My High Fantasy Month 2014 wrap up
If you’ve been listening to my Nerd-to-Dos on Nerd Lunch the last month or so then you know I’ve been in the middle of what I was calling High Fantasy Month.
The idea for this is that for an entire month I would read a bunch of “sword and sorcery” books. High fantasy is not really a genre I read. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t. So there’s several popular and famous series I’ve never tackled like The Wheel of Time, The Sword of Shannara and the Sword of Truth. I’ve read a few, most notably Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley and The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King, but as a whole, I just don’t really dip into the kings and knights sagas very often.
Well, I happened upon a pretty cheap copy of Sword of Shannara at a library sale so I thought, why don’t I make a fantasy reading marathon out of this? So I gathered a few other fantasy books I had lying around my TBR pile and made a reading schedule and started reading the first book on May 19. As of this week, I think I’m ending the first iteration of High Fantasy Month. I’ll do it again, but I want to move on to another genre. I don’t normally stick with one genre like this for so many books and I think I’m getting genre weary. I’m ready to read an action or sci-fi book now.
Here are some quick reviews of the high fantasy books I read this time out.
The First Book of Swords (1983) – Fred Saberhagen – I actually have all three of the original books in one giant omnibus edition. But I only read the first book. It’s good. Saberhagen is a really good genre writer and he’s created a fascinating world with this series. I’d definitely continue the story about 12 swords created by the god Vulcan and passed out to mortals. Each sword has a different, terrific power. The swords become lost for years but are eventually discovered and some unsavory characters do everything they can to get their hands on all 12 swords. I’ve reviewed two of Saberhagen’s other books before, one was a sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and one was a sequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Born to Exile (1977) – Phyllis Eisenstein – Book 1 in the Tales of Alaric the minstrel. I discovered this book while reading about inspirations for Steven Gould’s Jumper books (click the link and check out the See Also section on Wikipedia). The book is about a traveling minstrel who discovers he has the ability to teleport. It’s an interesting book in that Alaric is really the only consistent thread throughout the story which features essentially Alaric in a series of vignettes where he tries to not use his power, winds up using it, and then gets banned (or exiled) for using it. It’s a fun light read that I really enjoyed.
In the Red Lord’s Reach (1989) – Phyllis Eisenstein – This is the sequel to the previous book, written 12 years later. We take up years after the first book and follow Alaric on some more misadventures. This book actually follows more of a story line than the first book and as such somewhat lost the charm of the original.
The Eyes of the Dragon (1987) – Stephen King – I originally read this my senior year in high school for English class (1992), so this was a re-read for me. I’ve been wanting to re-read it for years and this was the perfect time to do it. And it’s FANTASTIC. I love this book. It holds up to this day. Great fantasy story with dark wizards, wrongly imprisoned kings, secret castle passages and daring prison escapes. Even though this was a re-read, it was the best of these four. Born to Exile was a close second.
So, that’s it for High Fantasy Month. I’m sure you’re wondering, “Hey, Pax, what the hell? I thought you were going to read The Sword of Shannara.” Well, you are correct sir who is calling me out, I was going to read Brooks’ epic novel, but after reading these four books and then grabbing the 800+ page Shannara paperback I realized I was a bit Fantasy fatigued. I wanted to move on to another genre. So, I’m shelving Shannara for another time. Next time I do this, I’ll begin with Shannara.