Pilgrim: A Good Continuation

The fifth book of The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass is entitled Pilgrim. By this point in the story, the Timekeeper Demons have invaded Tencendor and Faraday has joined forces with Drago to find a way to stop them. Meanwhile, Caelum, his father Axis, and his mother Azhure set out on a different path.

Surprises await for the Starson, who it is foretold will defeat the leader of the Demons. He must discover his true path and do whatever it takes to defeat him and his followers, no matter where it leads him.

The second book in a trilogy (and I do consider the second three books of this series as a trilogy) is often rushed and merely trying to set up for the final book. Pilgrim doesn’t do this. There is action throughout and tons of surprises. But my favorite part are the character interactions in this book, as in the others. Douglass does a great job of developing characters, and even the ones you think you know will change and make decisions you would never expect. Read the book – you won’t want to put it down.

Once Upon a Time: The Most Fun Ever

Once Upon a Time is a fantasy series which ran from October 2011 to May 2018 on ABC. It takes place in Storybrooke, Maine, where all the inhabitants are fairy tale characters who have forgotten who they are. They are under a curse cast by the evil queen of the Snow White story, and the only one who can break the curse is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, who, of course, does not know who she is.

At the beginning of the show, this Savior, Emma Swan, is living in Boston chasing down bail jumpers, when she is visited by Henry Mills who tells her she’s his mother and Snow White’s daughter. She takes him back to Storybrooke and decides to stay despite the objections of his adoptive mother Regilla, the evil queen.

The show goes back and forth between flashbacks to the fairy tale world of the Enchanted Forest to present day Storybrooke. The writers play fast and loose with the tales we all know, which is a large part of the fun. A lot of the fairy tale characters draw on their portrayals in Disney films, sometimes even including snippets of songs.

Characters across stories interact in interesting ways with each other and include not only fairy tale characters such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel, but also Disney characters like Mular and Merida and characters from the books Alice in Wonderland, Frankenstein, and Peter Pan, to name a few.

Throughout all the stories, one character who plays a major role is Rumpelstiltskin (known as Mr. Gold in Storybrooke), played brilliantly by Robert Carlyle (a Scottish actor, whose accent sometimes comes through, if you listen hard enough.). He’s probably the most interesting character in the show because he vacillates between the gold-skinned Dark One of the Enchanted Forest to a man trying hard to be good for the woman he loves.

I was captivated through the first six seasons. Season seven took a different turn. Using a subset of old characters joined by some new ones, it follows an adult Henry Mills in Seattle under another curse, where everyone has forgotten who they are. (Sound familiar?) I felt it was just a rehash of Season one with the same characters in different roles and cannot really recommend it. However, if you make it through to the end, there is an amazing and fitting conclusion to the series.

I had a lot of fun with this show, enough that I’m ready to go back to the beginning and do it again. I’m sure you will, too.

Sinner: The Epic Continues

Sinner by Sara Douglass is the fourth book in the Wayfarer Redemption series, but in many ways it’s the beginning of a second trilogy. The story begins forty years after the previous book, Starman. Axis and Azhure’s children are grown, and eldest child Caelum is ruling over the land of Tencendor as Starson.

But all is not well. There is dissension between the princes of two kingdoms under his rule, Caelum’s hated brother Drago who tried to kill him as an infant is accused of murder, and the criminal Wolfstar is up to no good. Add to this an underlying threat to the very existence of Tencendor, and you have quite a tale.

Sara Douglass has done it again. The book now contains elements of both science fiction and fantasy, since part of the outside threat has arrived by spaceship, and Douglass blends them brilliantly. While maintaining some of the same characters from the first three books, she has introduced new ones who are nuanced and interact in exiting ways. This new generation has its own incredible story to tell. Fantasy fans who enjoyed the first three books, or haven’t even read them, will enjoy Sinner .

The Ruin of Kings Will Entertain

The Ruin of Kings is a new fantasy novel by debut novelist Jenn Lyons. Kihrin is a teenage boy who has been raised in a brothel in the Capital City of Quur, the madam acting as his mother and a blind musician as his father. Though his “father” is training him as a musician, Kihron makes most of his money as a thief, a job he is very good at.

However, one day he witnesses something he shouldn’t, is attacked by a demon, and discovers he is related to nobility. This leads to a very long road, along which he experiences capture and abuse but is trained in both weaponry and magic. He also finds out more than he ever wanted to about his own heritage and the nobility of which he is a part.

The story is told in two voices: Kihrin, who starts in the middle of the tale, and a shapeshifter, who starts several years earlier. It makes it interesting to try and figure out what Kihrin knew when, and to sometimes know more than he does in the shapeshifter’s story.

It is also more interesting (though some would call it confusing) because there are immortals who have changed their names more than once, people who have been reincarnated, and those who have simply been raised from the dead. It makes it harder to keep track of everyone but it helps to keep the surprises coming. As more and more secrets are revealed, Kihrin comes closer to understanding what he must do to conquer evil in Quur.

Read The Ruin of Kings. You will enjoy it. Let’s hope Lyons has a lot more books in her.

Strange Grace Compels

Strange Grace by Tessa Grafton is the story of a village blessed with seven years of prosperity and health. But in the seventh year, a young man (known as a “saint”) must spend the night in the Devil’s Forest being pursued by demons, dead animals, and the devil himself. Most never return. Of the few who have, all but one have left the village, consumed with nightmares.

Mairwen Grace is the daughter of the next-to-last saint and the village witch, and is studying to one day replace her mother. Unfortunately for her, Rhun Sayer, the boy she likes, is deemed by all of the villagers as the most likely to be the next saint. All but one, that is. Their friend Arthur Couch believes the honor should go to him.

But Mairwen is not looking forward to the ritual this year and not simply because Rhun may lose his life.  Only three years have passed but things are going wrong in the village, something which has never happened before. Also, Maitwen believes something is wrong with the legend of how the ritual began and that the village has been lied to for years. Though it goes against tradition, she is determined to do what is necessary to discover the truth about the ritual and stop young men from dying.

Strange Grace is an excellent YA fantasy. The interactions of the three main characters are complex and there are surprises galore. If you like YA fantasy at all, this is the book to read.