The Victorian Hawk Dragon provides reviews of fantasy books.
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring - Part Two
No indeed, the Elves do not! But what of Men, can they throw back the Darkness of Sauron, all by themselves? For a Time, does this Classic Fantasy Tale, appear to suggest (at least to me), that Men very well can! Or perhaps instead, I to (like Boromir), was under the Spell of Darkness, and the Power of the One Ring, to Rule them All:
For the forth point, on why this is one of the best, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Novels, that you can ever read - is it's range of Dark Fantasy Creatures ... At the Head is Sauron, a Dark Sorcerer, whose Magnificence of Old, is only hinted at (within this Tale). Even so, did I quite enjoy, the Chapter called The Council of Elrond, as it lays the seeds, for the Character of Sauron, in the Later Days of Middle-Earth. He wants the Ring, the One Ring that he made, the One Ring, that he placed much of his Sorcerers Powers in! For me, the One Ring, goes hand-in-hand, with Sauron's most prominent, Dark Fantasy Creatures - his nine Black Riders. Who are akin to Phantoms, with no physical form, other than Dark Visage in a Cloak. They wield Blades, that are both Cruel and Evil. I shuddered when Frodo was wounded (by such a Blade), at the thought of what he could become - a Wraith of some-kind! I feel that Frodo was right, when he chooses to avoid the Black Riders, even though doing so, meant entering the Old Forest (the lesser of two Evils). I found myself sitting, on the edge of my seat, when Frodo was racing for Rivendell (the Elven home of Elrond), with Black Riders chasing him! Added to this, are Sauron's Black Dragons (although here in this Tale, is it just the briefest of glimpses - with a bow shot from Legolas, downing the Dragon). And yet, are there also, other Dark Fantasy Creatures, at work within Middle-Earth - although I feel, that they have no direct knowledge, of the One Ring itself (and thus, do not directly, answer to Sauron). For example, I liked the Orcs and Goblins of Moria, together with the concept of the Balrog (a large Fire Breathing Western Dragon of a Daemon) - who to me, is one of the Oldest of the Old. An Elemental Dragon/Daemon, that lives in the Hottest Fires of the Earth. Yet do I find, that both the Balrog, and the One Ring, have a connection (at least in a saying): Delve Too Deep in Greed, and Pay the Price! The Black Riders delved too deep - what once was King, now Phantom of the Night (and Day!). The Dwarves delved too deep - what once was Moria, was lost to Dark (Durin's Bane - a Balrog!). And of the Wraiths? The Barrow-wights, sent a shiver down my spine! As there's something Unnatural, about former Kings, and Warriors of Old, that feel that they, still have a Hold, on the Living. Wake up Frodo! Fifth: is it's range of Fantasy Swords ... I've always liked the idea of Magical Swords, and the background build-up, to the Sword of Elendil, is no exception: a Sword that was shattered, upon an enemy of Old (Sauron), that is reforged, and renamed Anduril (Flame of the West), the Weapon of Kings (borne by Aragorn) - made me want one :) Added to this, is Gandalf's sword, Glamdring - which I for one, have long desired, to look upon! Yet, do I like the fact that Glamdring (borne by the mighty), is also matched by Frodo's short-sword Sting (borne by the lesser/Little People), as both gleam/glow blue, when in the presence of Orcs - which if you think about it, would be slightly scary, whilst deep in the Mines of Moria! Sixth: is it's range of Fantasy Castles ... For me, there's four that immediately spring to mind: i) Rivendell. The Fantasy Realm of the Elves, with it's Last Homely Gardens, and it's Waterfalls of Sea in Dream, and it's Ford of Guardian Horses (in Force of Water - commanded by Elrond). I liked the idea, of Powerful Elf Lords in Rivendell, that could resist the Darkness, at least for a Time :) ii) Minas Tirith. The City of Men, the City of Kings, that is foremost in the Defence, against Sauron's Armies. I to (like Frodo), found Hope growing in me, at the description of Minas Tirith (within this Tale) - especially at the mention, of it's Towering Battlements :) iii) Minas Morgul. Is perhaps the clearest indication to me, of the One Rings power to Corrupt, as what once was Good, fell into Ruin (owing to the neglectfulness of Men), and became a Fortress of Darkness! I did not like the thought, of both Fear and Dread, to be found there - in the plenty. iv) Lothlorien - not a Castle as such, more a Stronghold in the Trees of the Elves. I liked the idea, that the Elves of Lothlorien, climb upwards, and live in a Kingdom amongst the Treetops :) As to me, a City in the Trees, feels like a strong connection, to the Roots of the Earth, and Nature. Seventh: is the Hobbits themselves ... I found myself, constantly amazed in this Tale, that the Affairs of the Mighty (such as Wizards, Kings and Sorcerers), are at the Mercy, of the Little People: Frodo Baggins, and his trusty companion - Sam Gamgee :) For even with all of Sauron's Might, he can't find a Hobbit! But Gandalf can, yet bows to Frodo - for Frodo is the Ring Bearer :) As chosen by - the One Ring. And what of Merry and Pippin? I find these two Hobbits, to be of less importance (especially in the second half of the Tale), but Gandalf holds them in High