Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

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.


Contact Links

Facebook

Twitter: @KaiStrand

Blog

Goodreads

Pinterest

Instagram


Purchase Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks


 

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
RABT Book Tours & PR

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?)

Library Book Sale Finds: The Sword of the Spirits by John Christopher

Hey, hey, sneaking in under the wire, two months in a row!

This book had a lot of telling right at the beginning, and it took me about halfway through before I realized I was reading the last book of a trilogy.

Title: The Sword of the Spirits
Author: John Christopher
Genre: Science Fantasy
Publication Year: 1972

Pros: Impressive wordsmithing
Cons: A lot of telling, unlikable main character

Wikipedia tells me that this is the last book of a young adult trilogy. I would not have considered it young adult before that, but apparently the main character is considerably younger in the first two books.

The beginning, as I said above, has a lot of telling–recounting what the main character had done at what must have been the end of the second book, explaining how the world works, etc.–but it was very pretty telling. I’m always a little annoyed when I read a book and the telling is pretty and interesting. I think I’m just annoyed that someone had broken the cardinal rule of writing and done it in a way I can’t even be grumpy about.

(Eye of the Dragon by Stephen King is like that too.)

This series takes place in a post-apocalyptic United Kingdom (mostly England) where things have reverted to a medieval level of technology and the people live in individual city states. (I’m not clear what exactly happened…something with some sort of radiation, I suppose, since there are classes of humans called dwarves and polymufs which have various physical differences from “true” men. Also some sort of overall cooling of the planet.)

Do you remember when we read the Finnbranch trilogy? This felt like that, and is of about the same era of fantasy. It’s not true fantasy, of course, because it’s Earth in the future, but most of its tropes and elements come from fantasy rather than science fiction.

Our main character is Luke Perry (which is a thoroughly modern name and for some reason very distracting to me), Prince of the city-state of Winchester. He’s apparently prophecized by the Seers (basically scientists pretending to be holy men since machines are considered to have been the reason everything fell apart in the past) to be the one that will unite all the city-states again.

And he’s a pompous idiot.

There, I said it.

Luke is very headstrong and doesn’t take advice well, and he doesn’t take well to people challenging his decisions. Everything that goes wrong–and things go horribly wrong–is his own fault. I guess that’s kind of the author’s trademark, writing flawed protagonists. But it does make it hard to root for him.

And I won’t spoil the end, but I felt like it was unfulfilling, that everything Luke had worked for throughout the book was worthless in the long run. Also, it was depressing, and not in a way that was satisfying. Almost like the story was bored of itself and wanted to be done.

Now, it’s possible that if I had read the whole trilogy it would have been better, but maybe not. I’ve read enough 70s trilogies followed “chosen ones” of whatever ilk, and I’m kind of bored of the whole thing, since they’re almost always depressing and make you wonder why you bothered.

Would I recommend this? No. But the book does have a 3.8 on Goodreads, which is decent, so your mileage may vary.

Read any less depressing fantasy trilogies from the ’70s? Have any book recommendations in general?

Library Book Sale Finds: The Door into Fire by Diane Duane

Finally! I’ve been reading this book for two months. There’s not even any reason why it’s taken so long except I can’t focus at all right now and so am in the middle of four books (and have six more out from the library like an idiot). Is that one of the stages for dealing with trauma? Inability to focus? It’s driving me mad.

I have high respect for Diane Duane. I found her, I suspect, like a lot of people do: from her Star Trek novels. Two in particular were very influential on me: My Enemy, My Ally; and The Romulan Way. Because of those books, the Romulans are my favorite Trek species to this day, and, when I did Star Trek roleplaying as a teenager, I often played Romulans, either as my main characters, or when side characters were needed.

(You can see me geek out about Star Trek: Picard having them speak Rihannsu–the Romulan language Ms. Duane created–onscreen here.)

That being said, I’d never read any of her original work, just her Star Trek work, so when I came across her very first book at a library book sale, well, it was mine.

Title: The Door into Fire
Author: Diane Duane
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Year: 1979

Pros: Extensive mythology, Sunspark
Cons: Sometimes gets a bit infodumpy

I’m kind of in awe of this book, to be honest. I mean, it reads very much of its time, using conventions that you (unfortunately) can’t get away with in modern fantasy, but the amount of care that went into the worldbuilding, character arcs, and the setting is impressive no matter what.

