Elinor and Con are about to be reminded that corruption is a way of life in the Marches. Already in disgrace, Elinor will have to choose between risking the lives of her engineers or leaving another Reaper’s squad in the hands of a murderous upstart. When honour is for sale, how can she determine what is right?
Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint gets regular mention as one of the classic modern fantasies that I should have read by now. But why oh why did nobody ever say ‘it’s fantasy Dangerous Liaisons with gay fencing’?
Seriously, if that doesn’t do it for you…
Irene is a Librarian with a capital L – a secret agent who recovers books of note for the Library, hopping from one alternate reality to another. Irene settled down in a Victorian steampunk alternate when her apprentice is kidnapped by local Fae. But Kai is actually a dragon prince. If Irene can’t get him back, this will be the opening move in a multiverse-wide war between order and chaos.
I’m looking forward to joining a read-along of Joyce Chng’s The Tale of Yin duology (Of Oysters, Pearls and Magic and The Path of Kindness) starting later this month. If you fancy a set of linked short stories exploring women, magic, privilege, and compassion in a fantasy setting, you might like to join us.
If the goal of a short story is to leave you wanting more, A Reaper of Stone is a stunning success.
Elinor is the King’s Reaper, duty-bound to demolish the ancient keeps of the marches to prevent them falling into hostile hands. When the Lady of Timberline dies, Elinor is sucked into the vicious politics of Resa’s grasping nobility. Will she confirm the new Lord who seeks the title, or investigate the Lady’s unexpected death?
In the powerful conclusion to the Sequence, the Dark comes rising for its final confrontation with the Light, when the fate of the world will be decided. The Six must retrieve the last Thing of Power and avoid the traps set by the Dark if they are to reach the Midsummer Tree in time.
Will Stanton is sent to North Wales to recuperate from a serious illness.
Certain that he has forgotten something important, he finds himself in the thick of conflicts both ancient and modern as the power of the Grey King stirs against him. Can the Light steer its forgetful servant in the right direction, or will the Dark claim the Thing of Power buried under the mountain?
When the grail is stolen from the British Museum, the Drews are invited back to Trewissick to help Gumerry retrieve it. But with only a week’s holiday – and a strange boy called Will Stanton tagging at their heels – how can the children find the space and secrecy to complete their quest?
It’s nearly Christmas, and Will Stanton is turning 11. As if puberty and buying presents for 9 siblings weren’t hazard enough, he awakens on his birthday to discover he is the last of the Old Ones, fated to seek the Signs of the Light and stop the Dark from rising.
It’s easy to be snarky, but this festive classic is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine.
Sorcerer to the Crown is a frothy fantasy farce with serious ideas under its lacy skirts; comparing it to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (as many people do) feels inappropriate to me as I found that novel dour and slow. Sorcerer to the Crown may also be set in a Regency England with a well-established magical tradition, but it has a gleeful exuberance that makes it a joy from start to finish.
I honestly don’t know quite how much I like Lifelode, or indeed what to say about it. I think I just have to go with ‘it’s delightful’, in the end. It embraces the mundane, mostly describing a very small and very human drama (a complicated 4-way marriage being unsettled by the arrival of a handsome young man and an acerbic and unexpectedly alive great-grandmother) that just happens to be punctuated by little acts of magic that people take entirely for granted. Then at the end events get a bit out of hand and feel more like any other fantasy novel.
Rounding out the trilogy with a rousing conclusion, The Armies of Daylight largely delivers. I don’t expect a major plot twist half way through the final book of a trilogy, but it worked well and made the final stretch a darker, more foreboding ride.
The saga continues (as does the in-story travelling, in spades). This is very much a Middle Book in which stuff is found out, additional civilizations feature to justify more worldbuilding and pieces are moved on (and off) the board in preparation for the grand finale.
This is traditional portal fantasy: two outsiders from our world are sucked into a conflict with an ancient, (literally) nebulous enemy in a parallel fantasy world. Darwath is losing the war, its King is dead, his heir a baby, and the political powers are at one another’s throats as they vie for control in spite of ongoing assaults. This first installment sets the scene and embeds the offworlders for (presumably) future glory.