It’s April 2018: What Fantasy book are you reading?

ExTended

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#21
That is quite the recommendation. I am going to check some of these out. Have been considering Uprooted, The Bear and the Nightingale, and now I will add this. Need more to listen to during my drives so I will give them all a go. I have my doubts but they also all sound intriguing based on reviews.
The Bear and the Nightingale is a very, very well-done fairytale-ish story. It drips with Russian atmosphere, mannerisms and mythology, with one of the best down-to-Earth dark descriptions of rural wintery settings. The book has personality, so to speak. Also, the characters are like super believe-able, and even though it's basically a coming-of-age story of a Russian girl in the midst of magical and supernatural happenings, the story, her viewpoint, and character arc feel so honest, and significant, and simple( in a very good way), it's rather impressive. Hands down the best written young-adult female character I've encountered so far. No girl-power, or man with boobs, or love-triangle, or teen angst drama to get in the way of the fascinating story. My only critique is that the book kind of halts at a certain point, for a brief smathering of chapters, but after that it picks up the good pace once more. Basically - if the book was like 10-20% shorter, it would've been just perfect. So there's that. :) I am saying this, because you'd probably want to get it to while it's still relatively cold outside - it's a wintery read, and while it would be perfectly enjoyable in any season, I do think that a hot cup of coffee or tea and cold weather outside go perfectly with this particular book. I can also vouch for the audiobook version - I'd give it about 9.5/10. Very moody and spot on.

Now about my reads... I've recently finished with The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham. Just as rewarding a read as I remembered it to be.

I've tried to start Cloak of Shadows by David Dalglish, but alas - it's not my cup of tea. Well, it is, but I wanted something better written, so I've DNFed this for the time being.

I've also tried to finish Baptism of Fire by Andzrej Sapkowski( The Witcher books 5) - I was at about 60% mark, now I am at 65% and I've DNFed it for a second time. What a lackluster of a book. I am not sure if I'd have the patience to finish this series. I want to, but in my opinion very little in the story structure and elements in this series makes any sense at all. It reads like a well-written fan-fiction, no structure what-soever, and characters change their nature left and right, coz why not... right?

I am currently reading:

1. Best Served Cold - man, Abercrombie could be a master story-teller when he wants to.

2. A Darker Shade of Magic - I am on the fence on that one, still haven't decided if I like it or I tolerate it, it's a little of both I think. The problem is I've been reading Jonathan Strange and mr Norrell quite recently, and this book has nothing on it, quality-wise, or even narration-wise. So it's a bit unfair of me to compare the two, and it gets in the way of me enjoying V. A. Schwab's book more, but I cannot help it.

3. The Tyrant's Law by Daniel Abraham, re-read. I don't know if I have had this series in my all-time top 10 favorite fantasy series list before, but I am totally including it now. The series is just so... consistent. As Daniel Abraham have put it in his blog post - this series is his epic fantasy argument and I totally feel that he did manage to distill everything cool about the epic fantasy sub-genre and put it into his work. When it comes to believe-able and diverse character casts, he's certainly up there with some of the best. :)
 