Respect. I like this, because the Good Deeds of the Tiny, can unravel the Dark Deeds, of the Mighty :) Overall: An amazing, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Novel, that took me longer to read, than I had expected - as I reread several parts (especially the Mines of Moria). I also feel, that there's a deliberate shift, in the concept of the Main Fantasy Character (as you read this Tale). It's always Frodo, but at the beginning, I thought for a while, that it was Gandalf - until he met his match! I especially like the fact, that this Fantasy Tale, is a David verses Goliath, that's played out on a bigger scale - with Powerful Elements, on both sides :) Finally: The One Ring, is a Ring of Power, is a Quest of Power, between Good and Evil - whose Fate is most directly, in the Smallest Hands of the Land, the Underdog: Frodo Baggins :)
The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring - Part One
A Classic Fantasy Tale, with a range of Fantasy Characters (including Elves, Dwarves and Men), that sees a Quest of Power, through the Roots of Adventure, in the Darkest Days of Middle-Earth. With a guiding Wizard, and a bare foot Hobbit (one of the Little People), it's The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring:
I've always thought, that this is one of the best, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Novels, that you can ever read :) There's several reasons for this ... First: is it's use of Humour ... I found myself laughing, when Sam (one of the Hobbits), is pulled through the Window (by Gandalf the Wizard), after having eavesdropped, and making out that he hadn't - he was cutting the Lawn you see! I also laughed, when Gimli the Dwarf, tasted some Cram (a Travellers Bread), having not believed, that it will taste very nice (even raising an eyebrow) - then promptly eating, the whole piece! I also found humour, in the strangest of places, such as when Gandalf had nearly been destroyed - well, well, he flew down some stairs, after encountering a foe, that he could not best, whilst joking about it! Second: is it's range of Fantasy Locations ... First and Foremost, my favourite is the Dwarven Mine/City of Moria. I especially liked the Ancestry of Moria, that it was once the most prized, of all the Dwarven Realms (owing to it's Mining of Mithril - the Dwarven Wonder Metal), which was in-turn lost, to the Orcs/Goblins and Durin's Bane (a large Fire Breathing Western Dragon of a Daemon, that even the Elves Fear). Moria is now a dark place, which Gandalf leads our Adventurers through, with his Bobbing Wizards Staff of Light (akin to a Will-o'-the-wisp). I especially liked the idea, of Moria's Dwarven Doors, that can only be seen in Moonlight (and opened with a specific word/phrase). I also found comedy here, as I laughed at Gandalf, being outwitted by a door! Of Moria itself, did I like the idea of staircases hewn from stone, together with cavernous pillars (that defined a City in Starlight), together with Tombs of the Fallen (still blessed in daylight), and Treasures of the Deepest Mines (that Dwarves still dream of). I also liked, what I feel was the reason that Moria was built (by the Dwarves) in the first place - a Magical Lake (called the Mirrormere), which Shines with Stars in it's Waters so Deep :) It is with some irony then, that although I love the Green Places of this World, that I have often felt a Desire, to explore the Dark Halls of Moria myself! In stark contrast to Moria, are the Fantasy Woods, of the Old Forest. It's a mythical place, that Tales of Old, used to scare young Hobbits with - and yet, Frodo Baggins (the main Fantasy Character of this Tale), decides to venture that very way :) Now I like Woods, and I like Trees, but the Trees of the Old Forest, are not like other Trees (they can move/walk, and they can talk/be-spell) - it's Old Man Willow you see. He's a Magical Willow Tree, who does not have the Hobbits best interests at heart! Although I find the Old Forest to be a Dark Place (perhaps even more so than Moria), it leads to one of my favourite Fantasy Characters - Tom Bombadil :) He's such a fun/comedy element, that it's hard to feel all Dark and Gloomy, when he's around (especially with that Bobbing Hat of his!). Now it feels to me, as though Tom is some kind of Nature Fairy (as he's always been concerned with Trees) - yet even if he isn't, then his sidekick (Goldberry), is certainly a Water Fairy :) In any case, I like the fact, that both Tom and Goldberry, tend to the Old Forest, and look after Frodo (after Old Man Willow, gets his Roots to him). To me, the Old Forest feels as though, it's full of Magic - both Good and Evil, that's just kind-of mixed together, in it's raw, natural form. It's a powerful place, that I feel, could have played a larger part in the Tale (together with Tom Bombadil). Third: is it's range of Fantasy Characters ... The Fellowship of the Ring, is itself comprised of a Motley Crew: four Hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin), two Men (one called Aragorn, one called Boromir), one Elf (called Legolas), one Dwarf (called Gimli), and Gandalf (the Wizard). I like the idea of the Fellowship (aka our Adventurers), because it is a contradiction - you have powerful members (such as Gandalf and Aragorn), mixed with weaker members (such as Merry and Pippin). Whilst in the middle, do you have members