Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Promo: The Fifth Horseman by Jon Smith

Good morning, squiders! I’ve got a fun fantasy comedy story for you today. Take a look and see if it appeals to you!

 

Comedy/Fantasy/Mythical Realism/Fiction

Date Published: 02-07-2023

Publisher: Balkon Media


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Internationally published bestselling author Jon Smith makes his adult debut with The Fifth Horseman, a modern comic fantasy that rides roughshod over established mythology and the rules of life… and death.

The Fifth Horseman is a darkly comic tale of two thirty-somethings caught between our world and the afterlife, who must embrace their role as reapers to prevent the End Times. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Father Ted, perfect for fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman.

 

Death is just a day job you can’t quit…

Emma and Mark had a bad day. The worst part of it was dying. But, according to Death, the Rider on the Pale Horse and first horseman of the apocalypse, things aren’t that simple. Turns out the sand in their hourglass is stuck in place. Somewhere between life and death, they’re put to work as Death’s assistants, reaping the souls of the living until it’s time for their final clock out…

To compound matters, despite their omnipotence, the four horsemen are facing an existential threat – one they’re ill-equipped and ill-prepared to combat.

Emma and Mark must reap like their afterlives depend on it, to help prevent the End Times – even if it means scuppering the one opportunity they have at being granted a second chance at life.

 

Filled with humour, romantic tension, and suspense, Jon Smith utilises a witty, lightly sarcastic ensemble of flawed but loveable characters. It will appeal to mainstream fantasy readers and hopeless romantics, as well as those who enjoy a good story and a good laugh.

 


About the Author

 Jon Smith is the bestselling author of 14 books for children, teens, and adults. His books have sold more than 500,000 copies and are published in seven languages.

In addition to writing books, Jon is an award-winning screenwriter and musical theatre lyricist and librettist with productions at the Birmingham Hippodrome, Belfast Waterfront and London’s Park & Waterloo East theatres.

Jon enjoyed a happy childhood—making daisy chains, holidays in the sun and an obsessive interest in all things fantasy. No brace, few spots and only one broken bone and one broken heart (not his). It all went swimmingly.

Father of four, he lives near Liverpool with his wife, Mrs. Smith, and their two school-age children. When he grows up he’d like to be a librarian.

 

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Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Emma reached out to steady herself on the copper base of Bella, the magnificent Liver Bird that stands sentinel atop a white dome, looking out over the River Mersey and across to the Wirral and North Wales.

Her legs shaking from both effort and fear, she stopped for a moment to try and catch her breath. She ran a hand through her long auburn hair, gulping in oxygen and regretting cancelling her gym membership earlier in the year. A strong and sudden gust of wind hurtled in from the Irish Sea, its elemental tendrils clawing at the exposed skin of her hands as the cold sting brought tears to her eyes. Whilst she rued her choice of the landmark building, realising that not for the first time she’d let form take precedence over function, she paused to appreciate the stunning waterfront vista forged in blood, sweat, and tears by the city’s maritime and cultural history, both old and new, good and bad.

Why the clowns at UNESCO had stripped the city of its World Heritage Site status would forever remain a mystery.

However, with typical scouse nonchalance, she parked that train of thought and tried to focus on the task at hand.

Everyone was out and about – on Pier Head, on the Strand, on their phones – busy with their day. Busy with their lives. Not many people looking up, which suited Emma just !ne. She was used to being ignored. Used to just blending in. It was a learned behaviour that had started when she was a child, living under the strict rules of her parents, who firmly believed that children should be seen and not heard. She had trained herself to remain quiet, remain small, and remain in the background. It made for a lonely childhood but a peaceful one.

But much to Emma’s chagrin, once she’d left for university, she found it difficult to unlearn, and thus difficult to make and maintain friendships. Or to be noticed by lecturers, even if she had her hand in the air. Or to be noticed by boys, despite being single and very much ready to mingle.

