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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

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Martha Wells wrote something called The Fall of Ile-Rien and it’s my big obsession now. The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, The Gate of Gods – remember those titles. I check in on r/fantasy on Reddit pretty regularly and it’s choked with discussions about the same fantasy series that are all by guys with beards and are all unfinished and now I’m wondering why they’re not talking about this, which is a complete trilogy with a satisfying ending and is pretty much perfect.

I mean this has wizards who dress in tuxedos or flower print dresses in a 1920s-ish kind of central Europe and there are sentient magical spheres and culture clashes with matriarchal tropical island people and there are airships, so many airships, and war and adventure and romance and portals between different dimensions and giant ruins from long-dead ancient civilizations, and it’s all just beautifully rendered and evocative and imaginative. But it’s not just the world(s), which are intricate and detailed and feel alive, but after reading so many books lately where the characters are all kind of nondescript reflections of each other, Martha Wells breathes life and personality into everyone; her characters are so well-formed and complex and distinct whether good or bad and watching them interact is a huge pleasure. But mainly there are sorcerers flying around in zeppelins and that’s exactly what I needed in my life right now.

So, The Fall of Ile-Rien: you should read it. I’m leaving everything vague because I really do want people to go in blind and enjoy it fresh. It’s all the good parts you remembered about 90s fantasy including the zeppelins. It is distilled excellence and me blabbering too much about it would ruin it. So just go and read it.

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What to say about The Traitor Baru Cormorant? Just before publication in 2015, it seemed like a concentrated effort to torpedo the book occurred over several prominent SFF review sites and blogs; then shortly after publication came all the counter-arguments and effusive praise, and then it abruptly dropped off my RSS feed. Now it’s three years on with its sequel set for publication in October, and I’ve finally read it.

Seth Dickinson creates a secondary world custom-built for postcolonial theory, or at least that’s how things appear in the first few chapters. The Masquerade, a Granbretanean-style maritime “imperial republic” modelled after the British Empire but where everyone wears masks because masks are cool, conquers Baru Cormorant’s homeland of Taranoke by using paper money. She’s picked up by their schools, educated, and goes out into the world as an imperial accountant in the far-off northern nation of Aurdwynn. (more…)

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On his blog Morphosis, Adam Roberts wrote about fantasy literature’s preoccupation with physical violence. His article covers a lot of ground, but I’m extrapolating on two small parts of it:

  1. How some fantasy (increasingly more of it) portrays killing others without compunction or emotional repercussions as heroic.
  2. How authors use the shock of physical and sexual violence as a shortcut to make the imagined world become relevant to the real one. The common reaction of “things just got real” to a text when the story takes a dark turn is probably the basest example of how the trick operates.

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A reflection on the life and works of Ursula K. Le Guin in light of her recent passing.

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Marie’s blog

Cory’s blog

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In which we speak of books we never finished, or wish we had never finished. Normally, I would provide a list of the novels we talked about. But this time, I think it’s better if you go in blind.

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Marie’s blog

Cory’s blog

Source of our theme song

 

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We settle down to talk about another classic work of fantasy: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series, specifically the first three novels, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore.

Also: dragons.

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Marie’s blog

Cory’s blog

Source of our theme song

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What does heaven look like? We find out by reading Steven Brust’s novel To Reign in Hell (1984).

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Marie’s blog

Cory’s blog

Source of our theme song

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