“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to. My book this week is : Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. Oh my giddy aunt! Norse mythology. Neil Gaiman. Do I really need to say it again. Okay. Third time’s the charm: Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman. Colour me happy.
Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.
In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki son of a giant, blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.
Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman, difficult with his beard and huge appetite, to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir, the most sagacious of gods, is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.
Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.
Due February 2017
Every Tuesday over at the The Broke and Bookish we all get to look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) examples to demonstrate that particular topic. The topic this week is :
Halloween related freebie
I did a bit of humming and ahhing with this one because I do love this time of the year and so for me there are lots of topics that could be discussed. As it happens I’ve settled on books about Vampires!
- Dracula by Bram Stokes. Told in an epistolary style format with diary entries and letters. Wonderful gothic horror – maybe not the earliest vampire story but probably the most well remembered.
- The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer – see what I did there – I went from one extreme to the other. Like or loathe it this has to be one of the most popular vampire series ever – it certainly brings a new slant to the whole mythology with sparkly vampires.
- The Danilov Quintet by Jasper Kent – I have to have this on the list – this series is amazing. These are some downright nasty vampires and they certainly don’t sparkle – they’re true dirty and smelly – the sun would never touch their skin ! Truly excellent historical horror. Twelve, Thirteen Years Later, The Third Section, The People’s Will and The Last Rite bring to us a fascinating story of vampires. Based heavily on historical fact and spanning the period from the Napoleonic wars to the Russian Revolution Kent brings to us the fascinating and fictional account of the voordalak. A creature of Russian folklore – known to us as a vampire!
- Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. Such a good story – I’ve only read the one in the series but I loved it. Very evocative writing and Southern Gothic horror.
- Fevre Dream by George RR Martin. More Southern horror set on the antebellum Mississippi River. This is a great read and I really enjoyed reading something by GRRM before he became so well known for Game of Thrones.
- Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. You certainly can’t leave this one off the list. Chilling in the extreme brrrr.
- I am Legend by Richard Matheson – this book is absolutely iconic. It’s very dark and moody, definitely not a book filled with joy and hope but absolutely a must read. The end is amazing (and completely different from the ending in the film I hasten to add).
- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I think this is probably one of those books that could be hit and miss for some. It’s a very descriptive novel but I just really enjoyed the writing style, the imagery and the places that were visited along the way.
- The True Blood series by Charlaine Harris – I did enjoy this series. Lots of supernatural creatures and a main character who can read minds!
- The Fifth House of the Night by Ben Tripp – this was a fairly recent read that I absolutely loved. See if this Goodreads snippet tempts you ‘Filled with characters as menacing as they are memorable, this chilling twist on vampire fiction packs a punch in the bestselling tradition of ’Salem’s Lot by Stephen King’
- I’m cheating and having one extra – simply because I’ve just finished reading this one – review to follow shortly. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This book was excellent. Aztec mythology, Mexican setting and vampire realism!
I could quite easily have taken this to 20. I’ve selected a few of the covers for your delight:
That is all folks – sleep tight and don’t let the vampires bite!
This is my sixth and final batch of books for the SPFBO and my final update post! I’ve listed below my links to updates and reviews for the first/second/third/fourth and fifth batch of books with links to the books chosen from each round.
The book choices were all randomly picked. I aimed to read about 20% of each book or five chapters although in quite a few cases I read considerably more. Basically, if one of the books stood out above the other four then that became the clear choice from that batch.
My final set of five books are below. I’ve added underneath each a synopsis (taken from Goodreads) and also linked up the titles so they’re easy to check out. These are only very quick thoughts, given that I’ve not read the full book in most cases it’s not possible to give a full review.
The dark ones never forget a hunter. For Antonio, newly-former priest, that’s not a great thing. It gets worse when he’s confronted by two bodies and the unmistakable trail of a succubus. Why the Hell did it have to be a succubus?
He might have lost his title, lost his identity, lost his backup; but he still has his blade, and this hunt might offer a chance at redemption, a chance that Antonio desperately needs.
The Fallen Shepherd Saga was originally published as a three-part serial story. This volume is an expanded omnibus edition.
The Fallen Shepherd is an urban fantasy type story in which The Fallen Shepherd of the title is Antonio. Previously a priest Antonio is, at the start of the story, on the trail of a succubus who has just murdered a police officer. I didn’t get too much further into the plot with my 20%. The writing was quite engaging and I enjoyed the chapters I read. I did feel that there was a certain element of telling rather than showing. So, for example, Antonio, he makes lots of noises about being an expert hunter and yet he walks right into a fairly obvious trap early on and in spite of saying that you can’t afford to make mistakes in his line of work. That being said I did enjoy the chapters I read – not sure if it brings anything new to the UF genre but could be an interesting read nonetheless.
