Title:Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction Editor: Douglas A. Anderson Format: Book; Collection of short stories and poems Pages: 339 Published: 2008, by Del Rey Reason for Beginning: Lewis is one of my “literary mentors,” as it were, in both fantasy and philosophy, and I love exploring the things that inspired him. Reason for Finishing: It’s a wonderful collection! And some of the stories are now among my favorites. Spoiler-free Synopsis: A collection of tales that inspired C.S. Lewis or shared similar themes/ideas with his works. Re-readability: Definitely high. The variety of authors ensures a variety of writing styles, so if some don’t suit you, something else likely will. I borrowed this from the library, and will have to buy a copy for myself. Continue reading “Book Review: Tales Before Narnia”
Title:Tigana Author: Guy Gavriel Kay Format: Novel, stand-alone Pages: 673 Published: 1990 Reason for Beginning: Recommended to me by numerous sources as one of the truly great fantasy novels of recent times. Reason for Finishing: It’s one of the most engrossing and well-written books I’ve read. Spoiler-free Synopsis: In the Peninsula of the Palm, eight of nine kingdoms have been conquered by two sorcerer-tyrants from across the sea, Emperor Brandin of Ygrath and Alberico, a minor noble of Barbadior trying to make a name for himself, the land split politically between them as they eye each other warily. Young Devin, an excellent singer for a famed music troupe, finds himself drawn into an extremely covert conspiracy to overthrow the oppressors and unite the Palm in freedom. Things, however, get much more complicated than anyone could have predicted. Great sorrows are revealed and inflicted, amazing mysteries discovered, surprising friends are found, expectations are dashed and resurrected and twisted around, and everything builds to a conclusion that is really, outstandingly good. Continue reading “Book Review: “Tigana” by Guy Gavriel Kay”
Title:Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale Author: Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon Artist: Chris Samnee Format: Graphic Novel Pages: 56 Published: November 3, 2010 Reason for Beginning: It’s Serenity! It’s Shepherd Book! Book is a character that I both loved and was a little disappointed with in the show, and I’ve been waiting to learn his backstory so as to better understand him. I couldn’t not read it, really. Reason for Finishing: Uh…ditto? Plus it’s so short, and has cool pictures. Spoiler-free Synopsis: Wherein we learn which moments have defined Book’s life from childhood, and how he came to be a roaming preacher with the mind/combat skills of a spy on the good ship Serenity. Through a flashback in a flashback in a flashback in a flashback in a… Continue reading “Graphic Novel Review: “Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale” by Zack Whedon”
A mysterious (and awesomely dressed) man shows a bored young boy a new way of looking at the “mundane” world.
Title: The Coloured Lands Author: G.K. Chesterton Format: Short Story Pages: 5 (in Tales Before Narnia, edited by Douglas A. Anderson) Published: 1925 (first) Reason for Beginning: It is in the anthology I have, it is short, and I have heard wonderful things about G.K. Chesterton, who was supposedly one of the wittiest, most intelligent, and most imaginative writers of the early 20th century, and a Christian apologist to boot. This is the first anything of his I have read. Reason for Finishing: It’d be pretty bad to not finish a story this short, but having it be so interesting is nice too. Spoiler-free Synopsis: A mysterious (and awesomely dressed) man shows a bored young boy a new way of looking at the “mundane” world. Continue reading “Short Story Review: “The Coloured Lands” by G.K. Chesterton”
My Tigana review shall be coming shortly, and before it does shall come a review of G.K. Chesterton’s “The Coloured Lands”. To shed light on that review, I am featuring here an excerpt from Chesterton’s essay “The Artistic Side,” in which he ruminates on the startling beauty of colors, and what that might mean. I think what he says is important not just in the genres of fantasy and fiction, but for the way we look at life in general.
“I know no better exercise in that art of wonder, which is the life of man and the beginning of the praise of God, than to travel in a train through a long dark almost uninterrupted tunnel: until the traveller has grown almost accustomed to dusk and a dead blank background of brick. At last, after long stretches and at long intervals, the wall will suddenly break in two, and give a glowing glimpse of the land of the living. It may be a chasm of daylight showing a bright and busy street. It may be a similar flash of light on a long lonely road of poplars, with a solitary human figure plodding across the vast countryside. I know not which of the two gives a more startling stab of human vitality. Sometimes the grey facade is broken by the lighted windows of a house, almost overhanging the railway-line; and for an instant we look deep into a domestic interior; chamber within chamber of a glowing and coloured human home. That is the way in which objects ought to be seen; separate; illuminated; and above all, contrasted against blank night or bare walls; as indeed these living creations do stand eternally contrasted with the colourless chaos out of which they came. Travelling in this fashion, the other day, I was continually haunted, and almost tormented, with an impression that I could not disentangle; nor am I at all confident that I can disentangle it here.
“The Dragon’s Visit”
By J.R.R. Tolkien, published in the Oxford Magazine, 4 February 1937
The dragon lay on the cherry trees
a-simmering and a-dreaming:
Green was he, and the blossom white,
and the yellow sun gleaming.
He came from the land of Finis-Terre,
where dragons live, and the moon shines
on high white fountains.
“Please, Mister Higgins, do you know
what’s a-laying in your garden?
There’s a dragon in your cherry trees!”
“Eh, what? I beg your pardon?”
Mister Higgins fetched the garden hose,
and the dragon woke from dreaming;
he blinked, and cocked his long green ears
when he felt the water streaming. Continue reading “Feature: “The Dragon’s Visit” by J.R.R. Tolkien”
Title:Lord of the Isles Author: David Drake Format: Novel; first in series of 9 Pages: 625 Published: 1997, by Tor Reason for Beginning: I grabbed a used copy for $1 at a university library sale, and wanted to read a fantasy about which I knew nothing. This fit the bill. Reason for Finishing: Sheer dogged stubbornness. Spoiler-free Synopsis: In a world that is essentially a large archipelago, the young, handsome residents of a small seaport find themselves drawn into the struggles and intrigue surrounding the archipelago’s sovereignty, while “the elemental forces that empower magic are rising to a thousand-year peak” (cover jacket). A complicated, but ultimately fairly standard, fantasy quest ensues. Continue reading “Book Review: “Lord of the Isles” by David Drake”