that are a bit of both: both in terms of alignment (such as Legolas is to Trees and Nature, whilst Gimli is to Stone and Anvil), and in terms of not judging a book by it's cover (such as Frodo at first appearing weak, but over time, does Frodo become the appointed/recognised strongest, Ring Bearer). Of these Fantasy Characters, would I say that my favourite is Gandalf, though I wouldn't normally like Wizards! Gandalf is an exception, for he's more like a Warlock - a Wizard and a Warrior, all rolled into one :) Next would there be Aragorn - as I like the fact, that he is descendant from Kings (although I'm not so keen, on his Strider personality, in the earlier parts of the Tale). Then would there be Gimli, as there's a fair amount of humour, surrounding his character: A Dwarf! Which plays right into, the grievances between Dwarves and Elves (with several twists in friendship, along the way). In any case, I especially like the portrayal of Elves within this Tale. I like their connection with Nature (especially of the Woods, plus Spells of the Sea), and I like the fact, that there's at least three, families of Elves found, within Middle-Earth: those from Rivendell (who were there at the start, when Darkness first showed it's face), those from Mirkwood (who still have dealings with Men, and is the home of Legolas), and those from Lothlorien (who Guard a Treasure of Middle-Earth, and befriend the Fellowship). I also liked the way, that the Elves are used, to underline an important point/theme (within the Tale): the Elves may be Powerful, blessed to live much longer than Men, skilled in the Art of Combat (especially Bow and Arrow) - yet just like the rest of Middle-Earth, they do not have the power, to throw back the Darkness/Evil by themselves! Or do they?
This Classic Fantasy Tale, sees a Quest for Treasure, in the Lost Kingdoms of the Dwarves, with a Guardian Fire Drake of the North, who goes by the name of Smaug. It's The Hobbit:
Whilst it had been quite some time, since I'd last read The Hobbit, I was amazed with the amount of humour, that's found within it's opening chapters (particularly the very first - An Unexpected Party). I especially found it funny, when the leader of the Dwarves (Thorin Oakenshield), ended up with several of his fellow Dwarves, right on top of him - when The Hobbit (aka Bilbo Baggins), abruptly opened his front door :) I also liked the fact, that Bilbo initially has no idea, as to what is going on - why are all these Dwarves here? But soon finds himself, pouring over a Treasure Map, wondering where the Secret Door is! Which in-turn, leads to Bilbo and the start of his Adventures - having just been recruited by the Dwarves (based upon the recommendation, of Gandalf the Wizard). And it is this recommendation, that I feel captures the Heart and Soul, of this Fantasy Tale ... As The Hobbit does not at first, appear to be the best companion, for Thorin and his Dwarves - let alone their Quest! For one simple reason: The Hobbit / Bilbo Baggins, has only ever read about Adventures in books - preferring instead, to put his feet up, and have his second breakfast :) Indeed, is this low opinion of Bilbo, held by Thorin Oakenshield, and several of his Dwarves - which plays right into, Bilbo's desire to prove them all wrong :) And as such, did I enjoy the irony (that is experienced), as Bilbo's character, becomes central to the Tale - even gaining a Strength of Character, that supersedes the Dwarves (as eventually, he is more of an advisor to them). I found this particularly true, in three specific places: i) When Bilbo rescues the Dwarves - from the Darker Fantasy Spiders (otherwise the Dwarves would have been a juicy meal). ii) When Bilbo rescues the Dwarves - from the Not So Friendly Elves (otherwise the Dwarves would have been captive, in the Dungeons of the Elves for quite sometime). iii) When Bilbo is asked by the Dwarves, to tackle the Dragon Smaug (the Guardian Fire Drake of the North) - as Thorin and his Dwarves, dared not to enter, their own Underground Kingdom ... Yet in all three, do I feel that Bilbo's character, has come a long way - but still remains the same, as that first cheeky Hobbit, who dared to pick the pocket of a Mountain Troll, and land them all in a Stew! What of the Tale's other Fantasy Characters? Well ... There's three, that I quite like ... First: is Beorn (the shape-shifter). I liked the idea of a Man, that could take the form of a Bear - whilst also being able to talk, to an entire variety of animals (from Bees to Horses). I also liked the idea, of Beorn's Gardens and Lands - as he uses his shape-shifting powers, to guard his Domain, against the creatures of Darker Fantasy (such as Goblins and Wargs). I especially enjoyed, the comedy that surrounds the introduction of the Dwarves to Beorn (which is again contrived by Gandalf) - enter two by two, a minute or so after each other, OH! you may as well all come in then! Second: is Smaug (the Fire Drake). Being a Western Dragon, he meets this definition in every sense of his Being - large, powerful, clever (enjoying Riddles), breathing Fire, rows and rows of Teeth, armour as strong as Steel, hoarding Treasure, rending walls and eating all (especially Men and Dwarves). Yet does Smaug, still have a twist of an Eastern Dragon - the ability to speak :) And as such, did I enjoy Bilbo's conversations with him, especially when