This novel contains interior comics and art by the author.
Olivia might look human, but she’s grown up with a heavy secret: her mother is a potion-maker who fled her home in a parallel world, the Hidden Lands.
Alfred is the blind, charismatic young heir to the illegal potions trade. When Olivia’s mother is kidnapped by the magic dealers with whom she once made a bad bargain, she has no choice but to trust Alfred’s offer of help. They travel to a strange new world of bootlegged American pop culture, lifelike doll people, and reincarnation. Alfred finds himself putting his position on the line to defend Olivia against his family’s conniving plans. Maybe he has morals…or maybe he’s just falling in love.
When Olivia escapes from an attack by a curiously familiar sorceress, she learns that potion dealers weren’t the only thing Mom was hiding from. Dark secrets lurk in Olivia’s past, and now Olivia must kill or be killed by the girl with whom she once shared everything…
I quite enjoyed the writing for the Vengeful Half the author has come up with some good ideas for her Hidden Lands although I confess that I was surprised when we actually travelled there to find that they were basically very similar to our own – which I wasn’t expecting. Unfortunately I was unable to check out the artwork so I can’t really comment about that or whether it added to the read overall. Having read the first 20% I don’t really have a good enough grip on the story yet to make an overall judgement about the plot and in terms of the characters, I haven’t at this stage been able to form an attachment to any of them. Given the chapters I’ve read so far I think this could be an enjoyable YA read.
3. Magic Banquet by A E Marling – this book was a swapped title. Originally I was due to read Off Leash by Daniel Potter but I exchanged books due to a conflict of interest.
Dragon steaks, ambrosia, and chimera stew. In the Magic Banquet, one guest always dies of joy. Or so they say. The street waif, Aja, just wants a few mouthfuls of the first course, but this is a party not easily left.
The dishes lavished upon Aja do more than entice. They enchant. They endanger. They change her. When she learns that a dragonfruit will make her mature, she eats it all. She is tired of being seen as a child, of being excluded and overlooked by respectable families and that other girl at the banquet, who is the empress in disguise. But Aja ages too fast, too much, and too soon. She is dying. She must replenish her lifeforce by eating a phoenix before she can even think of escaping the mortal banquet.
Aja, a thirteen-year-old girl who stole into the banquet before anyone could tell her she’s too young.
Janny, an old woman hungry for eternal youth.
The Empress Nephrynthian. But she’ll insist on you calling her Ryn.
Her guard, Fos Chandur.
Solin, graceful on his crutches and deadly with his magic.
And a dark lord.
Another book that caught my attention quite early on and showed some promise. However, for me personally this feels like a quite young read, probably early teens – and I’m not just basing that on the age of Aja, the main protagonist, but more the feel of the read up to the point I read. From the portion I did read I felt that this had a coming of age type of feel and I think that a younger audience would enjoy Aja as she progresses through this banquet.
“In THE NINTH WIND, Moses Siregar takes readers to a fascinating new world where politics, magic, and adventure mingle in exciting and profound ways. If you like fantasy, you’ll love this!” –NYT Bestseller David Farland
THE NINTH WIND SPEAKS FOR THE DEAD …
The Ancestors whisper of rebellion, their breath a cold blue wind in the forests and hills of Andars. The Rezzian occupation lingers, dragging the folk of the hills through bitterness and despair.
Three siblings stand ready to challenge the Kingdom of Rezzia. Their fates have long been seen by the primordial Orns: one by Angst, one by Fidelity, one by Wrath.
Idonea searches the dark wood to master the magic of the three sacred trees. Skye pursues omens to lead his shield-brothers to victory over Rezzia’s legions. As armies battle for control of the Andaran hills, Dag calls out so that he may become as impenetrable as Altrea, allowing nothing to bend him, or turn him, or break him, so that he may stand and defend his kin. The ten gods of Rezzia and their lions stand in his way.
The Ninth Wind is the long-awaited return to Moses Siregar III’s award-winning epic fantasy series, Splendor and Ruin. Drawing on Norse, Greek, and Indian mythologies, the Ninth Wind is a tale of betrayal and retribution, of gods and sages and witches, of fearless journeys and magical awakenings.
It is a tale of honor, devotion, and valor. An adult tale of the children of wind and wood.
As soon as I started The Ninth Wind I thought it showed a lot of promise. This is my favourite from this batch of books and my review will follow.
Icarus must intervene before a wicked ritual is completed, or humanity will be banished from the world of Tellest forevermore. But his people, the elves, have determined that humans are too dangerous to share the realm. How can he protect the friends that he has made without betraying his race?
