This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt from The Broke and the Bookish is “top ten characters you wish would get their own book”.
- Verity Farseer (Realm of the Elderlings, Robin Hobb). Or maybe his wife, Kettricken. Either way, they’re both great characters, I love the idea of “Sacrifice”, and I wish we’d seen more of Verity being awesome. I don’t think there’s really space for a Verity book in the series, and arguably his crowning achievements are in the Fitz books anyway, but for dreaming about, there’s all the time before Fitz is born, or the time Verity spends alone in the mountains before Fitz and company catch up.
- Faramir (Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien). I had the biggest literary crush on Faramir; I think he’s one of the strongest characters we see in Middle-earth. He’s as worthy as Aragorn in his way — both consciously resist the Ring — and he had pretty short shift from his father. He deserves more!
- Jane Drew (The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper). Arguably Greenwitch is her book, but it’s so short! She’s the only girl in the Six, and it’d be great to see more of her.
- Susan Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis). She deserved more than being dismissed as too interested in “lipsticks and nylons”. As of The Last Battle, she’s still alive and there’s room for redemption or reinterpretation of what’s going on with her. I don’t think Lewis could ever have really handled her with subtlety, but you can dream…
- Ysanne (The Fionavar Tapestry, Guy Gavriel Kay). We only briefly see what Ysanne is like and get hints of her history. A story set entirely within Fionavar that ties up some of that would be lovely.
- Mel (Sunshine, Robin McKinley). There’s so much mystery around that character that was never resolved. It adds an interesting background to Sunshine, but I think everyone wants to know more about him.
- Jasper (A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin). He’s just a plot element, really, to set Ged on his path. He vanishes out of the story and we never really know why he leaves Roke, whether he ever gains some redemption. He’s presented a little too simplistically — I want to know more, even though he’s not a pleasant character.
- Calcifer (Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones). Because Calcifer.
- Anafiel Delaunay de Montrève (Kushiel’s Dart, Jacqueline Carey). We know a little about his past, and enough about him to sketch in what we need to know, but I’d like to get to know the character close-up, rather than through Phèdre’s eyes.
- Prim (The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins). We see her through Katniss’ eyes, but it’d be fun to know what Prim’s thinking, what drives her — what little rebellions are in her, against Katniss and for her, as they’re growing up and Katniss is doing all this self-sacrificing. She’s presented as pretty much totally cute, but there’s gotta be more complex things going on.
What about you guys?
This week’s theme is “Top Ten Books I’d Like to Reread”, which is a topic just made for me — the first one in a while I think I could talk for ages about — because I love rereading. Honourable mentions in advance to Chalice and The Hobbit, both of which I already reread recently! And I’m just going to leave it unsaid that I want to reread The Dark is Rising books, since I do that every year.
- Seaward, Susan Cooper. I’ve been meaning to reread this for a while. Heck, by the time this post goes live, I might’ve got round to it already. It’s beautifully written, a bit more mature than The Dark is Rising, and I love the characters a lot. I read it right through the day I got it, I think, at Christmas a couple of years ago. And then I made my partner read it, and my mother, and… everyone else I could get my hands on, really.
- The Lions of Al-Rassan, Guy Gavriel Kay. I think this might be the next book in my chronological-by-publishing-date reread of GGK’s work. I think it’s my mother’s favourite of GGK’s books, and my partner loves it too; I remember liking it, though it wasn’t my favourite, but it’s one of the few I’ve only read once so far (along with Under Heaven, which is too new for me to have reread yet).
- Sunshine, Robin McKinley. This is another I might’ve got round to already by the time this post goes live, because I’m tearing a streak through Robin McKinley’s work lately. Sunshine is one of my favourites; the world-building, the characters and their relationships, all the talk about food… And also, vampires done right, so that they’re genuinely fucking freaky, even Our Hero.
- Kushiel’s Dart, Jacqueline Carey. And pretty much everything by Carey, actually. I love the richness of her writing, and the intrigues of the court in Terre D’Ange. Honestly, if it wasn’t for all the sex and BDSM in the book, I’d recommend it to everyone, because the actual world-building is really cool. But I’m aware it’s not something everyone can be comfortable with.