However, what wound Emma up most was not being noticed at work, no matter how diligent she was or how many new accounts she brought in. It was never Emma who was celebrated in the company newsletter, and it was never Emma who was put forward for promotion. Emma was just… there. A safe pair of hands at the back of the room. Reliable Emma. Wouldn’t say boo to a goose Emma. The same Emma who’d just been handed a P45 and a beautifully written termination letter with her last and middle names mixed up. That’s how well management and colleagues had got to know her in eighteen months.

For once, standing next to the symbol of Liverpool, over three hundred feet above the city, she was grateful that no one noticed her. She didn’t really feel like looking back at them. She wasn’t there to be gawked at or be made into some kind of sideshow on the street.

Not until after she jumped, of course.

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Promo: Jarrod and the Demon’s Knight by P N Burrows

Good morning, squiders! Today I’ve got an urban fantasy novel that sounds fun to share with you guys!

 

Dark Urban Fantasy

Date Published: 05-02-2022

 

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The wizard, known simply as Jarrod, has been living covertly amongst humans for over a decade. As a Professor at the University of Magic on his own planet, Prushal, he is ostensibly on Earth to research humanity’s ancient magic. But the university’s council no longer trust his motives and want him back.

Jarrod’s peaceful guise as an expert in historical artefacts is shattered as he becomes embroiled in a series of gruesome demonic murders where he becomes the prime suspect. With pressure mounting, he doesn’t have much time to confront the demon’s knight, and clear his name. An unlikely alliance forms between Jarrod and Detective Widcombe as she and the wizard work to uncover the real murderer and the evil he is unleashing on mankind.



About the Author

P N Burrows lives on a rather wet mountain in rural Wales. Phil has worked in a variety of roles over the years from IT Consultant to a Business Advisor. In his spare time, he loves to read and particularly enjoys crime thrillers. He also enjoys working his way through a comprehensive bucket list that he and his partner have created; they can frequently be found dancing the Lindy Hop.

P N Burrows has also written a 5 book science fiction series starting with the Mineran Influence and a children’s diversity picture called Emily and Her Mums.


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Excerpt:

Damn it, he told the truth. She was sure this was an insurance scam. Someone had tipped off the crooks and this man, in his retro burgundy suit, was hiding something. She could smell it. He wasn’t fazed by her questioning. He was too calm and he’d conveniently turned up after the break-in.

‘I like to know the facts, Mr Wentworth. I observe and I learn. I’m sure you’ve seen it on TV, it’s called police work. It helps to solve cases.’

‘Please, call me Jarrod.’ Jarrod smiled up at the detective. ‘Close your eyes and describe me.’

‘What?’ She stared at the man, wondering if she should ask one of the uniformed officers to join her. Weirdos, I always get the fucking weirdos, she thought.

‘I want you to prove that you are as observant as you claim.’

‘No,’ she answered, as a uniformed officer knocked on the open door. The policeman proffered a computer tablet. Should she ask him to join them? ‘Thank you, John.’ She rolled her eyes at her colleague and dismissed him. She could put this creep down if he got handsy.

Closing the office door, Detective Widcombe could feel the old man staring at her. A shiver went down her spine.

———-

If this sounds exciting to you, squiders, check it out! See you back here next Tuesday for more Nano misadventures!

Promo: Stairway to Heaven by Alex Stevens

Good morning, squiders! Today I’ve got a very interesting-sounding fantasy novel based on angel mythology (something near and dear to my heart *coughcoughShardscoughcough*). Check it out!

Stairway to Heaven cover

Stairway to Heaven

by Alex Stevens

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GENRE: Fantasy

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BLURB:

Corporal Jack Graven should be dead. Murdered by a vengeful angel at his own father’s funeral, Jack is resurrected and returns to life carrying a terrible secret: he is the Archangel Gabriel reincarnated.

Jack’s not the only one with secrets. His older brother, Lieutenant Colonel Tyler Graven “Demon of Kyoto”, has just inherited his father’s fortune and legacy as Lord of War, with no intention of stopping there: Tyler will someday rule the world.

The brothers reunite their elite military unit, “The Four Horsemen,” with Tyler’s longtime flame Colonel Diana Levitas and the mysterious Lance Corporal Jin Xialong. Together they seek to uncover the truth of Jack’s past life and propel Tyler to his impossible destiny.

