#wyrdandwonder – Magical Artefacts

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(May is the month of Wyrd and Wonder – details here, Twitter: @wyrdandwonder)

tttTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week I’ve picked a topic from the Wyrd and Wonder list instead and the theme is:

Top Ten magical artefacts

So, I’ve had a good think about this and, of course, some of these will be really obvious but I had to go there and some are hopefully not so obvious:

The One Ring.  The Lord of the Rings by JRRTolkien – I had too.  It’s the first one that sprang to mind.  A ring forged by Sauron, the Dark Lord, with an evil purpose in mind – world dominion.  The Lord of the Ring is the story of the quest, taken on by 9 companions known as the Fellowship, to destroy the ring by returning it to the fire’s of Mordor.  One ring to rule them all.

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Image from Wikipedia

There are lots of things to choose from in JKRowling’s Harry Potter series from wands, to magical cloaks to the Philosopher’s Stone – I’ve chosen something a bit more mischievous – the Marauder’s Map.  The Map is a magical piece of parchment that when activated, by using the words ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good’, reveals a complete map of Hogwarts, including secret passages.  It also reveals the location of people within the castle.MaraudersMap.png

Excalibur – King Arthur’s legendary sword – pulled from a stone? or given to the bearer by the Lady in the lake.  Lots of different stories are available TH White’s Once and Future King, for example, or adaptations – Disney’s Sword in the Stone:

 

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Original theatrical release poster

The Ruby Slippers – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum’s  – strangely enough I don’t think the shoes in the novel were red – but it was a long time ago that I read the book.  The Ruby slippers originally belonged to the Wicked Witch of the East – who died when Dorothy’s house dropped out of the sky and landed on her!  The Wicked Witch of the West desperately wants the slippers for their powerful magic and pursues Dorothy to try and claim them.

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Seven league boots – apparently these are magical items from folklore but I first became aware of them in Diana Wynne Jones wonderful Howl’s Moving Castle.  As you may imagine, the person who wears these boots can travel seven leagues every time they take one footstep – very useful for quests!  And I love this quote:

“It’s amazing the way one can take a step ten and a half miles long and still always land in a cowpat.” 

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“Drink Me/Eat Me” – magical food and potions from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  After following the White Rabbit down a magical rabbit hole Alice drinks from a bottle she finds on a table which causes her to shrink – fortunately a cake with the words ‘eat me’ written in currants reverses the magic – although not with the results she hoped for.

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The Magic Mirror from Grimm’s fairytale – Snow White in which the evil queen asks her magic mirror every morning ‘“Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”   One day, the mirror, which always answers truthfully, tells her that Snow White is the fairest in the land.  Enraged, the Queen sends her hunter to kill Snow White – and I’m sure you know how the story goes from there.

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A magic eye – Greek mythology tells of three sisters – witches, who shared one eye and one tooth. Perseus – known for beheading Medusa – stole the witch’s eye to force them to give him information in his search for Medusa and how to defeat her.

Stygian witches

Image taken from Villains: Fandom

Shardplate – magically enhanced armour from Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives.  Shardplate gives the wearer enhanced speed and strength and protects the wearer more than traditional armour.  Shardplate can no longer be forged and therefore the remaining suits of armour are highly prized.

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Sting – I started with Tolkien and I thought I’d finish with an artefact from his books.  Sting.  A sword that originally appeared in The Hobbit and was found by Bilbo Baggins who later gives it to Frodo in the Fellowship of the Ring.  Sting is a magical sword that can detect when orcs or goblins are near by.

Sting

Frodo and Sting, LotR, taken from Wikipedia

Obviously, I’ve missed some iconic artefacts off here – I’ve tried to go for a mix of obvious and not so obvious – give me your own examples of magical artefacts please.

 

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#SPFBO The Gods of Men (The Gods of Men #1) by Barbara Kloss

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TheGodsofMenThe Gods of Men is the seventh finalist I’ve read as part of the SPFBO and brings to us a story of two people, with very different backgrounds, thrown together by need and both with secrets about their true identity.

The story begins with an introduction to a young girl, Imari, as she waits to perform a musical number for guests at an event, unfortunately, the performance is a little more powerful than anticipated.  It seems that Imari is capable of wielding magic and her lack of control or knowledge proves fatal and she is forced to flee.

We then jump forward ten years.  Imari lives under the alias Sable and works as a healer in a harsh place appropriately named the Wilds.  She takes risks to help others in some desperate attempt to redeem herself but it seems that she is drawing the wrong sort of attention and her life is about to once again take a dramatic turn forcing her to flee her home for the second time.

