A Fantastic Fantasy Way to Escape the World
I review a number of fantasy books, and many of you are probably bored by them now, but in the Covid-19 times we are living in escaping into a completely different world has been a life saver. This week I have a couple of fantastic series starters for you, and the return of a favourite to delve right into that will spirit you away from your everyday woes.
The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
It seems like I have been waiting for ever for Suzanne Collin to revisit the world of the Hunger Games. It was this series that got me hooked on my kindle. On a trip home I loaded Hunger Games as my first ever e-book. I spent a sleepless week week reading the whole series. When I finished on at night I simply downloaded the next.
That was such a long time ago, but I can tell you The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes was well worth the wait! I know a lot of reviewers think it was a snooze-fest, but I simply couldn’t put it down.
In her new book Suzanne Collins takes up back to meet an eighteen year old Corolanus Snow, already formed by his station in society and the deprivations of the uprising that resulted in the Hunger Games being established—only these Hunger Games are nothing like the one we are used to. They are raw and brutal and are purely a punishment for the districts.
Not as action packed as the original books, The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes takes us on Snow’s journey as he attempts to carve a place in a world that has already written him and his destitute family off, and we find that it is not only in the arena of the games that people are prepared to do anything to survive. For me President Snow was always one of the most interesting figures of the first three books. Although clearly the villain in the Hunger Games series, he was a complex one, and he is no less so as the hero.
One of the oddest things about this book is that I loved it, but I didn’t like any of the main characters, or many of the people in the book as a whole. I understood Snow, but never really liked him. His candidate in the Hunger Games, well, let’s just say they deserved each other. Tigris, Snow’s cousin, and Sejanus, his school mate, were the only people who any soul in the whole story, and they served as a great counterpoint to the other characters.
People appear to either love or hate this one. I am in the love camp. Where will you fall?
Memory’s Wake by S.A. Fenech
Memories wake was a different kettle of fish all together. I was drawn to all four of the main characters, but Memory herself was my favourite. Waking up in a strange world, Memory, who took her name because she has no memory, finds herself embroiled in a plot to restore order in a world she isn’t even from.
Alone in a forest with no idea where she is, Memory is rescued by a girl on the run. She promises to take them to sanctuary, but they get a little waylaid. Falling in with a charming pickpocket, and helped occasionally by a strange wild boy, they dodge; men that hunt magic users, faeries who mean them harm and dragons, who seem intent on keeping them from getting to their destination.
S.A. Fenech has created a fantastical world of magic, fairies and magical beasts, and a plot twist that will have you spinning, but will seem so logical after you stumble across it.
Fantasy readers who love kick-ass girl heroes, magic and a touch of romance will enjoy getting lost Memory’s Wake. I enjoyed it so much, book two is already queued on my kindle.
King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist
If I had a fantasy super-hero it would be Raymond E. Feist. From Daughter of the Empire to Riftwar series, I have loved most of his work.
When the First Book in the Firemane Saga came out I bought it, but only recently got round to reading it. I was initially reluctant because the book didn’t get good reviews, and it was a new world and a new plot.
Silly me for listening to others. Even though this is not his best writing, Feist at mediocre (and this book is far from mediocre) is still streets ahead of we mere mortals. And I loved the new world of Garn and the new characters he introduced. And let’s face it, a missing heir, a master swords smith and world on the brink of a religious war—it’s a great idea.
I really enjoyed the way Feist wove religion and politics into the story while following our two hero’s Declan the Sword Master and Hatu the spy assassin until they finally met. Another plus for me was the strong cast of female in this book.
Ok, not Feist at his absolute best, but book two is already downloaded and ready to go. Anyone who loves traditional fantasy adventure will enjoy this read.