A DARK CLOUD HANGS OVER THE HOUSE OF CHALION
A reluctant hero finds himself thrust into the role of saviour, to protect the royal heir to the throne from a sinister curse.
The Curse Of Chalion
(World Of The Five Gods, Book 1)
Lois McMaster Bujold
Genre: High Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 448 Pages
Date: 11th April 2006 (First Published 2000)
Lois McMaster Bujold is an author whose name is perhaps synonymous with science fiction. However, no reader could have any genuine concerns when a writer of her calibre chooses to step somewhat out of her comfort zone to write a high fantasy novel. Bujold is, after all, one of the most acclaimed and decorated genre authors ever, with four Hugo Awards for best novel to her name; equalling Robert Heinlein’s record. That being the case, it should come as no surprise to learn that The Curse Of Chalion is a splendid novel, coming as it does, from a writer with such a pedigree.
There are numerous examples of novels with intriguing premises that fall down, either on account of poor execution, or just plain weak writing. Rest assured, The Curse Of Chalion is not one of those books. Bujold’s capabilities as a writer ensure that not only does the story hold together from beginning to end, her story is also riveting, thanks in no small part to her exceptional prose; which is all the more impressive given that the book is by no means a fast paced, action packed swashbuckler. Though it does, somehow, possess the page turning quality that might be expected of a novel that is those things. Undoubtedly the result of Bujold being one of those rare writers who can make the most mundane of situations insanely engrossing, when printed on a page.
THE RETURN TO NARNIA
In the hour of greatest need the Pevensie’s are recalled to Narnia to save the day once again.
(The Chronicles Of Narnia, Book 4)
Genre: Children’s, Juvenile Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 224 Pages
Date: 1st February 2009 (First Published 1951)
Let’s get the trivia out of the way first. Prince Caspian was the second book of The Chronicles Of Narnia to be published, in 1951, though the events narrated therein make it chronologically the fourth story of the series. So being, effectively, the direct sequel to The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, the book marks the inevitable return to Narnia of the four Pevensie siblings; Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. After all, once a king (or queen) in Narnia, always a king (or queen) in Narnia.
Prince Caspian’s plot, though not a complete rehash of its predecessor does have one or two obvious parallels and similarities. Narnia is once again a land in peril; so once again, in its hour of greatest need, the Pevensie’s are inexplicably plucked from our world to find themselves back in Narnia. But it is not Narnia as they remember it. Several centuries have elapsed since the golden age of their reign as kings and queens. Narnia is now ruled by the descendants of human invaders from Telmar who have driven the indigenous population of mythological beings and talking animals into hiding.
WHAT’S ON THIS MONTHS RELEASE SCHEDULE?
Take a gander at some of the most noteworthy book releases for the third month of 2016.
This month there are over thirty new titles vying for the attention of genre fans. These include a few first instalments of new book series as well as a several sequels to ongoing series. Which of these offerings will succeed in persuading you to add them to your reading lists this March?
Based primarily on UK publication dates.
MAKING LITERACY AND NUMERACY COOL FOR KIDS
The strange adventures of a bored schoolboy with too much time on his hands.
Genre: Children’s, Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 272 Pages
Date: 3rd March 2008 (First Published 1961)
The Phantom Tollbooth is one of those children’s books that should be one of the defining reads of every bookworm’s childhood; much like The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is. I certainly have fond memories of my first reading of it as a young schoolboy. But whereas C.S. Lewis’ classic is a very easy book to categorise and describe (being an age old tale of good triumphing over evil), Norton Juster’s story almost defies conventional categorisation. It is a story that is as unique as it is bizarre, making it all the more memorable. And as an added bonus, it’s hard to think of another book as likely The Phantom Tollbooth to spark an interest in literacy and numeracy in a young child.
Giving a synopsis of what the story is about would not likely engender much enthusiastic interest in the book. But here is a summary of the plot anyway. A bored young schoolboy called Milo, with little interest in school and studying, returns home from school one afternoon to discover that a build-it-yourself toy tollbooth has been delivered to him. After putting together the mysteriously sent gift, Milo gets into his toy pedal car to play, little suspecting that the tollbooth would magically transport him to the Kingdom Of Wisdom. He subsequently embarks on a bizarre road-trip around this fantasy land to complete a mission that will finally bring to an end a period of turmoil brought about by the disappearance of two princesses.
THE QUOTABLE QUOTE OF THE DAY
There’s no arguing with the insightfulness or truthfulness of these memorable words.
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“Solitude is a wonderful thing in two ways. First, it allows a man to be with himself, and second, it prevents him being with others.”
The Left Hand Of God
A MYTH IN THE MAKING
There are three things all wise readers should fear: unwarranted hype, meandering narrative and directionless plot.
The Wise Man’s Fear
(The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2)
Genre: High Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 994 Pages
Date: 6th March 2012 (First Published 2011)
For bookworms who have previously read Patrick Rothfuss’ epic fantasy novel, The Name Of The Wind, this review could tell you everything you need to know about the second instalment of The Kingkiller Chronicle by simply stating: this sequel offers more of the same, only hundreds of extra pages more of it; and the review could end there. Whether or not that is a good thing will depend entirely on how much any given reader enjoyed the first book. If The Name Of The Wind’s six hundred plus pages was a chore to read, then you can be sure that the nine hundred plus pages of The Wise Man’s Fear will require greater patience, still.
Assuming that the precocious protagonist’s meandering narration of his life story had you engrossed while reading the first book, you’ll be pleased to know this follow up pretty much resumes where its predecessor left off, and continues in the same vein. Rothfuss keeps Kvothe within the confines of his Inn, with his fae student Bast, and Devan the Chronicler for company, where he continues to recount his life story. As with the previous novel, Kvothe’s first person narration is intermittently broken up by the interludes of a third person narrator whom Rothfuss uses to keep readers abreast of events in and around the Inn.
BORN FOR BATTLE, BRED FOR WAR
The self-published phenomenon that went mainstream is a welcome addition to the ranks of essential epic fantasy tales.
(Raven’s Shadow Trilogy, Book 1)
Genre: High Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 768 Pages
Date: 20th February 2014 (First Published 2010)
In recent years there have been a number of notable examples of self-published books which have garnered considerable critical praise and admirable sales, turning their authors into “overnight” sensations. This success, for some, has led to traditional publishing deals, helping their books to reach a larger prospective audience of readers. Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking are probably the best known beneficiaries of the now more viable self-publishing market. But you can also include the name of British fantasy author, Anthony Ryan, to the growing list.
THE QUOTABLE QUOTE OF THE DAY
A memorable and timeless quote that the child within you will never be able to forget.
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“Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don’t go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it. And don’t talk too much about it even among yourselves. And don’t mention it to anyone else unless you find that they’ve had adventures of the same sort themselves. What’s that? How will you know? Oh, you’ll know all right. Odd things, they say-even their looks-will let the secret out. Keep your eyes open…”
The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe