Filed under: book reviews, fiction | Tags: fairy tales, fantasy, five hundred kingdoms, fortune’s fool, mercedes lackey, romance, walter moers
I finally got around to reading Fortune’s Fool from Mercedes Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdom Series. It was actually seeing this book released in mass market that encouraged my interest in reading The Fairy Godmother and One Good Knight. Usually I try to avoid reviews of books I’m currently reading or just about to start, because I find I have a habit of determinately trying to agree or disagree with the review. For Fortune’s Fool, I did happen to come across a review (goodness knows where, perhaps on Amazon?) that did not look so favorable on the book.
The third novel in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series is quite different from its predecessors as the novel relies heavily on movement and scene changes. Katya, the Sea King’s Daughter, and Sasha, a Seventh Son and Fortunate Fool of the land kingdom Belrus, fall in love. During a mission to find a kidnapped Swan Princess and a Snow Woman, Katya allows herself to be magically stolen to discover that an evil Jinn is plucking women with magic abilities from their home. Katya’s story unfolds from her desert prison, but Sasha’s story has him meeting with numerous magical creatures and fanciful tales.
One of my favorite authors Walter Moers truly depends on movement through his story to maintain reader’s interest and this can be done terribly well or just terribly when authors employ this almost flippant regard to scenery and happenstance. Lackey does a good job with this and more closely follows the precise tales in Fortune’s Fool than she has in the previous books in the series. Additionally, while The Tradition is always an important force in the series, in Fortune’s Fool it exists as something of a backdoor yet grounding force. A Jinn, or fire spirit, does not belong in this part of the Kingdoms and the Tradition really has no path to follow but instead offers suggestions.
In short, Fortune’s Fool veers away from what otherwise would have been set ideas for the series.
The book does not go perfectly smoothly either: the beginning’s rough with a bizarre House of Flying Daggers (the movie) scene, Lackey spends time poorly interlacing Japanese and Russian folklore, Lackey moves away from really reinterpreting the tales, the lonely, and the virgin princess is becoming tiresome regularity, as are the bloody Unicorns.
As far as the series goes, you do not have to read these books in order but it does help. Ella from The Fairy Godmother flits into One Good Knight, and the dragons Adamant and Gina from One Good Knight are the champions in Fortune’s Fool. It also offers you a better grasp on Lackey’s capitalized pursuit of Champions, Seventh Sons, Fairy Godmother’s, and so forth. You can assume what is going on and will probably be right if you read these books out of order.
Another fun and enjoyable read I wiled away my rainy day off with.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: city of dreaming books, fantasy, illustrations, walter moers
I am having more trouble today writing a post than I normally have. For the most part, my Internet writings are a result of rather spontaneous writings that I post (and often later return to and cringe at typos and where my mind was traveling too fast for my fingers). However, today for whatever reason I am struggling to say anything. So here goes nothing!
The above paragraph was my lame attempt to comment on one of the many themes that twines through Walter Moers’ The City of Dreaming Books (which I did finish last month but am only just getting around to writing about) – the most recent addition to Moers world of Zamonia. In his fantasy tale, Optimus Yarnspinner (a Lindwormer or dinosaur) inherits perhaps the world’s most perfect short story or essay. And what is this essay? A brilliant piece discussing writer’s block that produces nearly every reaction conceivable in its audience. However, the author of this splendid piece is anonymous and Optimus travels to the legendary city of Bookholm to discover who penned such an important piece.
This is where the story begins and Moers takes his audience through a spectacular world that is sure to thrill any lover of books. The City of Dreaming Books is a book about books, about publishing, about authors, about book reviews, about the canon, about forgotten books, and about practically anything book related you can think of. The reference to “dreaming books” in the title refers to Moers idea that dormant books, or books not being read, are dreaming of being read.
I have not been so excited about a fantasy series in ages. Earlier in the year I read Terry Pratchett’s most recent book, which was enjoyable but seemed to lack some of the zeal of his earlier novels. I also picked up Piers Anthony on a whim and was greatly disappointed. Unlike many fantasy authors in my experience, Moers seems to spend the perfect amount of time on story development. He never becomes boring or tedious and never leaves the story under developed.
On a more serious note, Moers also proffers a rather scathing criticism of the publishing industry that threads throughout the book. Upon reaching Bookholm, Optimus meets the arch-nemesis of books: Smyke, who wants to dumb down literature to mediocrity, which of course means that Optimus inheritance is entirely unacceptable. In addition to my excitement for this book, Moers also does his own illustrations (note the first image in this post). Every few pages has a beautiful illustration that creates a much more tangible Zamonia.
The City of Dreaming Books is an engaging read and I went ahead and purchased an earlier book by Moers. This is definitely an author that has made my recommendation list.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: academia, city of dreaming books, fantasy, fiction, german translation, j.k. rowling, neil gaiman, walter moers
I have been devouring the German author Walter Moers’ The City of Dreaming Books. My recent devotion to this novel is a mix of my adoration for my books, the sensational story line, and Moers brilliant hand at writing. Particularly after my dry spell with more recent books, I am thrilled that I have stumbled into the land of Zamonia and to be led on adventures by such a brilliant author. This, however, is not my final look at the book.
The City of Dreaming Books (and the rest of Moers’ books) are located in fiction, but they are undoubtedly fantasy. One reason I have such respect for Moers is his talent at constructing a fantastical locale. Fantasy authors (or anyone writing of something fantastical) are challenged in at least one manner other authors are not: they are creating something, someone, or somewhere that is entirely unreal. Of course in most fantasy books you will find remnants of reality but a fantasy author must be well schooled in suspension of disbelief. However, one area of suspension of disbelief that I have not seen too many conversations on is the length of development.
Moers provides exactly perfect size slice of fantastical narrative and he does this over and over again. I have often come across fantasy authors (including those I love to those I loathe) who spend a great deal of time constructing the fantasy and the reader easily becomes bored, and on the other hand there are fantasy authors who spend such little time on one area and spend a great deal of time skipping from one idea to the next that the reader is left unsatisfied. Moers repeatedly provides perfection.
This brings me to something else I have been musing about lately. Not too long ago a ripple of excitement spread throughout the world when J.K. Rowling disclosed that Dumbledore was gay. What I was most interested were critical reactions to this. Neil Gaiman, another fantasy author, in short said that when you create a world you always have to leave details out. In some of the more academic communities I peruse the general reaction was: bunk.
Where is this all going? No where, but I did find this division between fantasy (which has had quite the difficult time in being viewed as “acceptable”) and fiction a fascinating discussion.
I must thank the Google image search for this post’s image found at HectorCasanova.net.