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Fantasy

  • If you're like me you're still riding on a high from last month's Star Wars release.  The new film brought back all the old feelings I got when I watched Episode 4 for the first time: laughing with beloved characters, believing in the Force, and wanting my own light saber. The only way this feeling can be diminished is realizing it will be 2017 before we get a new Star Wars movie!!  So if you need something to help you pass the time, here's a list of awesome books that will fill the gaping hole in your life left by Star Wars Episode VII.  Each one is an excellent book with an epic tale of good versus evil!

    mistbornMISTBORN
    By Brandon Sanderson

    (2006)

    This book is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES, and even if it's not technically a "teen" book, it has a teen protagonist and is perfectly suitable for Young Adult readers.  It also is a perfect choice for Star Wars fans!  It has interesting, likable characters who discover that they have mythical kick-butt powers, and a truly epic fight between good and evil.   

     

    insigniaINSIGNIA 
    By S. J. Kincaid

    (2012)

    This is a great one for Sci-Fi geeks like me who can't wait to own their own virtual reality unit and start exploring the galaxy.  The main character, Tom, is a sort of VR prodigy who gets noticed by the government for his gaming prowess and is offered a place with the Intrasolar Forces: an elite fighting force controlling the drones out there battling in WWIII. 

     

    gracelingGRACELING
    By Kristin Cashore
    (2008)

    A young protagonist who has special abilities she is just beginning to understand goes on a journey of self discovery.  Sound familiar?  Warning: this one will be hard to put down so make sure to clear some time in your schedule.

      

    readyplayeroneREADY PLAYER ONE 
    By Ernest Cline

    (2011)

    Another technically non-"teen" book that features a teen protagonist and that content-wise I think is suitable for young adults, READY PLAYER ONE is a book I can't recommend enough to fans of sci fi adventures.  Part puzzle solving mystery (think Indiana Jones), part virtual reality reality romp (think The Matrix), and part homage to 1980's nerd culture, this book fits in perfectly with any Star Wars fan. 

     

    icemarkTHE CRY OF THE ICEMARK
    By Stuart Hill

    (2005)

    Thirrin is a beautiful princess but also an intrepid warrior, and she must find a way to protect her land from a terrible invasion.  She'll need to ally with strange creatures and cultures in order to lead her people to victory.  Fans of Leia will follow Thirrin with interest to see if she can rise above all of her challenges.

      

     

    Hopefully a few of these will scratch that Star Wars itch we'll all be plagued with until next year!!  Until then... may the force be with you.

  •  Brandon Sanderson

    Whenever people find out I study English and work at the Provo Library, they immediately ask me what books I recommend. My immediate response is, “Any book by Brandon Sanderson.”

    It would be an understatement to say that I’m an avid fan. When I first read his books, I thought, “Boy, this is what a novel should be.” Then I discovered the man is from Utah, publishes about a book a year, has several different series, and nearly all of these books connect. That’s right, Sanderson has created a universe called “The Cosmere” and several of his book series take place within this universe.

    Take a breath with me; it’s a lot to take in. I remember when I first discovered this, the subtle connection between the books, and I was already several books in. I had to go back and reread all the books (not to mention many internet searches to find out what people much smarter than me already put together).I’m here to do the hard work for you. After my considerable time in the worlds of Brandon Sanderson, I have come up with an order for my friends to read the books. My purpose today is to share that list with you and to highlight an amazing author’s career.

    One last tip, keep a lookout for the name “Hoid.” You may see him pop up here or there.

    11.30 MistbornMISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2006)

    This is the first Sanderson book I read. In this society, a God-like tyrant, the Lord Ruler has set up society where there are two social classes: Skaa and Nobles. A group of thieves, the leader of which, Kelsier, has a personal vendetta against the Lord Ruler, plans to overthrow the government. The story is a trilogy with a great magic system and great stakes. It can be on the heavier side for those just getting into Sanderson. If you feel this way, go ahead and read the next one (Elantris) first and save this one for second.

     

    11.30 ElantrisELANTRIS
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2005)

    Elantris is the first book Sanderson wrote. Many say for this fact alone it should then be the first to read. There is an argument for this, but I put it second just because I feel this one is easier to get into after the introduction of Mistborn. Once some people in this world would be taken by the Shaod (as it is called in the book) and become like gods. That is before the events of the Reod, when this blessing became a curse. Now those taken by the Shaod are thrown into the city of Elantris, where the cursed people will live for all eternity.

     

    11.30 WarbreakerWARBREAKER
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2009)

    Some people have the tendency to skip this one because it isn’t as popular as some of the others like Mistborn or Way of Kings. I beg of you, don’t skip this book if you are fascinated by the connective quality of the books. This one is important for some of those mind-blowing Sanderson moments. Warbreaker is mostly about two sisters, princesses who come from a land where color isn’t widely used. You see, color is part of the source of the magic, along with that which they call “breath.”

    Note: Hoid’s name won’t be mentioned in this book. If you pay attention and perhaps search Wikipedia a little, you’ll be able to find out where he is.

     

    11.30 Way of KingsWAY OF KINGS
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2010)

    This is the one where things really seem to start colliding. In this monstrous novel (1007 pages, see why I had you warmed up of the ones half that size?) Sanderson gives us a world currently in a ten year war, following the assassination of King Gavilar. This book is Sanderson’s pinnacle of world building, as he builds amazing magic systems, multiple political systems, and several character viewpoints. Not to mention that Hoid character I told you about makes a special, and much longer, appearance. This is the first of three, but Sanderson plans to write ten total of this series. 

