to your truthfulness.


14 thoughts on “Fantastic Five: Sensible Portion Fantasy

  1. What you call “sensible portion” I call “same price for 500” 😦
    I guess novellas must be read as ebooks only…


    1. ??? why did it delete part of my reply? System must not like the signs ‘over’ and ‘under’

      Now with words:
      I wrote “same price for a book with fewer than 100 pages as for one with over 500”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The pricing of novellas is a sore subject in any format, although it’s generally easier in ebook.

        That said I’m moving to a position of I have too much to read anyway and novellas make great rereads, so I feel happier paying a decent amount for them compared to longer works… providing I really like them. Working out what books I’ll like before I spend money is, alas, a problem.


  2. Loved seeing my favorite Asian inspired novellas on here.. I actually finished a reread of Pure Moon yesterday and realized how awesome it is 😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha I agree… I have a type too and half of the time it’s probably just Aliette’s books 😂😂😂
        Having reread it now, the Pure Moon gave me quite a bit of Condor Heroes which was a nice surprise… I just didn’t understand wuxia much when I first read it before release…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. She is great. You’ve already read Of Charms, right?

        I think I read Condor Heroes first, then I don’t know whether I tried Gu Long before or after Order of the Pure Moon. I find the wuxia part of Zen Cho’s description of it kinda interesting. I get some of the flavour and other bits I don’t.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Haha yea.. I read Of Charms the day I got the arc.. couldn’t resist lol 😂

        I haven’t read Gu Long but have to rectify that.. I’m also in the middle of the fourth and final book of Legend of the Condor Heroes.. but I’m excited that I’m coming to the end.. hopefully we’ll get the translations of the rest of the condor heroes books too…
        I think I understand what you mean by Zen Cho’s writing.. I think it’s more influenced by her Malaysian Chinese heritage, so it doesn’t have the same feel as the classic wuxia we are used too.. but there’s hints of it in between and that makes it fun too..

        Liked by 1 person

  3. SENSIBLE PORTION I love that yes it is me I would like a sensible portion of fantasy. 350 pages is acceptable, 250 is delightful. I have read and enjoyed one short novel by Nghi Vo (I think a bit too long to be considered a novella) and will have to pick up The Empress of Salt and Fortune.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do find I’m reading more ‘sensible portion’ books recently. I used to love heavyweight fantasy books but, now, I can count the number of 500+ page books I read per year on one hand. Mostly because of reading challenges and also because I don’t have the time or the energy to commit to big books nowadays. So, my taste has shifted to books that respect my time.

    I’m two books into the Singing Hills Cycle at the moment and I love them. However, my favourite ‘sensible portion’ book series has to be the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. It’s a fantastic take on portal fantasy.

    Liked by 1 person

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