The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#1
7.5/10

I grew up reading Russian fables, and the character of Vasilisa Prekrasna (Vasilisa the Beautiful) from Russian mythology is very much a known character to me, so finding out that there was a new book heavily inspired by this strong female character from Slavic mythology that I adored as a kid was very exciting for me.
This was a strong first book (trilogy is planned), that did more than just set framework as first trilogy books usually do. It actually started and finished a story, so it can be read as a standalone.

For all you folks who liked Uprooted by Naomi Novik, this is a good book to tie you over until Novik comes out with her new Rumpelstiltskin book. (@Anti_Quated @ReguIa )

Arden did a good job of adapting and modifying Russian mythology and historical figures, although I didn't like her writing style as much as Novik's but that may be just a personal preference. Arden basically took certain characters from Russian history and Slavic paganism and mashed them up to tell her own fairy tale. So it's not exactly a re-telling as much as original story with borrowed characters that she heavily modified.

If you like YA this could also be a good book for you, as it can fit into both 'adult' and YA fantasy genres. If you like fairy tales or mythic fantasy this is also a good choice.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28862387-the-bear-and-the-nightingale
 

ReguIa

Journeyed there and back again
#2
Thanks for the tip. I just read the blurb on goodreads and it sounds great. Not so long either, something like 350 pages? Everything I've read recently has been in the 700-800 range so this is just what I need:)

Checked and my local bookstore has it too!
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#3
@Ser Pounce read it as well, and according to GR we both liked it the same, which is in GR terms represented as 4 stars :D

Ser Pounce, mind giving this one and Norse Mythology a rating? I know @Jon Snow likes to collect them early toward the yearly 'Best of' lists ;)
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#5
Not sold on Gaiman's reception piece, so I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it.
I'm only 20% in but so far it's kind of disappointing I have to say. It's so simplistic. It would be perfect for a kid who wants to know more about the Thor and Loki, but for an experienced fantasy reader, this book is just not up to par with his other more original works like American Gods.
(also this is a collection of short stories, that kinda link to each other, but kinda don't - not a novel)
Both books take from myth, but American Gods has more personal creativity and Gaiman's own mind in it, than this one. Of course the premise is very much different, in NM, Gaiman really wants to re-tell norse myths and in AG he just borrows and makes his own myth. So NM has him quite restrained in that sense. He can't go and make shit up, but to me that's what great writers really do best - they fib and spin their 'lies' and we always come back for more.
On top of that I see that he really wants to make norse myths accessible, so because of that it suffers from this simplicity. If I was a 12 year old girl I would probably love it, but at this point in my life, even if I am reading kids fantasy I look for more original works that may heavily borrow from myth of course, but that still overwhelmingly have that personalized author input. I want people's stories, not myth introductions.
I feel really bad about everything I am saying here, because you can tell he really invested a lot of time researching this stuff, and he wants to be faithful to the original, and I always admire strong work ethics and authors who do their research. This is why it makes it even more depressing.
 
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Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#6
Rating 9 out of 10

Well, I absolutely loved this book. I really enjoy dark adult fairy tales and this made the grade. I thought the characters were well drawn and I thought she did a great job researching and incorporating Russian fables and mythology. I thought it was a well written fun story. I will definitely read the next book. Great debut!

The onIy negative is that I read it a couple weeks ago and can hardly remember any specific details concerning the plot. Very unusual for that to happen when I really like a book. Also unusual that I actually really liked a fantasy book by a female author.

@Alucard you must be a tough grader, IMO, because you wrote several good things about the book but “only” gave it a 7.5. I’m sure I missed stuff because I didn’t have the background you do with Russian fables so this was all new to me. I’m going to look into Naomi Novik, right now, whom I had never heard of before you mentioned her.

Edit: Yes, I am definitely interested in her fairy tale books! Please give me a heads up if you see any go on sale. The Temeraire flintlock dragon series looked really good too so I grabbed the first at $2.99 :)
 
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Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#7
@Alucard you must be a tough grader, IMO, because you wrote several good things about the book but “only” gave it a 7.5.
It's kind of a different thing. I don't even pretend I'm rating objectively. I rate purely on my enjoyment of the book. It's very subjective. You can follow the link in my signature for explanation of each grade. This book while it was really good, wasn't quite what I like to get 9/10 from me. I like my books a bit darker & grittier than this. If they have some middle age men/ middle age women as protagonists all the better. If they lean toward toward military fantasy awesome.
I absolutely love fairy tales retellings or original fairy tales, but coming of age stories, while they can be well written aren't exactly what I enjoy the most. The thing I loved about this book was the underlying myth, creatures and the world. Protagonist? Good, but not really my prefered type.

