March 24, 2012
Whenever I am trawling the web in boredom, looking for well-reviewed and interesting fantasy novels/ series, there are two notable works which do not appear. The first is Secret Sacrament by Sherryl Jordan and the second the Old Kingdom Trilogy by Garth Nix. Let me be clear, I’m not a fan on Nix in general, but I adore this trilogy- Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen (+1- Across the wall) are something just that little bit different as the protagonist, Sabriel, is a death-witch who deals with making the undead return to their dead state. With the help of a cat and some interesting bells, Sabriel is a fearsome and interesting character. Nevertheless, in the world of fantasy, it is rare for me to actually hear of someone who has even heard of this trilogy. As for the Secret Sacrament (Sheryl Jordan) I suppose it could be described as a kind of Pocahontas story where a boy, ever in awe of an outside, ‘savage’ culture becomes a healer and lives amongst them. Whilst I’m not proclaiming its literary excellence- it ultimatley paints cultural difference and characters in general and very broad strokes- it remains a pleasant fantasy to read with a sad but appropriate ending. I feel like I want to discuss these books with someone, so do me a favor and go out and read them.
March 4, 2012
Tathea and Come Armageddon by Anne Perry are like Marmite- you either love them, or you hate them. In my case, I absolutely loved them and because they’re not particularly mainstream, I would definitely define them as the most underrated books I can think of. As usual (with the best books I’ve read) they was given to me by my mother for Christmas. Following in the theme of books like The Pilgrim’s Progress, the book is highly allegorical with Christian themes. Although sometimes a little difficult to follow and fantastical, the books follow the story of Tathea, a queen who looses everything in a palace coup and then undertakes a journey which is clearly an allegory for Tathea’s finding of God. A lot of people find the book of Mormon references difficult to swallow and follow, but being religious myself this wasn’t the case.
What is particularly interesting is actually the author’s story. Anne Perry was born Juliet Marion Hulme and along with her friend Pauline Parker killed Parker’s mother in order to stop the pair from being separated- the story was the centre of media attention for years and as made into the film Heavenly Creatures. Both girls did time in prison and years later Perry is now a Mormon and a prolific writer. I think what I find interesting is that whilst she writes crime novels this appears to be very much the story about her own spiritual life. Anyways, definitely the most underrated book I can think of, something worth at least taking a look at.
February 26, 2012
I have this habit of leaving books on my shelf for a long time before actually reading them, and The Song of the Lioness quartet was no different- the first book-Alanna, was a present for my 7th birthday but I didn’t read it till I was at 10 or 11. From that moment on I was hooked, and devoured the rest of the quartet immediately, continuing to read Pierce to this day. The series is set in the fantasy realm of Tortall (think medieval europe with magic thrown in) and follows Alanna- a young girl who switches places with her twin- Thom so that she can learn to become a knight and he can learn to become a magician. Alana is a wonderful heroine- flawed, but strong, not always perfect and thus very real and surprisingly- not cliche. The book follows her journey to knighthood with a sprinkling of romance, lots of action and some really very good writing. I still re-read these books on a regular basis and they remain (as to the other books written by Pearce about Torall) my favourite fantasy books of all time. (I love them more than Potter).