Thrust into a supernatural war, the Gravens find salvation through the Black Muramasa, a cursed black katana and the only weapon that can destroy immortals. As they uncover more mysteries behind the ancient blade, they come face to face with the Devil himself, but in the most familiar of faces. Their pasts, presents, and futures all linked, the Four Horsemen must end the war once and for all to survive with their souls intact. Failing could mean the end of the world.

A follow up to the explosive first book in the Ballad of Fallen Angels series, “Sympathy for the Devil,” Book 2 is an action-packed, gun-slinging adventure that packs the punch of a military thriller with high-stakes supernatural intrigue.

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Excerpt:

“Make no mistake about it,” I continued. “You and your companions are caught in the middle of a war, a war of immortals. You need me just as much as I need you. As my disciples, the only change is your indebtedness to me. I would in essence be your master, and in return I will continue to offer my advice and protection. As it stands, I would say the two of you are quite indebted to me already.”

“What will we gain from this?” Jack asked. “I’ve never even considered the thought of pledging myself in return for information.”

“You gain an identity for yourself, and Tyler perhaps his soul. It will make sense once I’ve finished, this is for certain. You will also gain intimate knowledge regarding the immortals after your lives, but not without the assurance that I have my followers.”

Jack and Tyler faced each other then, seemingly sharing a silent moment of contemplation.

“Better the devil you know, little brother,” Tyler said at last.

“I tried walking away once, and it didn’t end well. He knew my name, a name I haven’t shared with anyone here,” Jack stated, turning in his chair to face Tyler. “I’m still alive, so I’d like the truth.”

“I guess we’re in, then.”

“Two,” I counted, displaying both fingers in the air. “Very well, then, my disciples. I will reveal everything you wish to know and more. The greatest story ever told.”

“Who are you really?” Jack asked.

“I am the fallen one,” I responded. “I am Lucifer.”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Alex Stevens is a Marine Corps Veteran with two deployments and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Interdisciplinary Studies program, a unique undergraduate degree that caters to students with various interests of study. He is also an advent traveler and philosophy enthusiast who has spent a lifetime studying religions, with a focus on Non-denominational Christianity. Alex spends most of his time going for walks, spending time with loved ones, and when the juices are flowing, writing. Fantasy fiction is his great escape from the mundane and he likes to create fantastical realities that are blended with non-fictional people, places, and events.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DemonofKyoto

Amazon Book link:

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INTERVIEW:

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Anything with caramel.

Which mythological creature are you most like?

Phoenix

First book you remember making an indelible impression on you.

A (Kit’s note: Unfortunately it seems the rest of the answer was cut off, and I don’t have a way to access the author directly. I’m sure it was a good one!)

How do you develop your plot and characters?

I just write and whatever happens, happens. I often times write several stories that don’t really fit together and part of the challenge for me is to make it all make sense.

Describe your writing space.

Everywhere. Usually on a couch in the living room or in bed, but I’ve written on beaches, porches, in cars, everywhere.

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

A $50 Amazon/BN GC will be provided to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/BN GC.

Let’s Talk About Books

It has been a Week, squiders. We had to move everything so we could finally replace our probably 20-year-old carpet (ugh, it was so gross) and now I’ve got to put everything back–but of course, we found all sorts of things that got put away years ago and forgotten about that now needs to be dealt with, and our closet organizer literally fell apart the moment we detached it from the wall, so now I’ve no place to put the clothes.

(Of course, I can’t just buy a replacement, because the closet has been dysfunctional the whole time we’ve lived here, so this is the perfect time to fix it, also my first choice to replace it is out of stock and who knows when it will be back in stock, which does nothing to solve the “I have nowhere to put anything” problem I currently have.)

On top of that, my most professional writing forum, the one that runs the critique marathons, unexpectedly shut down over the weekend. One of our moderators recently passed away, and the other one felt like she didn’t have the time or energy to run the forum by herself, but it was still a surprise. The rest of the group is working on finding us a new home, but I do worry. This forum was part of a larger forum (mostly used for critiquing submission materials) that shut down some years back, and the replacement for that forum has never been particularly active.

