The Dragonbone Chair is a fantasy novel by Tad Williams from the 1990’s, the first book in the series Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. The book centers on a struggle between a new king and his brother, in which other rulers and nobles have chosen sides. It’s not an unusual story except for the fact that one of them is engaged in strange mystical goings-on led by an ancient race.
Much of the action centers on a kitchen boy named Simon. Though he is low on ambition and high on mischief, he gets thrown into a series of quests by simply doing the right thing. He is helped in these quests by Bibabek, a member of a dwarfish race referred to as trolls, who rides a wolf called Qantaqa. Simon also finds assistance from a different ancient race known for hating mortals, again by simply doing the right thing.
Tad Williams is an excellent writer that will keep you turning pages into the night. Although the plot is complex and his descriptions sometimes lengthy, this book will keep your attention. It is followed by Stone of Farewell, which I can’t wait to get my hands on.
The Gray Wolf Throne is the third book in Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms series. Princess Raisa ana’ Marianna has left the school at Ogden’s Ford where she hid after running away from a forced marriage the previous year. She must get home because her claim to the throne of the Fells is at stake, and possibly the line itself. But she is being pursued by assassins. Although her mother’s Captain of the Guard finds her to help her get home, her way is still not easy. Also trying to find her is Han Alister, one-time gang chief and now student in wizardry at Ogden’s Ford. He fell in love with Raisa when she was under the guise of Rebecca Morley and has no idea she is a princess.
Raisa’s main goals are to solidify her place as heir
apparent, deal with conspiracies abounding in the capital, and find out who is
trying to kill her. She is particularly distrustful of the wizard family Bayer,
who seek power, and have tried to influence her mother and her sister.
Han is on his own journey. He wants to support the woman he loves, but can’t reconcile his love for Rebecca Morley with the royals he blames for his family’s death.
A real page-turner, The Gray Wolf Throne will keep you captivated. It’s A Game of Thrones for teens, but all will enjoy it.
Inkspell is a young adult fantasy by Cornelia Funke. It is set both in our world and in Inkheart, a land of fiction created by author Fenoglio. In Funke’s previous book, Inkheart, Meggie and her father discovered that they had powers which allowed them to read people into and out of the book. Inkspell begins with Dustfinger, who is from the land of Inkheart, being read back into the book. He is a fire eater and is training an apprentice named Farid in the art of controlling fire. Farid, who was read from another book, is still very loyal to Dustfinger. When his mentor leaves him in our world, Farid seeks help from Meggie to find him. Looking for a adventure herself, she decides to accompany him and immediately regrets it.
Meanwhile, back in our world, her family is taken captive by some people from Inkheart who wish her father harm. Meggie must find Fenoglio (also caught in Inkheart) in order to return home, help Dustfinger battle an evil prince, and figure out how to help her father
Across two worlds, Meggie and her family battle Inkheart’s worst, some who wish harm for her and her friends and family, and others who merely want to take control of Inkheart. This is a delicious romp. I love Funke’s writing style and complicated plots. If you haven’t read Inkheart, don’t worry. There are plenty of references to the previous book, and even without them, Inkspell works well as a stand-alone book. You should pick it up today.
Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul is a young adult fantasy novel. Kale is a 14-year-old ex-slave on her way to the big city of Vendala to develop her ability to find dragon eggs. Of course, as often happens in books of this sort, she never makes it there, but instead gets in trouble with some big, bad creatures, only to be rescued by some smaller creatures who know how to do these things. Then, still not having reached her goal, she is asked to go on a quest.
Dragonfall has seven high races (good guys) and seven low races (bad guys), which we must keep track of. The bad guys seem to differ by height, coloring and amount of hair, and type of clothing, though the good guys are much more diverse. It makes it a little tricky to keep everyone straight but doesn’t detract too much from the plot.
This is a fun book, Kale is a great character, naïve but
capable and willing to learn. Her friends are sometimes helpful, sometimes obstacles,
but you will enjoy them.
As Kale is 14, you won’t
be surprised that the book is probably best for 12- or 13-year-olds, but
if you’re an adult with a lightness in your heart, you will enjoy it as well.
In the Land of the Everliving by Stephen R. Lawhead is the second book in the Eirlandia series. It’s a fantasy story of a man on a quest – not unusual for fantasy, except that the setting is in the Celtic tradition and the book is interlaced with Celtic words and Celtic-like names. The protagonist is Conor mac Ardon, who is recovering from injuries in the land of the fairies, along with two members of his wargang. As soon as he is healed, they return to their home to fight the Scala, enemies who had invaded their land. Falsely branded as a traitor, he is denied access to his castle by his brother and seeks refuge in a friendly realm. He offers his sword to the queen, but when she becomes corrupted, he must find another way to fulfill his quest.
I enjoyed this book, but it is obvious that it is the second in a series of at least three books. I had not read the first one, In the Region of the Summer Stars, and although there was enough information to enjoy this book on its own, it’s generally best to read the books in order. I’m sure I would have enjoyed In the Land of the Everliving more had I done so.
Series can be tricky. As I said, I enjoyed this book even though I hadn’t read the first. However, I found myself wanting at the end. Simply put, it was the end of a battle but not the war, and while the war must continue to the end, I would have appreciated something more substantial at the end of Book Two.
Having said all that, the characters are strong, especially that of Conor, the interrelationships work well, and there is plenty of action for those who crave that. My advice? Start with Book One and read all the way through.