Tag Archives: world-building

Review: Railsea by China Miéville

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Railsea by China Miéville Recommended Ages: 12+ I’m just going to come out and say this. It’s Moby-Dick, only without the boring bits. Well, no. What I just described would be an 80-page novelette. This is a full-size book, filled wall-to-wall with thrilling action, squirm-worthy tension, weird discoveries, and warm, appealing characters. Also, instead of water, the ocean in this version of Moby-Dick is a seemingly endless landmass filled with merging, splitting, tangling, and criss-crossing ... Read More »

Book Review: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

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Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta Recommended Ages: 14+ An “Adult Content Advisory” remains in effect for the second book of the Lumatere Chronicles, in which the fate of kingdoms depend on the actions of highly sexed Young Adults. Even more so than in Finnikin of the Rock, in which the figurative and literal rape of a kingdom is involved in the tale of a nation divided 50/50 between captives and refugees. But now ... Read More »

Book Review: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

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The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde Recommended Ages: 12+ In a twisted alternate world, the Dragonlands are situated between the Kingdom of Hereford and the Duchy of Brecon, in the west of a balnkanized version of England and Wales known as the Ununited Kingdoms. It’s a world where magic is slowly dying out, its practitioners reduced to delivering pizzas on flying carpets and rewiring houses by spell. A world where knights in shining armor are ... Read More »

Book Review: Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

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Brisingr by Christopher Paolini Recommended Ages: 13+ Many things discouraged me from reading the third book of the Inheritance Cycle. There was the backlash against my mixed review of Book 2, Eldest—almost, but not quite, the harshest feedback I have received. There was the disappointment of the film based on Book 1, Eragon—a hint that there would be less pressure from Fandom in General to stay on top of this series. And finally, there was ... Read More »

Book Review: Pegasus by Robin McKinley

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Pegasus by Robin McKinley Recommended Ages: 12+ She has won the Newbery Medal (for The Hero and the Crown). She has won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award (for Sunshine). She has entertained us with tales of vampires, fairies, dragons, and Robin Hood, as well as folk tales spruced up as novels. As the wife of Peter Dickinson, she dwells in a reactor-core of magic and beautiful storytelling that could reach critical mass at any time. All ... Read More »

Book Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

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Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta Recommended Ages: 14+ The Australian author of Jellicoe Road has dealt with many issues facing today’s young adults: loneliness, depression, grief, single pregnancy, suicide, racism, family and school problems galore. Then she turned toward writing YA fantasy, and the “Lumatere Chronicles” is the result. In this first book of the trilogy, we are introduced to a gripping, romantic fantasy about sexy young people riding horses, sailing ships, and ... Read More »

Review: Fall of a Kingdom by Hilari Bell

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Fall of a Kingdom by Hilari Bell Recommended Ages: 12+ Inspired by a Persian legend and originally titled Flame, this is the first book of the Farsala Trilogy. The new and improved title, while dramatically distinctive, has the drawback of giving away the ending. But since the story is only getting started, that’s probably all right. The kingdom that falls in this book is called Farsala, a society that has held its own for many ... Read More »

Book Review: Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

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Tam Lin by Pamela Dean Recommended Ages: 14+ The author of the Secret Country trilogy, when asked to contribute a volume to a series of fairy-tale novelizations, delved instead into a traditional Scots ballad about a girl named Janet who saves her lover from being sacrificed to the powers of Hell by the Queen of Faerie. Transferring the setting to the campus of a small midwestern college in the 1970s, she weaves this eerie storyline ... Read More »

The Melting Cauldron: How America Teaches Magic

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Goblet of Fire gave us a tiny glimpse into the magical world outside of Hogwarts and British wizarding communities. We got informed impressions of Europe’s other wizarding schools—Beauxbatons and Durmstrang—as well as glimpses of other pockets of wizarding society at the Quidditch World Cup, notably the Salem Witches’ Institute. America is arguably the largest group of consumers of the Harry Potter series, and what young (or old, for that matter) American reader hasn’t wished for ... Read More »

Book Review: Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin Recommended Ages: 13+ In the third book of the “Annals of the Western Shore,” the author of A Wizard of Earthsea completes what appears to be a fantasy trilogy for young adults. I hope that appearances are deceiving in this case. I hope this series will continue beyond this book! In The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones wrote that a map in the foreleaves is an essential ... Read More »