Nominator: Rudy L.
I've been wanting to get around to the Kushiel's Dart trilogy. We could start with book 1 here...
Here is a review off Amazon -- there are others:
Reviewer: Fosky Bob (see more about me) from Vacaville, CA USA
"Jacqueline Carey has an outstanding fiction debut in Kushiel's Dart. Her plot is fascinating and keeps the reader involved at all times. Her characters are real and believable with a depth that's not often seen in fantasy novels.
"Her world is a fascinating one. At first it appears to be a world where sensuality rules all. Youngsters are trained in sensual arts to the exclusion of much else (except for the protagonist). Such a striking contrast to our world! Yet as the novel progresses the main character, Phedre, is reviled by many for being a whore. The two views are so different that I found it difficult to believe in Carey's fictional society. But that was a minor quibble and certainly did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the novel.
"Another thing I noticed while reading the book was its familiarity. At various times Kushiel's Dart read like novels by Lynn Flewelling, George R.R. Martin, Bernard Cornwell, & Anne Bishop. When Phedre lives among the barbarians it read much like Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles. When Phedre was dabbling in political intrigue it reminded me of George R.R. Martin's epic 'Fire and Ice' series. Delauney's tutelage of Phedre was very similar to Flewelling's 'Nightrunner' books.
"Taken as a whole this is a successful novel. There are no flat moments. As I mentioned earlier, both the plot and characters are fascinating and believable. Most refreshingly, this is a stand-alone novel. There are hints of a future novel, but this is unlike the dozens of interminable never-ending series. This will most assuredly be one of the best fantasy debuts of 2001. Recommended."
Nominator: Rowena A.
If still possible I'd like to nominate Allison Fell's The Mistress of Lilliput, a retelling of Swift's Gulliver's Travels. I considered nominating it before, but because amazon.com doesn't stock it, I was hesitant (it is available in paperback and amazon.co.uk does have it on stock so I hope that counts as availabilty). I haven't read it yet so I cannot say I know it is going to be a wonderful book. And there is surprisingly little information to be found on-line about it. But I found the following short and positive review at Simon's Home Page.
It is not marketed as science fiction or fantasy but as general literature. Like Swift's book I guess, though I don't know much about the reception of Gulliver's Travels.
Note on availability: this book is not in print in the US, but it is available from the UK in a paperback edition. Estimated cost, including shipping to the US, is less than $18, so it is comparable to other titles in that regard. Amazon.co.uk web page.
Gloss, Molly: Wild Life
Nominator: Janice D.
This book sounds like it will be fun. It centers around a single mother who makes her living by writing pulp novels -- in the early 20th century, no less. Near the beginning of the novel, she joins a search party looking for her housekeeper's granddaughter in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. And there she makes some startling discoveries.
This book won the Tiptree Award for 2000. One of the judges said of it:
"Gloss is a brilliant stylist. In this novel she encompasses exquisitely researched historical fiction, a compelling mystery story, a wilderness adventure, and a fantastic journey with [spoiler removed]. She manages to pull off that risky literary feat with such skill that by the end the novel becomes a meditative musing on wildness and human nature, told by one of the most memorable heroines in recent memory."
Amazon.com web page.
Le Guin, Ursula K: The Birthday of the World and Other Stories
Nominator: Cynthia C.
Great stories, as one might expect from Ms. Le Guin. It's like a trip to visit old friends (or new ones) on your favorite planets: growing up on Gethen, dealing with the sedoretu on O, in the middle of the uprising on Werel. There are trips to a few new planets, too.
Le Guin, Ursula K: The Other Wind
Nominator: Fiona W.
A last minute nomination of a lovely new book on my shelf.
Fifth in the Earthsea series, it goes deeper into the questions raised in the previous books, while previous boundaries between people and dragons, death and life break down.
"The wizard Alder comes from Roke to the island of Gont in search of the Archmage, Lord Sparrowhawk, once known as Ged. The man who was once the most powerful wizard in the Islands now lives with his wife Tenar and their adopted daughter Tehanu. Alder needs help: his beloved wife died and in his dreams she calls him to the land of the dead and now the dead are haunting him, begging for release. He can no longer sleep, and the Wizards of Earthsea are worried. But there is more at stake than the unquiet rest of one minor wizard: for the dragons of Earthsea have arisen, to reclaim the lands that were once theirs. Only Tehanu, herself daughter of a dragon, can talk to them; it may be that Alder's dreams hold the key to the salvation of Earthsea and all the peoples who live there."
I refuse to know more because I'm looking forward to the experience of reading it so much!