Bilbo thought, that he could outwit a Dragon! Bilbo dares to steal a Golden Cup - yet Dragons know, every ounce of their Treasure :) For Smaug's personality, is the Darkest of the Dark - it's HIS Mountain, and it's HIS Treasure, that HE stole from the Dwarves, a Long Time Ago. Third: is Thorin Oakenshield. I found that his character, tended to fluctuate somewhat. On the one hand, he will take charge (such as when planning a Quest for Treasure, or meeting a Great Goblin in Battle) - but on the other hand, can Thorin tend to give up in a huff (such as when the Dwarves, are unable to find the Mountain's Secret Door). An interesting character then - as we have to remember, that it was Thorin's Quest in the first place! And of that Quest, does Thorin also wish to retake, his Lost Dwarven Kingdom - of the Mountain. It's a Dwarven Kingdom, where I enjoyed imagining - what it would once have been like, at the height of it's powers: Countless Dwarves - mining Crystals and Gems, Endless Dwarves - Forging Swords and Armour, Robust Dwarves - hewn by the Harshness of the Rocks, Timeless Dwarves - hewn by the Ages of Old, and the Timelessness of Bonds :) And it is these Bonds, that Thorin's most Treasured Treasure (the Arkenstone), is most directly - at conflict with! For the Arkenstone (to me), seems to represent Greed (both Bilbo Baggins, and Thorin's). Thus, was I not too surprised - by the disagreement that arises, between Thorin and Bilbo! Although I was surprised, when Thorin pulls it back, and makes amends with Bilbo, just in the nick of time :) Overall: I feel that The Hobbit, is an enjoyable Fantasy Tale, that successfully incorporates, the important features, from the Sword and Sorcery Fantasy genre. The Swords are the Dwarves, Elves and Men - with the twist of a Hobbit, who could not hope to lift a Sword! But a Knife/Dagger - Bilbo can do that :) The Sorcery is directly from Gandalf, and indirectly from the Dragon's Hoard, and the Dwarves Arkenstone (their Achilles Heel). The Darker Elements, come from the Dragon and the Goblins, together with the Fantasy Character called Gollum (who Bilbo meets beneath the Mountains). Whose Gollum you say? For me, he's a key ingredient, to the popularity of Bilbo - as after Bilbo meets Gollum, does Bilbo's character, seem to tend towards an advisor (for the Dwarves). Thus do I feel, that it seems to be Fate, that Bilbo was destined for Adventure - in the first place :) Finally: an important question arises - is it still worth reading The Hobbit book, after you have watched the three Hobbit Fantasy Films? Yes is the answer to that! The Hobbit book, I found to be much simpler (less extravagant), and as such did it seem - much more magical :) Just one thing remains, where is that Treasure Map? And thank goodness for the Adventurous side - of the Took in Baggins :)
Being the fourth Vampire novel, in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, do I find this Dark and Urban Fantasy Tale, to be a passionate mix of both Anita's Love Life, and thy Secret Realms - of thy Werewolves:
Being hip deep in both, it's as though Anita, is on the verge of drowning ... Her Passions Run Deep, and a Promise is a Promise - Deputy Numb Nuts :) And yes, there's a fair amount of humour, within this Fantasy Tale! For me though, is this intermixed, with an important underlying theme - that of Family ... There's the Werewolves and their Pack Order. There's the Vampires and their Hands Off. There's the Spook Squad and their Silver Bullets. And in the middle of all three, can you find - Anita!!! I liked the fact that Anita, refused to give up her friend - even if her boyfriend, was his Alpha. I liked the fact that Anita, shed a tear or two - even if her rival, was her Jealous. I liked the fact that Anita, stemmed the flow of blood - even if her colleague, was her Rag (aka joker). For it's Anita's Character, and her sense of self, that flows throughout this tale. For it's Anita's Enemies, and their stance of power, that stalks throughout this tale. For it's Anita's Weapons, and their sense of comfort, that beds throughout this tale. And in all of this? Is there Jean-Claude, who wants a date! Fairs Fair Anita, give me a chance to woo you - as you did to me :) Now, if there's one part that shocked me (the most) within this tale, then I would say - it's the hierarchy of the Werewolves. The tale here, gave me a sense, that they were all: out of control! Insane Pack Order, seemed to help with this ... There's two Master Werewolves, but neither has - over all control. One prefers Peace - the other: Head on a Block. One requests Anita - the other: Seeds of Lust. One's Richard. One's Marcus. One's Marcus. One's Richard. For it's Werewolf Central, that's Caged behind - Closed Doors, and Sound Proof Walls. Or is it? As in this tale, did I find that the Secrets of the Werewolves - flowed like a River :) And in that River, that goes by the name of Shape Shifter, did I find both Mythical Creatures, and their Fantasy/Lore ... For example: I've never heard of a Naga before, but here - is their an Immortal Being, with the Skin of a Snake. I've never heard of a Were-Swan before, but here - is their the lowest of the Shape Shifters, especially in Feathered White! And of the Werewolves themselves? I was most intrigued, because their Human Lives, seemed to be lived in the pursuit, of challenging their Human