     

    Ultimately Sanderson has many more books to read, even in the Cosmere, but I hope you will find this a great beginning guide to your new book obsession.

  • sci fi 01

  •  arthurian

    Everybody knows the story of King Arthur and his Round Table... don't they? As a passionate medievalist, I am continually surprised by how little of the actual story people know. Anyone can tell me about Lancelot and Guenevere's doomed love, but many fewer know that Mordred, Arthur's bastard son, was the real destroyer of Camelot. The magic of Morgan le Fey, the purity of Sir Galahad, the elusive Questing Beast; there's a whole lot that you're missing out on if you only know the fairy tale version.

    My suggestion: dig a little deeper. There are dozens of different versions of the legends to explore, but to get you started here are five of my favorites.

    le morte darthurLE MORTE D'ARTHUR
    by Sir Thomas Malory
    (1485)

    This is the Arthurian Legend--the very first one ever written in English. Though calling it "English" might be a little bit of a stretch. Written in Middle English, the precursor to our current tongue, it is full of weird words and even weirder spellings. The story will seem much more familiar, however, since every King Arthur book that has come after has used this version of the myth as its starting point, whether directly or indirectly.

    It starts with Arthur's conception and Uther's magical seduction of Igraine. Touching briefly on Arthur's ascension to the throne, it then follows his battles as he consolidates his empire, challenges Rome, and establishes the Round Table. The adventures of the various knights, the quest for the Holy Grail; it's all in there.

    There are two major versions of Le Morte d'Arthur. William Caxton published the first version in 1485 along with his own extensive edits to the piece; this is known as the Caxton publication. The second version appeared in 1934 when the headmaster of Winchester College discovered a manuscript version of the work much closer to Malory's original writings; this is known as the Winchester manuscript. Provo Library has a copy of both Caxton and Winchester, each with updated spelling for a much easier read.

    once and future kingTHE ONCE AND FUTURE KING
    by T.H. White
    (1958)  

    This version was a childhood favorite of mine and has spawned several popular adaptations including the musical Camelot and the cartoon movie The Sword and the Stone. It tells the story of Arthur's younger years at length, including adventures with Robin Hood and magical tales of Merlyn transforming young "Wart" into various animals for educational purposes.   During Arthur's adult years the book shifts to Lancelot's story, giving a surprisingly sympathetic and tender reading of the ugly knight's battle to choose between Guenevere and God. This version of the tale is by far the most charming I've read, written, you might imagine, by a kindly and wise old man not too different from Arthur's magical mentor. It is one of the funniest I've read, too; T.H. White invents a Merlyn that "lives backwards" in order to introduce all sorts of humorous anachronisms to the tale. Appropriate for both children and adults, this is probably my personal favorite of all the renditions of Arthurian legend.  

    the lost yearsTHE LOST YEARS
    by T.A. Barron
    (1996)  

    Previously known as The Lost Years of Merlin, this version is much less a retelling of the traditional Arthurian myth as a spinoff of it. It tells the story of a teenaged Merlin, who wakes up on a beach with no memory of his childhood. As he attempts to rediscover the memories of his lost years, he must weigh the words of Branwen, a woman who claims to be his mother, against his own doubts.   This is the first book in a YA series that follows an amnesiac Merlin in his quest to understand not only his past but the magical power inside him. He quickly discovers that power without control is terrifying thing, and that even a controlled power has the potential for either good or evil.   I would highly recommend this series for younger readers who have maybe seen The Sword in the Stone and are interested in finding out more about the character of Merlin. Though none of Merlin's adventures in The Lost Years can said to be cannonical, they all come from Welsh mythology and are steeped in the same lore that gave birth to the original Arthurian myth.  

    mists of avalonTHE MISTS OF AVALON
    by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    (1982)  

    Marion Zimmer Bradley tells the classic Arthurian tale with a unique twist: it is exclusively told from the perspective of women. It follows Igraine, Arthur's mother; Vivaine, the Lady of the Lake; Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's wife; and Morgaine, his half-sister; and tells the story of the rise and fall of Camelot from their conflicting viewpoints. A masterwork of new-wave feminism, it explores the sexuality of the Arthurian women, from Gwenhwyfar's supressed longing for the forbidden Lancelot to Morgaine's open promiscuity and celebration of the "life force." It also places the Arthurian legend at the turning point in history when religion was teetering between the ancient druidic customs and the new worship of Christ.

    The title refers to the fact that the isle of Avalon, where druids and priestesses of the old religion are schooled, is receding further and further from the rest of Britain, hidden behind a literal and metaphorical veil of mists. Arthur is pulled back and forth between ancient Goddess and Christ, and it is the women that surround and influence him that ultimately must make the decision of faith for all of Britain.  

    the seeing stoneTHE SEEING STONE
    by Kevin Crossley-Holland
    (2000)  

    This is the first book in a YA trilogy that tells the story of young Arthur de Caldicot, the unhappy second son of a knight, who is given a magical stone by the wizard Merlin. In the stone Arthur can watch the story of the legendary King Arthur, and the young de Caldicot is surprised as he finds more and more parallels between his own life and that of the legendary King. Eventually young Arthur decides that what he sees are the events of a parallel world, a reflection of his own, and that as the mirror to a legendary king, de Caldicot has the opportunity to be just as great.

    Extremely well-written for YA, I would recommend this series for both teens and adults interested in Arthurian legend or in the medieval period in general.