For reviews and info:
Ursula K. Le Guin's Web Site
The SF Site Review
Reviews on Epinions.com
The Green Man Review
Maguire, Gregory: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Nominator: Chris S.
I know we recently discussed Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. In my opinion, his follow up novel Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is a better work. As a retelling of the Cinderella story, it has plenty of possibilities for discussions of feminist themes.
Amazon.com web page.
Marillier, Juliet: Daughter of the Forest
Nominator: Rudy L.
I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, and it's a reworking of an Irish fairy tale too, which we had a call for. Also, the first part of a trilogy, I believe all are published.
Here is the Amazon Review:
"At the heart of this surprisingly accomplished first novel, first book of the Sevenwaters trilogy, is a retelling of an ancient Celtic legend. Marillier's story, however, is much more than a slightly disguised fairy tale. Young Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Irish Lord Colum of Sevenwaters, a domain well protected from invading Saxons and Britons by dense forest where, legend says, fey Deirdre, the Lady of the Forest, walks the woodland paths at night. Colum is first and foremost a warrior, bent on maintaining his lands against all outsiders. Not all of his sons are so bound to the old ways, and that family friction leads to outright disobedience when Sorcha and her brother Finbar help a Briton captive escape from Colum's dungeon. Soon after, Colum brings home a new wife who ensorcels everyone she can't otherwise manipulate. By her spell Sorcha's brothers are cursed to become swans. Only Sorcha, hiding deep in the forest, can break the spell by painfully weaving shirts of starwort nettle--but then Sorcha is captured by Britons and taken away across the sea. Determined to break the curse despite her captivity, Sorcha continues to work, little expecting that ultimately she will have to chose between saving her brothers and protecting the Briton lord who has defended her throughout her trials. Marillier's writing is deft and heartfelt, bypassing the usual bombast of fantasy fireworks for a rich, magical story of loyalty and love."
Shinn, Sharon: Archangel
Nominator: Lee Anne P.
This should be readily available in used book stores, probably for three or four dollars..
What if G-d were one of us, just a stranger on a bus? That's the question Sharon Shinn answers when she introduces the angel Gabriel, ticked off over His choice of an untutored farm girl, Rachel, to be his bride. An archangel has responsibilities, after all, and he didn't even know if this Rachel human had a decent singing voice to rejoice with the assembled angels before the Throne on the planet of Samaria. Tch, tch.
Gabriel's little slice of Heaven is troubled by more than his irritation, for some of the angels aren't happy with things as they are and want to rule the race of men as slaves and servants. and Rachel, Rachel doesn't seem to care all that much for the honor of being taken as wife and let's him know that her sympathies lie with the poor and downtrodden, thank you very much, and to hell with you too.
Is this any way to sing the Gloria? Gabriel might sing like an angel but Rachel seems determined to make him sing a different tune before she's done with him. Oy, vey!
Shinn, Sharon: The Shape-Changer's Wife
Nominator: Lee Anne P.
This book is readily available used. It is her first book and is still available in many local bookstores in the original edition. I have no idea if this is true globally.
This is a small gem of a story, ostensibly a traditional magical/fantasy coming of age story following a young man apprenticed to a sorcerer, but in Sharon Shinn's hands this story comes to a different conclusion than these things usually do. Sometimes, the best and most profound change occurs when we learn to love things as they are, and the greatest power may be to learn to leave well-enough alone. I recommend it highly to anyone who likes fantasy. Peter Beagle speaks highly of it in the blurb and the style reminds me of his work.
Tepper, Sheri: Beauty
Nominator: Jodi M.
I know that this group has discussed a lot of Tepper books, but I personally think that this is one of her best. Tepper, like her or not, agree with her or not, has the gift to disturb her readers, which is great for discussion.
This book is based on Sleeping Beauty, but there are a number of other fairy tales thrown in. I found it interesting that Sleeping Beauty was used as a hero since she is one of the more passive heroes in a fairy tale--in fact she gets raped and impregnated by the King in some of the stories before she wakes up. When I first read this book, I expected a light, easy and entertaining read. It was anything but, yet I loved it anyways. I am not a huge Tepper fan personally, but like I said, when I do read her books, they disturb me. However, this book is one of my all time favorites and I would love to discuss it. I think that the use of fairy tales is a great way of examining culture and this book does it well.
Wren, M.K: A Gift Upon the Shore
Nominator: Rudy L.
This just crossed my eye browsing at Amazon. It sounds a bit like The Gate to Women's Country -- post apocalyptic world, 2 women survivors, nearby a small fundamentalist group of survivors, and how these people decide to survive the end of everything else. Reviews at Amazon are wonderful.