Fantasy Reviews

From Far Away Volume 3

[openbook booknumber=”1591166039″] [rating:4/5]

With each passing day, Noriko discovers more and more about the strange and chimerical world she now calls home. And the more she learns… the more frightened she gets!

Everyone around her is talking about an ancient prophecy and the awakening that will usher in a new epoch. To some, this foretold era is fraught with uncertainty and danger. To these people, the power of the awakening must be eliminated.

Ever so slowly, Noriko starts to realize that she, somehow, embodies the gift of the awakening. With the help of a valiant hero named Izark, the young teenager has thus far eluded the attention those who wish to destroy her. But secrets are hard to keep… and with one misspoken word, Noriko could seal her very own death!

Picking up the third volume in the From Far Away series I thought I had a pretty good handle on where things were headed. We had a teenage couple set up against some pretty corrupt and evil governmental figures and some sort of magical prophecy bound them together. So I was stunned that within the first five pages Izark left Noriko! Their separation allows them to grow individually as they each go on their own adventures and yet something magical still ties them together. Not to mention that even through the language barrier Noriko is beginning to realize it and just how much danger that puts them both in.

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Magician’s Gambit

[openbook booknumber=”0345335457″][rating:5/5]

Ce’Nedra, Imperial Princess of Tolnedra, had joined a dangerous mission to recover the stolen Orb that supposedly protected the West from the evil God Torak. And somehow, she found herself feeling quite tender for Garion, the innocent farm boy, who would be forced into the strange tower in the center of all evil to retrieve the Orb by himself.

It’s always a little difficult to review a fantasy book that is smack dab in the middle of a series and Magician’s Gambit is no exception. Fortunately it is quite different from the two books that came before it. For one the standard plot arc of entering a new kingdom and having Garion be the only one observant enough to notice a coup or a nefarious character attempting to instigate war is not present. Instead the book opens with the story being told from the view-point of Ce’Nedra, the Tolnedran princess who ran away from her father only to find herself mixed up in Belgarath’s quest for the Orb. While both Garion and Ce’Nedra have come a long way since they met, they are still very much teenagers and spend most of this book squabbling in one way or another. It is on one hand cute but on the other quickly becomes mildly annoying.

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The Last Worders

by Karen Joy Fowler


“The Last Worders” is a fantasical story with some horror elements that definitely leaves you with a chill at the power of words. The short story was published in The Years Best Fantasy and Horror 2008. The story centers around twin sisters who have journeyed to the fictional town of San Margais chasing after a boy they have both fallen in love with to make him choose between them. On the journey we learn more about the twins, the town, and the poetry that seems to bind them together in a mesmerizing and faintly eerie story that is ultimately about the power of words to unify and to destroy us all.

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From Far Away Volume 2

[openbook booknumber=”1591166012″] [rating:4/5]

Transported into a fantastical world of high adventure, a confused and frightened teenager discovers she holds the key to a profound power born of an age-old prophecy.

Scared and on the run, Noriko strikes up an alliance with a mysterious rogue swordsman named Izark. But now, weakened from a recent battle, this swordsman has become dependent on his young charge to nurse him back to health.

Trapped in a strange world and unable to speak the native language, Noriko must find a way to save her fallen warrior… and save herself, too!

I was expecting things to maybe slow down a little and we step back and really get to see this world poor Noriko has gotten plunked down into but unfortunately for the characters, and fortunately for us, the adventure picks up. Izark is struck by a strange, sudden illness and Noriko finds herself floundering in her attempts to help him because of the language barrier in place. She is forced to mime her intentions and more often than not she misinterprets what is being said around her and reacts inappropriately.

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[openbook booknumber=”9780547258300″][rating:4/5]

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

When you are as much of a fan of fantasy as I am you end up reading about a lot of awesome adventures, surreal magic, fantastical worlds, and thrilling battles, you also unfortunately read a lot of sexist crap. Women can do this, they can’t do that. Women either marry or go into the convent or become a shrew. Women can’t fight, can’t defend themselves, can’t learn certain trades, can’t rule, can’t lead, can’t strategize, can’t go anywhere alone, or do anything without men’s approval. It. Gets. Grating. This coming from someone who loves fantasy but who also gets a little sick of being told what her gender can and can’t do all the time.

Then comes Graceling. What am awesome, surreal, fantastical, and thrilling breath of fresh air! Graceling is set in a medieval era Europeanish world called The Seven Kingdoms. There are wonderfully complex politics at play and fiendish plots afoot and then we get to the people. Certain people within the various kingdoms are called Gracelings, these people have been Graced with a specific talent. Our main character, Katsa, learns at the tender age of eight that she has been Graced with the talent of killing people when she accidentally kills her step cousin who was making unwanted advances.

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