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Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#23
As far as an Irish flavor (other than the presence of fairies themselves...you can’t really seperate fairies and the like from Ireland, can you?) I undoubtedly missed stuff-more informed readers, like yourself in this area will certainly catch much more- I only find it in a particular lovable firecracker’s LOL speech patterns (both in tone and language).
I wasn't trying to separate them. I mentioned all UK parts and Ireland because fairy mythos is part of cultural heritage of all those separate entities. I didn't want to leave out anyone. There are versions and differences of the same fairies all throughout UK and Ireland, but they all share a common thread.
I highly recommend this book. The illustrations are just beautiful. Done by Alan Lee (who illustrated LotR books as well - an amazing artist) as well as Brian Froud himself.
https://www.amazon.com/Faeries-Deluxe-Collectors-Brian-Froud/dp/0810995867
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#24
Of the 3 I started with The Bear and the Nightingale. Finished up through chapter 12 and while it is written well enough there isn't really anything interesting so far. A smattering of the mythical here and there to add intrigue but to this point hasn't been pursued rapidly enough for my tastes. Mostly just boring. I am hoping for a change because the girl is a well written character but one written into a dull plot so far. I will give it a few more chapters so see where it goes but may just drop it since it hasn't been quite what I was looking for going in.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#25
Of the 3 I started with The Bear and the Nightingale. Finished up through chapter 12 and while it is written well enough there isn't really anything interesting so far. A smattering of the mythical here and there to add intrigue but to this point hasn't been pursued rapidly enough for my tastes. Mostly just boring. I am hoping for a change because the girl is a well written character but one written into a dull plot so far. I will give it a few more chapters so see where it goes but may just drop it since it hasn't been quite what I was looking for going in.
I really enjoyed it but can totally see where you’re coming from. I would buy book two, but $14 for a 365 page book? Tempted but I think it will come down at least a bit. Then again, I may capitulate before then.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#26
I really enjoyed it but can totally see where you’re coming from. I would buy book two, but $14 for a 365 page book? Tempted but I think it will come down at least a bit. Then again, I may capitulate before then.
A little further along now and still feeling mostly the same. It doesn't feel like a trudge but I also have no desire to keep going. Or I should say, if I dropped it right now I don't feel like down the road I would be going "I really wanted to know what happen with x". I am on audiobook for my drive and what not so will probably continue anyway.
 

Hikerike

Owns a Ring of Power
#27
Finished Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence. I loved it, and The book of the ancestor series is definitely my favorite series by Mark Lawrence. I think Abeth and the background to Nonas storie is super cool and i hope we get more books in this world, i hate that his books tend to be around 400 pages long, but i guess his books comes out in a good pace so cant complain to much.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#28
Still on White Night. It's good but I'm not wowed by it or anything. I like the addition of Molly character from previous book. Dresden - Molly relationship helps develop both of their characters.

But other than that I haven't been reading much. I started watching The Terror (based on Dan Simons' book). Haven't read the book yet, but the TV show has high enough production quality. Wonderful period costumes and design. I heard it's already veering away from the book, but that might not be a bad thing. It's kind of nice actually, because I can read the book later, and have a new experience of it.
 

Derk of Derkholm

Journeyed there and back again
#29
Just started Daughter of Smoke and Bones.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#30
Just finished up The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.

I have already touched on some of my thoughts while I was listening to the audiobook and it finished how it started as far as my enjoyment of it goes. If I wasn't bored I at the very least wasn't interested in much that was happening with the plot. It has me going back to a thought I often have of how much expectation can impact how you view forms of entertainments. When I go into certain types of books like fantasy or fairy tale (particularly if it is YA) I want to feel a sense of wonder or adventure and this book just didn't deliver for me and maybe I went in with the wrong idea of what I was going to get. For me it was much more Russian family drama and religion than it ever was fairy tale.

To the good Vasya was one of the better written females I have come across in the genre and she was enough to at least help carry me through to the end. I know many people talked about the setting and how well done that was but I hesitate to give an opinion because I have never cared a whole lot about setting. I don't want to do a disservice to the author but I can't help but wonder how hard it is to draw someone into such a cold setting. For me personally you just have to say "they are in Russia" and I am already thinking about it being cold and dreary.

Objectively speaking I am sure this is a good book if it is what you are looking for but it wasn't quite what I had thought it would be going in.

6/10
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#31
Just finished up The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.

I have already touched on some of my thoughts while I was listening to the audiobook and it finished how it started as far as my enjoyment of it goes. If I wasn't bored I at the very least wasn't interested in much that was happening with the plot. It has me going back to a thought I often have of how much expectation can impact how you view forms of entertainments. When I go into certain types of books like fantasy or fairy tale (particularly if it is YA) I want to feel a sense of wonder or adventure and this book just didn't deliver for me and maybe I went in with the wrong idea of what I was going to get. For me it was much more Russian family drama and religion than it ever was fairy tale.

To the good Vasya was one of the better written females I have come across in the genre and she was enough to at least help carry me through to the end. I know many people talked about the setting and how well done that was but I hesitate to give an opinion because I have never cared a whole lot about setting. I don't want to do a disservice to the author but I can't help but wonder how hard it is to draw someone into such a cold setting. For me personally you just have to say "they are in Russia" and I am already thinking about it being cold and dreary.