       

  • politics

    Most novels take place in a country, but readers hardly ever hear about the intricate dance that is international politics. In honor of an unusual political season, these are my five favorite fantasy novels that explore the political ramifications of the plot. These books combine the excitement of fantasy with the sense that our heroes’ choices matter in the larger world. 

    prince of thornsPRINCE OF THORNS
    by Mark Lawrence
    (2011)

    Prince Jorg Ancrath rebels against his father after his mother and younger brother are murdered. The series follows his quest for power and allies in a dark and magic scourged Europe. 

     

    promise of bloodPROMISE OF BLOOD
    by Brian McClellan
    (2013)

    Field Marshal Tamas stages a coup against his king and the revolution that follows provokes war with neighboring countries and with the deities wakened by the death of the monarchy. 

     

    captains furyCAPTAIN’S FURY
    by Jim Butcher
    (2007)

    After years of war with the invading Canim, Tavi of Calderon, now Captain of the First Aleran Legion, uncovers information about an even greater threat, and must risk everything to forge a desperate alliance between the Aleran and Cane to take on their mutual enemy. This is the third book in the Codex Alera series, and easily my favorite. Though I would recommend reading the two books before this one (because the series is great), a new reader can still understand and enjoy CAPTAIN’S FURY on its own.    

    wolfs eyesTHROUGH WOLF’S EYES
    by Jane Lindskold
    (2001)

    The king declares that a girl raised by wolves and found in the wilderness is in truth his lost granddaughter. ‘Firekeeper’ (or lady Blyss as she is renamed by the humans) finds her return to civilization complicated by the machinations of court, the counter-intuitive nature of cutlery, and ancient magic as the nobility scrambles to take advantage of the new potential heir.   

    into the stormINTO THE STORM
    by Taylor Anderson
    (2007)

    Set in 1942, the crew of an outdated destroyer flees from the Japanese offensive in the Pacific into a storm that transports them into a primitive alternate world, populated by strange creatures. The crew finds new civilizations and makes allies and enemies as a different world war brews with entirely different stakes. 

     

    Honorable Mentions:

    WHEEL OF TIME by Robert Jordan - Being the Chosen One is a lot more difficult when you have to wrangle countries on your way to fighting the Dark One!

    THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS by Jim Butcher - Airships, talking cats, and the possibility of war. Another book by Butcher, the semi-piratical protagonist accidentally gets drawn into the intrigue of an invasion plot.

    ELANTRIS by Brandon Sanderson - Arriving in the kingdom of Arelon to enter a marriage of state, princess Sarene discovers that her intended has died and that she is considered his widow, leaving her a lone force against the imperial ambitions of a religious fanatic.

  • gaslamp

    If you enjoy fantasy, historical fiction, romance, and intrigue, you may be unaware but you’re likely a Gaslamp Fantasy fan, also known as Gaslight Fantasy (but not to be confused with “gaslighting” which means to purposefully alter a person’s surroundings to make said person believe they are going crazy). Gaslamp Fantasy instead refers to stories that take place in Britain (or its former colonies) during the Regency, Victorian, or Edwardian time periods (just as gas lamp posts were being introduced to the seedy streets of London). Though similar to its Science Fiction cousin, Steampunk, Gaslamp lacks the science and machinery elements and has a firmer connection to a real time and place.

    Why would you want to read a Gaslamp Fantasy? Britain in the early 19th century combines well with fantasy elements as people still clung to their traditional beliefs at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. By using a historical setting, Gaslamp Fantasy also engenders a sense of emotional nostalgia. Add into that, witty dialogue, spirited heroes and heroines, and a bit of intrigue, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a book you can’t put down.

    So without further ado, here are some of my favorite Gaslamp Fantasy novels.

    majestysdragonHIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON
    by Naomi Novik
    (2006)

    Set during the Napoleonic Wars, this is the delightful story of stuffy yet true-hearted British Naval Captain, Will Laurence and precocious Temeraire, the dragon. While patrolling the seas, Captain Laurence and his crew take over a French frigate on its way back from the Orient and discover in the cargo an unhatched dragon egg. However, before the ship can make it back to land, the dragon hatches. Dragons must agree to be harnessed shortly after hatching or they become feral beasts. So when Temeraire agrees to take the harness from Laurence it means that he must give up the command of his ship and join His Majesty’s Aerial Corps to become the dragon’s aviator.

     

    sorcerercrownSORCERER TO THE CROWN
    by Zen Cho
    (2015)

    Set in the Regency Era and told from two characters’ perspectives, the book begins with Zacharias Wythe, a freed slave who has managed to become England’s Sorcerer Royal where he stands as Britain’s most influential magician. However, a national shortage of magic, tense relations with other magical world leaders, racial prejudice, and rumors that Zacharias murdered the previous Sorcerer Royal combine to endanger his position. The novel then switches to the perspective of Prunella Gentleman, the daughter of an English magician and an unknown Indian woman. She lives at a school where well-bred young ladies learn to subdue their magical abilities. Convention forbids these “gentlewitches” from practicing magic, as their weak frames could never withstand sustained magical effort. When Zacharias visits the school and witnesses both Prunella’s immense talent and the dangerous methods of suppression used there, he begins to question the longstanding ban.

     

    jonathanstrangeJONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL
    by Susanna Clarke
    (2004)

    Practicing English magicians have all but disappeared as the 19th century begins to unfold. Replacing practicing magicians are an aristocratic breed of theoretical magicians who dedicate their lives to studying magic but would never dream of sullying their family names by actually participating in a spell. Unbeknownst to these magicians, one lone man, Mr. Norrell, has decided to serve his country by bringing magic back to England. He is soon joined by Jonathan Strange, a young man who seems to have a natural gift for magic. Together, these two magicians set events in motion that could spell doom to the entire British Empire.

