fantasy-fiction

someone asked for this rebloggable!

[carryalaser asks:Was wondering (sorry if it’s been dealt with before) if you had favourite/recommended works of fantasy/historical fiction in regards to positive PoC representation? And thank you a lot for the effort put into this blog, one of the finest. My mother wishes it was around when she was homeschooling my sisters and I.]

OMG, Thank you!!! And your mom sounds awesome.

I’m a pretty hardcore Fantasy/Sci Fi fan and have been since childhood. The unrelenting whiteness of the genre (especially the late 70’s early 80’s stuff I was practically weaned on) really did a number on me, especially as a teen. That’s a lot of why this blog exists, in fact.

Recommendations:

  • The Crown of Stars Series by Kate Elliott

A must for medieval fans! I love the series for the awesome character development, realistic worldbuilding, and instead of “medieval England” going on and on through the entire map, you end up in versions of Hungary, Eurasia, Mesoamerica, Ethiopia and Egypt. Not only that, here’s your protagonist:

For those who are more into Steampunk and Historical Fiction (not me, in other words), I actually DO recommend another Elliott series:

  • The Spiritwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott (Cold Magic, Cold Fire, Cold Steel)

I’m still making my way through this series, but I’m actually really impressed so far. The worldbuilding is really impressive. Also, you won’t read a better summary than the one here.

  • The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, The Kingdom of Gods)

OMG. YOU NEED THIS.

Seriously if you pick one, pick THIS one. Characters you never knew you couldn’t live without include Oree Shoth, Sieh, Yeine, Nahadoth, and many, many more. Description:

Gods and mortals. Power and love. Death and revenge. In the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, gods dwell among mortals and one powerful, corrupt family rules the earth. Three extraordinary people may be the key to humanity’s salvation.

First 3 chapters of each book available here.

  • Dreamblood (The Killing Moon, The Shadowed Sun) by N. K. Jemisin

YOUR MIND WILL BE BLOWN OKAY.

I PROMISE.

Magic system is really unique, and the characters will feel like your new, weird, difficult best friends who have hero complexes and martyr complexes and so much political intrigue and so much EVERYTHING.

First 3 chapters of The Killing Moon available here.

  • Acacia Trilogy by David Anthony Durham (Acacia, Other Lands, The Sacred Band)

This is a person with a background in Historical Fiction, so to MY taste, it starts a little dry but is meaty and totally worth it. The plot and the politics and the geography are really going to appeal to Historical Fiction buffs. The whole plots hinges around moral quandaries involving power, colonization, slavery, and drugs.

Also, the characters are pretty good. More plot driven than character driven.

  • The Elemental Logic Series (Fire Logic, Earth Logic, Water Logic, forthcoming Air Logic) by Laurie J. Marks

AMAZING High Fantasy fare. These books read like a good meal. I don’t even have words for it, just….you’ll feel what the characters feel when they’re tested to the breaking point and beyond. You’ll love who they love, and need what they need. GLORIOUS DESTINIES tempered by incredible grittiness, and villains you will hate so much it’ll feel like a toothache. One of my very favorites. (NOTE: The cover of Fire Logic is whitewashed. Zanja is a woman of COLOR. I will post the cover of Earth Logic instead.)

Read excerpts here!

Well, that’s what I’ve got for now!

Best way to make me late to work: ask me about books in the morning!

Yesterday we saw bookriot's post of read-alikes for Robin LaFevers’s His Fair Assassin trilogy and were so, so excited: one, because that’s one of our favorite YA series, ever, and two, because the list features Jennifer McGowan’s Maids of Honor books - Jennifer will be here tomorrow for our next NaNoWriMo workshop, talking publishing and critiquing short pieces, and we can’t wait! 

Naturally, that got us thinking about some of our other favorite YA novels in which thieves, spies, and assassins appear, so here’s a small compilation of historical, fantasy, and historical fantasy fiction for your weekend reading! 