Samael is a man scorned, whose only desire is to enact vengeance on those who have wronged him. However, his involvement is the deciding factor in the call to banish humanity. For the sake of all the races of Tellest, he must work with Icarus to put a halt to the foul dealings.
The Fall was actually quite an intriguing read that got off to a good start and I read further than the 20% I’ve allocated for each book. The writing was easy to get on with and the world quite well imagined, but, I had the overall feeling that I was missing something, or that The Fall was only a small piece in a larger puzzle. I could of course be wrong with that as I haven’t read the full book at this point.
In conclusion, I’ve chosen The Ninth Wind as my favourite of this particular batch of books and my review will follow shortly.
- Cover Lover
- 1st Batch of books + update + book review
- 2nd batch of books + update + book review
- 3rd batch of books + update + book review
- 4th batch of book + update + book review
- 5th batch of books + update + book review
- 6th batch of books + update + book review
At this point (although I haven’t yet reviewed the sixth book) given that I have chosen a book from each round I feel that I am now in a position to choose the book I’d like to take forward. The final six were:
- Rebel’s Honor by Gwynn White
- Unwilling Souls by Gregory D Little
- As the Crow Flies by Robin Lythgoe
- The Amber Isle (Book of Never #1) by Ashley Capes
- Outpost (The Fylking #1) by F T McKinstry
- The Ninth Wind by Moses Siregar III
And, the book I will take forward to the next round will be:
Outpost by F T McKinstry
Unwilling Souls by Gregory D Little a close second.
I would like to thank all the authors who submitted their work to the SPFBO – I’ve enjoyed taking part and making my way through all the entries.
I’ve tried to give overviews for all the books and give full reviews for the ones I’ve read completely. My final post will be my review of The Ninth Wind which will follow shortly.
1. Imriel spends the night at Melisande’s before Solon is to do his spell. Melisande tells Imriel that she would like it if, after all this, he would find it in his heart to come visit her again. Do you think he will? What would that reunion be like?
Yes, I think he will visit her again. I don’t really know why but I have a feeling that his feelings towards her may be softened somewhat, especially now he’s met her again and heard her talk – not to mention that very frank conversation they had when they looked at each others weaknesses or fault lines.
2. Solon tells Imriel to “put Imriel away” and “make him small…like a tiny, tiny seed.” How much of Imriel remains inside “Leander” once the spell is complete?
I must confess this part of the story was so strange following in the mind of Leander! Some of his thoughts don’t exactly portray him in the best light! But, yes, I do think there is obviously quite a bit of Imriel’s personality shining through. I think the desire to meet Sidonie and his thinking that he might be falling in lover with her – I think that’s obviously persuaded by Imriel – maybe not directly but I just can’t help feeling that somehow Imriel’s love is determined to come out and this will in some way affect Leander. After all, even the tiniest seed can grow in the right conditions – of course that could all be nonsense!
3. Sidonie and Leander/Imriel meet and court again. What do you think of this and the echoes of their past courtship? How much of Imriel does Sidonie actually remember, if anything?
It’s so odd, like I said above – both of them are having their natural feelings, and in the case of Sidonie her memories, surpressed, and yet both of them seem to be drawn to each other inexplicably. For me there is clearly something about that relationship that wants to shine out in spite of all the magic currently heaped onto them to prevent it.
Oct. 16th Week 2: Chpts. 11-22 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Oct. 23rd Week 3: Chpts. 23-35 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Oct. 30th Week 4: Chpts. 36-49 (Hosted by Emma Wolf)
Nov. 6th Week 5: Chpts. 50-62 (Hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog)
Nov. 13th Week 6: Chpts. 63-75 (Hosted by Tethyan Books)
Nov. 20th Week 7: Chpts. 76-END (Hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow)
Today I’m reviewing my chosen book from the fifth batch of books. For the SPFBO I split my books into 6 batches, each batch having 5 books, with the aim of choosing one favourite book from each and then to pick an overall winner from those final 6 and today’s post is my review of my book from the fifth batch.
Outpost is a well written and absorbing high fantasy story set on the war torn planet of Math. The planet Math, already at war, is about to face it’s biggest threat and whilst the majority of the planet is wrapped up in politics, intrigue and warfare a much more deadly foe threatens its very existence. With an underlying love story (very subtle) and three very unlikely allies McKinstry manages to spin a fascinating tale which I found really quite compelling.