Shackles. There's two that I would say, challenged this more than others - and no, it's not the Alphas! The two Fantasy Characters that I'm thinking of (one Woman one Man), both made me laugh (especially the woman - over whose rules she follows!), and both surprised me (over just how low they could steep - in their pursuits of pleasure?). Fortunately, throughout all of this, did I find Anita's Character - to be a rock. Even if at times, it is only the cold hard steel, that she clamps down on - but where is her gun? Choices! Choices! As for the other Characters within this Fantasy tale, it's mostly Cops. I didn't like some of these, and neither does Anita. There's a whole part (near the beginning of the book), that just seems totally crazy - with certain Deputies, taking their orders, too literally ... It is also here that I feel, that the tale does a decent job, of portraying some of the lunacies, of interstate boundaries (between various police forces) - although as you will see, there's a twist here to! And as for Anita? It made me laugh, that she was concerned primarily, with an important question (or two): Can she date a Werewolf? Can she date a Monster? AKA: Is Richard really a Monster? And what of Jean-Claude? Choices! Choices! Fortunately for Anita, does she have a trusty friend to help her: a Penguin or two :) Overall: I enjoyed reading about the Werewolves within this tale, even if I feel, that some of their Urban Fantasy, shocked me a little (as it seemed a little Darker - than I've encountered before). I also found myself thinking, of the Wolf in Werewolf - more than the Man in Werewolf. Although the twist towards the end (involving a Witch and her Magic), brought new meaning to the term - Shape Shifter! For it's a Witch's Spell, that Anita Blake does cast. For it's an Animator's Gift, that Anita Blake, can look a Vampire in the Eye. For she's a Vampire Hunter, with a Werewolf called Richard, a Bounty Hunter called Death - and a Promise is a Promise! Deputy Numb Nuts :)
My third outing into the Fantasy Vampire Slaying Realms of Anita Blake, comes with both some draw-dropping moments, and some as-you-would-expect, white Roses from Jean-Claude:
One particular part of this Fantasy Tale, caused my draw to drop the most! It's pertaining to a particular question: how old can a Vampire be? Now, I must confess - I'd never really thought about this before ... And yet, Anita had me pondering this question (for quite some time). Whilst I won't name the Vampire here, I too, like Anita, was fooled by his Fairy Glamour! Another draw-dropping moment, was the realisation of just how - Rivers of Blood, Anita's Urban Fantasy Realm can be ... Part of this comes from the Circus of the Damned itself (a Fantasy Location) - where who can tell what's real, what's Dark Fantasy? Part of this comes from Anita's interactions, with the other Vampires within this Tale - which I feel, is mostly due, to the fact that Anita has more Master Vampires after her, than you can shake a stick at! Two of these (Master Vampires) want her Love (or maybe just her Body?). Two of these want her as a Human Servant (but she can only serve one Master). And Anita is, no one's Human Servant - as she carries more Knives, and Guns, plus Crosses, to drive that point home. I guess I was just struck (or is that staked?), by the brutality of some of the Vampires (within this tale) - which at the same time, also contrasts well, with the fact that at least one, likes to wear a Suit and Tie ... Mixed in with this, is the fact that Anita is still on retainer, to the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team (aka the Spook Squad) - which for me, takes more of a back seat, in the second half of this novel. Despite this, there was still one draw-dropping moment: when I was in awe of an Animalistic Vampire, that had managed to tear through a five feet thick silver door, that was also adorned with crosses - as it raised a question ... How could any human stand against such power? Well ... Anita's not entirely human herself any more, which is probably just-as-well, as a Lamia (a Mythical Creature that can turn from a human into a snake), has set her eyes on her! In any case, I found myself laughing, at the character of Anita's friend - Edward. In one chapter, Edward considers torturing Anita, to get the name of the Master of the City from her - whilst in another chapter, is Edward at her side again, helping to bandage a wound on her back (after a Master Vampire thought he owned her). I was especially pleased, with the amount of Lore (related to Mythical Creatures), that I found within this Tale ... The first of these, was concerned with Vampires. As through this Tale, did I learn more about what it is to be a Vampire's Creature: as a Vampire has an Animal that it can call. In the case of Jean-Claude, it's Wolves (including Werewolves). In the case of another Master Vampire (the Oldest I have heard of), it's Snakes (including Lamia). Where as in the case of Anita's first Tale (Guilty Pleasures), it was Rats (including Were-Rats). Then did I learn more about Werewolf Lore - for I learned that the older a Werewolf is, the more able it is, to pass for human (when in human form), and the more likely it is (especially in my opinion), to recover from injuries, that would kill a human. For someone like Anita (a Necromancer), I enjoyed the twist that she