- The Fire’s Stone, Tanya Huff. I could swear I’ve already talked about wanting to reread this somewhere on the blog, but I can’t find it. I did start a reread recently, but then got interrupted. I’m particularly curious because just before I first read this, my partner and I were working on an original world/plot that was very, very similar in many ways. And I’m looking forward to the relationship between the three main characters, and the way the situation turns out for them all. It’s sweet, feel-good stuff.
- The Winter King, Bernard Cornwell. I’ve always loved the way Cornwell handles the legends. Okay, some of his characters really don’t fit with the legends, and I do like the legends, but at the same time he has one of the most likeable versions of Galahad, and a really interesting take on the magic/reality stuff where the narrator can view it as magic and we can dismiss it as trickery, or maybe not quite.
- The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner. And the rest of the series. It’s easy to read, fun, and does interesting things with the character, the world, etc. I’m less a fan of the most recent book, but I’m still going to try rereading it.
- The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula Le Guin. The whole series, really, but this one is my favourite. It marks a separation from the world of the first book, which is fairly conventional fantasy, and begins to shape a place for women and a different view of the world that’s more in line with Le Guin’s own beliefs. And she’s so good at writing the small clear moments of quiet that really shine (Ged’s hand and the thistle).
- Assassin’s Apprentice, Robin Hobb. It’s been a long time, and I miss Fitz, Nighteyes and Verity. (My mother never liked Verity nearly as much as I do, but I find him one of the most genuine characters of the lot — not subtle, not perfect for his job, but doing what he can and making good despite the difficulty.) And there’s a new Fool trilogy now, which I even got an ARC for originally, so I want to reread everything to get back up to speed for it.
- Sorcerer’s Treason, Sarah Zettel. I remember these being good books, using a less typically Western fantasy setting, with a lot of Russian influence and I think later Asian? I remember finding it very different, at any rate, and I do like Zettel’s work. So, soooon. I hope.
Any of these your own special favourite? Let me know! I comment back to everyone who comments here, both on my post and on your own if you’ve done one.
This week’s prompt from The Broke and the Bookish is “Top New Series I Want To Start”. This is a tough one for me, because technically the prompt is for series new in the last year, and I… just no. So! Series in general I need to get into reading…
- Tanya Huff, the Confederation books. My sister loves ’em, and generally they seem right up my street, so yeah!
- Stephen Donaldson, the Thomas Covenant books. Someday, Mum. Someday.
- Lois McMaster Bujold, Chalion. Fantasy is normally more my thing than SF, so I’m thinking I might get on with these better than…
- Lois McMaster Bujold, Vorkosigan. But I hear so much good about these, too.
- Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson. Because otherwise Amy will explode.
- Faith Hunter, Jane Yellowrock books. My sister likes these, if I’m not mistaken.
- Kim Harrison, The Hollows. My sister definitely likes these.
- Kat Richardson, Greywalker. This is… the kind of series my sister will probably like.
- Diane Duane, So You Want To Be A Wizard. Because I have them all for goodness’ sake.
- Elizabeth Bear, The Promethean Age. I’ve got the first book…
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is “Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit (whether fictional or real)”. I suspect we’re going to see a fair amount of agreement on this one? I’m betting there’ll be plenty of “Hogwarts”, “Middle-earth”, etc.
- Middle-earth (The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien) — imaginary. I didn’t say I was exempt from that.
- Tywyn (The Grey King, by Susan Cooper) — real. And Cadair Idris, and… everywhere else that Will and Bran visit.
- The Lost Land (ditto) — imaginary. It sounds so amazing, and I want to look in their library.
- Fionavar (The Summer Tree, by Guy Gavriel Kay) — imaginary. Okay, it’d be a little bit like Middle-earth, really. But still.
- Camelot (Arthuriana) — somewhere in between. Possibly even both the imaginary courtly version to see the knights of legend, and the nearest real equivalent to see what it was really like.
- Scotland (Five Red Herrings, by Dorothy L. Sayers) — real. My mother has actually traced the whole route of solving that mystery. I wanna.
- Everywhere (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor) — real. All the travelling Karou does…
- London (Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman) — real and imaginary. Okay, London Below sounds pretty dangerous, but also really cool.