Jeric is a prince, second in line to the Corinthian throne, he has become a ruthless killing machine in the war against magic.  He is known as the Wolf and has killed many in his pursuit to seemingly wipe out a race of people.  His latest mission however sends him into the Wilds in search of a healer for his sick father.  I don’t think I’m giving away any spoilers by saying the healer in question is Sable and the two are forced into an unlikely coupling as events come to a dramatic head and Sable is forced to flee the Wilds with Jeric (or Jos as he is known for much of the novel) her only protection.

Now, obviously a large part of this story focuses on Sable and Jos and clearly this takes a romantic turn, but, I have to say that this is a budding romance that is very well done.  There is no insta love here I’m pleased to say and the interactions between the two feels frayed by the tension they have through the need for secrecy and the dislike and distrust the two have for each other which is countered by the simple desire they feel creating an enjoyable chemistry on page.  I guess the obvious comparison here is Romeo and Juliet.  Sable and Jos are two characters that couldn’t be further apart and would in fact be likely to despise each other if their identities were immediately known.  As it is, their time running from danger allows them time to see things differently and to break down their own fierce prejudices.  In fact it gave me Pride and Prejudice vibes in that respect – although to be clear – this isn’t like that particular book in any other respect than the breaking down of barriers and the eventual seeing of things from another’s pov.

In terms of the world building.  I thought this was quite well done in terms of coming through easily during the read as opposed to huge info dumps – but, I felt I would have liked a little more information.  I wouldn’t say that I felt I had a firm grip of the whys and wherefores about the place itself or a really solid picture in my mind of the different people, their religions and the history between them although that could be down to me not taking things on board or missing things.

The characters.  Primarily we focus on the central pairing but there are others, namely the villains of the piece.  Jos’s brother for example who is cruel and manipulative, he uses his younger brother quite ruthlessly and is something of a nasty piece and it’s very easy to dislike him.  There are a number of other dark characters with their own motivations but I’m going to leave readers to discover them along the way – although I would give a quick mention to the Shades -which are a particularly nasty type of critter living outside the villages.  Very violent and poisonous and only prevented from creating havoc by magical wards placed around the outer boundaries that stop their entry.

Gods of Men is a book that I enjoyed but with a few reservations.  Firstly, I was a little bit disappointed that the initial story jumped forward so quickly. I would have liked to know something more of Imari’s time before she progressed to a healer known as Sable – but that’s only a small quibble really and not a deal breaker at all.  Jeric was a character that I struggled with a little bit to be honest.  I didn’t dislike him in some respects and obviously he has a story of his own that is gradually revealed but I struggled with a couple of things.  Firstly, he’s almost invincible, an excellent tracker and fighter by all accounts and yet I didn’t really feel that his abilities were convincing.  It felt a little like I was being told he was ‘brilliant’ rather than it coming across on the page.  And then there’s his own hatred of a race of people that he seems determined to eliminate single handedly.  Now, there is a reasoning behind this that will be revealed as the story progresses but I just found it difficult to reconcile ever really liking him when I couldn’t help think of all the people he had killed so ruthlessly.  Now, in some respects this conflict makes him a really good character to read about and also gives his character the chance for a very good story arc but I think he needed more internal conflict and regret to make that really plausible.

To be honest, I think Gods of Men is a very good start to series and definitely one I would recommend.  I did have some issues with it but nothing that would prevent me from continuing with the series as I think there’s still a lot left to explore.

I would rate this book 7.5 out of 10 for the purposes of the competition which equates to just over 3.5 out of 5 on Goodreads.

 

 

Friday Face Off : “The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow!

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(May is the month of Wyrd and Wonder – details here, Twitter: @wyrdandwonder)

FFOHere we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – the list has been updated to help out those of you who like to plan ahead – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

“The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow!” – A cover featuring a fantasy beast

Obviously I wanted to go with Tolkien this week but decided not to because I do tend to overdo it – although is it possible to overdo Tolkien?  I don’t think so.  Anyway, this week I’ve gone with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) by Catherynne M. Valente.  Now, most of the covers are fairly similar and just involve colour variations – but what do you think of the fantasy beast?  Anyway, here they are:

I think these are all quite nice, but I’m going to have to go for:

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Which one is your favourite?

Like last week I’ve added a Mr Linky here so that you can leave a link if you wish or please leave me a link in the comments so we can all visit and check out each others covers.  Thanks

I’ve updated the list and included themes through to the end of 2019 – I’ve also included events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share that let me know in the comments).  I also have a list prepared for 2020 and so will set up a separate page soon for forthcoming themes.  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment.

