I’ve been busy! Between the Barnes & Noble SFF Blog and Tor.com, I’ve got a handful of reviews, a retrospective, and a roundup of books for fans of my favourite new show, The Dragon Prince.
First up is 10 Books to Satisfy Fans of Netflix’s The Dragon Prince on the Barnes & Noble SFF Blog. The Dragon Prince is my favourite TV show since Avatar: The Last Airbender—so, to celebrate the release of its second season, I’ve gathered 10 books that are sure to satisfy fans while they wait for the show’s (still unannounced…) third season.
An excerpt from my round up:
The Books of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Le Guin’s dragons, which Hugo-nominated author and B&N SFF Blog favorite Max Gladstone once described as “the gold standard,” are next to none. They are complex, beautiful, powerful, and melancholy, and they serve many purposes throughout Le Guin’s work, far beyond the standard “gold-hoarding monster” trope. More recently, legendary artist Charles Vess described how it took him years to get Le Guin’s dragons just right. There’s a deeply rooted sense of wisdom in all of Le Guin’s books, but it is perhaps through her dragons that this element of her writing is best embodied. Le Guin redefined what a dragon could be, and we’re still experiencing the rippling effect of her influence over the genre in series like Robin Hobb’s The Realm of the Elderlings or Naomi Novik’s Temeraire.
(If you’re unfamiliar with The Dragon Prince—boy, are you in for a treat.)
Also on the Barnes & Noble SFF Blog, I’ve got a review of Charlie Jane Anders’ superlative new novel, The City in the Middle of the Night. I’ll be shocked if this doesn’t end up headlining every award ballot next year.
There’s a hell of a quote from Pulitzer Prize-winner Andrew Sean Greer adorning the cover of The City in the Middle of the Night, the new novel by Nebula Award-winner Charlie Jane Anders. The book is “a breathtaking work of imagination and storytelling… making the cast for Anders as this generation’s Le Guin,” he writes. That’s high praise. The highest praise: Ursula K. Le Guin’s legacy is based not only on her reputation as one of the most influential science fiction and fantasy writers of the last century, but on the deep humanity of her work, which brilliantly explores, with fantastical trappings, transcendent truths of living within and outside of society, and in your own head.
Rounding out my work on Barnes & Noble SFF Blog is a retrospective of Daniel Abraham’s brilliant The Long Price Quartet:
Among the very best of these recent completed series is Daniel Abraham’s The Long Price Quartet, which includes A Shadow in Summer, A Betrayal in Winter, An Autumn War, and The Price of Spring. Though initially something of a slow-starter (while critically acclaimed, the books had a hard time reaching readers, such that the final volume was never released as a standalone paperback), they have become something of a cult classic—passed around among those in the know, a true fantasy reader’s fantasy. Late last year, Tor Books collected all four volumes into a single omnibus, offering a truly effortless way for a wider swath of readers to discover a story that truly deserves their attention.
Over on Tor.com, I’ve reviewed a couple R.A. Salvatore projects set in his Corona/DemonWars Saga universe. The first is his newest novel, Reckoning of Fallen Gods, the follow-up to last year’s Child of a Mad God, which levels up the series in almost every way.
Reckoning of Fallen Gods is a terrific follow-up to Child of a Mad God, and a worthy addition to Salvatore’s Corona universe. It takes many of the elements that made its predecessor sing, and improves upon its flaws. It takes the themes established in Child of a Mad God and expands upon them, folding them into a narrative that feels more epic and consequential, with all the scope of the DemonWars Saga. Whether it’s memorable characters, intense fight scenes, conflicted, complex explorations about the price of power and change, or a magic system that can stand up to any other in the genre, Reckoning of Fallen Gods has everything fans have come to expect of Salvatore’s best books.
Next up is an older novella called “The Education of Brother Thaddius” that’s found new life in the paperback release of Child of a Mad God. It’s a treat for longtime DemonWars Saga fans, but might not hit so well with newcomers.
While it’s always fun and interesting to join Salvatore on his thematic explorations—this is one of the best elements of his Drizzt novels, for instance—it’s difficult to recommend The Education of Brother Thaddiusto readers who aren’t already intimately familiar with DemonWars. Many of the characters, plot points, and themes piggy-back directly on those introduced in DemonWars, and, I expect, lose a lot of their value without that important context. As a long-time fan of the series, I found so much value in returning to the world and its characters, in seeing how they’d changed, how my relationship with them had evolved over the past 15 years, and also how I’d change in the interim.