It’s Wyrd & Wonder time again and, though I’ll have other kinds of posts this month as well, I thought I’d start with this Fantastic Five meme. I’ve read a lot more than five great fantasies since last May, but here are the most recent ones (actually six) that haven’t yet been in any other list of mine, along with links to my reviews.
The Horizon by Gautam Bhatia
The Horizon, sequel to The Wall is a rich reflection on the intersection of poetry, language, law, religion, revolution and the power of imagination to evoke new possibilities in life. This duology is one of my all-time favorites, especially because of its fearless and most unlikely hero, Mithila, who, in spite of herself, leads her people to a new world, and for the creation of the great city of Sumer and the world beyond it.
Spear by Nicola Griffith
This short novel re-imagines Percival, the Grail and Arthur’s court in a stunning masterpiece of early Britain where magic and angry gods were very real. Based on research in Arthurian legends of multiple languages, The Spear presents Peretur as a woman, and the search for the great cup that is one of four magic objects that belonged to ancient gods. This is one I had to read straight through, especially for its brilliant prose.
Servant Mage by Kate Elliott
Raised as a lowly servant and taught to suppress the special power she was born with, Fellian is swept into a new life that turns everything she knows upside down. Through the course of Servant Mage, she learns the courage to be who she truly is and go her own way despite the pull and violence of political forces claiming her for their own. This is a strong character study and adventure by one of the best fantasy writers.
Fevered Star and Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
I came late to Black Sun, but that enabled me to read it together with its sequel, Fevered Star. Reading them back to back added to the experience of getting to know the three strong characters of Serapio, Naranpa and Xiala. Each has extraordinary powers that transform them into something more than human, and they work our their destiny in a richly imagined world of the Americas of a pre-European age.
Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Elder Race contrasts two characters who could not be more dissimilar and yet have to work together to achieve a common goal. The story is told in alternating chapters by Lynesse, who sees the other major character as a great magician, and by Nyr who insists he is no mage but a scientist sent by people of a different world to observe Lynesse’s culture without getting personally involved. So we have clashing mindsets of magic and science, in a way of fantasy and science fiction. This is a wonderfully imaginative experiment in ways of knowing and being present in the world.