Objectively speaking I am sure this is a good book if it is what you are looking for but it wasn't quite what I had thought it would be going in.

6/10
Judging by the reviews alone, I think one must agree that it is a “very good” book since it appeals to the vast majority. However, it’s all personal tastes so there is no reason why YOU need to like it. You’re reasons for not really caring for it are all very-solid (not that you needed any reasons).

Personally, something about it really “grabbed me”. Then again, I read it pretty recently and don’t remember much about it, so I’m not even sure what it was.

Funny, it never even occurred to me that it was YA. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials) struck me as YA throughout and I didn’t care for it. I don’t like books or television shows where the little kids are wiser than every adult. The main character, in Bear, (“heroine”) Vasya, was indeed a little girl. Does that automatically make it YA? She had a special magical talent but IIRC she still acted like a kid. Maybe it’s YA regardless. Or was there something else about it that you perceived that made it YA? I’m not advocating for either. I’m just curious what you and others think?
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#32
Judging by the reviews alone, I think one must agree that it is a “very good” book since it appeals to the vast majority. However, it’s all personal tastes so there is no reason why YOU need to like it. You’re reasons for not really caring for it are all very-solid (not that you needed any reasons).
Yeah same way I look at it. In the end most of this stuff is subjective anyway so I don't get on anyone too much for liking anything.

Personally, something about it really “grabbed me”. Then again, I read it pretty recently and don’t remember much about it, so I’m not even sure what it was.
I get the feeling about a week from now I am not going to remember much of anything. It is odd thinking about what grabs some and not others. The decision now is whether I want to pursue Uprooted and the like because I feel it will be similar to my experience with TBatN. Might just end up passing on it.

Funny, it never even occurred to me that it was YA. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials) struck me as YA throughout and I didn’t care for it. I don’t like books or television shows where the little kids are wiser than every adult. The main character, in Bear, (“heroine”) Vasya, was indeed a little girl. Does that automatically make it YA? She had a special magical talent but IIRC she still acted like a kid. Maybe it’s YA regardless. Or was there something else about it that you perceived that made it YA? I’m not advocating for either. I’m just curious what you and others think?
I had this conversation with a member here not too long ago and we both had different opinions on what makes something YA. For me I go more with a movie rating system. If a book seems like it would be rated R I wouldn't call it a YA. Main example being The Red Rising trilogy for me. I thought no part of that book ever felt YA with quite a bit of violence and adult themes. The person I was talking to about it said something closer to what you said about having a young person basically being wiser than the adults and having to save the day. I don't disagree with that approach, it just isn't necessarily how I looked at it. The Bear and the Nightingale lands using either of our approaches so I would say it is almost certainly YA but if I am being honest I mainly labeled it that simply because that is what I saw it labeled as already.
 

ExTended

Hired Nicomo Cosca, famed soldier of fortune
#33
Funny, it never even occurred to me that it was YA. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials) struck me as YA throughout and I didn’t care for it. I don’t like books or television shows where the little kids are wiser than every adult. The main character, in Bear, (“heroine”) Vasya, was indeed a little girl. Does that automatically make it YA? She had a special magical talent but IIRC she still acted like a kid. Maybe it’s YA regardless. Or was there something else about it that you perceived that made it YA? I’m not advocating for either. I’m just curious what you and others think?
For me it's whether or not the book would find a place in a YA bookshelf in a library/bookstore. This could mean one or more of the following:
1. YA tropes
2. Lead characters in their teenage years
3. Toned down narrative/setting/characterization etc. - not always in a condescending way, more in a "let's not get too deep into that particular wormhole, shall we" type of way.
4. Target auditory

I'd say that The Bear and the Nightingale mostly goes into the YA because of points 2 and 4. It's following the story of a main character who is in her teenage years for a significant enough chunk of the story, the character is someone with whom young girls could associate with, and women as a whole, it even touches on some YA themes regarding growing up and standing up for yourself, especially as a young woman in a man-dominated environment. Those are very common YA motives and since YA is a genre read by 80-90% teenage girls and women, Basically if a book has more meat for a young female reader than for a young male boy, it's most likely YA, since that's the predominant demographics of the genre's following.