And it also reminds me that I used to be really on top of the whole submission scene–reading industry news, working on marketing, keeping up with trends and new techniques–and that all has fallen by the wayside over the past few years.

Part of me says I should get back on top of everything, but the rest of me is just tired. I suspect that’s still the pandemic talking.

But, anyway, enough about that. Let’s talk about books.

I finished Fate of the Fallen a few days ago. A friend loaned this book to me probably back in 2020, and I just now got around to it. It’s an interesting take on a chosen one story, where the chosen one is killed almost immediately and his best friend has to take up the slack even as those around him give up hope. I found it a little hard to read–there’s a lot of viewpoints, and the writing wasn’t gelling with me–but it ended on a very interesting note. I’ll probably pick up book 2 in September or whenever it comes out.

I’ve also gotten back into reading A Dweller on Two Planets, which I got in physical form through the interlibrary loan program. (I had been reading it online through Project Gutenberg, I believe, but had a hard time keeping track of where I was.) This is an interesting book, written in 1886 by Frederick Oliver, who claimed the book had been channeled through him. It portrays a couple of lifetimes of Phylos the Thibetan, including one in Atlantis and a more recent one from the California Gold Rush. The book focuses a lot of New Age-y and occult concepts and a lot of movements have come from it over the years.

The author was 20 when the book was finished, and the book itself goes into a lot of more advanced metaphysical concepts, as well as advanced technology and stuff of that ilk. The whole channeling thing seems a little farfetched to me, but it is interesting to think how a kid who grew up on a mining claim would know about these subject matters.

Anyway, that continues. I hope to finish the book this time.

Additionally, I’m about two-thirds of the way through How High We Go in the Dark, where is near future science fiction covering the start and effects of a pandemic. (The book came out in January.) It’s been a bit of a gut punch–too soon, in some ways, and very dark and emotional in some places. About half way through, though, the tone shifted a bit, so I feel less like I have to lie down after each chapter.

Have you read anything interesting lately, squiders? Have you read any of these books? Thoughts?

Shannara Readthrough: Running with the Demon

In late 2020, I started watching the first season of the Shannara Chronicles, and at the time I talked here on the blog about how The Wishsong of Shannara was my gateway book into adult fantasy and how that, now that Terry Brooks is done writing Shannara books, I could, in theory, go back and read them all in chronological (not publication) order.

(We only watched the first season of the Shannara Chronicles. It’s my understanding that the events of season two don’t have anything to do with the books, really.)

According to the Wikipedia page for Shannara, there’s 42 works in the series. I hunted down the first one, a short story called “Imaginary Friends,” originally published in 1991, in an anthology in early 2021.

Next up is Running with the Demon, the first of the Word and the Void trilogy, published in 1997.

I was actively reading the Shannara books in ’97 (which ages me, but shhhhh) but at the time it wasn’t clear that these books were related. After all, Brooks has multiple fantasy series, and it seemed like this was just another one. (Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold! is a good one. There’s a talking dog person.)

The original Shannara Trilogy (Sword, Elfstones, Wishsong) are pretty much straight fantasy. I think there may have been vague hints that they were post-apocalyptic in there, but if so, they’re very subtle. I don’t know how much of all that Brooks had planned out at the beginning.

Running with the Demon does not feel like a Shannara book to me, though admittedly it’s been a while. It takes place modern-day-ish (no year is mentioned) in Hopewell, Illinois, a midwestern small town. Multiple viewpoints, but mostly following 14-year-old Nest Freemark.

I kind of thought we would ease into the fantasy, but no, we jump right in. Nest has magic, as have at least six generations of women in her family. (The magic is unspecified, but can be used to attack people as long as you make eye contact.) There are Feeders, shadow creatures that only Nest and her grandmother can see, which feed on negative emotions. There are sylvans, which are small, nature protectors that look like stick dolls.

