Lore, legend and mythology
Fantasy books feauturing lore, legend and mythology.
- Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip
A recently published collection, Wonders of the Invisible World, includes the rest of McKillips short stories from the late 90s through 2012. Missing only a few odds and end such as The Gorgon in the Cupboard novella and a Witch World story, these two books are more complete than most authors haphazardly selected collections. Long-time fans of McKillip will be delighted to find these previously hard-to-obtain stories. Harrowing the Dragon is a collection done right: all the authors current short fiction in one place.
- Ryhope Wood by Robert Holdstock
Deep within the wildwood lies a place of myth and mystery, from which few return, and none remain unchanged. Ryhope Wood may look like a three-mile-square fenced-in wood in rural Herefordshire on the outside, but inside, it is a primeval, intricate labyrinth of trees, impossibly huge, unforgettable... and stronger than time itself. Stephen Huxley has already lost his father to the mysteries of Ryhope Wood. On his return from the Second World War, he finds his brother, Christopher, is also in thrall to the mysterious wood, wherein lies a realm where mythic archetypes grow flesh and blood, where love and beauty haunt your dreams, and in promises of freedom lies the sanctuary of insanity...
Robert Holdstock was a famed fantasist during his lifetime and created a whole cycle of stories around Ryhope Wood, with this being the first book. The book is well written and draws you in so that, although you may not always understand what is happening to Steven as he is drawn further into his quest, by the end of the book, for all its savagery, you are hoping that there is, somewhere in this world, a wood like this in existence.
"Mythago Wood is a fantasy masterpiece." Fantasy Book Review
The books that make up the Ryhope Wood cycle are:
- Ancient Echoes by Robert Holdstock
Chatwin has visions of a parallel world where a couple are fleeing some terrible event pursued by an enemy and are seeking a gate to freedom. Chatwin is the gate, and when only one of the pair manages to escape, a struggle ensues between the other world and that of Chatwin.
"Robert Holdstocks greatest gift was to imbue his characters from other times and other realities with characteristics that express their motives and drive without trying to make them modern. His mythological knowledge allows the worlds he creates to feel as if that they could be proto-mythology that we know. It is similar to studying comparative mythology and twisting it to your own needs." Fantasy Book Review
- The Once And Future King by TH White
TH White's The Once and Future King is a serious work, delightful and witty, yet very sombre overall. The volume published as The Once and Future King is actually four works separately composed over about 20 years. The first, The Sword in the Stone, concerns the lost childhood of Arthur, future king of England, and his education by Merlyn. The second, The Queen of Air and Darkness, tells the story of adolescent sons of Orkney and their mother, Morgause. The third, The Ill-Made Knight, takes up the story of Sir Lancelot and his uneasy relation- ship with Queen Guenever and with Arthur. The fourth, The Candle in the Wind, concerns the end of the Round Table and Arthur's death.
- The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle
This is the story of the last unicorn on earth. She has lived contentedly alone for hundreds of years, and would have continued to do so, believing that there were others of her kind somewhere in the world, had she not heard a huntsman say that she was the last of her kind. Afterwards she could have no peace of mind until she left the safety of the enchanted wood and searched for another unicorn. Once she leaves the wood she is exposed to the covetous gaze of men and there is danger at every turn.
"The plot is a classic quest structure-an impossible goal, a motley company, heroes, villains, monsters, magic, desperate chances, bittersweet success. The last unicorn in the world sets out from her enchanted wood to discover the fate of her kin In the process she becomes, briefly and agonizingly, human What makes The Last Unicorn unique is the way Mr. Beagle transcends the ordinary fantasy quest trope with his incomparable storytelling skill. The book is a triumph The writing is as precise and beautiful as mosaic tiles, as coloured glass backed by gold, sharp and glittering. Part of the wonder is the effortless way Mr. Beagle combines fairy-tale imagery with matter-of-fact modernity. He slides easily from a heroic fantasy to laugh-out-loud funny: a sorcerer confronts an enemy with demons, metamorphoses, paralysing ailments and secret judo holds; a prince rides home singing in harmony with the severed ogres head lashed to his saddle. The story has an intimacy and immediacy that captivates the reader. You dont read this with the futile wish that such things would happen to you-you read it and believe, at once, that they could." The Green Man Review
- Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
Listen then, and I'll tell you again of the Battle of the Rock. But none of your usual wriggling, or I'll stop before I've begun . . .
