Posts Tagged With: Magic

Among Others by Jo Walton

Title:  Among OthersImage
Author:  Jo Walton
ISBN: 978-1472106537
Publisher:  Corsair

First Published:  Mar 2013 (Paperback)
No .of pages:  416

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
“It doesn’t matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.” Fifteen-year-old Morwenna lives in Wales with her twin sister and a mother who spins dark magic for ill. One day, Mori and her mother fight a powerful, magical battle that kills her sister and leaves Mori crippled. Devastated, Mori flees to her long-lost father in England. Adrift, outcast at boarding school, Mori retreats into the worlds she knows best: her magic and her books. She works a spell to meet kindred souls and continues to devour every fantasy and science fiction novel she can lay her hands on. But danger lurks… She knows her mother is looking for her and that when she finds her, there will be no escape.

Review:
The best description of this book is a quote on the back cover from Patrick Rothfuss “Funny, touching and gently magical”.  I couldn’t have summed it up any better. 

Whilst the synopsis tells us of a great tale of good versus evil, of magic and spells and of a long standing magical battle; the book is much more understated.  It is written as a diary from Mori’s point of view where the magic almost takes a back seat to the everyday, general goings on of a teenage girl.  There is a very fine balance between Mori’s coming of age story and the magic and mystery of the world she has grown up with and Jo Walton has achieved it perfectly.  We are with Mori through her struggles with family and school life as well as attempting to negotiate the minefield which is the opposite sex, whilst at the same time and almost as casually, she is attempting to understand the murky and tangled world of magic and spells that has been with her all her life and led to the loss of her sister.

Jo Walton has managed to take a magical story and bring it right back to an everyday setting to which we can all relate.  This book is not a rip-roaring adventure of magical hijinks and escapism.  It is more an everyday world with a magical undercurrent.  The pace is slow but continuous and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

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Fate by L R Fredericks

Title: Fate (Time and Light #2)
Author: L R Fredericks
ISBN: 978-1848543317
Publisher: John Murray
First Published: 5 July 2012
No .of pages: 528

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from dust jacket flap):
What am I?

Not a ghost, though that is what most people believe. I am, and it looks like I shall forever be, Lord Francis Peter George St John Damory. I was born more than two hundred years ago and although I am not strictly speaking alive, I am obviously not dead. My appearance is as I choose, though usually I resemble my old self. I was a handsome man; I enjoyed it then and I enjoy it now. I am not beyond vanity, nor any other trick or trap od earthly existence. My body is a simulacrum, as is my study, my fire, brandy, pen, paper.

I am an artist of the æther.

Review:
If you enjoy elegant characters in an eloquently told tale of mystery, magic and timelessness, then this is the novel for you!

The pace is necessarily slow and reflective, yet the plot unfurls in a deceptively swift manner, so that one never feels bogged down or sluggish. The characters are at once mysterious, complex and simple, which helps ground this fantastic tale with a sense of realism, and the blend of magic and science in the setting of the 1700s makes for a sensationally engrossing read that never dumbs down for the readers’ benefit, but assumes a certain level of intelligence on our behalf without becoming lofty and grand in approach.

This is actually the sequel to the earlier novel, Farundel, but I never once felt lost or confused whilst reading Fate, and might never have guessed it was anything other than a stand-alone novel if I hadn’t already known that, so even if you have never read the first book in the Time and Light series, don’t let it put you off picking up this sublimely enjoyable book that will leave you filled with wonder and thinking about it long after you have closed the cover.

Review by Kell Smurthwaite

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The Golden Acorn by Catherine Cooper

Title: The Golden Acorn
Author: Catherine Cooper
ASIN: B004EHZDBQ
Publisher: Infinitie Ideas
First Published: August 2010
File Size: 2825 KB (Kindle edition)

Rating: 3/5

At the time of this review, The Golden Acorn is available as a FREE Kindle e-book download. You can also purchase it in paperback format.

Synopsis (from Amazon):
When Jack Brenin finds a golden acorn lying in the grass, little does he know that it is the beginning of a thrilling and magical adventure. Just an ordinary boy, Jack has been chosen for a hugely important task, and enters a world he believed only existed in legend. Full of twists and turns, talking ravens and mischievous Spriggans, ‘The Golden Acorn’ is a hugely entertaining and exciting tale from a very talented new author. Your kids will love it, and so will you! This brilliant story deservedly won the Brit Writers’ Awards 2010 for unpublished writers. Jack’s adventures continue in ‘Glasruhen Gate’ and ‘Silver Hill’.

