Tag Archives: world-building

Book Review: Three Hainish Novels by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Three Hainish Novels by Ursula K. Le Guin Recommended Ages: 14+ This omnibus volume of the first three books of the Hainish Cycle is also available under the title Worlds of Exile and Illusion. I chose to lead with the simpler, more plainly descriptive title, mainly because it happened to be this edition that I borrowed from the public library. To be sure, it’s a bit of a misnomer. The first three installments in Ursula ... Read More »

Book Review: Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud

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Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud Recommended Ages: 13+ Halli Sveinsson’s world has been shaped by heroes, but the time of heroes passed long ago. Still he yearns to be like his ancestor Svein, one of twelve legendary warriors who sacrificed their lives fighting off the Trows—a race of tunnel-dwelling, man-eating monsters who have not been seen since the slain heroes were buried with their swords. The cairns, or burial mounds, of these twelve ... Read More »

Book Review: Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin Recommended Ages: 13+ Life is harsh in the northern uplands where Orrec Caspro grows up. The climate is cold. The farmers and serfs scratch an uneasy living out of indifferent soil. The land-owning families that lead them are divided by vicious feuds. And the most powerful among them, honored with the title Brantor, wield terrible powers. One family’s gift is calling to animals, which can be helpful when you’re ... Read More »

Book Review: Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin Recommended Ages: 13+ When we last saw him in The Farthest Shore, wizard Ged was the Archmage and had just saved the world with the help of Earthsea’s young king. When we last saw her in The Tombs of Atuan, Tenar had just escaped from being the priestess and slave of a dark power, and had helped Ged restore a ring and a rune that kept the world in ... Read More »

Book Review: LightLand by H. L. McCutchen

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LightLand by H. L. McCutchen Recommended Ages: 11+ I don’t know anything about the author of this book except that her first name is Heather, and that Scholastic (the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter series) believes in her. Now that I’ve read this book, I believe in her too. I hope she will continue to write books as interesting and touching as this. It begins with two quirky kids, best friends since they were ... Read More »

Book Review: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

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The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin Recommended Ages: 14+ Winner of the 1970 Hugo Award for Best Novel, this book by the author of A Wizard of Earthsea more than deserves to be in the company of such books as Stranger in a Strange Land, Dune, Foundation’s Edge, Ender’s Game, American Gods, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. It packs ... Read More »

Book Review: First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher

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First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher Recommended Ages: 14+ Five books ago, Tavi of Calderon was an active, resourceful, good-naturedly trouble-prone farm boy whose prospects in life were dimmed by the fact that, unlike everyone else in Alera, he had absolutely no fury-craft—that is, no control over the spirits of air, water, wood, metal, earth, and fire. While others had these powers to a greater or lesser degree—and those with the most fury-craft tended to ... Read More »

Book Review: Storybound by Marissa Burt

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Storybound by Marissa Burt Recommended Ages: 11+ Lately a lot of writers have been sending us dispatches from the Land of Stories. According to sometime Glee star Chris Colfer, it’s a cluster of magical kingdoms where a pair of children from our world, transported through a family heirloom storybook, discover the true history behind many of your favorite fairy tales. In another account by Ian Beck, the Land of Stories is a country where designated ... Read More »

Review: The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson

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The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson Recommended Ages: 13+ A few pages into this book by the author of The Tears of the Salamander, I decided that Peter Dickinson is probably the best writer living today. Given that I have only read these two of his fifty-odd books, that may come across as a hasty judgment. But I haven’t forgotten that Tears was the best book I read in 2005, and I don’t plan to forget ... Read More »

Review: Dirty Magic by Carol Hughes

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Dirty Magic—buy it by Carol Hughes—about the author Recommended Ages: 12+ Joe Brooks, a boy who likes models and Monster Machine magazine, gets up in the middle of the night and finds that his bathroom door opens into a muddy plain stretching to the horizon all around. Suddenly Joe is in a strange, island world where the sun never shines, the war never ends, and the lost children who regularly appear out of nowhere never ... Read More »