could not tell, that Richard (her date/lover) was a Werewolf, and that she could not tell, how old the Oldest Vampire (in this tale) was, other than from a conventional source (aka a study book!). Added to this, is the fact that Anita now has an Apprentice (whether she wants one or not), who she sets about (with some persuasion), to teach her Animator skills to (aka - the ability to raise Zombies from the Grave). This in-turn, plays right into the Powers of the Vampires, where her Apprentice, soon realises just how powerful, these Master Vampires can be! In Conclusion: This Dark Fantasy Vampire Slayer Tale, is packed full of plots, and sub-plots throughout the entire novel. There's so much going on, that the book could just-as-easily have been called, Anita's in Hot Demand :) It is somewhat contradictory then, that I feel that the end of this book, was somewhat rushed ... I would have enjoyed a longer Final Fight, even if the cause of Anita's quick victory, was due to the fact that she shared Jean-Claude's/Alejandro's Vampire Strength (on account of being his/their Human Servant). In any case, Anita has one rule she still won't break - she doesn't date Dead things! And as for those white Roses? Well ... She gave them away :) And as for Richard? Well ... A Werewolf may be a Monster, but a Werewolf is still, very much alive! And after all, Anita is, and always will be - a Necromancer :)
This is my second outing into the Fantasy World of Anita Blake - Vampire Hunter. It's an outing that I found had me questioning the morals, that some Fantasy Characters have, and learning more about Anita's personality - within the Realms of Voodoo:
The tale starts where it finishes really - in Harold Gaynor's presence. Yet, between those pages, did I find a tale that both surprised, and exceeded my expectations. I think part of this allure, comes from the pondering of a question: who/what exactly is The Laughing Corpse? Which ironically, I tended to forget about within this tale, but was reminded of every-time, I glanced at the cover :) It was not until half way through this tale, that I knew what it was - and it was not until the end of the tale, that I gained the who, or at least a suspicion of the who, that I felt the term/title applied to! In doing so, did I like the fact that this tale, goes to great lengths, to explain Anita's role as an Animator (one who raises the Dead for a living). Whilst being a somewhat lonely occupation, is there an honoured/abided by rule - that when one Animator dies, that all the other Animators, attend their Funeral. This may not seem like much, but it does introduce the concept of a family hierarchy. And in that hierarchy, did I find all manner of twists ... First: is the fact that an Animator, who Anita learned her trade from, Crosses the Line. So far Across that Line, is her friend, that Anita finds that she doesn't really know, who they are any more! Second: is the fact that fellow Animators, do not have to be polite all the time, often seeming distant - but they can be snapped right back in (to focus), when it comes to family concerns. Anita helps one of The Greats (in the Realms of Animators plus Voodoo), only to discover - that his Brother, was Not So Great, after-all! Third: is the fact that not all Animators have to be Living, and that those who are Dead, have no concept of - Drawing the Line. And it is this theme, that I found, helped connect me to Anita's Character further: as she very definitely does Draw the Line, and there's one thing that she won't do, in this Midnight Realm of Animator (except in self defence). Yet here did I find some irony, for in the name of self defence, will Anita do whatever it takes - which lead to a somewhat eye raising finale to this tale (for me). It also lead to a realisation that Anita is more powerful than both I, and many others, have thought before ... This goes for both Jean-Claude (her so-called Master Vampire), and for her sworn Enemy (within this tale): Dominga Salvador, High Voodoo Priestess and Admirer! Well, I say Admirer, more the Godmother of Animator/Voodoo, who wants Anita to help her with a business venture ... It is here, that Anita Draws the Line again, and in doing so, does Anita have a Midnight disturbance, which is the stuff of Nightmares really! Especially for her Penguins ... Suffice to say, Anita is gunning for Dominga after this, but she still has a job to do: investigate the local murders, and find a killer Zombie. In doing this, does Anita explain more about her Powers of being an Animator ... It's more something she Feels, she can just talk to the Dead. It's more something She Is, she can just Raise an entire Graveyard. For Anita is, and always will be, a Necromancer! Who just-so-happens, to have her best friends wedding to attend, doesn't like the bridesmaids gowns, and why on earth - did she set her alarm for six in the morning? Overall: An Urban Fantasy tale, that binds Vampires, Werewolves and Animators together - within the Dark Fantasy Realms of Voodoo. Dominga Salvador is Voodoo Incarnate, who compels Anita to do something she doesn't want to do. And no, it's not to be a bridesmaid! It's Voodoo Magic, but it's not quite the same as a Master Vampire's, nor is it the same as a humble Animator's ... For Anita is a Necromancer, and her language is - ma petite :) A.K.A - I just love Anita Blake, but not that coffee!