I’m going to look into Naomi Novik, right now, whom I had never heard of before you mentioned her.
Definitely read Uprooted by Novik, because you like this one so much. Novik has much better writing style than Arden (imo).
I haven't read her Temeraire series, but I know for sure it's completely different to any dark fairy tale like Uprooted is. Uprooted is also based on Slavic mythology. Novik is ethnically Polish, and she said her grandmother told her Polish stories & fairy tales when she was a little girl. That's where the inspiration for Uprooted came.

I did give one 2017 book 9/10. It was Blackwing by Ed McDonald. Amazing debut.
Here's a thread for it. Both Sneaky and me loved it.
http://bestfantasybooks.com/forums/threads/blackwing-by-ed-mcdonald.3383/
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#8
It's kind of a different thing. I don't even pretend I'm rating objectively. I rate purely on my enjoyment of the book. It's very subjective. You can follow the link in my signature for explanation of each grade. This book while it was really good, wasn't quite what I like to get 9/10 from me. I like my books a bit darker & grittier than this. If they have some middle age men/ middle age women as protagonists all the better. If they lean toward toward military fantasy awesome.
I absolutely love fairy tales retellings or original fairy tales, but coming of age stories, while they can be well written aren't exactly what I enjoy the most. The thing I loved about this book was the underlying myth, creatures and the world. Protagonist? Good, but not really my prefered type.


Definitely read Uprooted by Novik, because you like this one so much. Novik has much better writing style than Arden (imo).
I haven't read her Temeraire series, but I know for sure it's completely different to any dark fairy tale like Uprooted is. Uprooted is also based on Slavic mythology. Novik is ethnically Polish, and she said her grandmother told her Polish stories & fairy tales when she was a little girl. That's where the inspiration for Uprooted came.

I did give one 2017 book 9/10. It was Blackwing by Ed McDonald. Amazing debut.
Here's a thread for it. Both Sneaky and me loved it.
http://bestfantasybooks.com/forums/threads/blackwing-by-ed-mcdonald.3383/
I misspoke. I typed “dark” but I didn’t mean bloody and gorey. I strictly avoid books described in those terms. It’s highly contextual for me. Your rating system makes perfect sense! I find it impossible to rate a book totally objectively, I don’t attempt to do it, believe most people can’t (even though they think they are), and feel in most cases its unnecessary.
 

ReguIa

Journeyed there and back again
#9
@Darth Tater @Alucard I think I'll take a break from Farseer when I finish Royal Assassin. Really interested in The Bear and the Nightingale, after all I also thought Uprooted was great and if they're sorta similar..

Novik is releasing Spinning Silver this year. It's not set in Uprooted's world, but it will be the same type of darker fairy tale story.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#10
@Darth Tater @Alucard I think I'll take a break from Farseer when I finish Royal Assassin. Really interested in The Bear and the Nightingale, after all I also thought Uprooted was great and if they're sorta similar..

Novik is releasing Spinning Silver this year. It's not set in Uprooted's world, but it will be the same type of darker fairy tale story.

@ReguIa I really enjoyed it. It was very difficult for me to put down the book. But we all like something different so I will be interested to see what you think. Also, in all seriousness, I wont ask you if you’ve read it, but if you have not, I really enjoyed jo Zebedees Waters And The Wild. So you might want to at least take a peek.

https://www.amazon.com/Waters-Wild-Jo-Zebedee-ebook/dp/B072F44Z8Y
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#11
Novik is releasing Spinning Silver this year. It's not set in Uprooted's world, but it will be the same type of darker fairy tale story.
If I remember correctly, the early news about it was that it's her take on Rumplestiltskin. So a fairy tale retelling.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#12
I really enjoyed “Beauty” by Robin McKinnley (also wroteThe Hero And The Crown). It’s a really nice twist on Beauty And The Beast. As of today it is marked down to $3.23. No. Not a typo. $3.23.