     

    shadesmilkandhoneySHADES OF MILK AND HONEY
    by Mary Robinette Kowal
    (2010)

    Jane and Melody are two sisters hoping to make advantageous marriages. A notable young lady in Regency England must not only be beautiful and carry herself with deportment but be accomplished in music, art, and magic by being able to weave the subtlest of glamours into her home and personage. It must not be anything too garish, just simple things like making the fire glow a little brighter or swaying trees in a painting. So how do two sisters find advantageous matches when Jane has all the talent and Melody has all the beauty?

     

     

    queenvictoriaQUEEN VICTORIA’S BOOK OF SPELLS
    edited by Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling
    (2013)

    Not ready to take the full plunge into the Gaslamp Fantasy sub-genre? Check out this anthology of short stories to explore a wide range of settings, characters, and themes by both newcomers and experts in the Gaslamp Fantasy realm.

  • CBF 2018 FB event

    I Love Jessica Day George! I credit her with being the one who helped my daughter discover that books could be fun and exciting to read. ( Which is one of the reasons I love her so much.) We read her book DRAGON SLIPPERS together and for the first time ever my daughter didn’t want to stop reading. What more could a parent ask for from an author?

    Her books were not only what got my daughter started reading, but they have kept her reading. She has become one of my personal favorites and many of her books sit on our bookshelves at home. Her books are perfect for anyone who enjoys reading fairytales with a twist, which I love, or stories with dragons and enchanting tales with a sprinkle of magic.  This year in celebration of  Children’s Book Festival, Jessica Day George will be coming to the Provo City Library. I am very excited to hear her talk about her new book THE ROSE LEGACY which is the perfect book for anyone who loves fantasy books about magical gifts and horses. I would recommend any of her books, but here is a list of my favorites:  

    4.30 Dragon SlippersDRAGON SLIPPERS
    (2007)

    Creel is an orphan living with her aunt and uncle, and she has no prospects for marriage. As a solution to what she sees as a big problem her aunt tells Creel to go to the dragon, who has a cave not far from their town, and sacrifice herself in hopes that a knight will come to rescue and marry her. But Creel isn’t a girl who will wait to be rescued.  She decides to conquer the dragon herself and goes into his cave to face her future.  She finds a friend in the dragon, and with a dragon's treasure in hand she begins a path which will change the course of her life. 

     

    4.30 Sun and Moon Ice and SnowSUN AND MOON, ICE AND SNOW
    (2008)

    Based on one of my favorite Nordic legends, EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON, this is the story of an impoverished girl who is offered riches for herself and her family if she will follow a polar bear to his home and remain there for a year. She agrees and begins a journey that she could never have imagined. During the year she spends in the castle of the bear she begins to unravel a mystery with a curse and finds a love she never imagined for herself.   

     

    4.30 Princess of the Midnight BallPRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL
    (2009)

    One of my daughter's favorite fairytales was The Twelve Dancing Princesses. In PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL, Jessica Day George has taken the traditional telling of the story and spun a new tale with delightful characters. She draws you into the royal family, where you begin to feel a connection with the twelve sisters and their struggles to undo a curse that was placed on their family many years ago. The perspective you gain from the oldest daughter makes you want to cheer them on as they dance their way to freedom. 

     

    4.30 Silver in the BloodSILVER IN THE BLOOD
    (2015)

    Do you know all of your family secrets? In the telling of this book you meet twin sisters, Dacia and Lou, who on their 17th birthday are told they must travel to Romania to meet their mother's relatives as well as their tyrant of a grandmother. They leave behind their life in 1890 New York society to embark on a treacherous journey.  While in Romania they discover dark family secrets and find that they are to take their place as one of the loyal servants of the Draculas. They must then decide if they have the courage to change their destiny. 

     

    4.30 Princess of GlassPRINCESS OF GLASS
    (2010)

    Poppy, one of the twelve sisters from PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL, hopes to escape the problems developing in her kingdom by offering to go on a royal exchange program. Poppy, who is one of my favorite fictional characters, has no idea what events are about to unfold for her. She finds herself involved in a plot laid out by a wicked fairy. Poppy is a beautiful dancer, but she despises dancing and has no happy memories of dancing at a ball. So when she is invited to a royal ball she reluctantly agrees to go but has no intention of dancing. However things may not go her way. This is an enchanting retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella and it will “Knit” you tightly into its clutches.

     
  •  magicalworld

     

    The success of the latest Harry Potter adventure shows that people are always fascinated by magic. Since even Harry’s kids are getting in on the magic phenomenon, here are five of our favorite magical series.

     

    mistbornMISTBORN
    by Brandon Sanderson
    (2006)

    An orphan, a pack of thieves, and an omnipotent God-ruler come together to make a fantastic epic. Underlying the Mistborn series are two detailed and well-thought out magic systems that run on consuming or touching metal. Sanderson’s works are all enhanced by the complexity of his magic systems, and the engaging plot of the Mistborn series makes it an all-time favorite.

     

    name of the windNAME OF THE WIND
    by Patrick Rothfuss
    (2007)

    As an adult, Kvothe is a washed-up innkeeper with a dark secret. When he’s discovered by a famous scribe, he tells the story of his youth as a storied magician and warrior who one day will be known as “the King Killer.” Kvothe’s magic is more subtle than others on this list; he’s primarily concerned with learning the name of the wind, which will allow him to control it. Rothfuss’ books are rich and complex, with a developed mythos and story-telling tradition.