Maid of Secrets and Maid of Deception, Jennifer McGowan

Thieves

  • The Demon King, Cinda Williams Chima
  • Star Crossed, Elizabeth Bunce
  • Scarlet, A.C. Gaughen
  • Midnight Thief, Livia Blackburne
  • The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner
  • The Outcasts, John Flanagan
  • The False Prince, Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Illusive, Emily Lloyd-Jones

Spies

  • Palace of Spies, Sarah Zettel
  • Etiquette & Espionage, Gail Carriger
  • Sekret, Lindsay Smith
  • Across a Star-swept Sea, Diana Peterfreund

Assassins

  • Graceling, Kristin Cashore
  • Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas
  • The Assassin’s Curse, Cassandra Rose Clarke
  • The Kiss of Deception, Mary E. Pearson
youtube

The first clip from the BBC’s ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ miniseries is magical

The BBC’s adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell could be one of the biggest fantasy fiction events of 2015.

Compressing Susanna Clarke’s weighty tome into a seven-episode miniseries, Jonathan Strange tells the story of two rival magicians in 19th century England, a historical fantasy with a touch of Jane Austen-esque social satire. Since the BBC routinely churns out several historical dramas and literary adaptations each year, this could easily be a better version than the earlier plans for a Jonathan Strange movie that sank without trace into Development Hell.

[Read more]

"Things Were Just Like That Back Then": Thoughts on Westeros, Sociology, and Historical Accuracy in A Song of Ice and Fire

Seeing this post reminds me that someone I’ve known for years, and who has a rather expensive college degree, said these exact words to me in regard to ASOIAF/Game of Thrones this past Tuesday at a gaming tournament:

"Things were just like that back then.”

There were not enough faces for me to palm. I just ended up yelling, “When was that again?? In the good old days of Westeros??”

This was in regard to a casual conversation about differences between the show and the books they’re based on. I should add that this particular friend has read the books but has not seen the show.

But what was really demonstrated to me was how this idea and statement:

1. never fails to appear when two marginalized people discuss fantasy media and utter a word that ends in “-ism” in the presence of someone who is not marginalized

2. is a bad case of double-wrong. It’s a false statement based on a false assumption/premise. By which I mean, it’s wrong as a statement in and of itself (Westeros never existed, it’s a fantasy setting), and it’s also wrong if I accept your false assumption (that any society or culture anywhere was like Westeros).

3. it attempts to derail any discussion or accountability regarding the fact that ASOIAF is a work of art created on purpose by a human being for an audience that is alive today, with modern attitudes about race, gender, violence, politics, et cet.

In all honesty (and I really hope I’m not the first person ever to mention this?) the atmosphere of brutality, abuse of power, personal violation, and lack of alternate mitigating power structures (like the Church), is entirely invented and would never actual work or function correctly as a society.

Even the “good days” of Westeros are actually too disruptive to people’s lives. I’m saying they would leave. Sadly, ASOIAF seems under the same weird impression that people living in Westeros had an invisible leash that kept them within five miles of where they were born, unless you were at least a Knight of some kind, that many people assume about Medieval…everywhere. I mean, even considering the alternate seasons stuff (like Summer lasting for like 20 years or whatever) where does their FOOD even come from???

Like, yes in human history, people will put up with a LOT of tyranny but it has to come with stability. Seriously, that’s how Empires even happened at all on any continent in the Middle Ages.You can’t just have a war and kill all the farmers. Everyone will die. Any survivors will leave, society will collapse, and you’ll be the happy king of nothing, and then you’ll die of starvation. The right to control what people produced had to come with some kind of upside for the people doing the production.

The only time in human history that this level of global brutality has ever been perpetrated is European colonialism and imperialism during the 18th Century-current. That whole deal even being remotely possible was due to several very specific factors…the first being the depopulation of North America by 90% from diseases before any conflict had a chance to happen. The second being the idea of chattel slavery: Europe gaining wealth through trade with African nations, then returning with money to buy people in small, already-subdued and easily controllable groups, ship them to the depopulated continent, and basically…breed them…until you have literally millions of enslaved human beings who are considered highly visible and their visibility is encoded into law; they can never escape their own appearance, therefore can never really escape their enslavement.

I could really go on, but I think I already threw up in my mouth a little and I promise this is coming full circle.

Basically what I am saying here is that ASOIAF/Game of Thrones, is absolutely a post-colonial projection of colonial brutality into a quasi-Medieval setting.  Westeros exists because we are a post-colonial society and that is a product of specifically white and Eurocentric speculative fiction: because what if colonial-level horrors had been visited upon Medieval white people by Medieval white people?