All of this is very confusing to me, because none of this stuff exists in the later (chronological) books.

In addition to all that, there are demons in service of the Void, and, to counteract them, Knights in service to the Word, who are fighting a long-term good vs. evil battle.

To say that this book was not what I was expecting is an understatement. There’s already magic, even before the apocalypse? Where did this magic go, after the world falls apart? What happens to the Word and the Void and all that jazz a thousand years or whatever down the line?

I have a vague understanding of what happened based on the Shannara books I’ve read, where civilization collapsed and people evolved into distinct races–elves and goblins and trolls and so forth. There already being magic before hand was unexpected, for some reason.

I guess that’s part of why we’re doing this. To see the evolution of the world throughout all the books.

The next story in sequence is the second Word and the Void trilogy, A Knight of the Word. I’m going to give it a month or so before I get to it.

Realistic Fantasy Travel

As promised, here are my notes from the MileHiCon panel that ended up just being about horses rather than realistic fantasy travel in general. I have notes on three different areas: horses (ubiquitous in almost all forms of fantasy, since people need a way to get places that’s not walking, and horses are easy), boats (specifically tall ship-style boats), and trains (for your steampunk and related needs).

These are mostly stats, kind of as a way to be like “Here’s how these things work, and if you’re having them work differently you’d better have a dang good reason.” The biggest issue, we all agreed in the panel, was that people tend to treat horses like cars, i.e., something that can keep going and going as needed as opposed to living animals that have thresholds and needs. (There was also a large side tangent about whether or not horses needed to be treated as characters, with half the panel saying yes, horses are characters and the other half saying it depended on the story and the horse.)

(I am in the depends on the context camp.)

Anyway! Here are your horse stats. This is your average horse that is not specifically trained for long-distance trips in most cases.

Horses:

  • Can travel between 25 and 100 miles a day, based on fitness levels/training
  • But if traveling for weeks you want to do 20-30 miles a day so you don’t wear the horse out (walk or trot)
  • A horse that is not used to endurance travel is not going to be able to do it
  • Harder terrain obviously diminishes the distance that can be traveled
  • Can only gallop for about 2 miles (canter for up to 5)
  • Should stop being ridden at age 20-25
  • Many horses cannot carry two people (need big, strong, calm horse)
  • Most horses have a max carrying weight of about 250 lbs (rider(s) + gear)
  • Takes about 2 years to competently learn to ride a horse, assuming one lesson a week
  • Takes an average horse about 5 hours to go 20 miles (horses walk about 4-5 miles an hour)

Now, on to boats. Now, you may be asking, why did I do research on other modes of transportation when the panel was specifically about horses in fantasy? Well, because I thought we were focusing on the “realistic travel” part of the description and not the horse part. So I thought it would be worth it to be prepared to talk about other transportation if they came up, and I picked boats and trains since those seem to be the next most popular modes that come up regularly.

Not to say there are not other modes of fantasy travel, because there absolutely are. I was trying to avoid more fantastic modes, however, since I’m not going to be able to tell you the average airborne velocity of a dragon or anything like that.

My stats for boats are, as I said above, for tall ships. Think 2-4 mast ships that are generally ocean-going.

Boats:

  • A tall ship travels about 7 miles per hour (6 knots)
  • Older ships may be more like 4 mph
  • Wind direction is important (tail wind vs head wind)
  • A sailing ship is going to average somewhere between 60 and 100 miles a day (also depends on if sailing overnight or not)

I got progressively lazier from this point on.

Trains:

  • Depending on year, in 1804 they ran about 10 mph, in 1850 they ran up to 75 mph (in England)

Trains, of course, can now run up to a couple hundred mph, but I was focused on steam-powered locomotives, since that seems to be the most applicable.

And, finally:

Walking:

  • A person can walk 20-30 miles per day (if trained)

(More 10-15 miles if untrained, and then you also need to think about things like footwear and other things that may make things harder.)

Thoughts, squiders? Favorite form of fantasy travel, realistic or not? Thoughts on horses, cuz why not?

