Fantasy has been, in recent years, criticized for being too series-dominant. Few authors write stand-alone fantasy novels, and instead you end up with every time you read a new book you end up embroiled in yet another trilogy, of six book series. I suppose that can be frustrating...but not in this case. After reading Unsouled and Soulsmith, I was glad there was another book to read in the Cradle series.
I don't want to spoil anything in the excerpt, so you'll actually need to click on the post if you want to know what this one is all about...
Unsouled, and the Cradle series as a whole, is described as something called martial arts fantasy. The magic system has defined levels of skill, with each skill level gaining distinct abilities and possessing unique attributes. It's not a design that I generally prefer, but it worked well in Unsouled. Which matters, because Unsouled is not necessarily the kind of book that you read for the compelling characters or political drama. You read it for the vivid magical fights.
There's something about dragons that stirs the imagination. Whether they're vicious wyrms, wise, ancient lords, or symbiotic fire lizards, dragons of all shapes and forms seem somehow fascinating (this may have something to do with why so many people go through a "dinosaur phase," which begs the question if fantasy authors writing about dragons simply never quite grew out of it). This can result in dragons, like dwarves, trolls, elves, and other creatures that frequently populate pages in various forms, that seem flat, one-dimensional, or simply indistinct. How many times can we read about how the dragons almost disappeared, but then someone finds and egg and returns the symbiotic dragonriders? So any time I come across a new and interesting take on dragons, I get excited.
A lot of very strange things can, and do, happen on a world that is flat, and is carried on the backs of four elephants perched upon the shell of the great turtle A'Tuan. Terry Pratchett's world and stories seem, on the surface, to be plainly fun. And they are that. Lighthearted and amusing, his stories don't feel heavy, but despite their facade, they in many cases convey unexpected significance. The well-meaning Watch Captain Vimes does just that as he investigates a dwarfish murder.
After five books, Brent Weeks's Lightbringer series concluded with The Burning White, which I reviewed in the previous post. Since it is the end of a series, I wanted to do a review of the series as a whole, to accompany the review of the final book.
I will fully admit that I devoured The Burning White after my re-read of the Lightbringer series, by Brent Weeks. I'll be posting a review of that book, specifically, here, and will also make a later post reviewing the series as a whole. Now, I'm not some kind of literary critic, but I have read a lot of genre fiction, and I have a good idea of what I like to see. That being said, what I like to see may not be the same as what you like to see.
Ultra-tough, misunderstood desert cultures can be a slightly overused trope in fantasy writing, especially alternative world fantasy. They often crop up as the much-needed army for the beset hero, at just the right time, after the hero properly impresses them and meets some ancient prophecy. It might be that the origin of this tendency lies with DUNE.
The Unfettered anthologies are collections of short stories collected and set forth by Shawn Speakman, and are something of a "who's who" of fantasy writers. Genre heavyweights like Terry Brooks, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and dozens of others have contributed stories to the anthologies since the first Unfettered was released.