This week on my (so far) weekly post of those books that I read and have stayed with me (for good or ill) since from that dark, near-lost to time period before I started blogging, is my fondest fantasy memories. This is proving to be a far harder series to keep up than I imagined. As it turns out, contrary to the title, I have forgotten a good deal of the books I read before blogging! So the title may end up changing to something like ‘Read, completely forgotten, but I know I loved it’ or something like that.
I’m currently really struggling to enjoy fantasy (I enjoyed the last one I read, but it took me 3 weeks to read a 380 page book. So I’d say I’m in a fantasy slump) unless it’s part of the Critical Failures comedy fantasy series (based on a group of gamers that get transported into a D&D style game by magical dice). So I’m hoping that writing this post and, possibly looking at re-reading a book off this list may well make me get that fantasy urge back.
In no particular order, here are my offerings of fantasy from yesteryear:
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin:
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.
As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.
The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.
I’m not normally one to get on a hype train and stay on for the whole ride. Something about a book/tv show/game etc … that everyone raves about, just never quite hits the high note with me. With Game of Thrones it was different. I knew from the opening chapter that I’d love this book. The only negative aspect of the whole series is that Martin has yet to finish writing it. It’s some of the finest fantasy writing I’ve ever read and I can only hope he manages to finish before he passes away, as I’ve heard that he’s said nobody is to finish it in the event of his death.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss:
‘I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
My name is Kvothe.
You may have heard of me’
So begins the tale of Kvothe – currently known as Kote, the unassuming innkeepter – from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, through his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe the notorious magician, the accomplished thief, the masterful musician, the dragon-slayer, the legend-hunter, the lover, the thief and the infamous assassin.
I know I said ‘in no particular order’ but this had to go after Game of Thrones in the list purely due to the fact that Rothfuss is currently in the midst of ‘pulling a Martin’. By that I mean he has begun work (two books so far) on a stunning piece of fantasy and, when he gets to within spitting distance of the finishing line, he turns around and wanders off. He has since put out a novella based on a minor character that nobody really asked for … fingers crossed the third (and final?) instalment of the Kingkiller Chronicles is finished and released sometime before the plagues currently rattling around our world kill us all off. I really need to see how Kvothe’s story progresses.
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien:
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day, to whisk him away on a journey ‘there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon…
It’s been a LONG time since I read this or the Lord of the Rings and there’s a part of me that’s thinking perhaps I can get past my ‘fantasy reading slump’ by picking up this book and starting the great saga all over again. This novel’s popularity speaks for itself and is one of those that sits happily on my bookshelf amidst far darker tomes. There’s just something about the charm of the simple life of a hobbit and the sudden jarring contrast of the grand adventure Bilbo embarks upon that makes this work such a joy. I also get hungry thinking about it and a little sad at the fact that my cooking will never come close to that of a hobbit.
Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb:
On the northernmost point of the Cursed Shores lies Bingtown, a bustling hub of exotic trade and home to a proud merchant nobility famed for its extraordinary vessels.
Only Bingtown liveships can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain Wild River and plunder the riches found upstream, but such vessels are made from the most precious commodity in the world – a material with the ability to become sentient – and so are extremely rare.
The fortunes of one of Bingtown’s oldest families rest on the newly awakened liveship Vivacia. For Althea Vestrit, the ship is her rightful legacy. But the fate of Vivacia – and the Vestrits – may ultimately lie in the hands of the dark and charming pirate, Kennit, who lusts after such a ship and has plans of his own . . .
My love of all things nautical and my love of Robin Hobb’s ‘Realm of the Elderings’ universe had one hell of a love child after reading this and, from that union was born ‘Aaron’s pure and ultimate bliss’. Few books have managed to parent such a lusty brain child since and, for that holiest of unions, I thank Robin Hobb immensely. She is a truly talented author and is a master of writing fantastically addictive series. Even the Rain Wilds Chronicles, which followed on from this trilogy, although starting out slowly, became incredibly addictive for me. Much love for Robin Hobb and her work.
The Last Wish by Adrzej Sapkowski:
Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, a man whose magic powers and lifelong training have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin.
Yet he is no ordinary killer: he hunts the vile fiends that ravage the land and attack the innocent.
But not everything monstrous-looking is evil; not everything fair is good . . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.
I remember, a looooong time ago being addicted to the Witcher videogame on Xbox 360. When seeing there was a book series featuring Geralt, I got massively excited. My excitement was justified where The Last Wish was concerned as it featured our favourite Witcher in an array of fun short stories. Sadly, my love of the character and the books did not translate into full-length novels (perhaps due to translation issues … strange that such issues weren’t present for The Last Wish … but I digress). For whatever reason, Blood of Elves just came off as boring, slow, dull, tedius, monontenous (I’m fast running out of words that mean slow) and when reviewing Blood of Elves, I felt like I was being far too kind for giving it a 1 star. That being said, I can still look back at The Last Wish and sigh contentatively that Geralt’s adventures, in this book at least, rubbed me the right way.