Stories I’d Like to Write: Fantasy That’s Really Scifi

Okay! This is the last one of these for now.

I love fantasy that is high fantasy, but as you get further into the book or series, hints start to be dropped. Ruins that sound familiar, or hints that there was a previous civilization that has since collapsed.

I think this may be because my very first high fantasy series–the Shannara books, by Terry Brooks–does this. But it’s very subtle. You can read most of the Shannara books without this being obvious. It’s only when you take the series as a whole that it becomes more apparent.

But also, yes, lots of other series do this. Some more obviously than others, some more successfully for others. The Pern series, for example. Dragons! Adventure! But all happening on what’s essentially a failed human colony, Pern standing for “Parallel Earth, Resources Negligble.”

I have actually done this a bit myself already, though not quite how I would like. In City of Hope and Ruin there’s talk of an older civilization, a more powerful civilization, that collapsed because of war (more specifically the bioengineering and biological warfare tactics of that war, though that’s beyond the characters’ understanding, at least for that book). But that’s a completely secondary world.

I feel like to do this trope properly, it’s got to be Earth in the future. An Earth where humanity causes (or, I guess, experiences at the very least) some great calamity, something that has society collapse and humanity change. It’s dystopian, but not exactly. Like, the fact that this is our world and something happened to it isn’t normally important to the plot of the story. It’s background. It’s setting. Maybe some artifacts or something might feature in the plot every now and then, but for the most part it is a fantasy world, doing fantasy things.

And I like that! I like that it’s not necessarily important, it just is. It’s like…an extra dimension to the world.

That being said, I do think you can overdo this. And it may be a bit overplayed as a trope, especially recently where everything has to be dark. You know what I mean. I recently finished the first season of the Shannara TV series, and the post-apocalyptic parts were pushed much more than I remember. Maybe they were always there, and I just skimmed over them in the text, or maybe it as just more apparent because, you know, visual medium and all that jazz.

How do you feel about this trope, squider? Overdone? Fun worldbuilding? Favorite example?

Promo: An Unwitting Trickster by Kai Strand

Good afternoon, squiders! Got a book promo for you today. Looks interesting!

 


Young Adult Fantasy / Mythology

Date Published: 06-08-2021



Immortal Trickster, Luke, is starting a fresh life in a new-to-him seventeen-year-old body. With yet another lifespan stretched out in front of him, he’s questioning what purpose his endless compulsion to play tricks serves.

Agnar, a Thor look-alike claiming to be his adoptive brother from the planet Asperian, appears to declare Luke has been away from home too long. One problem. Luke doesn’t remember Agnar or living on another planet.

With more questions than answers, Luke cautiously agrees to accompany his “brother” back to Asperian, but the travel portal rejects him, leaving him behind to continue his mundane life of trickery. When interplanetary soldiers show up intent on killing him, he’s forced into hiding and his list of unanswered questions grows.

Will Luke remain trapped on Earth forever, pulling meaningless pranks? Or will he finally figure out his true purpose?


About the Author

Award winning Kai Strand, author of the action packed Super Villain Academy series, is often found exploring hiking trails and snapping pictures of waterfalls in her Oregon hometown. Mother of four, Kai uses her life experiences to connect with young readers. With middle grade works such as Save the Lemmings, The Weaver Tale series, and The Concord Chronicles series, and emotional YA adventures like Finding Thor, I Am Me, and Worth the Effort, Kai has written compelling stories that tweens, teens, and their parents love.

Kai has given numerous presentations in classrooms, to writer groups, and at workshops about her work and the writing process. She loves interacting with teens and gaining their insight on their latest reads as well as what they would like to see in future stories.

To find out more about Kai, please visit Kaistrand.com.


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Back to My Roots

I think I’ve told you guys this before, but the very first adult high fantasy book I ever read was Wishsong of Shannara, by Terry Brooks. I was 12 at the time, and I got the book out of my elementary school library. It seems like kind of a weird choice for an elementary school library–while it’s not Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time-sized fantasy, it’s still sizeable–but, then, I have run into people who think all fantasy is for children, so who knows.