     

    eye of the worldWHEEL OF TIME
    by Robert Jordan
    (2011)

    Most magic makes the lives of its users better, but for Rand al-Thor and the other men in Wheel of Time, magic causes insanity and death. The epic series follows Rand as he transforms from a simple farm boy into the hero who can defeat the Dark One. Wheel of Time is great because of its twin magic systems and diverse cast of characters. Unusual for a male author, some of the best developed and admirable of these are women.

     

    dresdenfilesTHE DRESDEN FILES
    by Jim Butcher
    (2000)

    A blend of fantasy and noir, the Dresden Files feature Harry Dresden, Wizard PI. Operating in Modern Chicago, Harry solves mysteries, fights off vampires, and tries to pay his rent. This series uses magic in a way that fans of the “other Harry” will recognize; the limits of wizards are only the limit of their imagination. This series is one of my personal favorites; you can pick it up with the first book, STORM FRONT, but the long-term plot gets really good in book 3.

     

    promise of bloodPROMISE OF BLOOD
    by Brian McClellan
    (2013)

    Inspired by the French Revolution, Promise of Blood follows Field Marshall Tamas as he overthrows a greedy monarch and tries to establish a free republic. Greedy allies, vengeful gods, and foreign cabals of mages are pitted against his unusually talented powder mages: men and women who draw their power from gunpowder.

     

     

  • russian folk

    There’s a reason why folktales today remain popular even though the oral storytelling traditions of the past have faded. Folktales have enchanted people for centuries and they help us understand human nature and explain our world.

    Russian and Slavic mythology contain a rich vein of folktales with their dark and often tragic stories of Baba Yaga, Father Frost, Vasilisa the Beautiful, Rusalka, and more. Recently, many of these stories are being explored and made into modern day adaptations, which are told from new angles or set during historical, real-world events such as the Bolshevik Revolution or the Soviet Union.

    Here are five of my favorite recent Russian or Slavic inspired folktales.

    11.10 The Bear and the NightingaleTHE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE 
    By Katherine Arden
    (2016)

    For generations, the noble Vladimirovich family has lived a difficult but peaceful life on the edge of a Russian forest. The family and the local villagers praise God in church on Sunday and leave offerings for the magical household who watch over their homes and stables throughout the week. Young Vasilisa Vladimirova has a peculiar gift, however. She can see and talk with these friendly spirits. When her new, fiercely devout stepmother arrives shortly after a captivating young priest, they demand that the villagers stop their idol worship and abandon their traditional practices. But as a particularly harsh winter sets in and the village nears starvation, Vasya knows she must ignore the wishes of father, stepmother, and priest to embrace her own power and seek the help of creatures from deepest folklore to help in her fight against the growing strength of the Bear.

    11.10 UprootedUPROOTED 
    By Naomi Novik
    (2015)

    A mysterious wizard known as the Dragon selects a young woman from a rural village near his tower every 10 years as payment for protecting the region from the malevolent influence of the evil Wood. Agnieszka, always muddy and disheveled, never thinks that she will be chosen, but when she is selected to serve the Dragon, she soon discovers she has a rare and powerful talent for magic. As Agnieszka's magic grows, her journey sends her on a deadly quest where she will experience the terrible intrigue of the royal court, a true and unbreakable friendship, and even a little romance.

     

    11.9 The Crowns GameTHE CROWN’S GAME 
    By Evelyn Skye
    (2016)

    In 1825 Russia, with unrest among the Kazakhs and the Ottoman Empire pressing from the South, the Tsar needs more help than his army and advisors can provide. Though few still believe in magic, Russia still has the ability to call an Imperial Enchanter. The problem is there are currently two enchanters, Vika Andreyevna who has been training her entire life to become Imperial Enchanter and Nikolai Karimov, best friend to the Tsarevich, Pasha, but who does not know of Nikolai’s ability. Because their powers come from the same source, only one can become Imperial Enchanter and wield this incredible power. To decide who will become Imperial Enchanter, the Tsar sets in motion the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill where each enchanter must show his or her inventiveness and strength. The victor will be declared the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. For the loser—instant death.

    11.10 Vassa in the NightVASSA IN THE NIGHT
    By Sarah Porter
    (2016)

    Set in a darkly magical version of a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, Vassa’s mother is dead and father gone. She lives with her uncaring stepmother and two stepsisters. In Vassa's neighborhood, magic is to be avoided and the nights have mysteriously started lengthening. One night after all their lightbulbs burn out, Vassa is sent by her stepsister to buy more. Baba Yaga, known as Babs, owns a local convenience store known for its practice of beheading shoplifting customers. So when Babs accuses Vassa of stealing, Vassa makes a deal to work as an indentured servant for three nights. During her time in the shop, Vassa begins to suspect that Babs’s magic may be connected to the growing imbalance between day and night affecting the city.

    11.10 Shadow and BoneSHADOW AND BONE 
    By Leigh Bardugo
    (2012)

    Alina and Mal were orphans, raised together after their parents died in the constant border wars in Ravka. Now they are in the army where Mal is an expert tracker and Alina a mediocre mapmaker. Their once great friendship isn't what it used to be. Their land is surrounded by enemies and divided by the Shadow Fold, a mysterious, magical darkness that seethes with flesh-eating monsters known as volcra. When a perilous mission takes them into the Shadow Fold, Alina manifests a powerful and rare ability to summon light that sets their whole world spinning and catches the attention of the Darkling, the head of the magical Grisha. Although Alina refuses to believe she has any power, she is taken to Os Alta, the capital, to learn to use her special gift. As her distance from Mal grows quite literally, she finds herself pulled into a more complex situation than she ever expected and must find if the light within her is strong enough to combat all the powers of darkness.

