Thoughtful Thursday: Fantastic Beings

Today we welcome Pati Nagle who writes the BLOOD OF THE KINDRED (here’s my review of The Betrayal) and the IMMORTAL series. Pati wants to talk about cool fantasy creatures. One commenter wins an ebook copy of Pati’s latest novel Dead Man’s Hand, which was released a couple of weeks ago, and a print copy of her latest YA fantasy novel, Eternal.

Pati NagleI hear a lot of grumbling these days about sparkly vampires, and I wonder if readers are getting tired of vampires in general, lately. Twilight has generated a lot of imitators, and the fantasy market’s kind of vampire-heavy. Lots of witches, wizards, and dueling magicians too, left over from the HARRY POTTER craze. For myself, I’m a little weary of zombies. But fear not! There are plenty of other interesting fantasy creatures out there.

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Carrie Vaughn’s KITTY series is a great take on werewolves. She has vampires, too (non-sparkly) and guest appearances by other magical beings such as djinn. I’ve noticed quite a few books about demons in recent years, and the young adult crowd seems to be fond of fairies and the darker side of the fey, as in Melissa Marr’s WICKED LOVELY series. Mythological gods are currently popular, probably thanks to Rick Riordan’s PERCY JACKSON series. Dragons — perennial favorites — don’t really grab me although I’m fond of Anne McCaffrey’s DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN series (science fiction, really, though fun for fantasy readers, too).

My personal favorites have always been elves — not cute Santa’s elves, but the tall, graceful, and often melancholy Tolkeinesque elves. The problems of immortality fascinate me, and I’ve spent some time exploring them in my own stories about the ælven (my take on elves). I like ghosts, too, although certain kinds of ghost stories are well-worn and, at the moment, they don’t seem to be all that popular.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsA less common critter I’d like to see more of is the gargoyle. A friend of mine wrote a great story with a gargoyle hero years ago. I haven’t come across any novels starring gargoyles that caught my interest, so there’s room for more there.

What are your favorite stories about magical beings, and what fantastic creatures would you like to read more about?

Readers, comment below for a chance to win Dead Man’s Hand and Eternal.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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  1. Calliopenjo /

    “What are your favorite stories about magical beings, and what fantastic creatures would you like to read more about?”

    The most recent favorite in the fantasy genre is Lord of the Rings. It’s a good mix of everything magical that involves a tragic tale. All in all it’s just a good story.

    As for fantastic creatures, like was mentioned above gargoyles. There was a cartoon series about gargoyles a long time ago, but I haven’t seen anything since then. Maybe a little more of the Tolkein idea of elves as well. Those would be nice to explore. I can never get enough witches. They seem to be my favorite. Yes, even after Harry Potter.

    • I love witches too — and make the magic fun to read! Some authors write spellcasting like it’s just a different kind of gun — “I threw a spell at the bad guy and he disintegrated.” I love it when authors make magic more atmospheric and mysterious.

    • Lord of the Rings is my favorite fantasy series. Read it at an early age and re-read it every few years. Though it does have flaws, it’s the series that made me fall in love with fantasy (and elves!) and I’ll always love it.

  2. Thanks for dropping by, Pati! I read The Betrayal a while back and I still remember the unique take on elves and vampires.

    I’m a big fan of fae. Can’t get enough of them, if they’re written right: dangerous, beautiful, given to all sorts of clever wordplay that can get you either into or out of big trouble via loopholes…

  3. April V. /

    I like all sorts of magical creatures. Dragons tend to be my favorite – not sure why because I like them all sorts of ways: thinking/speaking, interfering, keep to themselves, non speaking/beastlike…I guess I just like the idea of a giant, flying predator that can breathe fire and lives long enough to have seen some serious stuff.

    Furry creatures that serve as familiars or friends are my second best [and they can have feathers or neither too].

    I’ll third the notion that we could use more gargoyles in today’s fantasy fiction. One of my recent faves, though he is a minor secondary character, is Stone the stone gargoyle in Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series.

  4. I just finished a novella by A.S. Byatt about a djinn, so I think stories about them would be cool. They are fire creatures. Some classical alchemical critters might be fun too; salamanders, slyphs, undines, etc.

    Vampires have either become ennui-laden aristos or Mafia style mob bosses (yawn). I still have a soft spot in my heart for werewolves, since there is still some wildness in them.

  5. I don’t like vampires or werewolves, which is one reason I don’t read a lot of urban fantasy. Don’t like dwarves, either. I do like djinn and gargoyles, though. Griffins are cool, too.

  6. A few years ago, I enjoyed C.E. Murphy’s Negotiator Trilogy. The first book is “Heart of Stone” which features a gargoyle and other members of what she called the Old Races: selkies, vampires, djinn…and I can’t remember the others. :)

  7. sandyg265 /

    I like C.E. Murphy’s take on Gargoyles. I also like books featuring shifters other than wolves and books featuring native American mythology.

  8. I’m deep into Proven Guilty one of the Harry Dresden books. These things are jam packed with all sorts of fantastical creatures and are some of my favorites. Not sure about what I’d like to read more about. Maybe centaurs or fauns? They don’t get much love…

    • Heh. The centaurs and fauns might be x-rated…

      Actually, Vonda N. McIntyre wrote a great story that features centaurs, called “Elfleda.” It’s in the BEYOND GRIMM anthology from Book View Café.

      • April V. /

        Both of Rick Riordan’s Greek/Roman mythology series include centaurs and fauns. Neither are x rated either ;-)

  9. I like griffins. Rachel Neumeier did a trilogy with absolutely perfect griffins. And I have always loved dragons. I’ll take shapeshifters over vampires any day.

    I don’t know if it counts as magical beings, but I’m a sucker for books with psychic bonding with animals. Andre Norton’s Catseye or Beastmaster are a couple of classics. Psy powers need to make a comeback.

    • April V. /

      Wasn’t enamored of Rachel Neumeier’s griffin books. But anyone looking for well told griffins might enjoy Mercedes Lackey’s Mage Wars trilogy which is White Gryphon, Black Gryphon and Silver Gryphon.

    • Oh, then you’d like Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy and the Tawny Man trilogy that comes after it. First book is Assassin’s Apprentice.

  10. Misti, if you live in the USA, you win the books listed at the top of the post. Please contact me (Tim) with your choice and a US address.

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