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Tag: romantic fantasy

READING THE TBR, DAY 301: The Pillars of the World (2001) by Anne Bishop

You know how some writers just have their thing?  Anne Bishop’s thing is Super Special Women being oppressed by Evil Men, and beloved of two competing saviours, one stalwart and kind, the other arrogant and often mean.

Bingley vs. Darcy, basically. But there’s magic.

In this iteration of Bishopian lore, the Super Special Woman is Ari, a young witch left to work her wonders for the aid of an ungrateful town. The Evil Men are legion, the evillest being a witch-killing Inquisitor who enriches himself even as he indulges in the darkest of misogyny. The two competing saviours are the valiant and put-upon Neall and the problematic, often disdainful fae lord Lucien, who spends most of his time in the enchanted lands of Tir Alainn, but occasionally visits Ari to take advantage — take full advantage — of an odd free love practice adopted by the local fiefdom for a month every summer, for some reason. It’s like The Purge, but for sex. 

This is the first of a trilogy, and I can’t say for sure I’m going to essay the remaining two installments, especially since I have a terrible feeling that fae lady Dianna, selfish and entitled and just THE WORST, is not going to die. And I really want her to die.

But maybe I’ll dive back into this magical world someday, because there are definitely times when I find myself in an Anne Bishop-y kind of mood — where I know pretty much all the elements of the story, and just need to see how she’s going to put them together this time.

SCORECARD

TBR DAY 301: The Pillars of the World (Tir Alainn #1) by Anne Bishop
GENRE: Romantic Fantasy
PUBLISHED: 2001
TIME ON THE TBR: ~8 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Minotaur Melbourne.
KEEP: Eh. Probably not.

READING THE TBR, DAY 103: The Mage’s Daughter (2008) by Lynn Kurland

Hmm. In the first of Lynn Kurland’s Nine Kingdoms novels, Star of the Morning, I found myself swept away in the romantical, fantastical land in which our luxuriant story is set. With its more-powerful-than-she-thinks-she-is heroine and her more-powerful-than-she-thinks-he-is swain, their road trip that ended in betrayal and… yet another road trip was pretty fun throughout.

This time, and maybe it’s just the sophomore slump thing, the story just did not grab me. Part of it was the spoileriness of the title, I think — if merc Morgan’s parentage is going to remain such a mystery for much of the book, why reveal all before we even start reading it? — but the other part was just that Morgan wasn’t super badass here, since she is recovering from wounds received in the previous novel, and she let her grandfather push her around WAY too much, especially since she just met the dude and had previously been unaware of his existence.

And then there’s Miach, her erstwhile suitor and prince of the realm who has been lying to her from the get go, and his successful pursuit of her in this book (in more ways than one). What the hell, Morgan? You got over all that in less than the space of a book? Who even are you? Do I even like you anymore?

Despite all this — oh, and EVERY GUY is in love with Morgan! Gaah! Stop it! — I still enjoyed this one for the most part, and I will doubtless carry on with the series, eventually, because I am curious enough about it all to see what happens next. It’s still a perfect storm of me-ness, all magic and romance and quests and Rightful Heirs. But Book 3 is going to have to offer up something a little different from this one if it is going to recapture the, well, magic of the first novel in the series.

Sequels are hard. Series are harder.

And I have officially thought about this book way too much.   

SCORECARD

TBR DAY 103: The Mage’s Daughter (Nine Kingdoms #2) by Lynn Kurland
GENRE: Romantic Fantasy
PUBLISHED: 2008
TIME ON THE TBR: 2 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Op shop.
KEEP: Sure.

READING THE TBR, DAY 55: Star of the Morning (2006) by Lynn Kurland

My friend Kate loves Lynn Kurland. Loves her! I have long meant to follow this most enthusiastic recommendation of this author — romance, fantasy, and romantic fantasy being Kurland’s strong suits, and all favourites of mine — so when I saw five of her books for $2 each on an op shop shelf, two of which kicked off her Nine Kingdoms series, I jumped at them.

And two years later, here we are.

Star of the Morning, the opening novel, introduces us to the Nine Kingdoms, but focuses mostly on Neroche, to which our heroine Morgan, shieldmaiden and swordswoman extraordinaire, must deliver a sword to the realm’s king. 

Along the way, she collects about her a devoted troupe of followers — all men — some sent to her by Lord Nicholas, the venerable teacher who has sent her on this overseas errand,  some chance met along the way, but who happen to be… wait for it… royalty. 

I mean, sure.

As they travel, Morgan teaches the snotty Adhemar (he is, I kid you not, the King of this land, travelling incognito, because again, sure) and his brother Miach (he is, I kid you not, the Archmage of this land, travelling incognito, because… blah blah blah) swordplay, while they teach her magic, for which she has a crazy aptitude, but also, hates it. Overarching all of this, there is a darkness descending upon the world, thanks to an evil mage mentioned but little seen, and, wait, are Morgan and Miach falling in love? 

This book combines so many things that I love. Quests. Hidden talents. Rightful heirs. Kickass women. Magic. Slow-burn romance. Shadowy bad guys. And after a very slow start, it all coalesces so beautifully that it becomes utterly compelling. Addictive. It’s silly, of course. Trope-tastic and so evocative of so much other Fantasy that it is almost actionable. (Except, almost all modern Fantasy is evocative of so much other Fantasy. It’s awesome.)

But I loved this book. LOVED IT. And I am very much looking forward to Book #2.

SCORECARD

TBR DAY 55: Star of the Morning (Nine Kingdoms #1) by Lynn Kurland
GENRE: Romantic Fantasy
PUBLISHED: 2006
TIME ON THE TBR: 2 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: Op shop.
KEEP: Sure.