The Library Fantastic

Fantasy

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River of Stars 4
by Guy Gavriel Kay
River of Stars

A new novel by Gay Gavriel Kay is something that I (and Elio) always look forward to with eager anticipation. We have been fans of his writing since the Fionavar Tapestry, which remains my favourite work of his (indeed, it may be my favourite fantasy series of all times) even though the later novels undeniably are more polished. There’s something about the rawness of the Fionavar Tapestry that always gets me. Of course, it is also a much more traditional work of fantasy than any of his other later novels (save for Tigana) and I am, first and foremost, a reader of fantasy. At the heart of my…

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A Companion to Wolves 4
by Sarah Monette (with Elizabeth Bear)
A Companion to Wolves

A Companion to Wolves, a collaboration between Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear, is set in a harsh, northern land were men bonded to huge wolves defend their lands and their wolfless kin from great trolls and wyverns. But the wolfbrothers are not well regarded by the wolfless, not the least because the bonding between man and wolf is so close that when the wolves mate, so do the men—with each other. Njall, a jarl’s son, is chosen as tithe to the wolfbrothers, but his father resents him for going and Njall himself is anything but certain about his choice. At first, his sense of honour is what…

The Mirador 4
Part 3 of The Doctrine of Labyrinths
by Sarah Monette
The Mirador

The Mirador picks up two years after the end of The Virtu, which concluded a major story arc for Felix and Mildmay (though not without leaving some interesting threads dangling). But while the two characters were more beset by trouble in the previous two volumes, it is in this volume that it really becomes apparent how damaged they are. In particular, Felix. While he was afflicted by the madness resulting from being used to break the Virtu, it was no surprise to see him going through some difficulties. Here, however, its made clear that his issues go so much deeper and that they won’t simply…

Kushiel’s Justice 4
Part 5 of Kushiel's Legacy
by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Justice

Love as thou wilt. That was the only thing that Blessed Elua asked of his scions. But when politics and the fate of realms enter into the picture that is not always such an easy command to follow.

Against his expectations as well as his wishes, Imriel finds himself in love with Sidonie, his own kin as well as the heir to the throne of Terre d’Ange. Worse, his love is reciprocated, Sidonie’s dislike for him having turned into desire. But even if Queen Ysandre has never blamed Imriel for being the son of traitors, she would never dream of allowing him to wed her daughter. Too many people in…

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Ysabel 4
by Guy Gavriel Kay
Ysabel

A new book from Guy Gavriel Kay is always a treat, and a rare one at that, as there’s always quite a few years between them. Given this, one tends to build up fairly high expectations, which isn’t always fair to the book (or the author) as these expectations often end up being heavily based in one’s own preferences as a reader. First impressions of a book are particularly vulnerable to comparisons between what is and what was expected. No wonder, perhaps, that this review has already been tweaked twice. First I reworked it slightly based on some feedback that led me to conclude that I had not…

Melusine 4
Part 1 of The Doctrine of Labyrinths
by Sarah Monette
Melusine

To begin with, I would advise anyone considering Mélusine to also pick up the sequel, The Virtu, and read the two back-to-back. My understanding is that they were originally intended as one book, and while I enjoyed both of them when reading them a few months apart, I think they would read even better treated as a single book as together they form a distinct story arc where what is now the second volume brings the conclusion of many plot threads opened in the first.

However, in the end that is not how they were published, and with that in mind, this review attempts to focus on Mélusine. In…

The Virtu 4
Part 2 of The Doctrine of Labyrinths
by Sarah Monette
The Virtu

As I noted in the review for Mélusine, The Virtu and it were apparently originally intended as one book rather than two separate volumes. And, as I also noted, this does show. The Virtu picks up pretty might right where Mélusine ended, with Felix’s sanity and his powers restored. Half the journey has been completed, and what remains now for him and Mildmay is to return home to Mélusine so that Felix may attempt to mend the Virtu, broken with his powers but not by him in the first book.

The main problem with The Virtu is that it feels a little too short. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I would…

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Kushiel’s Avatar 4
Part 3 of Kushiel's Legacy
by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Avatar

Since stopping Melisande’s plot to overthrow Queen Ysandre, Phèdre has had ten years of peace together with Joscelin. However, all that time the shadow of Hyacinthe has still hung above her, and she has never stopped trying to find a way to release him from the task he took upon himself. Other concerns have nagged at her mind too, such as the whereabouts of Melisande’s hidden son, third in line for the throne of Terre d’Ange. These two matters then become inseparably linked as Melisande sends for Phèdre, and reveals to her that Imriel, her son, has gone truly missing. Now she wants Phèdre to…

Kushiel’s Chosen 4
Part 2 of Kushiel's Legacy
by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel’s Chosen

In the second book of Kushiel’s Legacy, the story of Phèdre is given a worthy continuation, though in many ways it is a very different book from the first one. This was to some extent unavoidable, however, given that Kushiel’s Dart was focused around Phèdre’s coming-of-age. Here, however, we meet a more mature heroine. Following the events of the first book, Phèdre is living a relatively quiet life in the countryside, something that probably would have started to wear thin sooner or later, save perhaps for the distraction offered by her continued attempts to search for a way to free her…