And it is very sincerely a fantasy; the resources and circumstances for that kind of EVERYthing to exist cannot be replicated in a Medieval social structure with that degree of instability, war, and cultural nihilism combined with a lack of social supportive structures. Nor that level of gender inequality and femicide/violence against women, in case you were wondering. Apparently the real secret of power in Westeros is a magic lamp rubbing ritual that happens offscreen from which food, clothing, and armies that do not need food or clothing complete with mind control powers to get them to do what you want, appear from thin air.

But in conclusion the idea of “Westeros” as anything remotely resembling history is only possible because we live in a post-colonial society, and this skews and warps our idea of what the actual European Middle Ages were like. In regard to gender, ability status, economy, race, religion, production, level of acceptable violence…just about everything.

Now…I’m not saying that you couldn’t cobble together a pastiche of every atrocity that happened in Europe(ish) between the fall of the Roman Empire and the 18th century and come up with something remotely like Westeros, but only after cherry picking and removing both original context and subsequent backlash.

Oh, and as an addendum: people have asked me before about why I think the show, Game of Thrones, is better than ASOIAF, the books. Basically this: on the show, you can ascribe motivations, thoughts, and feelings to the characters, therefore making them more or less sympathetic or relatable. In the books, the character’s motivations, thoughts, feelings, and responses are laid bare in internal monologues, and this creates absolutely zero chance of feeling sympathetic toward them, in my humble opinion. You know how Jamie Lannister really feels about Brienne of Tarth, you know Cersei Lannister’s reasons for doing what she does, you know just how frigging inconsistently obtuse Ned Stark is about everything, ever.

The show writers have also gone slightly out of their way in omitting things from the books that make certain characters considerably less sympathetic, most notably Tyrion Lannister.

I could really go on and on, which speaks to both the degree of my nerdery in regard to anything remotely Sword-N-Sorcery and (honestly) the art of creating an extremely popular work of fiction for which the author, George R.R. Martin, can survive both the accolades AND the genuinely deserved criticism. Good on him I suppose for creating something people can really dig their teeth into, whether or not they can eat that entire bloody, raw horse’s heart or not.

P.S. literally the only reason there are almost no people of color in ASOIAF is because George R.R. Martin decided there wouldn’t be, and the reason they’re portrayed the way they are is because he decided they WOULD be. With great acclaim comes great accountability.

The title really says it all: whether you like something futuristic, some fantastic, or something a little dark and a lot of twisty, here are 19 comics in the perfect starter guide to our favorite graphic novels! 

Click on the links below to find each of them in our catalog!

Saga

Sweet Tooth

The Walking Dead

Y: The Last Man

DMZ: On the Ground

We3

American Vampire

Hellboy

Sandman

Rat Queens

Fables: Legends in Exile

The Unwritten

Sex Criminals

The Goon

Sin City

Fatale

John Constantine: Hellblazer

100 Bullets

Lazarus

Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?…If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!
—  J.R.R. Tolkien

stardust-rain asked:

What the most memorable book from your childhood? (Since we're all asking)

Okay actually I think I might have a handle on this one. There are a few.

Cowslip by Betsy Haynes.

I bought this with my “own money” at a garage sale for 25 cents when I was five years old and read it cover to cover that same day. It’s a book about a little girl who is enslaved in the American South. Everyone tells her that slavery is okay because it says so in the bible. She risks life and limb to learn how to read so she can look for herself to see if the bible really says that because she just can’t accept it. Let’s just say it had a profound effect on my worldview in some key areas. I’m sure if I reread it today i’d be pretty critical of it but that’s the main message I took away from the book-always check for yourself to see if something is true or not rather than just accepting what people tell you is true.

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.

In Which Cimorene and Kazul have a fascinating conversation about gender and job titles.

Quest For a Maid by Frances Mary Hendry

I actually reread this very recently for the first time in about…10 years? First line:

"When I was nine years old, i hid under a table and heard my sister kill a king."

Anyhow, it takes place in Medieval Scotland and it’s a Low Fantasy political intrigue novel…you know, for kids! :D It ABSOLUTELY holds up. Honestly you can probably read this as an adult and get a lot out of it. To share with you a rather fun on-topic excerpt (page 98):

I got blue glass beads for Domna that would have cost me near double in Dunfermline, and a strange-colored fruit the man said was an orange. It was from far away over the sea to the south, he said, where the men had been burned black by the sun. He thought I’d not believe him, and was surprised when I told him I’d spoken to two Black men, slaves to sir Alex Dalrymple, who’d brought them back from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land years ago. They were wed on lasses at Falkirk now.