I’ve read a lot of the Shannara books over the years, though not all of them. Terry Brooks has trucked on, through the years, and I have fallen behind. I read all three of the original trilogy (Sword, Elfstones, Wishsong) and the four books that make up the “Heritage” (Scions, Druid, Elf Queen, Talismans). I have and have read the graphic novel Dark Wraith of Shannara, which goes after Wishsong chronologically, and I read First King of Shannara shortly after it came out in 1996. I’ve also read Ilse Witch and Antrax, and someday I hope to read the third book of that particular trilogy.

That all means nothing if you have not read the Shannara books yourself, but basically I’m about 20 years behind on the series.

From what I understand, the last book planned for the world came out in October, so I could, in theory, read all gazillion books now. Perhaps in chronological order instead of publication order, since I’m so far behind.

ANYWAY. Shannara was my gateway into high fantasy, and even while I haven’t read the books over the years, I’ve never forgotten it.

In 2016 MTV started a television series called The Shannara Chronicles, which lasted a sad two seasons. It’s always been on my radar, so when my husband last week said, “We should watch this show I found,” I was totally on board.

We’ve only watched the first two-part episode but, man, everything has rushed back. When people show up on screen, I’m like “I bet that’s X.” I keep up a fairly constant commentary (“Oh, we’re jumping right into the post-apocalyptic setting. It took me a few books to figure that out.”) and talk about plot choices (“I always thought it was weird that they decided to start with Elfstones”). My husband didn’t know what he was getting himself into.

Isn’t that always how it goes, though? I can’t necessarily tell you the plot of a book I read last year, but even though I haven’t read a Shannara book in probably at least ten years, if not fifteen, they definitely left an impression.

Have you ever run into that, squiders? Something you read or watched when you were little (or younger at least) that has lingered even without you revisiting it?

Also, while we’re on the subject, have you watched The Shannara Chronicles? What did you think?

(As kind of a funny story, I went to a book signing by Terry Brooks at some point. Well, I think I’ve seen him a few times, but I think this most recent time had to be in the early 2010s, because the television show had been optioned. And there I learned that I had been pronouncing Shannara wrong for the fifteen-ish years I’d been reading the series. Good times.)

Library Book Sale Finds: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Is it just me or does it feel like September is going super fast?

This is another out of last November or December’s library book sale, all of which were hard cover and within a few years of publication. I’ve been having trouble figuring out why the library would withdraw and sell practically new books (this one came out in April and was being sold about six months later) but I have a theory.

Said theory is that libraries probably buy a bunch of copies of new books that they predict will be popular. This allows them to get through the release rush. Then, when the stream dies off, they keep a smaller amount for long-term use and sell off the extras.

Best I’ve got. Any librarians out there know?

Title: The Devouring Gray
Author: Christine Lynn Herman
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Year: 2019

Pros: Intriguing plot, great characters
Cons: Middle is a little boggy

I actually really enjoyed this one (though I can hear my spouse mocking me for reading YA fantasy again). It was one of those books where I’d sit down, intending to read for 15 or 20 minutes, and still find myself going an hour later. The plot really pulls you along, but not in a way that I found anxiety-inducing.

I believe this is the first book in a duology. At least Goodreads leads me to believe the second book, The Deck of Omens, is the conclusion. The story takes place in Four Paths, New York, and follows four teenagers, each a member of the town’s four founding families. But Four Paths is not a normal town, and the founding families are not normal, either–each has a special talent, used to protect the town from the Gray and the Beast within.

Each of the four main characters is different and complex, not quite the protagonists you would expect. Only three of them have viewpoints in this book (I guess the fourth has one in the epilogue) but I enjoyed all of them. And I enjoyed learning more about the secrets of Four Paths and the Gray.

My one complaint, minor really, is that the middle is slightly bogged down by characters going over what feels like the same ground a few times. But it’s minor, and the story picks up again with new information pretty quickly after that.

So, hey, if you missed this one and you like YA contemporary fantasy, I’d give it a look.

(But, seriously, where has September gone?)