It wasn’t all fantasy last year despite appearances… but here are three more fantasy novels I did read – spoiler: all three were winners. As usual, reviews originally posted at Goodreads, but with additional thoughts here in italics.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I probably do sound like a bit of a broken record when it comes to Andrea K Höst, but I have fallen in love with pretty much all of her books.
MEDAIR has adventure, magic, and love (with a healthy dollop of angst), and I was drawn into Medair’s world from the start. I loved the premise of “what happens if the hero(ine) fails to save the world” combined with the Sleeping Beauty spin – Medair emerges from her version of an enchanted sleep half a century after the war. The world is much changed and the battles and Medair herself are part of history, but for her, it was only yesterday when the country was on the verge of war.
Perhaps a tad too much time was spent revisiting the debate on right v. wrong and the grey areas in between; however, that didn’t stop me from being completely immersed in Medair’s story and wondering how it could all end happily. The intricate world-building and the examination of complex cultures was an added bonus. And gosh, the ending – it was a surprise, but not quite a surprise at the same time. In hindsight, the seeds were laid throughout the book and I don’t think the ending could have worked any other way.
Yes, I loved this one.
This is on my to-reread list, and considering how FEW books I actually reread, that says a lot. Also, this may be redundant considering the gushy-ness of the above (I may have over-used the word “love”?), but MEDAIR was very definitely one of my favourite books of 2012.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Andrea Höst has given me consistently good storytelling, and I loved the concept of CHAMPION: a king’s champion who has essentially been made redundant and whose main purpose is purely decorative… and then suddenly everything changes and Soren is thrust blinking into the spotlight. And this is the story of how she faces up to the challenge.
I liked how Andrea Höst colours in her characters – the shades-of-grey villain, the true “otherness” of fae, and so on. Also unusual was how the practicalities of rescuing a failing kingdom were considered – its issues may have been caused by magic, but trade becomes a way of bringing the country back to life. Having said that, traditional fantasy elements were also present and perhaps the most disturbing was the use of magic to bring about the loss of free will.
The ending, perhaps, was a little too easy and I’m dying for a sequel to find out more about certain characters. And as there will be one, I’m all excited.
Not really relevant but it’s probably a sign of how engrossed I was in the story that I didn’t realise until 3/4s of the way through that Strake’s position was almost the same as Medair‘s in that both of them had returned to a land that has moved on. Obviously the stories are not the same at all, but that makes it even more fascinating.
I’ve probably said this a million times already, but what I really like about Andrea Höst’s stories is the fact that her plots are DIFFERENT – she always gives me a story that I’ve never read before (umm… obviously I don’t mean that literally). Plus her characters live and breathe. And… I really would like a new Höst novel now.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
CRUCIBLE had a lot of what I loved in the early Temeraire books – plenty of action and adventure, with fantasy melded seamlessly with historical fact. I found the pacing in CRUCIBLE much better than in previous book – it took me a couple of chapters to sink into the rhythm of Naomi Novik’s prose, but once I did, I was engrossed in the story.
I liked how Ms Novik gave us a peek into the very different dragon society of the Incas, and I can see this experience certainly shaping Temeraire’s thinking in future books! The human-dragon culture clashes provided some humorous moments as always, though there were some sombre undertones with Will still dealing with the consequences of his actions a couple of books back, and an incident reminding you of the dangers of travel back then. There was a lot of Iskierka/Granby in this book, and while she’s gradually grown on me (and it was great to see Granby finally standing his ground), an appearance of old friends late in the book made me realise how much I miss the camaraderie in the earlier books.
One of the better installments in this series, I think.
Naomi Novik’s more recent Temeraire books have been a bit hit-or-miss for me, but this one worked (the previous felt like an endless travelogue, IIRC). I haven’t yet gotten around to reading the latest installment that came out this year – any views on that?