Hi all, welcome to another #WyrdAndWonder celebration of all things fantasy books. If you’re unsure what I’m talking about, head on over to imyril’s blog (There’s Always Room For One More) and read all about this Wyrd and Wonderful blogging event.
If you don’t want to do that, then just know that it’s an event in which bloggers, youtubers, tweeters, grammers, and Tokkers celebrate the genre of Fantasy by reading books together, discussing daily prompts, participating in bingo challenges, and generally just geeking out about Fantasy books. There’s plenty to do.
This will be my second year participating (please check out year one posts in my 2021 #WyrdAndWonder Wrap up), and it’s the Fifth birthday of the event which is put on by the following fabulous hosts: (the aforementioned) Imyril at onemore.org, Lisa at Dear Geek Place, and Jorie at Jorie Loves A Story, Annemieke at A Dance With Books, and Ariana from Book Nook.
Thank you for all that you do!!
I’ll probably pin this posts to the top of my blog, and keep a running list of any posts that I do. Right now I’m thinking of trying to write book reviews on Fridays, answer prompts on Wednesdays and create ‘Top 5’ lists on Sundays. We’ll see how it goes.
So, for my first Wyrd and Wonder post of 2022, here’s a list of:
My favorite fantasy novels which I’ve read since last year . . .
Bear in the Nightingale
It seems like I’ve been waiting to read a book like Bear in the Nightingale for my whole life. A book which mythologizes Russia and it’s people into something other than evil communists, or Soviet spies. Set in medieval Russia, the book mixes history and folk tradition in an magical and inspiring way. Within its pages you’ll find plenty of familiar faces from Russian Fairy tales (or сказки), like the Domovoy and Bannik. Most interesting to me was Morozko who seems to be related to Ded Moroz, which I recognized from my family’s celebrations of Russian Christmas, and Russian New Year.
Anyway, nostalgia aside, Bear and the Nightingale, is simply an enchanting read.
Of course I loved Jade City, and also loved Jade War (and as of yesterday, Jade Setter of Janloon), but Jade Legacy really brought this series to the pinnacle of its art. In a story which feels like Kung Fu meets The Godfather, the city of Janloon is controlled by clans who use jade powered magic abilities to further legitimate and illegitimate business, personal, and family agendas. The complexity of such a setting is staggering on its own, but we’re able to navigate it through our connection to the characters who are probably some of the most fully realized people I’ve ever read in a book. And of course, once we’re completely invested in their successes or failures, the twists keep coming.
I have no doubt this series will be Fonda Lee’s legacy in SFF, and what (Jade) Legacy it will be.
This book is definitely one of the most exciting books I’ve read in recent memory. To me, its strengths lie in its consistent pacing, unique setting and the sheer power of this book’s main character. Tarisai is quite literally a sympathy magnet. From page one, it is impossible not to connect with this lonely girl who’s been completely isolated from people her own age and a traditional family.
That conflict is built right into the most basic aspect of her identity, her Hollow (unique magical power), which allows her to see other’s memories. This should allow Tarisai to build even closer connections with those around her since she can literally share their experience. Instead, it means that she cannot even be held when she’s sad, for her servants believe that she might accidently steal their memories.
Ooof right? Every struggle Tarisai faces stacks up against her in a similarly complex and meaningful way. It’s this level of craft and a whole lot more, which made me feel that Raybearer should have won the Lodestar Award in 2021. Definitely a must-read
A Deadly Education
This book is so much more than just ‘a darker Harry Potter’. The main character, El (short for Galadriel), has an engaging voice, and is fun in her extreme antisocial outlook and behavior. There is plenty of snark, but somehow it never made me bristle like most snarky characters I’ve read.
After other books I’d read by Naomi Novik (Spinning Silver, and Uprooted) I wasn’t expecting nearly as many pop culture references (see aforementioned main character name), which also lent to this book’s readability and fun-factor. Finally, the concept of the Scholomance in general reminded me of an evil take on the Eudaimonia Machine.
However, this title is not without some controversy. I go into all of that in my review of A Deadly Education but in general, the book was one of my favorite Fantasies of the year.
Empire of Gold
Don’t let the fact that I said Silver Medal for Empire of Gold in my review dissuade you from reading this one, because it’s still an amazing book. I just love being in Daevabad and I’ll take any excuse I can get to go back (looking at you The River of Silver). Chakraborty has imagined such an intricate and thoroughly magical world. It feels new and astonishing, and is equal parts mysterious and delightful. I’ll never tire of reading about magical djinn, shedu, karkadann, and peri (and it’s been dually interesting to see how they’re done in other stories like the A Dead Djinn universe by P. Djeli Clark).
So, if you’re on the fence about this one, get off it, and go give Empire of Gold a read.
Well, that’s more or less all I have for this first post in this year’s #WyrdAndWonder extravaganza. I hope you’re able to follow along and I can’t wait to see what other people are posting for this event.
In the mean time, how did you feel about my list? Love it? Hate it? Have you read any of these in the past? What were your thoughts? Leave em in the comments.
See you next time!
I’m excited for Wyrd and Wonder too!
And I agree Raybearer was a fun read. Would like to try Deadly Education as well.
Yay welcome to the fifth Wyrd and Wonder! I loved Raybearer too, it took me completely by surprise when I fell in love with it from the first page. I was expecting just an average read but that Jordan Ifueko sure can write! And the way you talk about The Bear and the Nightingale makes me think I need to bump it up my list…
I would definitely support bumping BatNG. There’s just so much there. If you do, let me know what you think!
Happy Wyrd & Wonder 😀 I finally read Raybearer a month or so ago and immediately had to pick up Redemptor, so I agree with your comments on that one!
I am not the biggest fan of Fonda Lee’s series, it didn’t work for me as much as I was hoping, but I really enjoyed A Deadly Education and I am looking forward to the sequel!
And there are a lot of interesting titles in your list!
Thanks! The Green Bone books are so far all I’ve read so it’s all I know of her work, but I really enjoyed them. And yes! A Deadly Education was great! Also looking forward to the sequel! If you end up reading anything from my pick let me know what you think! I love chatting about these things 🙂
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I loved the first 4 books on your list. They are awesome. I never continued on with the Daevebad series.
Gotchya, yea I’ll admit the 3rd book definitely falls off (maybe it’s just too much to wrap up in one volume). I’m curious to see if River of Silver or whatever the short story antho in that world is, is any good. I’m assuming it will be like alt versions of characters we’ve seen or events that happened “off-screen”. Sometimes that stuff adds but sometimes it was deleted for a reason lol
Glad you like the first four! My tastes are feeling validated hahah
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I haven’t read these yet, but Raybearer sounds really neat. And I’ve been meaning to read The Bear and the Nightingale for what feels like forever, and still haven’t gotten there. Maybe I’ll read it before the next Wyrd & Wonder…
I probably won’t start a re-read until after I’ve finished the last book in the trilogy, but when I do, I’ll make sure to ping you. Perhaps we can do a buddy read!