Review:
This is more than a little “Harry Potter-ish” in that the main character is a young lad who discovers he is “The One” and suddenly has to get to grips with a whole magical world he never knew existed, but the twist here is that it’s not just the fantasy-style magic these kinds of novels usually feature; instead it’s based on Celtic and Druidic lore. Yes, there are still magic wands and transfigurations, but it’s nice to have a different background for it all. I would have liked it more if the history had been explored a little more, but perhaps that’s a little much to ask from the first book in the series.

There are beautiful little ink line drawings at the start of each chapter to illustrate the main plot points without giving the game away, and a charming little map of the area in the same style which serve the story well and give a little taste of things to come.

The problems that occurred in the story seemed to be overcome quite easily and whatever peril they encountered was swiftly resolved with very little in the way of real and present danger – it was almost all just a step removed. There’s nothing hugely original here – it borrows heavily from other young adult fantasy novels of the same ilk – but neither is it a carbon copy. It’s a breeze to read and the characters are refreshing and fun, especially Camelin (the raven), as he is so brash and bold, yet improves himself over the course of the story, even if it is for his own secretive agenda.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

reaper-man

Synopsis from Amazon:

DEATH IS MISSING – PRESUMED…ER…GONE.

Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn.

Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far away, a tall dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There’s a harvest to be gathered in…

This is book 11 of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series. The main character is Death. He retires. The Grey Shadows have come and told him his time is u, so he sets off to the Discworld with his horse Binky. He gets a job as a reaper man on a farm, and goes by the name of Bill Door. He works hard, makes friends by being excellent at being awful and plots a way to fight the new Death. Meanwhile, in Ankh-Morpor, there is too much life force around, bringing items to life, and preventing the dead for moving on. This causes mayhem, an attack of trollies, and wizards going mad.

I found this book to be a little bit like the first in the series, The Colour of Magic – enjoyable, but with maybe a little bit too much going on. With so many characters I sometimes struggled to remember who was who, what they doing, and why. That said, there were areas of the book that just had me laughing out loud. Pratchett’s humour is well captured in this book, as is his sense of imagination, I just found there to be too much taking place.

My favourite Discworld character, right from the start, has been Death. He is great with the one-liners, sarcasm and irony. The other character I really enjoyed in this book was the university’s Dean. I laughed so much when he started going around like a gangster, and how his catch-phrase became “Yo!”. I found myself almost crying with laughter at him.

Overall, I enjoyed this book even though there were times when I was unsure as to what was going on. The comedy in the book made up for any complaints I have. Worth reading if you like Pratchett.

7/10

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The Colour of Magic. – Terry Pratchett.

Synopsis from back of book.

Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on Discworld.

Tourist, Rincewind decided, meant idiot.

***

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Certainly, it refuses to succumb to the quaint notion that the universe are ruled by pure logic and the harmony of numbers.

But just because the Disc is very different doesn’t mean that some things don’t stay the same. It’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the arrival of the first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. But if the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard, a little logic might turn out to be a very good idea…

***

My thoughts.

After never reading a Pratchett book, and while hearing so many things about how people have enjoyed his novels, I decided to give one a go. Because of the amount of novels in the Discworld series, it’s quite hard to know where to begin. So I thought I’d just go for the simple option, start at the begining; The Colour of Magic.

***

At first I found it tricky to get into; the writing style of Pratchett surprised me a lot, and I wasn’t expecting what I got, so I guess it pays to do your homework. After reading on though, I discovered something. Terry Pratchett is a comic genius. He engages his writers in a world of magic and adventure, and weaves a thread of octarine light through time. I’ve been told that this novel isn’t as good as his others in the Discworld series, and if that’s the case, then I’m pleasently surprised.

***

In this, the start of many adventures to come for the Discworld’s occupants, you are offered an exciting journey through space and magic alike. Rincewind is an inept and cowardly wizard who carries in his mind one of the eight spells from the Octavio, The Grimoire, left (accidently) by the Creator after finishing the Discworld. As a result, he is not a very good wizard, as none of the spells will stay in his mind. He has come to the conclusion that they are too scared to stick around for long. Rincewind has the gift of languages and meets Twoflower, the first tourist of the Discworld. Closely followed of course, by the “The Luggage”, a chest that has a mind of its own and follows Twoflower around on hundreds of little legs. Lets not forget about Death, lurking glumly away in the background, swirling his scythe expertly.

***

All sorts of strange events occur around Rincewind and Twoflower. My personal favourite is when they are swept of the edge of the Disc (rim) and rescued by a sea troll, Tethis. Lets just say the pair aren’t short of excitement, by any stretch of the imagination. As Pratchett leads us through a fantastical world filled with gods, dragons and trolls, everything is described so well you could imagine being there.

***

With a brilliant cliff-hanger, I was left wanting the next instalment. So dive in and and take a plunge into Pratchett’s world of magic and adventure. I would recommend it to all fantasy and magic lovers out there.

8/10.

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