The world building. There’s quite a lot going on here. Thankfully McKinstry doesn’t really hang about – we get a few little history updates along the way but for the most part the world building is delivered as the plot progresses. This certainly is a fascinating place. I won’t go into great depth but the way I understood things the Fylking are immortal warriors from another planet, their enemy is the Niflsekt. Many years ago the Fylking created a portal on the planet Math and they still travel back and forth using that gateway. On the planet Math human seers are chosen as Wardens to protect the portal from demons and other such using it and causing mayhem and destruction. Wardens are taught by the Fylking, who occasionally appear to them in their warrior form but more often than not use the spirit of whatever animal they are aligned to – for example a wolf or a bird – maybe even a spider! Apologies if I’ve over complicated that – and believe me when I say the author does a much better job of setting the scene than I possibly can.
In terms of the characters. We have three main characters who all share a connection. Their tales for the most part are told in separate POV instalments but eventually their paths intertwine as they’re drawn into the story.
Othin, named after the trickster God, is a Ranger. Sworn to protect the people he travels a certain path keeping trouble at bay. He’s definitely a larger than life character, fearsome on the battle field, probably equally as fierce in terms of beer swilling he can come across at first as a bit of a womaniser but in fact this impression is not all there is to him and he’s a character that I really came to like as the story progressed. His men are certainly loyal to him and on top of that he’s finally found the love of a good woman. Unfortunately for Othin he’s also found the eye of a rather scheming young woman, who coincidentally happens to be the daughter of his Lord and Master.
Melisande is a wonderful character which is probably why she captured not only my heart but also that of Othin. She is undoubtedly my favourite of the story. She’s a young woman who lives by herself in a cottage in the woods with her cat and her herbs – she loves Othin and looks forward to his visits. She gets by through bartering her knitted goods with the people from the village. The people of the village vary in their feelings towards her. Some are her friends and would protect her, others keep a civil tongue in exchange for her knitted items (which everyone loves) and some outwardly scorn her and would try to rile up the feelings of the others – it’s a tenuous balance and the pitchforks, torches and cries of ‘witch’ are only a hair’s breadth from being broken out. Is she a witch? Not really, she’s more god touched. Melisande is capable of Pattern Sense and whilst this comes across as a very understated form of magic it is in fact much more powerful than she realises. I loved Pattern Sense – I never envisioned myself writing a review and raving about magic that involves knitting – and yet here I am doing that very thing! What can I say – it just works.
Arcmael was born the son of a Lord, privilege and wealth were his right but unfortunately he didn’t live up to his father’s dreams and, having no natural inclination to become a warrior or fight wars, he was pushed out of the family home. His path eventually led to initiation as a seer/warden and although he steadfastly refuses to pick up a sword he now acts as guardian of one of the Gates.
These three eventually find themselves on paths they never expected. Othin finds himself deserting his post – not out of cowardice but to escape the manipulations of the Lord who commands him and try to return to explain things to Melisande. Meliande (or Milly) is forced to run from her home when the true strength of her magic becomes known and the villages take drastic measures and Arcmael, in frustration, banishes the Fylking from his sight leaving him alone and unprotected on a dangerous road.
There is plenty of action going on in Outpost not to mention lots of ‘otherworld’ type creatures. We have the fae that live in the mists of the forests and the wicked goblins that live below the ground – we also have draugr. Based on old Norse myths the closest I can come to an explanation of them is zombie or revenant. And we have an evil warlord who, using spirits of the dead is animating corpses to form his own diabolical army of draugr.
I must say that I really enjoyed Outpost, it had unique and creative world building, likeable characters, that I was always anxious to return to, and plenty of plot to drive the story forward. The world portrayed is quite a gritty and dark one which is offset by the almost fairytale feel of certain elements of the story and the inclusion of a particular tricky God that I would definitely like to hear more from.
I don’t really have any criticisms as such. I found the ending maybe a little bit rushed – or at least comparatively to the rest of the novel and it was an unexpected ending but that being said this is the first in series and we’re left with some firm ideas of what might happen next. Also, I would quickly point out that there is a particular scene in the book that involves an incident with Millie that could be a potential trigger to some readers. I will stress though that this is not at all gratuitous and is a key part of the story that not only moves her story forward but also sees her character develop and strengthen in quite unexpected ways.
In conclusion, I found this a very enjoyable read with likeable characters living in a well imagined world and I would definitely continue to read more in this series.
Outpost is my chosen book from batch 5.
My books so far:
- Batch 1: Rebel’s Honor by Gwynn White
- Batch 2: Unwilling Souls by Gregory D Little
- Batch 3: As the Crow Flies by Robin Lythgoe
- Batch 4: The Amber Isles by Ashley Capes
- Batch 5: Outpost by F T McKinstry – review to follow
- My book from batch 6 to be forthcoming soon!
I now have my final batch update and chosen book to review – my aim is to post these tomorrow and announce my winner at the same time (although it could potentially slip to Tuesday – ‘the best laid plans, etc, etc’).