- Wherever Moomins live (The Moomin comics/books, by Tove Jansson) — imaginary. Because Moomins are cool.
- The Clangers’ moon (Clangers, by Oliver Postgate) — imaginary. Because I can totally communicate in whistles and I wanna know what blue string pudding tastes like.
This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is “Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels”. I thought this one would be easy, initially, since characters are really important to me when I read, but it’s actually tougher than I thought.
- Pretty much anything by Guy Gavriel Kay. Even where his writing was less polished, more derivative, I fell completely in love with the characters. He’s one of the few authors who can reliably make me cry.
- The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb. Sure, there’s a lot of plot too, but Fitz’s voice is the most important aspect of the story, and you just want to reach in and bang his head against something to force the sense in, sometimes.
- Sunshine, Robin McKinley. Not only is it vampires-done-right, but it’s first person narration, and everything Sunshine is as a character shapes the way the plot turns out.
- The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern. If you count the circus as a character almost on its own (I do), then yeah, this one definitely counts.
- Seaward, Susan Cooper. I need to reread this soon. I loved it so much, and despite the shortness of the book, Cooper built up a relationship between the two main characters that I genuinely loved and wanted to follow.
- The Nine Tailors, Dorothy L. Sayers. Actually, as far as being character-driven goes, you’re best reading the whole series chronologically, to get a feel for the way everything fits together, for the way the characters develop. I don’t even think I’d necessarily say I’d start with this one. But it’s the one that really made me understand Lord Peter.
- Chime, Franny Billingsley. To say much about this would be to spoil it. A brief excerpt from my review: “Briony isn’t an easy narrator, and she isn’t reliable either, as she constantly tells us. The narrative isn’t a straightforward quest, it’s a maze, it’s full of funhouse mirrors.”
- Heart’s Blood, Juliet Marillier. This is the book where me and Marillier really clicked — I tried some before this one, and wasn’t impressed. But I got really involved with this, with the characters and their problems.
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin. The narration is brilliant, the way it all slowly comes together, and I love what Jemisin does with her main character, and with the characters of the gods around her. Particularly when it comes to the child-god, Sieh, who has to act in accord with his nature, or he suffers.
- Among Others, Jo Walton. I strongly connected with this because I connected with Mori. Watching her grow up and begin to understand her world better over the course of the novel is a delight.
Wow, that actually took a lot of thought. Veeeery keen to see other people’s picks for this one!
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is “Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read”. Which… it should be an easy one for me, because I get embarrassment squick really easily, and there are various topics that don’t do my brain any good. My mind’s gone blank as I type this, but let’s see what I can do.
- Assassin’s Quest, Robin Hobb. Stop hurting Fitz! That’s pretty much a universal in Hobb’s books, but still. The books are great but oh my god, stop hurting Fitz.
- Hold On, Alan Gibbons. I read this way back because my sister asked me to. Both of us were bullied pretty badly in school, so it was difficult to read both because it’d happened to me, and because I knew it was still happening to my sister.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling. Yeah, I doubt this one is going to show up on many other people’s lists. But it’s true. I’ve studied it 2-3 times in English Lit, and between that and the massive hype, I have difficulty picturing myself enjoying it now. Or I did: I think I’m starting to feel like giving the series another go now.
- Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Solely because I read it too much.
- The Mermaids Singing, Val McDermid. Rape, torture, gore, violence, suicide, all kinds of triggers. It upset me very much back when it was a set text for a Crime Fiction module, to the point where I actually requested in the end of term feedback that the lecturer put a warning about it on the syllabus, particularly for the benefit of people who have been raped or have the kind of gender issues described. (The lecturer said no and called me a fragile flower in front of the entire lecture hall, but that’s another story.)
- The Farthest Shore, Ursula Le Guin. I never used to like going past the first two books of the Earthsea series. I didn’t like how Le Guin developed the world, and the way her concerns within the world changed from fairly typical fantasy tropes to something much more examined. I’d like them better now, I think, particularly now I’ve read the final book and seen how it all comes together.
- The Double Helix, James Watson. I have actually enjoyed more recent work by Watson, but this memoir of the discovery of the structure of DNA drove me nuts. He’s so dismissive and awful about Rosalind Franklin and her achievements, with numerous comments on her appearance and how a bit of makeup would improve her. Ugh.