Halli loves the old stories from when the valley was a wild and dangerous place - when the twelve legendary heroes stood together to defeat the ancient enemy, the bloodthirsty Trows.
Halli longs for adventure but these days the most dangerous thing in the valley is boredom. He tries to liven things up by playing practical jokes. But when one of his jokes goes too far, he reawakens an old blood feud and finds himself on a hero's quest after all. Along the way he meets a ruthless thief, a murderous rival, and a girl who may just be as fearless as he is . . .
"Written out of a deeply felt world, and with a taut, disciplined voice that knows its Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as well as its Harry Potter, Jonathan Stroud's new book is, quite simply, stunning." The Guardian
"It has been quite a long time since I have enjoyed a book this much. Although this may be my first encounter with Stroud's work it will certainly not be the last. An enthralling tale told by a master storyteller." Fantasy Book Review
- Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Liga raises her two daughters in the safe haven of an alternative reality, a personal heaven granted by magic as a refuge from her earthly suffering. But the real world cannot be denied forever and when the barrier between the two worlds begins to break down, Ligas fiery daughter, Urdda, steps across it
"Tender Morsels never once tries to show that life has a happily ever after ending. It shows that life is full of hardship; you will experience hurt, you will watch loved ones die and you will often be afraid. It also shows that live can be full of love, caring and kindness and that it is better to experience something, be it good or bad, than to experience nothing at all." Fantasy Book Review
- The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
The Brides of Rollrock Island is a dark, brooding and windswept tale of longing and despair in which Lanagan' s writing is as beautiful is ever. Indeed, the best compliment I can give it is that had I have stumbled upon it and knew nothing of its publication date I would have guessed it to have been decades if not centuries old, such is its timeless nature. It reads like a classic. It is a wonderful book and it is unlikely that many better will be published in the genre this year. Existing fans of Lanagan should rejoice and I strongly suggest that those who have not already read her work, do so.
- Runelight by Joanne Harris
I can say that Runelight is an awesome book in which Joanne Harris really has proven herself a fine author once again. I was already pretty pleased with Runemarks but with Runelight she has really raised the bar. A very strong and unique plotline, hefty fight scenes, dramatic revelations and witty, funny and compelling dialogue make this a highly recommended read.
- Prophecy Keepers by Melaine Bryant
There is an ancient legend in the memories of the humans of Niwengeard, that a time will come when Darkness will fall upon the kingdoms of Earde and one will rise who threatens all species. It has been foretold that at this time, a Gifted human child possessing the powers of the magical races-the empyreals-will be born to lead a revolution against the Darkness. But this memory is hazy, like the memories of the beginning of time, of the Creators, of the First and Second Destructions, and even of the empyreal races who share the humans world. So when a fairy named Rædan appears before fourteen-year-old Lisandra Ackart and tells her that the time of the Third Destruction has begun and that she is the Gifted One, she doesnt believe him. When a series of strange events leaves her hundreds of miles from home, Lisandra is thrust unwillingly into the heart of an epic struggle that has spanned millennia, a conflict between the races of the Dark and the races of the Light. Now that struggle is nearing its end, and Lisandra must find the twenty-three Keepers of the ancient Prophecy, each of whom holds a single piece of the key to saving Earde from the Darkness. But first she must find a way to stop the Dark Queen, Lucifæra-who the Light Ones believe is behind the sudden disappearance of thousands of fairies-and her mysterious hexagonal charm.
"This is an excellent book, very well written, but what I liked most about it was how the author not only pours all off her inspirations into the story but does so in such a way that it will leave the reader wanting to find out more about the influences mentioned. Edmund Spencer, Homer, William Butler Yeats, Pliny the Elder and William Blake are all referred to and credited - throw in a healthy helping of Norse, Greek and Arabic mythology and you have a feast to whet the appetite of any budding fantasy reader/writer." Fantasy Book Review
- Merlin’s Wood by Robert Holdstock
- Maria and the Devil by Graham Thomas
- Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
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