  • time travel

     

    The idea of time travel has fascinated readers since Mark Twain published A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT (though the earliest time travel novel was a Russian work, THE FOREBEARS OF KALIMEROS by Alexander Veltman). A common theme of time travel stories is the notion of free will, and if people and timelines can change. It’s common to wonder what life would be like if not for a single decision, be it large or small. So, in the spirit of existential exigencies, here are my top five time travel stories  

    invisible libraryINVISIBLE LIBRARY
    by Genevieve Cogman
    (2016)

    Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen. These librarians travel not only through time, but through alternative versions of Earths to achieve their objectives.  

     

     

    16321632
    by Eric Flint
    (2008)

    Time travel on the scale of a whole community. The small town of Grantville, USA finds itself carried through time and space to 17th century Germany, the epicenter of the Thirty Years War. Caught in the middle of one of the bloodiest wars in history, members of the town must struggle to reinvent and uphold the democratic values they treasure to endure a storm no one could foresee.  

     

     

     

    into the stormINTO THE STORM
    by Taylor Anderson 
    (2008)  

    Time travel on an evolutionary scale. A crew of sailors from the Second World War find themselves in a world where humans never evolved; instead the Earth (whose map is largely identical to our own) is populated by the endearing Lemurians, a race of sapient felinoid monkeys, and the terrifying Grik, a race of sapient velociraptors. The crew of the USS Walker must figure out how to survive in a world at war for survival itself.  

     

     

    timelineTIMELINE
    by Michael Crichton
    (1999)  

    A secretive corporation allows a group of archeologists to use their time machine to rescue a colleague lost in the year 1357. They have 37 hours to find him and come back, or they’ll be lost in the past forever!  

     

     

     

    time machineTIME MACHINE
    by HG Wells
    (1895)

    When a turn-of-the-century scientist builds a time machine, his perilous journey into the far distant future leads to the discovery of a strange and terrifying new world.  

  • dragons 01

    Find them in the catalog: 

    HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON

    A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS

    THE DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN

  • Harry Potter 01

    Find them in the catalog: 

    A DARK INHERITANCE 

    SPELL ROBBERS

    KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES 

  • It's a week full of dance and magic here at the Library; first, tonight we'll welcome Storyteller Wendy Gourley for a program called Story Dance, designed to help you explore story and movement (7:00 pm, Ballroom). Later in the week, of course, we'll transform the Library into a magical fairy world for our annual Fairy Tea. If that's not enough dance and magic for you, check out any of these three retellings of "Twelve Dancing Princesses." 

    12 Dancing Princesses 01

    Find them in the catalog: 

    PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL

    THE THIRTEENTH PRINCESS

    THE NIGHT DANCE

  • fantasy

    Parents of voracious readers have, no doubt, at some point found their children lost in the pages of a thick fantasy book.  It can be thrilling to see our kids (perhaps even those who have been labeled "reluctant readers") so consumed with a story that nothing else seems to matter.  Afternoons are oddly quiet, flashlights appear under the sheets at night, words like Quidditch, Ents, and Tumnus begin infiltrating their vocabulary, and there's the ever constant plea, "Hold on -- I'm almost done with the chapter!"  Huzzah!  They're reading!  And yet...there's an annoying little voice in the back of our minds wondering if all of that time spent in a world that isn't "real" is healthy.

    J.R.R. Tolkien once insisted in his essay "On Fairy Stories" that Fantasy is a "human right."  Why might he feel so strongly?

    The advantages of reading Fantasy come from the way it cultivates imagination and encourages readers to think outside the box.  It allows us to escape to a Secondary World and then to explore human values within that world.  In their book CHILDREN’S LITERATURE, BRIEFLY, BYU's own Michael Tunnell and James Jacobs write that “good fantasy actually tells the truth about life.  It clarifies the human condition and captures the essence of our deepest emotions, dreams, hopes, and fears.  If fantasy does not do these things, it fails” (121).  They also quote famed psychologist Bruno Bettelheim’s support of Fantasy in his statement that “fairy stories are not only safe for children, but also necessary…children may vicariously vent the frustrations of being a child controlled by an adult world, for they subconsciously identify with the heroes of the stories, who are often the youngest, smallest, least powerful characters” (109).  I would venture to guess that all of us (adults included), at times feel powerless and manipulated by situations that are out of our control.  Reading Fantasy just might help us to find our own strength within us.  And possibly the greatest advantage of the genre is its ability to captivate and provide adventure and pure enjoyment.  These sentiments are echoed by renowned Fantasy author Lloyd Alexander who stated that “realism walks where fantasy dances” (105).

    So let those kids keep reading!  Talk to them about why they love these stories so much, and ask which characters they relate to or admire.  Then maybe take a long overdue dance through Fantasy along with them.  Need a recommendation?  Check out our Children's Department Fantasy booklist!

    REFERENCE

    Tunnell, Michael O. and James S. Jacobs.  Children’s Literature, Briefly.  Columbus:  Pearson Education, 2008.  Print.