- The Innocent Mage, Karen Miller. I loved what Miller did with building up characters, even with world-building. But it was so slow, and her villain was practically a cartoon. I expected him to say “mwahahahaahaaa!” any moment.
- An Evil Guest, Gene Wolfe. Gene Wolfe is a really clever writer, but this book seemed like a mess. I can’t even really remember much about it; I certainly didn’t enjoy it. Sadly!
- Revealing Eden, Victoria Foyt. It may be possible to do justice to this idea, in the hands of a very good writer. Flipping racism around so that white people are the ones without privilege… it could make for a really interesting story, I guess. But oh man, did Foyt not think it through.
Looking forward to seeing what other people pick!
This week’s top ten list prompt from The Broke and The Bookish is “Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Be-Read list”. Which is a little difficult for me, because I don’t really sort my books into appropriate seasons or anything. I just have a perpetual, massive, glorious to read list. But here are some books I’m looking forward to getting round to…
- Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal. This is actually a reread of a book I wasn’t wild about the first time round, but now I have this urge to reread it and read the rest of the series, and I suspect I’ll like it more this time around. We’ll see, but I’m hopeful.
- Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett. This is a reread, too. I know I’m going to love this one because I always have before, though I somewhat over-read it so that I could virtually quote it, and thus have given it a couple of years’ rest.
- River of Stars, by Guy Gavriel Kay. I’ve had this since it came out, but it’s at the end of a long list of rereads of GGK’s work, so I can watch his craft developing. I started pretty well but stalled on A Song for Arbonne, which is funny, because I do like that book and it covers exactly the sort of historical period I’m very familiar with and have done work on. So hopefully I’ll get through them all and get onto this new one sometime this fall.
- Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer. Because I haven’t read it yet, and it’s Heyer.
- Blindsight, by Peter Watts. Because it’s been recommended to me a couple of times, I got a free copy, and it’s been mentioned quite a bit in one of my book groups.
- Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. Because it’s about bloody time.
- Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean. Ditto. And the opening, with starting at university and settling in and all of that, it seems a good time of year for that, even if I’m not a student this time.
- Possession, by A.S. Byatt. Speaking of scholarship and stuff, I’ve been meaning to read this for a long time.
- Little, Big, by John Crowley. I’ve had this book around far too long, and I’ve been meaning to read it. I just… never seem to have found the time. About time I fixed that.
- Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson. I generally enjoy Sanderson’s work, and this one includes superheroes. So very sold.
What about everyone else? Comment, link me, you know the drill.
This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is “Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More”, which… I’m not quite sure if I can do, since I tend to go on sprees. Let’s see what I can manage.
- Steven Brust. I’ve only so far read Jhereg, though I know I’m gonna read the rest of the series.
- Laura Lam. I’ve read one of the short Vestigial Tales, but not the main series.
- Phyllis Ann Karr. I loved Idylls of the Queen (and wrote part of my dissertation on it). Lucky for me, I have a few more of her books waiting in my queue.
- Steven Erikson. I’ve got almost the whole Malazan series to go. I might have to reread Gardens of the Moon by the time I get round to that, though.
- Philip Reeve. I’ve read Here Lies Arthur, and have a bunch of others on my list.
- Jorge Luis Borges. This is more because, much as I wanted it to, The Book of Imaginary Beings didn’t wow me.
- Italo Calvino. Same goes, with Invisible Cities. There’s a lot I wanted to love.
- James Morrow. I haven’t actually quite finished This is the Way the World Ends yet, but it fascinated me the way he managed to draw me in, despite my usual aversion to comic novels of any kind.
- Kameron Hurley. I’ve actually only finished reading her book of essays. I really need to read God’s War and Mirror Empire.
- Lucius Shepard. I’ve only read The Dragon Griaule, and that was just fascinating, the weirdness of the world and the way he built it up.
Oh, I could manage after all. What about everyone else?
This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is top ten underrated authors/books from [X] genre. I’m going to go with what I know and the really specialised topic of Arthurian fiction. You may choose to view this as an offshoot of fantasy…
- The Table of Less Valued Knights, by Marie Phillips. I actually read this recently, and it’s pretty new, but still, I think it deserves some attention. It’s a bit Gerald Morris-ish in tone, I think, but more mature.
