I have enjoyed two books this week. Although they were both in the fantasy genre, they were very different.
The first, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, was a kind of retelling of a fairy tale, or tales. Here is the blurb:
Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.
But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.
I loved this book so much that I gave it four stars and wrote the following review on Goodreads:
Such a lovely, beautiful book. This is a weaving together of fairy tales and stories, especially Rumpelstiltkin, written in lyrical prose. I was spell-bound by the book with its strong female characters and magical settings. The winter world is particularly well imagined and written.
My only concern was the multiple points of view. These are not named and are developed more and more through the book, and then become quite confusing until the reader works out who is “speaking”.
I feel as if I have just emerged from a magical dream. Highly recommended.
The book is really a story of three strong female characters and their interaction with males and good versus evil. Of course these are universal themes in fiction!
My next book was yet another huge “brick”. This time it was part two of John Gwynne’s The Faithful and the Fallen: Valour. It took me almost a week to finish! First we have the blurb:
War has erupted in the Banished Lands as the race for power intensifies.
Corban flees his homeland searching for peace, but he soon discovers that there is no haven in the west as the agents of Rhin and roaming bands of giants hound his every step.
Veradis leaves the battleground and rushes to his King’s side. But he has witnessed both combat and betrayal and his duty weighs heavily upon him.
Maquin seeks only revenge, but pirate slavers and the brutal world of pit-fighting stand in his way.
Nathair becomes embroiled in the wars of the west as Queen Rhin marches against King Owain. The need to find the cauldron of the giants drives him on.
Sides are chosen and oaths will be fulfilled or broken in a land where hell has broken loose.
This series is really brilliant, but I do have a few reservations, so gave the book four stars and wrote the following review:
I still can’t quite give this five stars as I have some issues with the style of writing. Let’s be positive first: the plot is true epic fantasy with far-reaching journeys, massive and frequent bloody battles, mythical creatures and magic, political plots and machinations, deception and betrayal, well-described settings, and lots of excitement. The characters are interesting, with plenty of depth. Even though the book is very long, the pace is relentless and always gripping.
My negatives are the same as for the first book, Malice, although Valour is a much better book. The sheer number of characters – thank goodness for the list at the front. The continuous chopping and changing between points of view with really short chapters. I found this quite exhausting at times. It was so hard to keep the details of this massive world, huge cast of characters, and the wide-ranging story straight in my mind.
So, I have gone on to read the third book in the series, Ruin, straight away, but will probably take a break before the last one. All in all, I really do recommend this series but please build up your reading stamina before tackling it!
I am now about two-thirds through the next book in the series, Ruin, as I said in the above review. It is another amazing fantasy read and I will write about my reaction to it next week.
Until then, Happy Reading and best wishes to you all,