Having just missed one hundred books in the first year of The Book Challenge, in 2010, I made the full tonne. Still reading, but without the challenge, take a look at the reviews for the books that I have read this year.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Book 223 - A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George RR Martin

Book - A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
Author - George RR Martin
Year - 2015
Pages - 355
Genre - Fantasy
Series - World of A Song of Ice And Fire
Compilation of three novella
The Hedge Knight (1998)
The Sworn Sword (2004)
The Mystery Knight (2010)
Known collectively as the "Dunk and Egg" books.

Sitting waiting for the finale of this season of Game of Thrones this week, I was sorely tempted, yet again, to start the series of books that it is based on for another reread.  This is a definite mistake as even after getting rid of around 150 books this summer, there is still nearly 1,500 in my room.  But Martin could not stray too far from my mind, and so I turned to this compilation of the novellas he has written based in Westeros.

Dunk is a seven foot tall hedge knight, who finds himself entangled with the precocious Egg, a little prince who wishes to be his squire.  They compliment each other perfectly - tall, strong and slow Duncan, and small, wily and clever Egg. Told over the course of around three years, these stories serve as a peak into the world of Westeros through events that whilst not quite normal, still are not as earth shattering as some of those we are seeing in the show at the moment.

Where this all becomes really interesting is that they are set around a century before the events of A Game of Thrones.  There are namechecks going both ways between the two, and an understanding of post dragons (and, I guess, pre-dragons) Targaryen rule is thoroughly interesting.

My only gripe here is the illustrations.  They seem to be a reason to excuse a new printing of this, but I do believe that it is the only stand alone version of these three stories, so that would have sufficed.  Instead, they are a distraction that is not really needed - anyone reading these is probably able enough to use their own imaginations.

If you are new to the work of George RR Martin - and I mean the books, not just the TV show - then this is not the place to start I would say - just fling yourself full on into the main series. But for those of you craving some more Westerosi action whilst you wait for the next book in the series to come out, you can do far worse than this.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Book 222 - Magician by Raymond E Feist

Book - Magician
Author - Raymond E Feist
Year - 1983
Pages - 681 (Author's Preferred Edition)
Genre - Fantasy
Series - The Riftwar Saga
Recommended by Adam Newell

For us teachers, it is the summer holidays, and that means three things can happen - catch up on television, catch up with friends and catch up on reading. This feels like a nice situation where all of them combine.

Having spent years waiting for the next in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin to be released, I finally caved and decided I'd rather not be spoiled and would watch the TV series.  These are the greatest books ever and I cannot recommend them highly enough, but also, do watch the TV series.  It is a fantastic adaptation of the books.

As I was piling through them, my housemate from university, Adam, got in touch.  I have Adam to thank for getting me into this series of books as he lent me A Game of Thrones when we first got to uni.  It got me to thinking about the only book that he held in higher esteem, and despite itching to reread (for the sixth time) Martin's books, I thought I should revisit this classic.

And very glad I was that I did.  This book has all of the hallmarks of the greatest of high fantasy - battles, wars, dragons, elves, dwarves - and characters that transport you.  Set in the world of Midkemia, we follow the magician's apprentice, Pug, as their world is invaded by warriors from the world of Kelewan.  With a shifting viewpoint, we discover what is happening on both worlds and the book covers years and years of the war, giving it a scale that you rarely see in just one book.

Whilst by no means the first fantasy book of this scale and influence (I think Tolkien has that wrapped up, even if there are technically earlier) it still predates many of the books that we see as classics of the genre, and I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that Magician is an influence on many of them.  It is also the start of a whole new world of stories from this universe.  I read most of them about fifteen years ago, but Feist has released many more since.  I think that this warrants a series reread!

In a moment of great timing as well, I am quite hungover this morning from meeting up with Adam and his fiancee (together all the way through from university!) Alex last night, and awoke to finish the book off.  Adam deserves credit for leading me in the right direction on so many fantasy novels, and it was a genuine treat to see them again after many years.  Thank you!