  •  Learning to Love Fantasy Again 2

    Growing up, I loved fantasy. Authors like Robin McKinley, Gail Carson Levine, Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, and, of course, J.K. Rowling captured my imagination and carried me off to magical worlds. I reread their books again and again, loving the immersion and escapism they offered.

    As an adult, I’ve found a few new favorites (Jessica Day George, Shannon Hale, and Cassie Beasley come to mind), but for the most part I’ve moved away from fantasy in favor of other genres. So many of the novels I’ve tried recently have disappointed me due to shallow world-building or a focus on romance at the expense of plot. I was beginning to wonder if, at the ripe old age of 29, I’m just too old and crotchety for fantasy.

    Fortunately, 2017 is changing my mind. This year, three novels in particular have blown me away with their beautiful writing, imaginative and vivid world building, and three-dimensional characters.

    9.7 The Bear and the NightingaleTHE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE
    By Katherine Arden
    (2017)

    This book, the first by author Katherine Arden, draws on Russian folklore to create an utterly engrossing story of a young girl who embraces magic at a time when it is being suppressed. I read THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE early in the year, but I can still picture the characters and setting with perfect clarity because the book is so beautifully written. Although this is a coming of age story, it is marketed to adults rather than teens, largely because the novel has its dark and creepy aspects. At turns playful, heartbreaking, comforting, scary, and suspenseful, THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE really is a wonderful book.

     

    9.7 The Black WitchTHE BLACK WITCH
    By Laurie Forest
    (2017)

    This Y.A. fantasy novel is CONTROVERSIAL. Though it received starred reviews from several review journals, it has also been excoriated by a few prominent book bloggers for being racist, homophobic, ableist, sexist, and more. So why is THE BLACK WITCH one of my favorite fantasy reads in years?

    As the book begins, its protagonist, Elloren Gardner undeniable exhibits all of the characteristics listed above, as do her family and the society in which she lives. As the book progresses, however, Elloren gradually comes to recognize that the history and prejudices she’s been raised with are inaccurate and cruel. This may be a book about a racist, but I don't feel like it's a racist book. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    This book may not be for everyone. Particularly for individuals who have been on the receiving end of prejudice, it's perfectly valid to not want to live in the mind of a prejudiced character for hundreds of pages. I believe, however, that THE BLACK WITCH has a valuable message about both how a racist (or homophobe, sexist, ableist, etc.) is made and how they can be unmade. Education and relationships with people who are different from herself are the keys to Elloren’s awakening (which isn’t perfectly complete at the end of the book – this is the first of a series, after all), and maybe through her story readers will confront their own unacknowledged prejudice and privilege. It certainly left me thinking deeply about difficult issues, something that you don’t always expect from Y.A. fantasy.

    On top of that, Laurie Forest is an excellent writer, creating a world with a complex history, fascinating cultures, and a vivid cast of characters. The complexity of the magical society she developed even reminds me of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world. I was riveted from the first page and finished this 600 page book within 48 hours.

    9.7 Strange the DreamerSTRANGE THE DREAMER
    By Laini Taylor
    (2017)

    STRANGE THE DREAMER may just have the most unique, vivid, and gorgeous world-building I’ve ever encountered in a fantasy novel.  Lazlo Strange, a poor, orphaned young man, has fixated on the lost city of Weep since childhood. Though others say Weep is simply a myth, Lazlo pours his heart into researching the mysterious city, desperate to uncover its secrets. The story is difficult to do justice to in a synopsis, but count on this novel for dreams, nightmares, adventure, romance, mystery, and plenty of plot twists.

    Plus, the main character is a librarian, which is certainly a point in his favor. I <3 Lazlo Strange.

     

     

  • sanderson alikes

     

    So you’ve already read all of Brandon Sanderson’s books.  In fact, you’ve read everything he’s ever written, including the novellas. Now you’re bored out of your mind waiting for the next STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE book to come out because it’s taking FOREVER. So, what do you read? Well, there’s always WHEEL OF TIME. But either you’ve already read that (being the good Sanderson fan that you are) or you couldn’t muscle your way past Robert Jordan’s ridiculous verbosity. There are classics out there like LORD OF THE RINGS and David Eddings’ BELGARIAD, but to be honest, they’re a little slow. You want something new, something fresh, something that’s going to keep you turning pages until two in the morning. You know, something Sanderson-esque. Well, there aren’t any exact duplicates out there, but there are some that come pretty close. Here is a list of books that pass the “Sanderson test”—they’re Fantasy at its most engaging, most well-written, most complex, and most downright fun to read.

     

    goblin emperorTHE GOBLIN EMPEROR
    By Katherine Addison
    (2014)

    The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile. But when his father and three older brothers are killed, he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

    Sanderson Score: 3/5

    Though I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it had a great critical reception (it was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards), it has a lot less action than a Sanderson fan might expect. Sanderson does a little bit of court intrigue, but this book is ALL court intrigue. The writing is fairly good, but the formal “court language” has a lot of “thou” and “canst not,” which is a little annoying at first.

    Cleanliness: On par with Sanderson. So pretty clean!

     

    furiesofcalderonFURIES OF CALDERON
    By Jim Butcher 
    (2004)

    In the land of Alera, where people bond with the furies--elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal--young Tavi struggles to cope with his lack of magical talent.

    Sanderson Score: 5/5

    Not only does this book have an engaging plot set in a detailed world, it also has a totally unique Sanderson-esque magic system! The writing is fairly good and mostly disappears behind the plot and characters.

    Cleanliness: On par with Sanderson. So pretty clean!

