Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Sword-and-Sourcery
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-02-05 22:18
"Third Time Lucky and other stories of the most powerful wizard in the world" by Tanya Huff
Third Time Lucky: And Other Stories of the Most Powerful Wizard in the World - Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff is one of my favourite SF/Fantasy writers.  I loved her trope-twisting "Blood" series with Detective Vicki Nelson encountering everything from Werewolves to Mummies, her "Confederation / Peacekeeper" series where Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr delivers military SF that isn't just about winning and her "Gale Women" series where the world is saved on a regular basis by women who know how to unleash magic.


Two of the things I like most about her writing is the way she uses humour and the way she subverts patriarchal power models. Her women are powerful but they use their power in very different ways than their male counterparts and they love pricking pomposity.


I jumped at the opportunity to go back to a collection of stories written at the start of her career and see how far these two elements were already present. What I found were some light, fun stories that made me smile both because they are witty in a relaxed, slightly bawdy sort of way and because they disassemble traditional power models with a wink and a cocky smile.


Magdelene, the central character of the seven stories in "Third Time Lucky", is the most powerful wizard in the world. Fortunately for everyone concerned, she is also the laziest wizard in the world. She is more interested in living in a climate that requires little by way of clothing and is populated by well-muscled men who know how to sing than she is in world domination.


I read the stories in the order they're published in the book, which is the order that Tanya Huff wrote them in, rather than the chronological order of the stories. This, together with the notes from the author at the start of each tale, let me watch how Tanya Huff's idea of Magdelene developed between the first story in 1985 and the last in 2001.


They all made me smile and they all made me look again at power models - the one where Magdelene encounters a wizard bureaucracy I found to be particularly cutting.

If you're a Tany Huff fan, take the time to read this collection.


If you're not a Tanya Huff fan yet, read this collection for a gentle introduction to someone who sees the world differently and makes you glad to be in her company.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-05-27 21:12
"Red Sister" not a review (yet) just a quick thank you to Just One More Chapter
Red Sister - Mark Lawrence

It's rare for me to find a fantasy author that I've never heard of who then makes me go "wow" on a regular basis through nineteen and a half hours of the first book in a series.


The book is "Red Sister" and the author is Mark Lawrence.


I found them both through a review by Just One More Chapter.


That's one of the joys of BookLikes.


I'll write my own review once my head has stopped spinning.


In the mean time, take a look at the review that set me on this path and see if it gets your imagination running.





Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2015-09-11 12:47
"The Steel Remains - A Land Fit For Heroes Book1" by Richard Morgan: sword and sorcery for grown-ups -nasty, brutal and completely convincing
The Steel Remains - Richard K. Morgan

"The Steel Remains", the first book in Morgan's "A Land Fit For Heroes" series, is sword and sorcery for grown ups: people who can imagine what a broad sword does when it connects with a body and what it does to a man to be standing at the end of a battle, covered in the blood of his enemies, surrounded by the bodies of his friends and to ask himself what it means that he lived (again) and they died; people who are prepared to confront the cruelty, degradation and pain of slavery with no glamorous over-lay; people who want their fiction to embrace sex that is sweat-slick, lust-driven and not in the least romantic; people who are ready to experience violence that is visceral and thrilling and ultimately leaves no outcome but more violence and death.


Those who know Morgan's work will find familiar themes here: the brutal alpha male warrior that we would not welcome into civilized society, the abuse of the weak by the powerful, the talon-like grip of religion ripping at the belly of human emotion, the betrayal of those who fight and win by those who manage the politics of peace.


They will also find a new world so fully imagined that its scent will still linger in your nostrils after you close the book and a plot that will clearly span several books.

And of course, they will find a fierce male warrior, a leader, a fighter, a man driven by rage and passion, who is openly and vigorously homosexual in a land and time when this is punishable by death through impalement.


This is a book that sets the bar for other writers and deserves to have a massive readership.


Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2015-03-12 22:49
"Half A King - Shattered Sea Book 1" by Joe Abercombie - gripping from the first page
Half a King - Joe Abercrombie

I just finished this today and I'm sitting here slightly stunned. It's been a long, long time since I read something so packed with betrayal, violence, and dramatic plot twists which is also written by someone who draws vivid characters, creates a whole new mythology and has an ear for language and rhythm that lifts his prose almost into a song at times.


The plot of "Half A King", at least as it was described by the publishers, sounded like "Game of Thrones" without the dragons and the nudity. I didn't find that encouraging. I never got past the third chapter of the first "Game of Thrones" book, I listened to a sample of "Half A King" found it well-written and narrated and decided to give it try.


I was gripped from the first page, not so much by the plot as by the tone and pace of the thing: unhurried but focused, like a performer at the beginning of a contemporary ballet, full of controlled energy and potential passion.


Fortunately for me, I had a long commute this week, a round trip drive of nearly 700 miles, during which I could listen to "Half A King". I drank it in: a strange future world, fallen back into feudalism, murder and intrigue at court, a crippled prince unexpectedly becoming a king.


I thought to myself, "Ah, I know where this goes but I'll listen because I'm enjoying the ride". I did enjoy the ride but it turned out that I had no idea where the book was going. After the first plot twist, the ground my complacency was standing on fell away and I tumbled into the unexpected. Then it happened again. And again. And each time without me feeling cheater or tricked. It was more like opening one of those Matryoshka dolls from Russia and finding another doll within and then another within that.


"Half A King" is filled with violence, cruelty, death, betrayal, slavery and, above all, revenge. Yet it does not glory in these things but rather wades through them with the grim determination of someone who's only safe path is through the midden. What it rejoices at is freedom and courage and loyalty, if only because they are so rare.


This was my first Joe Abercrombie book. It won't be my last. Read it, preferably when you can give yourself up to it and let real life fade.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2014-02-14 21:45
“The Wretched of Muirwood” by Jeff Wheeler – Well written Young Adult Sword and Sourcery novel that I couldn’t stay in sympathy with.
The Wretched of Muirwood - Jeff Wheeler

There are lots of good things to say about this book: the world is imagined in great detail and well described, it is well plotted, the main character is likeable, brave and compassionate, and the magic system is novel and well thought through. There are storms and babies abandoned on the Abbey steps, and swords and horses, an evil Sheriff, brave young knights, a corrupt King, a rebellion that turns into a war and of course, the fate of the world hangs upon the bravery of a very young girl.


And yet… I couldn’t give myself up to this book.



As a book for young adults, I understand that some of the darker possibilities have to be toned down a bit, but books like “Divergent” and “Written In Red” or “Anna Dressed in Blood” manage to tap into a real sense of evil without having to get the splatter-movie level. “The Wretched of Muirwood” sells evil short. The bad guys are just that: bad guys. They are corrupt and brutal but they have all the reality of a faceless mob-boss in a Batman comic.



And the good guys are SO good, it’s like biting into an over-sweet apple: it sets your teeth on edge.



But the real source of my lack of comfort with this book is the magic system. In this world, magic comes from accessing The Medium. Good Guys, born into the right bloodlines, do this by surrendering themselves to the will of The Medium, closing their mind to doubt and fear and doing what The Medium tells them to. Bad guys use an amulet-based technology to force the Medium to do what THEY want to do. The price they pay for this is a slow but inexorable poisoning of their souls.



In other words, the Good Guys in this are fanatical Jihadists that The Medium uses as magical suicide bombers while the bad guys are trying to level the playing field between themselves and an elite set of families who refuse to share either knowledge or power. I hate everything about this set of ideas.



The fact that this snagged at me badly enough to reduce my enjoyment of the book is. of course. a tribute to the quality of the writing.



I knew with absolute certainty that, if I was in this world, I would be a bad guy. I just hope I’d make a better job of it.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?