Review: The Curse Of Chalion By Lois McMaster Bujold


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.

 

Book CoverThe Curse Of Chalion
(World Of The Five Gods, Book 1)

Lois McMaster Bujold

Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback, 448 Pages
Date: 11th April 2006 (First Published 2000)

ISBN-10: 0061134244
ISBN-13: 978-0061134241

 
Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository
 

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.

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Review: Prince Caspian By C.S. Lewis


THE RETURN TO NARNIA

In the hour of greatest need the Pevensie’s are recalled to Narnia to save the day once again.

 
Book CoverPrince Caspian
(The Chronicles Of Narnia, Book 4)

C.S. Lewis

Genre: Children’s, Juvenile Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Paperback, 224 Pages
Date: 1st February 2009 (First Published 1951)

ISBN-10: 0007323115
ISBN-13: 978-0007323111

 
Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository
 

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.

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Quotable: The Left Hand Of God, “Solitude Is A Wonderful Thing…”


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.”

Paul Hoffman
The Left Hand Of God

 
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Review: The Wise Man’s Fear By Patrick Rothfuss


A MYTH IN THE MAKING

There are three things all wise readers should fear: unwarranted hype, meandering narrative and directionless plot.

 

Book CoverThe Wise Man’s Fear
(The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2)

Patrick Rothfuss

Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz
Format: Paperback, 994 Pages
Date: 6th March 2012 (First Published 2011)

ISBN-10: 0575081430
ISBN-13: 978-0575081437

 
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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.

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Review: Blood Song By Anthony Ryan


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.

 
Book CoverBlood Song
(Raven’s Shadow Trilogy, Book 1)

Anthony Ryan

Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Format: Paperback, 768 Pages
Date: 20th February 2014 (First Published 2010)

ISBN-10: 0356502481
ISBN-13: 978-0356502489

 
Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository
 

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.

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Quotable: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, “Once A King In Narnia…”


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…”

 
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Review: The Name Of The Wind By Patrick Rothfuss


YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF ME

The coming of age tale of a self made folk hero, recounting the story that turned him into a legend.

 

Book CoverThe Name Of The Wind
(The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 1)

Patrick Rothfuss

Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz
Format: Paperback, 672 Pages
Date: 12th June 2008 (First Published 2007)

ISBN-10: 0575081406
ISBN-13: 978-0575081406

 
Purchase From: Amazon | Book Depository
 

There are two ways in which one can approach reading a book that has received such overwhelming praise from critics and readers alike. The first option is to believe the hype; have faith that the book in question is an unparalleled work of literary genius that your life will remain incomplete if you never take the time to read it. Alternatively, the second option is to keep expectations in check; after all, very few books that generate excessively positive feedback are capable of meeting expectations.

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Review: Shadowfall By James Clemens


WHEN DARKNESS FALLS OVER THE WORLD OF MEN

A truly exceptional dark fantasy that obliterates and breaks free of the shackles of its numerous tropes.

 

Book CoverShadowfall
(Godslayer Chronicles, Book 1)

James Clemens

Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Format: Paperback, 480 Pages
Date: 5th May 2005

ISBN-10: 1841493945
ISBN-13: 978-1841493947

 
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In a world where gods walk among men. Where magic wielding knights defend the established order. One man finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, to stand accused of an impossible crime. A fate that sets him on the path to personal redemption; becoming the nexus for a disparate group to be brought together to assist a young child fulfil a great destiny. You might well assume that you’ve read this all before, but you’d be wrong. You have never read a novel like Shadowfall.

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Review: The Horse And His Boy By C.S. Lewis


THE STAND OUT TALE OF THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA.

A gripping journey of self discovery for two young heroes in a race against time to thwart a terrible conspiracy.

 

Book CoverThe Horse And His Boy
(The Chronicles Of Narnia, Book 3)

C.S. Lewis

Genre: Children’s, High Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Kindle Edition, 252 Pages
Date: 6th October 2009 (First Published 1954)

ASIN: B001I45UFM
 

 
Purchase From: Amazon UK | Amazon US
 

If anyone were to ask me which of the seven books of The Chronicles Of Narnia is the best, without hesitation I would reply, The Horse And His Boy; although I would have no argument with anyone who considered Prince Caspian to be the better book. While they are both excellent reads, what elevates the former over the latter, as well as the other Narnia books, is its unique status within the series. It is the only instalment whose premise doesn’t involve young protagonists from our world being transported to the world of Narnia at a time of great need. In fact, though the story takes place during the reign of the Pevensie siblings, and features cameo appearances by them, Narnia only plays a small part in the book’s setting and plot. The story unfolds mostly in the land of Calormen, far to the south, before moving to Archenland and Narnia, much later on.

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