Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 4

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Physik: Sophisticated plot, intriguing resolution

Physik by Angie Sage

I gave this book’s predecessors rather lukewarm reviews, finding them a little too simplistic and reliant on the success of Harry Potter, with rather weak villains and too many periphery characters to keep track of. However, all that changes with the third installment in the series, which has a sophisticated plot with an intriguing resolution, a truly unnerving villain and a very real sense of danger and suspense. The protagonists of the series are Septimus and Jenna Heap, the former the Apprentice to the ExtraOrdinary Wizard and youngest son of the Heap family,


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Trickster’s Queen: Proves that Pierce is the master of YA fantasy

Trickster’s Queen by Tamora Pierce

Trickster’s Queen is the sequel to Tamora Pierce’s Trickster’s Choice and (so far) the first set of books that are not quartets, but a simple duet. It is also by far her longest book, and in her acknowledgements she credits that to J.K. Rowling due to the fact that the Harry Potter books are so thick. Both books take place in Pierce’s Tortall universe, though are situated on the Copper Isles rather than Tortall as in the Alanna,


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Drowned Wednesday: Nix brings fresh new ideas to the fantasy genre

Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix

By now the formula to the Keys to the Kingdom series is in place — taking place over a week-long period (with each book chronicling a day) young Arthur Penhaligon travels into the mystical realm of “the House” in order to find seven pieces of a torn Will. This Will was destroyed by the personified Days of the Week (or the ‘Morrow Days’), each of whom embody one of the seven deadly sins. Arthur has already defeated Mister Monday’s sloth and Grim Tuesday’s greed, and now comes up against Drowned Wednesday’s terrible gluttony.


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Red Seas Under Red Skies: Locke and Jean take a cruise

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies is Scott Lynch’s follow-up to his debut fantasy The Lies of Locke Lamora, and the second in the planned Gentlemen Bastard sequence. The first book asked the question: what would happen if all the guys from Ocean 11 were teleported into the usual fantasy setting? Red Seas Under Red Skies asks: what would Brad Pitt and George Clooney do if the rest of Oceans 11 were killed off in movie one?


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The Horse and His Boy: Odd one out

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

In many ways The Horse and his Boy is the odd one out in the context of the Narnia series — unlike the other books, this one is set completely in the fantasy world rather than describing the movements of children from this world into that. Although two children are still used as the main protagonists, the entire tone, setting and atmosphere of this book is a little different — here we are simply meant to take this other-world for granted, rather than journey into it from hum-drum life.


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Ship of Destiny: Strong conclusion to an exciting trilogy

Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb

With so much being churned out in the way of epic fantasy, it’s always a pleasure to come across something original and unique. I felt that way about Robin Hobb’s Farseer books and wondered if she’d be able to maintain such high standards in Liveship Traders.
While I don’t believe she quite got there (it is after all a pretty high bar she set herself), this series certainly stands on its own as quality fantasy, and Ship of Destiny is a fitting conclusion (though one wonders if that word has been banned from the genre).


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Tigana: Fascinating story filled with passion

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Tigana is a masterpiece.

It is difficult to summarize the plot, for so much of the story unfolds organically — indeed, as a near-perfect tainflower — that one fears to spoil the pleasure of becoming swept up in the narrative. That said, the tale concerns the Palm, a mythic penninsula reminiscent of Italy, a land divided between two wizard-conquerors. One conqueror has utterly blighted the province of Lower Corte with an undreamt-of dark magic. (Take a fresh look at the map of the Palm mid-way through,


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Feast of Souls: Impeccably plotted

Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman

There is only one way to do magic, and that is to expend life force to power it. Witches spend their own life force, and die young. Magisters have discovered how to spend the life force of another, and are nearly immortal, burning through consort after consort, while keeping the source of their magic a tightly guarded secret. No woman has ever become a Magister because they are unwilling to sacrifice others. No woman until Kamala, steeled by a life of child prostitution, secretly becomes a Magister.


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Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods: Continues in the series’ strong fashion

Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins

The third book in the Gregor series picks up shortly after the last one ends and quickly tosses the reader into familiar territory. Once again, Gregor takes up a task underground in order to save a family member. In the first book it was his father, in book two his sister Boots, and now it’s his mother, who in accompanying him down to the underground contracted a seemingly fatal disease that threatens to wipe out the warmbloods.

As foretold by a prophecy (another familiar element from the other books),


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The Shadow of Albion: Refreshing as the spring rain

The Shadows of Albion by Andre Norton & Rosemary Edghill

I’ve heard others gripe that this book is basically fluff. Well, yes, it’s light, but that’s part of what I liked about it. I’ve read a lot of serious (and sometimes depressing) books lately, and this one was a much-needed cool breeze of just plain fun.

The Marchioness of Roxbury, a vain and vapid woman, is on her deathbed, having failed to fulfill a promise made to the Fair Folk. She lives in an alternate England where magic exists, though it’s subtle.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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