Next week – A cover featuring ‘magical things’

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers)

2019

(May is the month of Wyrd and Wonder – details here, Twitter: @wyrdandwonder)

24th May – “bibbity, bobbity, boo” – A cover that features ‘magical things’

31st May –  “simples” – A favourite fantasy cover 

7th June  – “One swallow does not make a summer” – A cover that makes you think of Summer 

14th June – “Coraline opened the box of chocolates. The dog looked at them longingly.” – A cover featuring something sweet

21st June – Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year – Pagan rituals/standing stones/blazing suns – a cover with your own interpretation

28th June – “And who decided which people wore the striped pyjamas” – A cover that is striped

5th July – “The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe… has been answered” –  a cover featuring something/somebody historic 

12th July – A wrap around cover

19th July – “You can’t choose between life and death when we’re dealing with what is in between.” – A cover that is grainy or looks like ‘white noise’

26th July – “Ludo ….. down” – A cover that is Upside Down

2nd August – “There are children here somewhere. I can smell them.” A cover featuring children

9th August – “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.” – A cover featuring Pirates

16th August – “The haft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagles own plumes” – a cover featuring feathers

23rd August – A cover that is a movie tie in

30th August – “I wandered lonely as a cloud” – a cover that is predominantly yellow

6th September “Warm September brings the fruit” – a cover that is seasonal for Autumn/Fall

13th September – Friday the 13th – unlucky for some!  A cover with ‘curse’ in the title

20th September – “Your hair is winter fire,January embers.” – A cover featuring hair

27th September – Freebie

4th October – “Feed me Seymour” – A cover that is 60s horror

11th October – ““And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.”  – a cover featuring an Inn

18th October – “It’s your favorite scary movie, remember? He had on the white mask, he stalked the babysitters.” – A cover featuring a scream

25th October – for Halloween – pick any scary cover you like

(I’m hoping that November will once again bring to us SciFiMonth – Twitter @SciFiMonth)

1st November – A cover that is predominantly grey

8th November – “big badda boom” – a cover that features an explosion

15th November – “No thinking thing should be another thing’s property, to be turned on and off when it is convenient.” – a cover featuring a robot

22nd November – A cover that is Futuristic

29th November – “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” – a cover that is 60s sci fi

6th December – Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun of York”  – a cover that puts you in mind of winter

13th December – A cover that features a temple/or religious icon

20th December – Longest Night –  a dark and foreboding cover

27th December – the festive season – a cover that is glittery or sparkling

(2020 – January is Vintage SciFi month so I’ll be including possible themes to take that on board.)

Throwback Thursday : The Winnowing Flame Trilogy by Jen Williams

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ThrowbackThursday.pngThrowback Thursday, is a new feature created by Tenacious Reader with the aim of  highlighting books from your reading past. This can be virtually anything, a book that you previously read and loved, a book that you want to highlight again, maybe it’s a book in a series and the next book is due out shortly so you want to focus some attention on the series.   Anything goes – so long as your book isn’t a current release as there are already plenty of ways to highlight the latest books.  

Today I’m highlighting the first two books in the Winnowing Flame trilogy by Jen Williams.  Here are the two beautiful covers:

This series is certainly epic in scope.  It’s packed with originality and fantastic characters and it’s written with flair.  I’ve just finished the final instalment The Poison Song – and my review will follow later but for now suffice to say that fantasy lovers should be reading Jen Williams.  She’s a tour de force who is carving her own spot in the world of speculative fiction.  Her books are a delight and I highly recommend them.

The third book is due out today so if you’ve not yet started now is the perfect time.  And, because I’m just really nice here’s the cover for Poison Song so you can see the full set.  this one is a real beauty and my favourite (although it is difficult to choose):

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Can’t Wait Wednesday : Stormsong (The Kingston Cycle #2) by C.L. Polk

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Today is the start of Wyrd and Wonder – a month long event that is a celebration of fantasy.  Check out the details here and join in the fun in whatever way you would like to do so.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking Can't waitthe Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Stormsong (The Kingston Cycle #2) by C.L. Polk.

Stormsong.jpgAfter spinning an enthralling world in Witchmark, praised as a “can’t-miss debut” by Booklist, and as “thoroughly charming and deftly paced” by the New York Times, C. L. Polk continues the story in Stormsong. Magical cabals, otherworldly avengers, and impossible love affairs conspire to create a book that refuses to be put down.

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There’s revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What’s worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation, and closer to Grace’s heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

Expected publication: February 2020

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