Welcome to another Reading Journal! ^-^ Every month or so I get up to a bit of book rambling; with some basic information on books I’ve read recently, as well as a quick-and-simple review for each one. I usually do about 4, but I’m shifting down to 3 for the next couple posts, since my reading has slowed down a lot lately.
This month’s spread has another new Elemental Masters book (yay!), as well as the first two books of a series that was a surprisingly big part of my childhood… even though I never read it!
From A High Tower
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Published/By: 2015 / DAW
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Thoughts: Much like #9, which I wrote about in May, the 10th installment of the Elemental Masters series is based on a short that previously appeared in one of the anthologies; this one a retelling of the classic Rapunzel, with a not-so-classic ending to it. As with the previous book, the story continues with our heroine’s life after the fairy-tale leaves off. It is also set in Germany… and this time the whole book, rather than just the beginning!
In fact, ‘From A High Tower’ is really everything I was hoping ‘Blood Red’ would be.
Giselle is a great protagonist who grows throughout the story in a way you can really enjoy. Rosamund appears in this book as well; which made me really happy. Really all of the characters are well done, and the pacing is excellent as well. I flew through the pages right up till the end… which I also enjoyed! ^-^
One of my favorite things was finally getting to see more of Germany as a setting. There are tons of interesting bits about life there, creatures of folklore, and also their national obsession with Wild West stories written by Karl May. I’d never heard of this before, but it is a big (wonderful) part of the story. ^-^ There is even a forward about it. And on top of the German-centric stuff, we also get a peak at what Native American elemental magic looks like. Spoiler alert: It is awesome.
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars (delightfully satisfying)
[As a special note, I want to throw out a small trigger warning. There is a scene of attempted sexual assault in the beginning of this book. It is brief and not graphic, but definitely intense.]
Elric of Melnibone
Author: Micheal Moorcock
Published/By: 1972 / Ace
Genre: Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery
Thoughts: Reading the Elric Saga has been a long-time coming for me. It is one of the series that my Dad used to tell me stories about all of the time. Many of our game characters were named after Elric and his companions. 🙂 Those stories were part of what set me on the path of loving my imagination, and fantasy stories. So, I was pretty excited to finally start reading this series for myself.
This book is about Elric, the melancholy ruler of a once fearsome and mighty empire. He is considered strange, even a bit outcast; foremost as an albino kept alive by drugs and magic, and secondly because his extensive reading has caused him to develop ideas of morality entirely alien to a culture built around debauchery, and the -often cruel- pursuit of all pleasures. This budding morality is Elric’s defining trait, and the main source of difficulty in his life. Classic sword & sorcery shenanigans ensue, and Elric is set upon the path that will lead to his ultimate destiny… and the terrible black sword, Stormbringer.
As a character, Elric is definitely complex and interesting. He is at once incredibly strong and incredibly vulnerable. He strives to be ‘moral’, and yet he is sometimes causally cruel. I think it’s this striving, and failing, and not knowing how blind he is to certain things is part of the great appeal of this character and his story.
The other appeal, for me at least, is how totally different Moorcock’s style of writing is from what we see from the big authors currently. It has a lyrical, poetic sort of quality. The descriptions can only be called decadent in some places, and I think it fits Melnibone and its melancholy emperor perfectly. ^-^ I also really enjoyed the way the book was put together, with little blurbs at the beginning of each section about Elric that hint at his ultimate fate, and help to paint a picture of his character. It’s a really good use of formatting.
Overall Rating: 4 / 5 stars (worth the wait! ^-^)
The Sailor On the Seas of Fate
Author: Michael Moorcock
Published/By: 1976 / Ace
Genre: Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery
Thoughts: I got the first two Elric books together, and pretty much flew through both of them. ^-^ It’s not hard to do, actually, since they are quite short.
The Sailor On the Seas of Fate catches up with Elric a bit after he sets out to journey in the first book. Now he is being chased by angry denizens of the Young Kingdoms. At some point he seems to cross into another plane, and is picked up by a boat whose captain says they have been waiting for him…
There are three story arcs in this book, and they all deal with the idea of different planes and times of the earth. The first story is very strange, but interesting. It is the first time that Elric’s story is tied into that of Moorcock’s other work, via his connection to the Eternal Champion. The mystery is fun, and a little confusing as well. The second story is definitely my favorite of the three. Not only does it introduce the character of Smiorgan Baldhead, who I really like ^-^, but there is also lots of sorcery and a tragic Melnibonean story! ❤ The third tale has Elric back in his own realm and off on another decimating adventure, tragic in its own way, to discover the origins of his people.
All the fun of the best sword and sorcery, plus lots of character growth and even more melancholy for our protagonist. The excellent lyrical writing continues!
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars (adventure! ^-^)