I read the first two books in this series and have no idea what I read. While the concept is interesting, the execution is confusing and rather boring. Symphony of Ages is a romantic epic fantasy that spans 1,400 years. The main heroine, Rhapsody, is a Singer of remarkable talent. This means that she is able to sing things into existence, if I am remembering correctly. She is also an herbalist and healer. One day she meets a young boy and falls in love. Turns out he is a time travelling prince who is suddenly jerked back to his time, the future. A heartbroken Rhapsody embarks on a journey that leads her on an expedition through the center of the Earth, which turns out to have magical time traveling capabilities. So she finds herself in a weird and foreign future. She is accompanied by Achmed and Grunthor, who also become her allies in a war against the F’Dor, a set of demonic fire spirits intent on utter destruction. On paper, this series sounded interesting and had a lot of potential. But Haydon does a poor job fleshing out the mythology of her world and none of the characters are relatable. Haydon could not decide if she wanted to write time travel, epic fantasy, medieval history, or a tale about exorcism. The result is a weird and creepy mishmash that I struggled to follow.
I picked up this series solely based upon the cover art, which turned out to not be a successful metric. This series is odd to say the least. It lost me when it was revealed that the servant class was made up of feline-human hybrids called the Crasii. That is just a little too weird for my tastes. The Tide Lord series is set in the world of Amyrantha and is ruled by the Immortal Tide Lords. It has been a long time since the last Tide came in, but the magical wave is coming and the Immortals will rise to power once more. Prince Cayal is one of the Immortal Princes and his main goal in life is to die. Problem is no one believes he is a Tide Lord since everyone knows that Immortals only exist in children’s stories. Duchess Arkady Desan is the only Tide-Lord expert and is called in to determine the validity of Cayal’s claims. This sets off a chain of events that will change the world. Fallon excels at world building and is one of the few authors I have read who can create a totally alien yet familiar world. However, I found the Tide Lord series hard to read as most of the narrative just felt off. And I did not like Cayal’s character development.
I read the first book in this trilogy because it was the only complete set available at the library at that moment. And the cover art and book flap description intrigued me. This trilogy is quite well written, the main characters are excellently crafted, and one of the heroines has the same first name as me. So I was expecting a solid fantasy series set in a world that sounded like a cross between Russia and France. However, the magic in the trilogy comes from the demonic possession of the main characters. Actually it is more of a demon-vampire hybrid and I found the concept incredibly creepy. I only read the first book because I found the idea of demon possession frightening. The trilogy follows the life of Gavril Andar, a young painter who was raised by his single mother in the southern realm of the kingdom. He knew nothing of his father. One day the king of the wintry realm of Azhendir dies and the clan sets off to retrieve his heir, Gavril. All the kings of Azhkendir have the blood of dragons coursing through their veins. This chameleonlike blood awakens in Gavril and summons the bloodlust. For blood is the life sustaining liquid of dragons. Expected by the clansmen to avenge his father’s death, Gavril struggles to maintain his humanity while claiming his hereditary dragon powers.
This is the fourth instalment in the original six book series. The first three novels are excellent examples of science fiction storytelling. However, God Emperor of Dune is a divergence from this trend in both style and quality. Herbert veers away from science fiction into the realm of fantasy-philosophy/body horror. I found the narrative rather boring and the pacing is horrific. Because most of the storyline deals with Leto Atreides pontificating his ideals, not a lot of action actually happens. That and every character the died in the previous books seems to be resurrected/cloned in this one. And the whole Leto “has to turn into a sandworm to survive” plot is poorly executed and is a weird transformation to read. By the time Leto turns into a worm, over three thousand years have passed since the events depicted in Dune. Leto, the son of the Prophet Paul Muad’Dib, is now virtually immortal. He alone understands the future and knows his race will end if he cannot breed new qualities into humanity. But to achieve this final victory, Leto must also engineer his own downfall.
God Emperor of Dune, Victor Gollancz, 1981, 9780575075061
I decided to read this series because I kept seeing it listed on Best of Fantasy Book Series lists. It is definitely one of the uniquest books I have ever read and one of the most befuddling. This is considered one of the first entries into the fantasy of manners subgenre and Peake is heavily influenced by Gothic and Regency literature. While the series is described as a work of fantasy, neither magical nor paranormal events are ever referenced. Another possible classification would be in the genre of the grotesque with a heavy surrealist influence. Unlike other series, the main protagonist is the mythos of the castle, Gormenghast. The castle’s influence on the human characters is the one unifying factor throughout the series. It is not a castle anyone would ever want to visit. The series begins with the birth of Titus Groan, the 77th Earl of Gormenghast. He will grow up in a world pigeonholed by tradition and an unwillingness to change. A grand feeling of doom and foreboding weighs down the inhabitants of the castle and compels them to continue the overly ceremonial rituals. The parallel story involves the rise of Steerpike, a lowly kitchen servant hand who dreams of being an important figure in the castle. As Titus grows up, Steerpike climbs the hierarchical ladder and exploits the emotional needs of the ruling family for his own gain. Intrigue abounds.