Inkspell: A Delicious Romp

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 Will Bewitch You

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: A Celtic Adventure

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.

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.

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.