Guilty Pleasures - Anita Blake - Laurell K Hamilton
When it comes to a Fantasy Novel, that combines both Dark Fantasy (Vampires) and Urban Fantasy (Hidden Realms within a Modern City), then you really can't go far wrong - with Anita Blake and her Guilty Pleasures:
This Vampire Hunter Novel, holds a special place within my heart - as it's the first such tale/story, that I ever read :) Having been used to reading Sword and Planet Fantasies, I found this book/author a little different at first - as Laurell appears to be a fan of few pages to a chapter, but many chapters in a tale (which was totally different to what I was used to). Fortunately, I soon connected with Anita - and was glad that I did, as there's several parts about this novel, that I really like. First: Anita is not your typical Vampire Hunter ... She's only five feet tall, has an addiction to coffee (yuck!), has a strange sense of humour (only laughing at her own jokes), sees Vampire Hunting as her non-primary job (at least initially), and collects fluffy toy Penguins (which really made me laugh!). It was here that I fell for Anita's Character :) Second: Anita knows just what it's like, to have to juggle multiple jobs at once ... First and Foremost, Anita is an Animator (as in she raises the Dead for a living). But she's also the Spook Squad's supernatural advisor (being called in on Undead Cases), and a Vampire Hunter - which in this tale, starts to take precedence, as it usually keeps her up till 3 am or so! As such, Anita knows just what it's like, to have hardly any social life, an even crappier dating life - and a dozen pure white, long stemmed Roses, from a Vampire she doesn't want to date (even if she's attracted to him!). It was here that I started to feel that I knew Anita :) Third: Anita just seems to be like so many of us ... Up to her neck in challenges, that come looking for her, whether she wants them to or not! In the case of one Vampire (Valentine), that's very strongly a not - but with her Trusty Stake, or is that her Shotgun? Anita goes looking for the things that scare her :) Thank goodness for Sigmund - her favourite toy Penguin! It was here that I connected with Anita's sense of humour. Fourth: The shear amount of Dark Fantasy Creatures that Anita encounters ... There's Vampires and Ghouls, there's Werewolves and Were-Rats. There's two Master Vampires, contrasted so different - one Coffin one Rule, One Marker, one Scary. One is Jean-Claude. One is just Wrong! And it is this Master Vampire, donned Nikolaos - that both Anita and I, fear to encounter. For the character of Nikolaos, sends a shiver down my spine! She does worse to Anita, which I found slightly ironic - as just possibly, both have a sense of humour - that's akin to each other? In any case, I loved the interactions between Anita and Nikolaos. It was here that I learned more about Vampire Society (such as Fantasy Vampire Powers, and the concept of a Human Servant). Fifth: the fact that Anita is still a woman ... She can't decide what she wants to wear, gets cravings for both coffee and food (although there's a twist to the latter), fancies the wrong guy (even if he does have a fit body!) and often fails to take her own advice - even when she made it up :) Overall: I found this Fantasy Novel, a great introduction to the Realms of Vampire Hunting - that's also different, to other Dark/Urban Fantasy (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I found Anita's character to be both engaging and likeable (especially her sense of humour). If there's one part of this tale that I don't like/find odd - then it's the Fantasy Character called Edward. He's a Vampire/Bounty Hunter, who Anita builds up to be - Death on Two Legs. Yet, when it comes to several encounters in the storyline, Edward is the first to behave like a scaredy-cat - where as Anita is doing what she loves best, seeking out the things she fears, and sticking a Stake (or a Sword!) through them :)
This is by far the best Sword and Sorcery fantasy novel that I have ever read:
I was hooked from the first page! Prince Rupert has been sent upon a Quest: to slay a Dragon and rescue a Princess. But being Prince Rupert, the Quest does not go according to plan - and it is instead, just the start of his Adventures! I especially like the fact that the novel is packed full of Quests - both main Quests (such as the Quest to find the High Warlock) and sub Quests (such as the Quest to find out what has happened in Coppertown). Prince Rupert is not your typical Prince - he is a Second Son (in line to the Throne), and was regarded as a good-for-nothing (by most of Castle Society). I like the fact that Prince Rupert has numerous challenges to overcome, and in doing so, proves them all wrong! Even so, it's his Quest for the Dragon that changes his Character the most, as he has to pass through the Darkwood - which hones his fighting skills (by improving them the hard way), and earns him new friends (with which he returns to Forest Castle). My favourite main Quest has to be the Quest to find the High Warlock - as I like the fact that Prince Rupert takes command of an entire Troop of Guards, together with the Kings Champion, and leads them into the Darkwood. It is hear that the Champion starts to gain some respect for the Prince Rupert (instead of just seeing him as a threat to the Throne). I laughed when they first met the High Warlock - as he is somewhat anti-social, has some-what lost touch with the world (not having been outside his Dark Tower for years), and puts