This is the first book in her Middle Kingdoms series. There are three books and more shorter works; she has a whole website for it. The story takes place in a somewhat standard alternative Europe fantasy setting, and follows Hereweiss, the first man in a thousand years to possess a magic called the Flame, though he cannot access or use said magic.

(I will note that there is a complicated relationship system set up, and that this book features characters of various orientations without calling out any of them as strange or different. I know some people like to look for books that specifically feature non-cishet relationships, so here you are.)

Hereweiss’s quest to access his Flame has consumed him, but no matter what he tries, he seems to be getting no closer to an answer. However, he’s distracted from that because his loved, who is the exiled king of a neighboring country, has gotten into trouble and needs rescuing. (Apparently again.)

The story’s strength is very much in the depths of the world creation. This feels like a fully formed world, with mythology and history and the works. It doesn’t read all too differently in places than some of the other late 70s/early 80s fantasy we’ve discussed here on the blog that tends to be more real-mythology based.

Also, there is Sunspark, who is my favorite in every way. You’ll have to read the book to learn more about it.

So! I enjoyed this and would recommend it. I find first novels to be very interesting, especially from authors who had published a lot of books and have been publishing for a while. And Ms. Duane obviously has a talent for worldbuilding–probably why the Romulans spoke to me so much in those later books.

How are you, squiders? I am still behind on everything, but at least I am catching up.

Promo: Ashes and Blood by Katie Zaber



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn commenter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

“I’ll start at the beginning. Long ago, before roads, before we built structures, before medicine was discovered, before the government was created, before man gained any knowledge, there were The Five. Independent from each other, The Five had a mutual respect for one another. They knew their roles in the world and their duty. They were gods…”

An adventure begins when an otherworldly tree captures the attention of Megan and her friends. The environment morphs around them, transferring them to an exotic planet. Stuck in a rural town still maimed by the plague, a chance encounter with a familiar face gives Megan and her friends some security during their adjustment period.

While settling into new, promising lives, they are attacked and stalked by planet Dalya’s humanoid inhabitants, who focus on Megan. One dark night, after an epic, magical attack, the Fae King’s knight is sent to fetch Megan. When she wakes up a prisoner, she learns that there is much more to this strange world, and it is oddly more like her own than she ever would have expected.


Read an Excerpt

Megan

It gives me chills to stand in front of the forest that morphed in front of my very eyes. I’m hesitant to walk through the tree line and down the path. The last time I walked down a path for leisure was a week ago. We had planned a picnic. Something simple, always easy to organize and do. It wasn’t hard planning our walk to Brynjar’s cabin today. What could go wrong?

I try hard not to think of all the possible outcomes—from returning to Earth to traveling to a completely new world.

Sarah and Dana were able to walk by without stopping to take notice or reflect. Ciara paused for a moment and then smiled gleefully, saying she had a good feeling.

I don’t. I feel dizzy, angry, and like I need to vomit. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go into the woods that changed my life, I don’t want to meet Brynjar, and I don’t want to go back where it all started.

I don’t.

About the Author
Katie Zaber writes new adult fiction. With multiple projects spanning from being transported to an alternate universe, to past lives, reincarnation, and trapped souls, to prophesied pregnancies—there are more stories to tell. She lives in North New Jersey with her boyfriend.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Dalya-Series-110665970357251
Website: https://zaberbooks.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Blood-Dalya-Book-1-ebook/dp/B087YJ8W87/ref=sr_1_1

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Foundational Books: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

So, if you remember, oh, last summer, I went through some of the books that have made me who I am today, as a writer, but also in general.

(Apologies for being late AGAIN, I can’t even blame the quarantine this time. I did a push to finally get my new SkillShare class live–I always forget how long it takes to edit the videos, and my new microphone is so sensitive I had to get up at 5 am to avoid noise from the small, mobile ones and the neighbors.)

(It’s here, if you’re interested. It’s about setting goals in your writing and sticking with them.)

But I realized I forgot perhaps the most important book at all. The one that I’ve read the most times over the years. The one that I turn to when I need comfort, or I need to sleep after I read/watch something too scary. The one I used for my senior quote in high school. The one I used scenes from to try out for plays. The one I can still quote bits of from memory.