- Idylls of the Queen, by Phyllis Ann Karr. I loved this. It gives pride of place to a more minor character (Sir Kay), and gave me a whole ton of evidence for my dissertation topic. It’s a fun read, and I think it adapts Malory really, really well.
- The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, by John Steinbeck. I should repost some of my reviews of this here sometime. He’s one of the very, very few writers that can make me sympathetic to Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere, all at once. Possibly the only one who really made me feel that love triangle. He never completed his work on this, and it shows in the early parts, but some of the writing is amazing and breathtaking.
- The Killing Way, by Tony Hays. A solid murder mystery using an Arthurian setting, trying to be authentically historical rather than fantastical in this case. If you liked Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian trilogy, this is definitely worth a go. Plus, I’ve had some good conversations with Tony Hays, and he’s sent me some signed copies of his books — I really, really need to get round to catching up with reading them.
- Camelot’s Honour, by Sarah Zettel. There’s actually a whole quartet of these, and it does make more sense to read them together, but I loved this book for going to the Welsh roots of the tales to pick out some less used elements. The books are very much romances, in both the medieval and the modern sense. They also have strong female protagonists.
- Under in the Mere, by Catherynne M. Valente. Another one which pulls a lot from Welsh sources, particularly in the portrayal of Kay/Cei. It’s very distinctively Valente’s work, and if you know what I mean by that, you’ll know whether you’re going to like it in advance, I suspect.
- Exiled from Camelot, by Cherith Baldry. Okay, I had some problems with this one where it came to the portrayal of women, and it’s definitely not culturally accurate to just about any pre-modern stage of Arthurian literature, but it’s fun, and if you read for characters and relationships, it’s all about the strong bonds there. Kay is a key figure, again.
- Hawk of May, by Gillian Bradshaw. I’ve enjoyed most of Bradshaw’s work, so I guess this recommendation is no surprise. It’s Gawain-centric, with pretty human characters all round — very few complete villains, and fewer complete heroes.
- Child of the Northern Spring, by Persia Woolley. Sort of in the Mists of Avalon tradition as regards portraying women’s lives and Celtic culture, but much less awful and more readable. Guinevere is central.
- The King’s Peace, by Jo Walton. Sort of alternate Arthuriana, focusing on a female warrior in Arthur’s band. Looking for the correspondences is interesting, though it can get in the way of the story.
So! Link me yours, especially if they’re on fantasy or SF. I’m waiting!
This week’s theme from The Broke and the Bookish is apparently the back to school edition: top ten characters I’d have sitting at my lunch table. Given I was the deeply unpopular kid in a tiny school, I rarely ended up sitting with anybody except the other deeply unpopular kid, so I’ll choose to believe that I get to pick who is at my table and they can’t say no, even if they’re way cooler than me.
- Mori, from Among Others. Because she actually is one of the less popular ones, and we have a lot in common.
- Bran, from The Dark is Rising. Because being Welsh and an outcast, he has plenty in common with me and Mori.
- Cath, from Fangirl. I haven’t actually read all of this yet, but Cath’s anxiety issues and fangirlishness mean we have plenty in common too.
- Harriet Vane, from Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey Mysteries. Because omg, Harriet.
- Peter Wimsey, from Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey Mysteries. Because he’d be hilarious and wouldn’t give a fig about me being unpopular.
- Steve Rogers, from Captain America. In skinny!Steve mode, he fits in with this group pretty well. Post-serum, he’d sit with us anyway because arbitrary stuff about cool/uncool people is not fun.
- Bucky Barnes, from Captain America. Because how exactly you’d have Steve without Bucky following somewhere behind, I don’t know.
- Peeta Mellark, from The Hunger Games. Because he seems pretty nice.
- Katniss Everdeen, from The Hunger Games. Silent, glaring, and sticking close to Peeta.
- Susan Pevensie, from The Chronicles of Narnia. Because she gets a raw deal from her family in the end, who dismiss her for not fitting in with the rest of them. God knows I don’t have much in common with Susan, but she went to Narnia once. She must be a good person.
Okay, what’s everyone else thought of that will undoubtedly make my list look uncool?