a Dead Rat in every barrel of Wine that he brews! He is also the most powerful Sorcerer that the Forest Land has ever known - and is perhaps, the only hope of throwing back the advance of the Darkwood (a Magical place that's full of Demons and the Night). Both the High Warlock, and the Dragon, provide much of the comedy (for me) - especially when it comes to what the Dragon wants to eat (mountains of food first, then will talk). My favourite minor Quest has to be when the Princess Julia (a friend of Prince Rupert's) goes on an expedition (within Forest Castle) to find the Old Armoury (which happens to be in the missing South Wing). How can a Castle Wing go missing you ask? Well, Forest Castle is somewhat unique: with Ancient Spells and Wards cast within it's walls - it's larger on the inside (than it is on the outside), and as such, most of the Castle rooms/halls change places everyday! I was excited when the Princess Julia (eventually) stands before the Doors to the Old Armoury - especially when you learn/remember that it's also where the most Powerful Swords ever made by Man are kept (the three Infernal Devices) - the three Broadswords, Rockbreaker, Flarebright and Wolfsbane. The storyline manages to merge Battlefield Drama with Castle Politics and Intrigue. There's a Plot to Overthrow the King, and appoint a new one (although not who you would expect). There's also several Traitors (one who I had expected all along), and another (who I didn't see until the very end). My favourite Warrior has to be the Kings Champion. The Tale goes to great lengths to build him into a Hero out of Legend (which indeed he is): towering above the heads of mortal men, covered from head-to-toe in the Armour of a Knight, swinging his Axe effortlessly (against a never ending Tide of Foes), placing the Might of Steel above all others - defiantly against the use of Magic (although there's a twist towards the end!). I also approve of the use of Magic within this Tale - with it's first use being when the Dragon casts a Spell, so that Prince Rupert may make the Rainbow Run: a light appears before him (like a Will-o'-the-wisp) that leads him to his Destiny (or at least - part of it). I also liked the idea of the High Warlocks Teleportation Spell - although as we learn, he is not the only Sorcerer that's capable of such magic. I also enjoyed reading the parts where the High Warlock flies high above the heads of his Foes - casting Bale-fire, denying entrance to the Foes of Forest Castle. Another favourite Fantasy Character (of mine) is Breeze - Prince Rupert's Unicorn. He is also Prince Rupert's friend - who grumbles when he is fed grass (wanting barley only), who fights by his side (saying that the Prince won't last long without him) and who jokes from time to time (especially the part where Prince Rupert says: Were just going back into the Darkwood a little way - and Breeze replies: So I'll suppose we'll only be killed a little bit. Forget it!). Overall: this is an amazing Tale - which has kept me turning the pages, until many the early hours. I'm still amazed at how much the author (Simon R. Green) has managed to pack into just over four hundred and forty pages - whilst not seeming to rush the Tale (at all). If you like Adventure and Fantasy, mixed with Swords and Bale-fire, mixed with a Dragon and a Unicorn, mixed with Demons and a Demon Prince - then this is a Fantasy Book/Novel that you should definitely consider reading! It's also a book that I've reread several times over the past few years - five or six times now, as I enjoyed reading it so very much!
This is the first fantasy-novel that I have read, which contains both the Sisters of Battle, and the (totally-alien) Necrons, from the Warhammer 40,000 universe:
I like the fact that the novel makes use of two distinct writing styles. The first style is used for most of the book, and is as you would expect: clear, concise and logical. The second style is in stark contrast to the first: as it's bordering on insanity - with the ravings of a mad woman (as is appropriate for the character Decima). I can relate to the idea of the primary plot within this novel: the fact that all communication is lost with a remote (Sisters of Battle) outpost, with the Sisters only being free to investigate (as to why) once the so-called bureaucracy of the Imperium has been overcome. I like the fact that the Sisters of Battle adhere to a strong regimental-style faith - which has them striving to overcome the (dire) odds that they face when they encounter the Necrons. I had two draw-dropping moments: one when I realised exactly what the Obsidian Moon is, and two, when I realised exactly who the Revenant is (although I had my suspicions about her all along). I don't like the fact that the supporting Adeptus Mechanicus have their own (secret) agenda - although there was a brief moment when I believed that (their leader) Tegas had turned over a new leaf. It is not until the end of the book that you realise who/what/where the Hammer and Anvil is, a fact which although (at first) I found frustrating, eventually transformed into almost continuous page-turning (especially as the book features a fair amount of mystery). Overall: I enjoyed reading this novel, and like the fact that the book goes to great lengths to build up the invulnerability/dominance of the Necrons, even if their downfall is owing to their own technology (which the Sisters of Battle are eventually able to exploit). At four hundred and ten pages, it may take you a while to read this book!