     

    wizardsfirstruleWIZARD’S FIRST RULE
    By Terry Goodkind
    (1994)

    A beautiful woman falls into Richard Cypher’s life shortly after his father’s violent murder. When she reveals that her quest is to find the legendary Seeker of Truth to stop the evil Darken Rahl, Richard agrees to help.

    Sanderson Score: 4/5

    Though this book is older than the others and draws on a lot more classic fantasy tropes than Sanderson ever would, Goodkind problematizes those tropes in a very modern way. He adds moral quandaries and self-doubt to his good characters in a way that reminds me of Dalinar in THE WAY OF KINGS. Overall, though, I would only recommend this one if you enjoyed THE WHEEL OF TIME in addition to Sanderson’s other works, since that means you have more of a taste for 90s fantasy epics like this one.

    Cleanliness: Like in Sanderson, Goodkind’s characters use made-up swear words. The violence is a bit more graphic than Sanderson, though, and the second half of the book includes a dominatrix named Denna who might offend those sensitive to sexual content.

     

    princeofthornsPRINCE OF THORNS
    By Mark Lawrence
    (2011)

    After years leading a band of bloodthirsty thugs, Prince Jorg Ancrath returns to his father’s castle to reclaim his birthright, but faces magic and treachery once he arrives.

    Sanderson Score: 4/5

    Prince of Thorns is pretty engaging right from the start, with Jorg gloating over a town he has just ravaged and already making plans for his future rise to power. The night I read my sample of this one I actually stayed up until 2am because I couldn’t put it down. The main difference between this and Sanderson is that while Sanderson’s characters are usually fundamentally good, Jorg is fairly evil. You’re definitely rooting for him to become king, especially after everything that’s happened to him, but he frequently will cut up his comrades simply because they annoy him.

    Cleanliness: First, violence. There’s a lot of it, and it’s fairly graphic. Second, swearing. There is plenty of the word “fecking,” mixed in with some actual swears. Third, sexual content. Jorg’s thugs definitely participate in the rape part of rape and pillage and the group visits a lot of whore houses when they’re in town. If those things don’t deter you, though, (and it’s nothing as bad as GAME OF THRONES) you’re in for a treat.

     

    lockelamoraTHE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA
    By Scott Lynch
    (2006)

    Sold into a crew of thieves as a child, Locke Lamora’s natural gifts soon make him an underworld celebrity. Forming a crew of Gentleman Bastards as an adult, he vows to take down the city’s crime boss.

    Sanderson Score: 5/5

    A cross between OLIVER TWIST and the first MISTBORN, this book has everything going for it in terms of plot, characters, and writing. It’s the best written fantasy I’ve picked up in ages, and it manages to capture everything good about the first MISTBORN book while remaining true to its own unique style.

    Cleanliness: Swearing. Big time. A lot. More than I’ve read in any book in quite some time.

     

    promiseofbloodPROMISE OF BLOOD
    By Brian McClellan
    (2013)

    After staging a coup, Field Marshal Tamas inadvertently provokes a war with the Nine Nations, forcing him to rely on his estranged son and a retired police inspector.

    Sanderson Score: 5/5

    This book is actually written by one of Brandon Sanderson’s writing protégés. McClellan attempts to capture Sanderson’s style while putting his own fantasy spin on the French revolution. Though the writing is occasionally rough (it feels like a first novel—lots of potential but not yet polished), the magic system is super cool, and Sanderson himself called the book “Just plain awesome.”

    Cleanliness: Very close to Sanderson levels. There is a tiny bit of swearing, but not much.

     

    hismajestysdragonHIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON
    By Naomi Novik
    (2006)

    When the HMS Reliant captures an unhatched dragon egg, Captain Will Laurence is swept into a kinship with it and joins the elite Aerial Corps.

    Sanderson Score: 3/5

    This one is a little out of the box, since it’s a historical fantasy that takes place during the Napoleonic Wars rather than an epic high fantasy. It’s engaging, the characters are compelling, and though it isn’t a mirror copy of something Sanderson would write, I still think that most of his fans would find it well worth a read.

    Cleanliness: On par with Sanderson. So pretty clean!  

     

    swordofthebrightladySWORD OF THE BRIGHT LADY
    By M.C. Planck 
    (2014)

    After stumbling into a magical medieval universe, mechanical engineer Christopher Sinclair agrees to serve as a priest and solider to the Bright Lady.

    Sanderson Score: 3/5

    My main beef with this book is its ultra-choreographed beginning. Christopher has to wonder if he’s dreaming at least 50 times before he finally gets with the program. Once he does, though, things get better. There’s definitely a fun CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT aspect to it where Christopher uses his knowledge of modern technology to his advantage in a medieval world. It also has some nice moral ambiguity thrown in, since the decision between siding with the goddess of healing or siding with the god of war is more complex than it first appears. Definitely not as well written as Sanderson’s stuff, but still pretty popular with his crowd.

    Cleanliness: On par with Sanderson. So pretty clean!  

     

    name of the windTHE NAME OF THE WIND
    By Patrick Rothfuss
    (2007)

    A magically gifted young man named Kvothe recounts his transformation into the world’s most notorious wizard, musician, thief, and assassin.

    Sanderson Score: 5/5

    You’ve probably read this one already. If you haven’t, you need to. This book is not only the best fantasy of the 21st century (yes, I’ll fight you over that), it has also has this ringing endorsement from Sanderson himself: “Masterful.... There is a beauty to Pat's writing that defies description.” 

    Cleanliness: The first book is just as clean as Sanderson, but the second book does have a good amount of sexual content.