Obviously things like Red Rising do not fit perfectly into the stereotype, but that's why such works get more love than the slush, the same way there are 4-5-6 fantasy series which are widely considered to be very much above the rest of the crop in the way they interpret and reinvent the fantasy tropes.

Basically - if a teacher, a parent or a girl peer would rave about a book and thotoughly recommend it to a to a teenage girl, it's probably YA, since those are the most common influencers for the genre.

For instance Harry Potter starts on the verge of middle-grade, both in character's age, arcs and personal conflicts, and it grows with Harry and co. towards YA where the themes of the story and the relationships between the characters become more complex and geared towards people in their later teenage years and so on.

There's also the fact that even if something isn't strictly YA-safe, due to language, violence, some themes, the publisher would still prefer to market it as such, because YA's reader base is huge compared to both fantasy and sci-fi, so the gorry-ness and bad language in Red Rising suddenly become sassy-ness and swagger and deepness, and the thing to read as a teenager, instead of something that is walking the verge of what's considered acceptable/expected in the genre when it comes to cursing/violence/level of philosophy, etc.
 
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Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#34
@Cyphon @ExTended thanks for your excellent input!

Cyphon,
Haven’t read Uprooted yet. I CANNOT promise you that you’ll like War Of The Flowers if you read it but I CAN promise you that it is paced VERY differently than Bear. Perhaps there IS a kid in there somewhere but trust me. If so, this kid ain’t like Vasya. I’m guessing any other kids I would remember would be just incidental fairies, dryads, pixies, brownies doing fairy, dryad, pixie, and brownie things in the background. But no Keebler elf named Ernie in my hypothetical.

The protagonist is a 30 year old named “Theo Vilmos”.Sound familiar anyone? Maybe I’m wrong but:

Theo Vilmos = Tad Williams. Very similar, no?
Did he put himself in his own fairy tale? Food for thought.
 

rudyjuly2

Journeyed there and back again
#35
Finished Lightbringer #3. I don’t think this wasn’t quite as good as book 2 but still an exciting page turner with a twist at the end. Gavin had a lesser role but Kip is my favourite. A great series so far. Just racing through these books and the 4th book is $15 on my Kindle. Ouch. But worth it.

4.5/5
 

Anti_Quated

Journeyed there and back again
#36
Not reading Wizard and Glass from the Dark Tower series. Wishing I was reading Malazan.
Actually managed to read for the fourth or fifth time Howard's 'Black Colossus' Conan tale because I was so desperate for a quick fix while labouring beneath indomitable monoliths of work.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#39
Almost 1/4 through The Infernal Battalion (book 5 of 5 Shadow campaigns. Bored to tears. Politics. We want X if you want Y. Hidden agendas. Descriptions of docks, castles, Bodies of water. Yawn. Do I give a fuck that A had never seen such wonders.I could have spent $15 on a travel guide book for this kind of excitement. Cut to the bloody chase. I expected more from the final book but I feel like I’m reading one of the dud WOT books. Undoubtedly it gets good later. Overall, the series is “good” but there is just nothing new. The next 1/4 things will get bad. The 1/4 after that it will look hopeless. The last 1/4 it will all hit the fan and the cavalry will arrive just in time. Like so many series cutting out 30%-40% would make it so much more profitable for the author in the long run. This series was good enough for me to reach the final book. Just barely. I think the characters are just interesting enough to make it worthwhile. Nothing more. 113 down. 387 to go.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#40
Finished up The Red Winter by Henry H. Neff. The fifth and final book in The Tapestry series. It is always bittersweet to finish up a series you enjoy and it always seems hard to love a final book. Some part of me can't help but to still want more despite what should be a satisfying conlcusion. With that being said, it was a satisfying conclusion and this book maintained the same quality and enjoyment as the rest of them.

This series really does deserve more readers and praise and hopefully any of you who haven't read it give it a chance if YA is your thing. I am still not sure there is a better YA series out there. Nothing will touch the magic of Harry Potter but The Tapestry offers more depth and emotion IMO. I guess one good thing I have going for me is that the author did continue in the same universe and I have the first book of that so hopefully it holds up in quality.

9/10