Phantom Tollbooth cover
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I don’t remember who recommended the book to me, but I first read it back in middle school (my copy is the 35th anniversary edition, and we’re coming up on the 60th anniversary, so that tells you how long it’s been in my life). And who knows how many times I read it over in middle and high school. As an adult, I’ve read it less often, but I still do re-read it periodically (I’m currently reading it to the small, mobile ones).

The entire book is a masterful play on words and concepts. Even as an adult I really appreciate the pure mastery of the idea. (I perhaps understand the Humbug better now than I did as a kid.) We have Milo, our bored main character who doesn’t see why anything is worth the bother. When he receives a toy tollbooth from who knows where, he decides to play with it, because he doesn’t have anything better to do. But it allows him access to a world where knowledge is more literal than in real life.

It’s hard to put the book into words, really. This is a book that I have loved so much and so long that I find my tendency is to wax poetic about its many fine features and scenes, and sometimes I get a bit spoiler-y and we can’t have that.

I highly recommend it to anyone, anyone who’s loved learning at any point in their lives, anyone who likes puns, anyone who likes a rewarding story about friendship and what’s possible if you decide to try.

But I will leave you with my favorite quote from the book, from the Whether Man in Chapter 2:

Whether or not you find your own way, you’re bound to find some way. If you happen to find my way, please return it, as it was lost years ago. I imagine by now it’s quite rusty.

The Phantom Tollbooth

Read The Phantom Tollbooth, squiders? Favorite character? (I am partial to Tock.) Other related thoughts?

Promo: The Thief’s Betrayal by Cassondra Benton

Good morning, squiders! I have a fantasy novel for you today.



Fantasy Fiction
Date Published: February 4th 2019
Publisher: Rebel Press

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Someone is murdering the citizens of Kira’s village, and her fellow thieves are being blamed. Desperate to clear their names and restore the reputation of the guild, Kira embarks on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the palace and enlist the help of the king and queen.
One man stands in her way, Chaol, the head guard, who threatens to steal the thief’s heart.
And he’s not the only one. Her childhood crush on Badrick might finally be developing into something more than friendship. But only if they can figure out who is threatening to kill them before it is too late.
Kira wants to trust Kingsman, the man who took her in and raised her as his own, but she is starting to wonder if he has been lying to her all along.
Can the three men closest to her keep Kira safe long enough for her to carry out her plan to save the village? Or will the secrets they have kept from her destroy her happiness—and her life—before she has a chance to clear her name and prove the innocence of those she cares about the most?


About the Author

When Cassondra was growing up, if she wasn’t competing in sports, she was usually writing, reading, or drawing. It wasn’t long before she formed an addiction to the thrills of fantasy, which led her to write her debut novel, The Thief’s Betrayal. Cassondra is currently attending college. She was born and raised in Southern California where she lives in a home overflowing with books.


Contact Links


Purchase Links



RABT Book Tours & PR

See you next week!

Announcing Of Metal and Magic, Compendium One

First, in terms of logistics, I wanted to let you know that I’m taking next week off (I mean, there is the off chance I will draw a landsquid and post it, but I’m not making any promises).

Anyway, I wanted to let you know about a new anthology that I’ve got a story in! This was a lot to fun to do–it’s a shared universe, which you guys know I love. And the compendium is neat because it mixes short stories with “historical” documents and the beginnings of longer stories to come.

Here’s the description:

Forged from the abyss by the elder gods, the history of Soria spans over 10,000 years. In this time, the people of the world have seen bloody wars, the rise and fall of divine empires, pitched struggles between dragons and unicorns—the very children of the gods who created men. Though the seed of civilization was planted on the continent of Elitor, people crossed the wide oceans to other lands, and to divergent evolutions. Today the world revolves around two great powers: Telsemar in the east, and Drumnaught in the west. It is from the dusty volumes in the duty halls of these cities’ grand depositories, that we look back on the tumultuous history of Soria and the tales of Metal and Magic

It’s available here: ( paperback | Kindle )

If you don’t hear from me otherwise, I hope you have a lovely whatever you celebrate (or just a nice week), and I’ll see you right before we roll over into the new year (goodness!).