Of course we never get to see or hear from these characters, but I bet writing a book about them would be pretty interesting. Also, the Dalrymples totally really existed. It’s an extremely well-researched book. So yeah, it set the bar really high.

Many Waters by Madeline L’Engle

I think this was the only L’Engle book I ever really cared for. And no, the degree of sexuality going on in the book wasn’t particularly lost on my 8 or 9 year old self. It’s got a slight case of Mighty Whitey going on but overall is really weird and genuinely engaging. Oh, as for plot? Basically teenage twin boys accidentally time travel to immediately before the Great Flood of biblical times and Angels and Fallen angels and giant mythical everything.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll be slapping my forehead later on it XD

The tenth - can you believe it, the tenth! - season of Supernatural* premieres tonight, so we thought we’d repost one of our very first book lists, last year’s Supernatural-themed flow chart starring some of our favorite YA fantasy and horror novels that would be perfect for fans of the show (or for anyone building a Halloween TBR)! Plus a few new additions that are nods to Supernatural's original Monster of the Week format. Enjoy! 

  • Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake
  • Unbreakable, Kami Garcia
  • The Demon’s Lexicon, Sarah Rees Brennan
  • Angelfall, Susan Ee 
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor
  • Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, April Tucholke
  • The Space Between, Brenna Yovanoff
  • Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Curse of the Wendigo, Rick Yancey
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black
  • Asylum, Madeleine Roux
  • Amity, Micol Ostow
  • Mary: The Summoning, Hillary Monahan
  • All Our Pretty Songs, Sarah McCarry
  • The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater

*Also among things we cannot believe: Dean is a demon!!!! 

Playing Minecraft with Jen and I found out how to enchant and rename swords and so I present

SKULLFUCKER BLADESHIT

THE MIGHTIEST BANE OF LEGGED CREATURES, HAILING FROM THE DARKEST REACHES OF SWAMP DRAGONDICK. THE SWORD WAS FORGED IN THE BASEMENT OF THE GNOME ZARGOND FRAGGLEROCKS MOTHERS HOUSE, WHERE HE USED HIS JIZZ-COVERED CRUSTY HANDS TO FORGE THE MIGHTIEST SWORD KNOWN TO MAN. THE SWORDS REASON TO EXIST WAS SO THAT ZARGOND COULD SLAY THE EVIL WIZARD WHO TORE UP HIS YU-GI-OH CARDS; CHAD THE PAINMANCER.

end of part 1

3

Fiction Week

Annals of the Western Shore by Ursula K. LeGuin

From Wikipedia:

The books in the trilogy share the same imaginary world; their plots are set among small city states and independent polities, in a fertile region on the western shore of a continental land mass, in an otherwise unspecified world. The culture is at a generally medieval level, with traditional crafts but no advanced technology. The three books share some characters; the protagonists in Gifts reappear as supporting or minor characters in the later books.

Gifts centers on two young people, Gry and Orrec, who struggle to come to terms with inherent psychic abilities. They live in a poor, mountainous, and culturally backward region, famous for its “witches” and wonder-workers. Gry is a girl who can communicate with animals; she refuses to use her gift to aid hunters, which sets her apart from many in her culture, including her own mother. Orrec is a boy whose supposed gift of “unmaking” is apparently so dangerous that he voluntarily goes through life blindfolded, to avoid causing destruction. The story reveals how Orrec and Gry cope with their gifts, and eventually leave their mountainous home for the wider world.

Voices tells the story of Memer, a girl who lives in an occupied country. Her home, Ansul, has been conquered by the Alds, a desert people from the east, who are now its brutal and superstitious occupiers. Memer secretly learns of a world of suppressed books and writings, and falls in love with her people’s ancient literature; she meets Gry and Orrec, who come to Ansul as travelling storytellers. Together, their entwined fates play out against the outcome of the political struggle of Ansul and the Alds.

In Powers, Gavir is a slave who develops a gift for precognition. He is trained to serve as a teacher for a noble family in the city of Etra; but personal tragedy drives him into the life of a hunted wanderer. He endures adventures, challenges, and suffering. Eventually he escapes to a new and happy life that he shares with Memer, Gry, and Orrec.